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2017 Emerald Awards

January 24, 2017

Nominations for the 12th Annual Emerald Awards are now open until February 17.   The USGBC-Illinois Emerald Awards recognize outstanding individuals, organizations, projects, and technologies that are helping advance buildings and communities to become more sustainable, prosperous and healthy in Illinois. Priority will be given to applications that exemplify the new Epic Challenge for carbon drawdown and the role green buildings play in strengthening communities.

Award winners will be announced the end of March and formally presented at our annual fundraising event, Limelight, on May 18, 2017 at the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

Learn more about the award categories below, check out previous award winners and submit your nomination by February 22, 2017.


Intent to Matter: Individual
This award recognizes an individual who has exemplified leadership and inspiration in transforming the built environment in a sustainable and substantial way.

Intent to Matter: Organization
This award recognizes a corporation or organization that has made significant strides to reduce their environmental footprint or improve the built environment in a sustainable and substantial way.

Intent to Matter: Green Building Innovation
This award recognizes buildings (new or existing), technologies, products, or programs that have used innovative strategies to make a sustainable impact in the building industry.

Intent to Matter: Community Impact
This award recognizes an individual, community or coalition that have leverage sustainability knowledge to make a social impact in their community.

2016 Emerald Award Winners

May 2, 2016

Press Release

Brian Imus
Executive Director
312.245.8300 x201

May 3, 2016

For Immediate Release

 11th Annual Emerald Awards Announced

United Airlines, Leopardo Companies and the Chicago Motor Club Among Those to be Honored for Top Sustainability Achievements in Illinois

Chicago, IL – The U.S. Green Building Council-Illinois (USGBC-Illinois) will acknowledge several outstanding leaders and stand-out buildings that have helped to position Illinois as a national leader in sustainability. The 11th annual Emerald Awards ceremony will be held June 23rd at the Chicago Cultural Center at USGBC-Illinois’ annual event Limelight.

The Emerald Awards program is a showcase of the best and brightest contributors to a more sustainable built environment by recognizing outstanding individuals, organizations, projects and technologies.

The 11th annual Emerald Award winners include:

Michelle Halle Stern, President of the Green Facilitator, will be honored with the Intent to Matter: Individual Leadership award for her distinctive career in advancing green buildings with both seminal green building projects around Chicago and her pioneering approach to training and leadership in the architectural field.

Leopardo Companies, Inc., based in Hoffman Estates, will be recognized with the Intent to Matter: Outstanding Organization award. Leopardo’s long-standing dedication to green building and continuous innovative efforts in shrinking the footprint of construction-related impacts on the environment includes a unique partnership with the Environmental Law and Policy Center and Respiratory Health Association that helped advance one of the first low-emitting projects in the Chicagoland area.

Three recently completed projects will be recognized with an Emerald Award for Green Building Innovation. These include the newly restored Chicago Motor Club building, a striking example of integrating state of the art environmentally sustainable technologies within the context of a historic preservation project; The Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy (AMIE) demonstration project that underscores the high performance possibilities of new technologies and materials combined with building design and integrated-systems innovation; and the Chicago Public Library Chinatown Branch, a new civic, educational and social hub that leverages sustainable design as a support for the neighborhood.

This year, the Chapter Mission Award will be presented to an individual and an organization that reflect USGBC-Illinois’ new focus to implement carbon drawdown strategies in Chicago neighborhoods that improve the health, economy and social well-being of residents.

Arathi Gowda, leader of SOM Chicago’s elite Performative Design Group, will be honored with the individual Chapter Mission Award. Her role as an educator, practitioner and advocate in the field of planning and architecture have helped to advance the role sustainable infrastructure can play in strengthening neighborhoods.

Chicago-based United Airlines will be recognized with the organization Chapter Mission award for their decades-long commitment to sustainability. Earlier this year, United Airlines made history by becoming the first U.S. airline to begin use of commercial-scale volumes of sustainable aviation biofuel for regularly scheduled flights from Los Angeles (LAX). United has improved fuel efficiency by over 33% since 1994 and incorporated green building standards for its facilities including their corporate headquarters and O’Hare airport cargo facility in Chicago and their suburban Chicago data center. The commitments they are making in Chicago to reduce their environmental footprint have global implications for reducing carbon emissions and setting an example for other large organizations to take action.

Earlier this year Illinois was recognized for the third year in a row for the top state for LEED projects. At this year’s awards ceremony, USGBC-Illinois will introduce plans to build on this success and go even further with ‘no regrets’ sustainability strategies that will impact more buildings and communities that have yet to be impacted by the green building movement.

“The achievements this year uniquely illustrate the future of sustainability and how Illinois will continue to lead the nation in green buildings and sustainable communities,” said Brian Imus, Executive Director of USGBC-Illinois. “These leaders and projects build on the success of LEED in Illinois by advancing new strategies that reduce carbon emissions while strengthening the health and economy of our communities.”

The public is invited to celebrate these sustainability leaders at Limelight on June 23rd, 2016 at the Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E. Washington Street. Tickets to the event and presentation of the Emerald Awards are available online. For more information regarding Limelight, contact Joan Martin at 312-245-8300 x 205 or visit

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About the U.S. Green Building Council-Illinois

USGBC-Illinois ( is a non-profit, membership organization that represents the entire spectrum of Illinois’ green building community, from real estate professionals, architects, engineers, designers and trade associations to contractors, product manufacturers, state and local government officials, homebuilders and homeowners. USGBC-Illinois works to promote green buildings and foster a robust sustainability community with nearly 100 annual programs, events, education and research initiatives, advocacy campaigns, and resources.

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