Home Design Thought Leader: Melissa Rappaport Schifman

Melissa Rappaport Schifman is an experienced sustainability and finance professional with a demonstrated history of creative problem-solving, thorough analysis, and bottom-line financial results. Skilled in Sustainability Tools and Metrics (including LEED, GRI, and ISSP), Renewable Energy, Strategic Planning, Business Development, Finance, Energy and Environmental Policy, Writing and Editing.

Environmental Policy

Melissa grew up in Minneapolis and then went to Georgetown University in Washington D.C. where she majored in Government and spent time on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant, handling energy and environmental issues. Melissa earned her Masters in Public Policy and her MBA from the University of Chicago and spent several years in finance in the airline industry before she pivoted to the world of green building.

“I was living in Phoenix, and there were just some really obvious things that were a problem there. First, there was the sun that was just omnipresent, and I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t more solar power. Then, there was a lack of water. You would see people watering their lawns in the middle of the day, and the water was just evaporating. What really hit me, when I lived there, were these air quality alerts that warned you about high air pollution days that it was really unhealthy to go outside. I hike a lot, and that was my form of exercise; so, to not be able to go outside just seemed ridiculous. We as humans were creating that pollution that made it unhealthy. None of that made sense to me; so, those were the seeds that got me thinking that we need to be more sustainable.” – Melissa Rappaport Schifman

Shifting from Policy to Green Buildings

Melissa shares that shifting from policy to buildings and green buildings was the combination of becoming a mother and wanting to make sure we have a healthier world for our future and her children. She had also left the toxic corporate environment and didn’t want to go back to the “corporate ladder”. Additionally in 2006/2007 Melissa and her husband had the opportunity to build a new home, and the LEED for homes rating system had just come out. Melissa wanted to make her home as sustainable as it could be. After she led the LEED certification of her own home, Melissa became a LEED accredited professional and spent the next eight years working as a sustainability consultant, primarily LEED certifying commercial buildings under the LEED EBOM rating system.

I believe the LEED rating system is the most powerful and impactful rating system because it measures ongoing performance. We even used LEED for a basis of one client’s Corporate Sustainability Report. – Melissa Rappaport Schifman

Building a Sustainable Home and Melissa’s Book

 “I’m most proud of my book: Building a Sustainable Home: Practical Green Design choices for Your Health, Wealth, and Soul” – Mellissa Rappaport Schifman

During the process of getting her new home LEED certified, Melissa started a blog and wrote about all the different LEED credits, the associated costs, and her thoughts on whether it was a good credit worth pursuing. She posted one blog a day Monday thru Thursday. This turned out to be the seedlings of her new book. She felt like she needed to write her book because all the other guidebooks and resources she had been exposed to seemed to be missing things.

 “I took everything that LEED has to say, and I reorganized it into something that is relatable and comprehensible, and hopefully not overwhelming. I tried to really bottom line it for people.” – Melissa Rappaport Schifman

Link to Melissa’s book on Amazon


The biggest influence early in Melissa’s career was reading Paul Hawkin’s book the Ecology of Commerce. He really took all the issues that that were being created in terms of pollution and waste and showed how businesses are contributing to it. She loved Paul Hawkin’s positive attitude about how businesses can be an agent of change and that businesses can get on board to become more sustainable.

Book Recommendations


Building a Sustainable Home, Practical Green Design Choices for your Health,  Wealth and Soul by Melissa Rappaport Schifman

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming

by Paul Hawken

The Ecology of Commerce Revised Edition: A Declaration of Sustainability

by Paul Hawken

The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body

By Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins

Tune into this podcast to listen to the rest of Melissa Rappaport Schifman’s amazing journey in this podcast hosted by Charlie.

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Announcement:  Starting on January 1, 2019, GBMS will begin rolling out it’s new membership community.  Members will be given access to some of the guests on the podcasts that you can ask project questions to, if you are preparing for an exam there will be more insurances that you will pass your next exam, you will be given cliff notes if you are a member and so much more.

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