November 13, 2015

From a presentation on energy efficiency in schools to the unveiling of their 2015 Greenbuild Legacy Project – the Citizen HKS Urban Food Studio, HKS Washington D.C. is heading to the 2015 USGBC International Greenbuild Conference and Expo in full participation mode.

Billed as the premier conference and expo for the green building movement, the three day event features renowned speakers and seminars, LEED workshops, green building tours and more. Some 30,000 industry professionals are expected to attend this year’s event at the Washington Convention Center, November 18-20.

Amber Wirth and Kate Renner, both with HKS Washington D.C., are taking part in Greenbuild’s education track with their session “Catalyzing Behavior Change to Save Energy in Schools” on Friday, November 20, 8:00 – 9:00 a.m.  Wirth and Renner are involved in the USGBC-National Capital Region chapter’s Green Schools Committee and participated in the DC Green Schools Challenge, a program focused on addressing energy usage in schools.  Their session features case studies and findings after implementing two programs – the Innovation Challenge and Sprint to Savings – in partnership with the Department of General Services and USGBC, with dual goals of reducing the environmental impact of schools and educating students.  The bottom line: if schools can reduce energy waste, more money becomes available for salaries, computers, text books and educational tools for students. Click here for information about their presentation.

Other conference highlights for the HKS D.C. team include:

  • November 15:  In advance of the conference opening, a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony will be held for the HKS-designed Urban Food Studio, named the 2015 Greenbuild Legacy Project.
  • November 19:  Two events involving the Urban Food Studio project, including a presentation about the project on the conference expo floor; and the 2015 Malcolm Lewis IMPACT! Award presentation, honoring the Urban Food Studio, to be presented at the Greenbuild Leadership Awards Luncheon.

Collaboration on the Urban Food Studio concept began in September 2014, with the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) and 26 additional stakeholders and volunteers visioning a design for a flexible, all-season multipurpose outdoor kitchen – a designated space for education programs including gardening, cooking classes, nutrition workshops, volunteer respite and more. The project incorporates reused and recycled construction materials and other sustainability features, including solar harvesting and rain water collection. The Urban Food Studio was designed to educate and empower the community about hunger and nutrition, and to help bring food security to 500,000 D.C. area individuals who rely on CAFB for assistance.   

With the backing of HKS’ public interest design arm – Citizen HKS – HKS D.C. teamed with CAFB, Clark Construction and the USGBC to make the vision a reality. In February, the Urban Food Studio came out on top of a design competition and was selected as the 2015 Greenbuild Legacy Project, receiving a $10,000 grant – seed money to get construction underway and open this month, just ahead of the conference opening.  

The icing on the cake for the Urban Food Studio came with its nomination for the 2015 Malcolm Lewis IMPACT! Award when the project was recently named one of six nominees for the honor. The volunteer project that created the most social media buzz was selected as the winner, and the Urban Food Studio received the most likes and shares on USGBC’s Facebook page. 

“Having Greenbuild in Washington D.C. is an amazing opportunity to for us to share our passion and demonstrate leadership in shaping healthier environments,” said Shannon Kraus, FAIA, FACHA, LEED AP, principal and HKS D.C. office director. As active members within the USGBC-National Capital Region chapter, HKS is part of the Host Committee that helped plan and execute the annual event. “Over the last year, Amber Wirth and Kate Renner have been leading the charge for HKS, and together they’ve created a robust program and presence for HKS at Greenbuild,” said Kraus. 

Amber Wirth, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is an HKS Design Green Sustainability Project Manager and Architect with 12 years of industry experience including commercial, mixed use, residential, hospitality, healthcare and government projects. Wirth is actively involved in the USGBC-National Capital Region chapter, serving as co-chair of the Green Schools Committee. She most recently served on the 2015 Greenbuild Legacy Project Committee.

Kate Renner, AIA, EDAC, Lean Six-Sigma ce, LEED AP BD+C, specializes in healthcare design and has experience working with several of the top healthcare systems in the United States and abroad. Kate also focuses on community resilience, developing proactive approaches to disaster mitigation. Renner serves with the USGBC-NRC Chapter’s Green Schools Committee, and is a member of the 2015 Greenbuild Host Committee's Ambassador Committee.

HKS, Inc. is a leading architectural design firm ranked among the top six architectural engineering firms, according to Building Design+Construction magazine. Since its founding in 1939, HKS has completed construction projects totaling more than $77 billion in more than 1,650 cities located in 84 countries. The firm operates from 26 offices worldwide. For more information, contact Julie Wellik at


Posted in Green Places
Tagged 2015 Greenbuild Conference and Expo, Capital Area Food Bank, Citizen HKS, Clark Construction, HKS, HKS DesignGreen, Malcolm Lewis IMPACT! Award, USGBC