“With my industry media colleagues, I recently attended “Buildings for a Sustainable Future,” an enlightening series of presentations and discussions sponsored by Milwaukee, WI-based Johnson Controls Inc. Johnson Controls recently received the prestigious 2004 World Environment Center (WEC) Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development, and this event was one of the company’s many ways to further a dialogue on the economics, ecological benefits, and equity of building green. An impressive array of actively involved end-users – Pfizer, JohnsonDiversy, and Metropolitan Hospital – discussed their companies’ sustainable practices, from philosophy and operations to manufacturing and facilities. Another guest speaker, David Gottfried, founder of both the U.S. and World Green Building Councils, emphasized that “big business is leading the green charge.” In fact, he noted that the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC’s) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system is “less about ranking a building than it is about embracing a philosophy and a way of doing business.”As Gottfried notes, sustainable design begins and ends with people – one at a time. Take Iowa’s first LEED-accredited professional, Mike Lubberden, director, Construction & Energy Management at Central College in Pella, IA (Central’s Vermeer Science Center is featured on page 32 of this issue). Lubberden is enthusiastic – yet prudent – when he offers his views on sustainable concepts, giving us a glimpse that such a market transformation is achievable and certainly something to aspire to.At Central College, says Lubberden, freshmen are required to take a common experience course called “Intersections,” which focuses on the environment. “Higher education has the responsibility to teach sustainability to its young people,” adds Lubberden, embracing the support he has received from Central College President David Roe and the college’s cohesive Facilities Management team. “Does a sustainable philosophy and a LEED-rated building increase our marketability?” he asks. “Absolutely. Are there cost savings? Yes. On this building alone, we save 1.3 million kWh of electricity, about $67,000 a year, and we save 149,000 therms of gas annually, a savings of $39,000 (both of which are compared to our ASHRAE 90.1 base model building). But there’s much more to this life than merely putting money in our pockets. We want – and must – think about the future, about inter-generational responsibility.”As you peruse our special section on sustainability, “Green: Your Questions Answered,” ask yourself the most important one: What is my company doing?