Reader Profile: Connie Lilley

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In 2006, Architecture 2030 issued a challenge that all new buildings, developments, and major renovations will be designed to meet a fossil fuel, greenhouse gas (GHG)-emitting, energy consumption performance standard of 70% below the regional or country average/median for that building type, leading to carbon-neutral in 2030. The targets are being met by implementing innovative sustainable design strategies, generating onsite renewable energy, and/or purchasing 20% maximum offsite renewable energy. The urban built environment is responsible for 75% of annual global GHG emissions, with buildings alone accounting for 39%.

Thus was born the nonprofit 2030 Districts Network. Its multi-purpose vision is to onboard new cities to a model that supports peer exchange across districts, stores and shares data, uses aggregate purchasing power to secure reduced costs, creates national partnership relationships, and influences national policy on transportation infrastructure and building water and energy efficiency. There are 20 established US districts of which the Detroit 2030 District is one. It is directed by Connie Lilley, MBA, LEED AP, whose work focuses on helping to establish high-performance buildings and promote energy-efficient products, initiatives, and sustainability.

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Lilley brings to the table skills in developing high-performance buildings, renewable energies, energy efficiency, environmental agendas, community activism, business development, marketing and public relations, project management for sustainable initiatives, events, and corporate development. “I assist Detroit building owners and managers in learning how to reduce energy and water in their buildings and greenhouse gas emissions from transportation as well as other important sustainable initiatives,” notes Lilley of the program, which encompasses 19 million square feet in the Motor City.

What She Does Day to Day
Lilley spends her time choosing education programming and speakers for up to three monthly meetings for District members. She works with public and private companies to bring sectors together in an effort to create solutions to building owners’ and managers’ challenges. Lilley reaches out to businesses to support the district financially and apply for grants to help support district initiatives. She created an ambassador program, giving each building owner an industry professional to work with them for up to a year for support. Lilley also manages all of the organization’s marketing, public relations, and social media and speaks about sustainability at conferences and to groups.

What Led Her to This Line of Work
Lilley earned a B.A. in public relations from Madonna University and an MBA in corporate sustainability and strategic management from Davenport University. “I started in the real estate industry in the late 1980s and continued in the commercial building sector,” she says. “In 2003, I began to learn about green buildings and LEED. Since I’m frugal, I enjoyed helping building owners reduce operating costs and since I’m an environmentalist, I was quickly hooked on the benefits that high performance, sustainable buildings can offer and how they promote healthy work places and cities.” Lilley’s career also has included high-performance buildings, commercial roofing systems, specification design and bid process management, energy incentives assistance, and LEED projects.

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What She Likes Best About Her Work
“I like that I get to work with all types of people,” notes Lilley. “From the experienced sustainability professional to a small building owner who is just learning how to measure and reduce energy, to city officials and like-minded nonprofits, I get to work with them all. I try to bring them together to work on solutions as an entire district and to create momentum that leads to systemic changes.”

Her Greatest Challenge
“Finding the time to reach to the building owners and managers throughout our great city is my greatest challenge,” says Lilley. “With all there is to do in running a nonprofit, I sometimes run out of time and can’t personally reach out to as many people as I would like to introduce this free program. My job is never done. There is always more to do and more people to communicate with. I’ve learned to look at what I’ve accomplished and not at what I think there still needs to be done. It’s a big endeavor. But I’m honored to be assisting with creating a more sustainable Detroit for all of us who live, work, and visit our growing city.” De Bug Web

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