BD Interview – Dominique Hargreaves

Executive Director of USGBC-LA Dominique Hargreaves joins us this issue to cover her background, the recent growth of USGBC-LA under her leadership, and exciting new features to expect at this year’s Greenbuild Expo.

B&D: How has your history with Pulte influenced your view on sustainable building and development?

DH: My first job after graduation was with Pulte Homes in North LA/Ventura, which was a brand new division at the time. My three-month training included two weeks building homes in Lancaster, Calif. I had a blast in my hardhat and work boots (I still have that hard hat on my desk). Experiencing quality construction, energy efficient materials, and working alongside the Project Management and Construction teams taught me the features and benefits that are behind the walls – you can design the most beautiful home, but quality construction and healthy materials make the difference in high energy performance. Pulte and other national homebuilders have that opportunity to leverage buying power and economies of scale to procure eco-friendly building products at reasonable prices and then deliver sustainable communities. That ability had a great impact on me to understand what the market’s potential is. Watching the design, construction, and delivery of new homes to so many families has been a joy to experience. Green homes are statistically 30 percent more energy efficient, and 40 percent more water efficient. The utility savings over a 30-year mortgage adds up to enough money to put a kid through college. I love that making a choice that is good for the environment and your family’s health can provide such a payback.

B&D: With doubled membership during your tenure as director, do you think your “insider knowledge” of how builders work gives you an edge in creating green programs that draw interest and support?

DH: Can you believe we’ve actually doubled again? We had 350 members when I came to USGBC-LA and now we have grown to a membership of over 1,300 people! “Insider knowledge” is a great term to use, I certainly understand builders and buyers which is the key to producing relevant programs. Having managed sales for single-family residences and high-rise developments all over LA County, I have worked with over 1,000 families and seen what creates value and a good experience for everyone. A clever developer once told me, “If you build smart, efficient homes in a good location people will want to live in them”. These are simple and true words. I would also say my “insider knowledge” as part of the Millennial generation has helped draw interest and support to USGBC-LA. I may be the oldest Millennial, but I can relate to them and I know what motivates them. They are now entering the housing market and they want urban, sustainable, affordable, green homes.

B&D: What will be new and different at this year’s Greenbuild thanks to USGBC’s partnership?

DH: This year we are debuting WaterBuild, the water-focused summit at Greenbuild. WaterBuild is developed to continue the conversation on water in California with the goal of producing valuable material to support the work already underway. We’ll be looking at strategies used at Caltech to produce a Net Zero Water dormitory and then having a local charrette to hack the developing Net Zero Water Ordinance for Los Angeles County.

B&D: If you had to call out one feature of Greenbuild that’s not to be missed, what would it be?

DH: The Expo Hall at Greenbuild is going to be incredible. With over 600 exhibitors you can peruse the pavilions that focus on Water, Zero Net Energy, Lighting, Health & Wellness, Tech, and my favorite, Residential. This year, the KB Home ProjeKt will display a home of the future that I cannot wait to explore. It will be a vision of what homes will be like in 2020 and 2050 based on emerging trends and new technologies. Don’t miss that!

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