Austin, TX’s Gail Vittori and Maximizing Building Potential

Gail Vittori is Co-Director of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, a non-profit design firm established in 1975 dedicated to sustainable planning, design, and demonstration.

Since 1993, Vittori has coordinated the Center’s Sustainable Design in Public Buildings Program, including serving as a sustainable design consultant for the Pentagon Renovation Program’s Commissioning Team from 1999 to 2006, numerous City of Austin design projects.

Beginning in 2000, Vittori led several national initiatives focused on greening the health care sector and advancing environmental health considerations in green building. Examples include collaborating on the development of the American Society of Healthcare Engineering’s (ASHE) Green Healthcare Construction Guidance Statement, and the Green Guide for Health Care, convened by the Center in 2002, a project of CMPBS and Health Care Without Harm. She currently serves as a Co-Coordinator of the Green Guide for Health Care and is Founding Chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Healthcare core committee (2004–2008). 

Vittori has spearheaded emerging green and affordable housing initiatives, tools and resources, including directing a Hands Across America program in 1989 that created a building materials exchange and cooperative homebuilding training program for colonias residents along the Texas Rio Grande Valley; consulting to the DC Housing Authority to establish a green materials library and assessment process; being invited to participate on the 5-person core development team of Enterprise Community Foundation’s Green Communities Initiative in 2004; and, in 2008, spearheading a successful initiative to develop green building criteria for the Texas-based Meadows Foundation capital grant funding.

In 1989, Vittori proposed a conceptual framework for what evolved as the City of Austin’s Green Building Program, the only U.S. program recognized at the 1992 U.N. Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and the first green building program in the world. Along with Pliny Fisk, she oversaw the program’s early stage development through 1992. Austin’s Green Builder Program influenced the formation of the U.S. Green Building Council and LEED, in addition to scores of policies throughout the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, from 1988 to 1998, she served on the City’s Solid Waste Advisory Commission, six of those years as founding chair, a committee formed in response to a successful initiative co-coordinated by Vittori to cancel a proposed waste-to-energy municipal solid waste incinerator. Her work on establishing pay as you throw recycling residential programs, in addition to recycling programs for the City’s commercial and multi-family sectors, has led Austin to having one of the nation’s most successful recycling programs. Her work in this area continues with promoting zero waste by 2040, adopted by the Austin City Council in January 2009. 

Show Highlights 

  • Gail shares what you need to know as a green guide for healthcare aligned with a green building rating system.
  • A comprehensive look at process water and LEED prerequisites.
  • How do we avoid using unhealthy materials in buildings in order to promote health?
  • The evolution of LEED and how it raises the bar while not eliminating an entry point.  
  • Utilizing rainwater and stormwater as valuable resources.
  • Gail shares how Austin holds on to the environmental values in all of its new developments.
  • One of the important distinctions is that the HPD is a standard. It’s not a certification.
  • Every action we take needs a health lens and let’s ask these two essential questions.

“2020. It’s the year of letting us see where the cracks are and what we need to focus on. I’m really sort of taking this time as a wake up call to pay attention to those cracks and to do what we can in our small way to address them in terms of the way we approach our work, our relationships with other organizations and to hopefully come out of this with some clarity in terms of what is the new pattern language going forward.”

– Gail Vittori

(Transcript Available on here and on the GBES website)

Gail Vittori’s Show Resource and Information

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