by Heather DeGrella, past USGBC Central Texas Chairperson
At the first Greenbuild convention (held in Austin in 2002), only a small number of USGBC Chapters had formed around the country. It was at that convention when environmental leaders from Austin and San Antonio began the discussion of starting a regional chapter.The first informal meeting followed in January 2003, with a handful of participants. The issues which filtered to the top of the discussion helped focus the direction of the organization toward forming one regional chapter that encompassed both Austin and San Antonio.
It was collectively agreed upon that the Balcones Escarpment was the defining ecological feature of the region, and Balcones was chosen as the name for the forming chapter. Additionally, the concern for water conservation – a relatively small portion of the overall points in LEED program’s point structure – was at the forefront of issues in our region. These early discussions included ideas for creating a regional point structure in LEED based on local environmental priorities such as water. Six years later, USGBC incorporated regionalism within the LEED point structure with LEED 2009.
Several years after the formation of the USGBC Central Texas – Balcones Chapter, National USGBC began assigning clearly defined areas to each chapter. The USGBC Central Texas – Balcones Chapter now officially serves 72 counties. In 2005, National furthered organized chapters by grouping them into eight broad “families” called Regional Committees. This organization provides a structure for bringing Chapters within a region together to work on regional issues and opportunities as well as facilitate communications and information sharing. Our Chapter joined with the Greater Houston Area Chapter, the North Texas Chapter, and what would become the Oklahoma and Louisiana Chapters, to form the South Central Regional Committee (SCRC).