Bay-Friendly Schoolyard opens in Oakland
Sequoia Elementary School in the Oakland Unified School District recently celebrated the transformation of an asphalt area into a Bay-Friendly Rated landscape.
Wes Sullens is a Program Manager at StopWaste who works on green building, policy, advocacy, and codes & standards development. Wes was recently named a LEED Fellow, the most prestigious award given by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) and the US Green Building Council, for his longtime contributions to green building.
What do you do at StopWaste?
Alameda County is a world leader in promoting waste reduction. My role is to take and influence green building standards, rating systems, policies and codes so that they have waste reduction strategies based on best practices in our area. I have served in leadership roles on a variety of green building councils. We have learned to attach our waste prevention mission to the broader topics of green building such as climate change, health, water conservation, and energy efficiency since waste is not always a priority by itself. We are working to make green building evolve to be a more widely adopted concept.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud that our local government agency has been able to have a broader influence at the local, state, national, and global level through our involvement in green building programs, rating systems and codes. We have been able to amplify our message to a much broader audience than we could have otherwise and are seen as experts on these topics. We are able to do this because our agency has the flexibility to focus on issues that are grey areas for others or are dominated by industry groups and/or the private sector. We are also supported by our close relationship with our member agencies, which allows us to try things and use our experiences to transcend our border.
What does the LEED Fellow designation mean and mean to you?
The LEED Fellow designation is given to industry professionals that have demonstrated sustained, impactful contributions to the industry. The designation–which is like a lifetime achievement award–is usually given to architects and engineers, so it's a major accomplishment for a local government employee. In many ways this was an award for StopWaste for all the work we have done to mainstream LEED and green building concepts since 1999.
How did you get into this field?
My family had a small business as residential contractors, so I’ve been around building job sites my whole life and feel a connection to the construction industry. In college, I got a science degree in energy management and design. I continue to be amazed and inspired by what LEED and green building has done to transform the building marketplace in Northern California and the world.
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy hiking, mountain biking and the outdoors. I also like to tinker in my yard with my kids. We recently made a deck using a salvaged kids play structure and built an outdoor sink using salvaged materials so when we wash veggies, we can use the rinse water to irrigate the garden.