Green Thirteen has been a
series of questions intended to explore the journey of
environmental thinking, from inspiration to education to
action--with a dual-focus on both individual and community
perspectives. These conversations were the result of a quest for
creating a great awareness sought by Scott Kevin Jones, AIA,
LEED( AP, who is with HOK Sport+Venue+Event. We are indebted to
Jones for his desire and commitment to meeting with environmental
leaders and interviewing them. Jones' journey is leading him to
Minneapolis, Minn., where he will continue to pursue his passion
for the environment while his wife, Leslie, completes her Ph.D.,
O'Malley is the USGBC Kansas City Chapter Communications
Committee Chair and Marketing Director at Walter P. Moore
Structural Engineers in Kansas City.
1 What person
influenced you most regarding environmental issues?
Professor David Block at Iowa State
University taught a course on solar homes and
environmental design. While it was a technology course he
taught it more as a design studio working to prove that
solar homes don't have to be cellars built into the
ground with grass roofs. While taking his course, I was
also working as a carpenter and coincidentally got to
build one of his designs.
2 What event
opened your eyes to environmental issues?
Growing up in rural Iowa I have always
had a connection with nature. My playground as a child
was a muddy creek on the Iowa River and an 80-year old
dairy barn. In the spring of 2003 HOK-Corporate made a
commitment to get 100 professionals LEED Accredited.
During the day I was designing some of the most wasteful
buildings on the planet and at night I was studying the
LEED checklist of sustainable design concepts.
3 Name one habit
or convenience you gave up for environmental reasons.
We gave up '72 degrees' and installed
a digital thermostat in our house. When we are home we
let the temperature stay as high as 80 degrees in the
Summer and 65 in the Winter. During work hours when we
are gone it floats another 5 degrees off of that. Once
you have it set you never have to think about it again -
you just get used to regulating your clothing with the
4 Name something
you wish more people realized is harmful to the environment.
Gas powered lawn mowers are one of the
biggest environmental polluters. I've read some
staggering statistics. Mowers produce carbon monoxide,
and we mow we are breathing in all that pollution. And
ironically it's all done to create an illusion of a
healthy green environment around our homes.
5 What is the
most important thing you do personally to conserve natural
Eating less meat. When you examine
your "environmental footprint" you find that a
diet of meat has a big impact due to the resources
required to produce livestock as opposed to vegetables.
But my wife and I made this change more to stay healthy
and manage our weight more than for environmental
reasons. I now weigh what I did in college, have more
energy, and even stopped snoring (I'm told). Saving money
and using fewer resources are just a side-benefits.
alternative do you feel more people need to learn?
We do not need to be so dependent upon
our car. We can make conscious decisions to live closer
to work, carpool, or use the public transportation
contribution are you uniquely able to make toward environmental
As an architect working on large
projects I can influence small changes which result in a
big impact. Currently, I am working on the Berlin Arena
in Germany. German regulations require many of the items
on the LEED checklist, such as daylighting and operable
windows in all office spaces. The project also features a
green roof. Berlin has economic challenges like any major
city today, so this shows that incorporating sustainable
design comes more from a change in paradigm rather than
8 What do you
think is the next step for Kansas City as a community at the
Kansas City and the surrounding
communities need to educate the public on sustainable
design and sustainable living. We are going to have to
work together as a society to get things back on track.
The government alone cannot do it. Designers and builders
alone cannot drive this. It needs to come from the grass
roots. Otherwise up-front costs will continue to drive
decision making on public projects. We need to educate
the voters so they can demand our legislators and
administrators adopt a new yardstick of 'performance.'
Everyone wants to save the planet, but it's hard to see
the little things we can do to get there. Education is
9 What change to
your lifestyle or behavior was the hardest to adopt or maintain?
Carpooling to and from work with my
wife has been a challenge, since we give up a lot of
flexibility in our schedule. However, the sacrifice
becomes a benefit since it reduces the opportunity to put
in unplanned hours at work, gives us more time to talk
and unwind BEFORE we get home, and eliminates the
solitary commutes. It also cuts our gas consumption
nearly as much as if we were to trade our 2002 Accord for
a new hybrid.
10 What do you
think Kansas City has done well?
Requiring LEED Silver for public
buildings over 5,000 square feet is a move in the right
direction. But LEED functions as more of an educational
tool than a building code. I've been involved primarily
with fast track and ultra-fast-track large scale projects
where construction starts long before LEED certification
can be confirmed. So we have to embrace the process,
learn everything we can, and build on our collective
knowledge at every opportunity.
11 What is your
most successful green building project?
I am proud of initiating the Green 13
series for the chapter's newsletter. It gave me an
opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone, meet
talented people and act on my beliefs about
sustainability. I am keeping my fingers crossed for the
Berlin Arena, which could be the most sustainable stadium
with which I have been involved.
12 What is a good
example of environmental design in Kansas City?
Although I have only spent minimal
time in the building, the Discovery Center is an amazing
resource. I need to make time to go study the living
systems and exhibits. This should be on everyone's 'short
list' of places to take family and friends from out of
town, especially those with kids. Hopefully the next
generation will grow up believing sustainability is an
assumption, not an alternative.
13 What is the
biggest change you hope to see in society within your lifetime?
That the majority of people learn to
see that we are all part of the human race, instead of
focusing on political and geographic differences. How we
treat each other and how we treat the environment are
directly related. America has such great potential to
lead the world in the right direction, but in the
environment we haven't always set the right example.
Planet Earth has enormous capacity to absorb our
mistakes, but there is a limit, and some permanent damage
has already been done. I believe the next 15 years are
going to define whether we reacted in time or not. At
that point I'll be 52 years old and hoping to live
another 52 years without seeing bottled air selling in
grocery stores alongside the bottled water.