Meet Kunal Gulati

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Meet Kunal Gulati

Everyone: Meet Kunal.

Kunal joined our supergroup to help create better narratives and stories to market our products better. Kunal is our go-to guy for all things PEER and WELL related. He also has a pretty good handle on GBCI and its products.

10 Questions with Kunal:

  1. Favorite city to visit? It has to be a cross between Istanbul and Berlin. Istanlin? Berstanbul?
  2. Go-to Karaoke Song: Larger than Life, Backstreet Boys. Especially closer to the night, where all the love songs start to take over.
  3. Best movie: I have The Matrix memorized. From Laurence to Keanu.
  4. How do you contribute to USGBC’s sustainable efforts in your personal life? I spend hours in front trash receptacles, deciding which one to choose based on what I am attempting to dispose. Sometimes this process takes days.
  5. Most visited website: The front page of the internet, Reddit.
  6. Favorite guilty pleasure TV show to watch: I may or may not watch The Amazing Race (all 26 seasons)
  7. Favorite pizza toppings: Since moving to New York, it’s only grandma style pizza. Basil, tomato, mozzarella.
  8. Best book you’ve read in the past year: “I am Zlatan” offers a candid commentary behind a Swedish Soccer player. Excellent read.
  9. Favorite season: Shorts and sweater weather is better weather.
  10. Are you a morning person, or night owl? The most productive things get done when everyone else is asleep.

Our innovative Studio team is comprised of marketing strategists, digital analysts, designers and developers. This supergroup is responsible for making sure that USGBC communicates with the world in the most effective and compelling way while maintaining our standards of sustainability. The only way we can accomplish this is through collaboration. Glad you guys took the time to meet Kunal—stay tuned to meet the rest of our talented team members!

How To: Using Pinterest in Different Ways

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How To: Using Pinterest in Different Ways

As Pinterest continues to evolve, social media marketers are starting to use the site in innovative ways to enhance their collective stories. One way that Pinterest allows you to engage your online community creatively is through the map feature. “Place pins” creates a visual and informative location-based board that tells a comprehensive story, maps areas of interest and creates local guides.  These maps connect the visual to the actual, by displaying where pins are in the physical—and not just digital world.

At USGBC, we use Pinterest maps to educate our audience about the sustainability movement and to create local guides on the high-performing LEED-certified buildings that are at the heart of this movement. Our maps help our online community learn about green building news in their specific area of interest.

For example, in recent articles I wrote for our company, I used Pinterest maps to educate our audience about green building in the professional and collegiate sports world. The Pinterest maps I created let viewers discover if their favorite pro-sports teams play in a LEED-certified venue; hear one-of-a-kind stories about the history, resiliency and adaptive reuse of these buildings; keep up-to-date on LEED activity and green building news in the world; and plan a trip to visit a LEED-certified stadium near them!



Check out our Pinterest page to learn more about how we are using our boards to communicate our message digitally!

Eating Local Makes a Difference: Here’s Why

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Eating Local Makes a Difference: Here’s Why

While our day to day work focuses on greening the built environment, many staff at USGBC extend those principles of sustainability into their daily lives. From shopping and commuting to buying groceries, all of us make choices that affect the environment. One way to make a difference in the community is buying from your local farmers and participating in a CSA.

What is a CSA?
A CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. CSAs help the community by providing fresh, local and seasonal produce to consumers. CSAs also help farmers by guaranteeing a market for their products, eliminating the guesswork from marketing, and reducing waste. Shareholders subscribe for up to three, seven-week plans: spring, summer and fall.

Where and who does the food come from?
Our neighbors at RTKL have invited our team to participate in their CSA subscription. Orchard Country Produce is a family-owned and operated, sustainable fruit and vegetable farm in Cumberland County, Pa., near the Appalachian foothills. Learn more about the family who runs the farm.

What kinds of fresh produce are typically delivered?
In the spring, there is typically asparagus, shallots, spring onions, radishes, strawberries, lettuce mix, spinach, rhubarb and apples. During the summer, we should see blueberries, peaches, cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, honey, sweet onions, new red potatoes and Swiss chard.

What are the size options for shares?
There are three sizes of shares offered, they are: full shares (ideal for families of four or more), half shares (perfect for couples or families of three) and personal shares (best for one-person households).

We asked some of the participants to tell us a little bit about their CSA experience:

I have been using CSAs for four years in a row now. I am in love with this whole idea of paying my money directly to the farmers in my area. I love the quality of all the produce AND I get so much for my money—it’s a truly win-win situation! I enjoy all the greens that we receive on a weekly basis. The CSA membership forces me to eat well because if I don’t eat all the veggies that I got during the week they will go bad. My general go-to recipe: sautee greens in a pan, add a drop of sesame oil, add chopped garlic, and drizzle with lemon juice. 
-Daria Gelman, USGBC

My boyfriend made this recipe last night with the beets we got in the CSA box. We almost never buy beets, so we’ve been a little at a loss for what to do with them, but the dish was delicious!
-Anisa Baldwin-Metzger, USGBC

I really enjoy participating in the CSA! Every week I get different varieties of fresh produce, so I’ve learned how to use new things like kohlrabi. I try to eat food that is local and in-season, and I like knowing where my food comes from. I’m also happy that my money is supporting local farmers who are doing great things. The cost is comparable to, or less than, what I spend at the grocery store so it’s a win-win.
-Theresa Backhus, USGBC

I think this is a really great opportunity to get farm fresh produce delivered right to our office, support a local farm, and learn about produce you might not be familiar with!
-Kathleen Mannis, RTKL, CSA liaison


If you’re looking for ways to eat healthy, expand your menu in the kitchen and support your local farmers in the process, check out a CSA near you.

And don’t forget to check out the most recent Orchard Country Produce CSA we received!


Meet Josephine Nguyen

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Meet Josephine Nguyen

Everyone: Meet Josephine.

Josephine is a member of our super team, but she actually works remotely in California! She’s got a pretty awesome grasp of everything webinar related, and has been handling most of our marketing efforts to generate more webinars for our viewers.

10 Questions with Jo:

  1. Where were you born?  Stockton, California, but I consider Eureka, California my hometown.
  2. Describe your role on the USGBC Marketing Team. I work on marketing automation, webinars, and marketing research and analysis.
  3. Favorite ice cream flavor: My favorite at the moment is Banana, Salt & Caramel from Lush Gelato (made in SF).
  4. How do you contribute to USGBC’s sustainable efforts in your personal life? There are so many ways: energy efficiency and conservation, recycling, composting, reducing food waste, and buying less stuff. Right now, my biggest priority is water. With California in extreme drought, I try to use as little water as possible while also reducing water waste. My husband and I only run full loads of laundry and dishes. We also capture the water that runs while the shower is heating; we use it to water our vegetable garden and house plants.
  5. Cat or dog person? Dog person—I love both, but I’m allergic to cats.
  6. Favorite city to visit: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam and the surrounding area. I have more family than I can count in the city and villages nearby. The countryside is gorgeous, the food incredible, and I know enough of the language.
  7. Are you a morning person, or night owl? I’m definitely a night owl!
  8. Right or left handed? Right-handed
  9. Biggest pet peeve: Bad grammar and poor spelling
  10. Zodiac sign: Aries

Our innovative Studio team is comprised of marketing strategists, digital analysts, designers and developers. This supergroup is responsible for making sure that USGBC communicates with the world in the most effective and compelling way while maintaining our standards of sustainability. The only way we can accomplish this is through collaboration. Glad you guys took the time to meet Josephine—stay tuned to meet the rest of our talented team members!

Tools to Enhance Productivity Series: Evernote

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Tools to Enhance Productivity Series: Evernote

I used to rely on handwritten to-do lists exclusively. I thought that because of the writing aspect of the note, I was more likely to remember the things on the list. Lies. I would totally forget things, and I would spend way more time perfecting my handwriting for said to-do list instead of actually accomplishing the things on the list!

Enter Evernote.

I have been using Evernote since June of 2008 when it was released. Since then, it has only improved my workflow. Evernote works across all my devices—so if I created a note on my work laptop, I can still check it out at home on my iPhone or iPad. Evernote is a program that collects all of my things—literally a collection of all of my collections. I mean, their slogan is “Remember Everything™”. I am constantly making notes, to-do lists, project descriptions, visual inspirations, websites to visit at a later date, notes for a presentation, or real time notes during conversations and feedback.

Evernote does 3 really amazing things that my life in the office easier: Allows me to attach files to any note, ability to drop images or visuals into any note, and the checklist function.

File Attachments: When I take notes on a project, there are usually supporting documents. That can range from old PDFs to reference, to Excel spreadsheets full of numbers and specs. I like for this all to stay in one place to reference when needed. Evernote allows me to copy and paste the project guidelines text into a note, and also attach any supporting files. That way when I go back to begin the project, I can easily access the PDF or spreadsheet I need!

Image Collections: As a designer, 50% of the project usually involves researching and nailing down a visual direction. For me this can mean pulling tons of inspiring photos from blogs, websites or videos and collecting them in one space to reference during the project. With Evernote, I can add any images to a note and view it as I read the project description or list in the note. This makes inspiration for every project super convenient and organized.

Checklist Function: Like I mentioned before, the handwritten to-do list has been an epic failure in my work life. But thanks to Evernote, I can create checklists right in my notes. I keep a notebook specifically full of weekly to-do lists. Every week I generate a note that includes a to-do list that shows all my projects due within the week. I can even highlight them to make sure I don’t skip over them! It’s great for me because every week it is inevitable that I’ll add a handful of urgent projects to my to-do list. My Evernote list is ever-changing, and easy for me to update on the fly. I can be at lunch, pull out my phone and add an urgent project while I pay for my overpriced salad!

Without Evernote, I would not have an efficient way to track my projects, add visual inspiration and keep my project files in one place! And this way, I can access it anywhere, anytime. Evernote has enhanced my productivity in the office—you should check it out!

Do you have ways you enhance productivity in your home life or work life?

DIY Bug Spray for Summer

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DIY Bug Spray for Summer

Do mosquitos have you buggin’ out this summer? Never fear, your favorite D.I.Y. bug repellent is here! This homemade insect repellent is great for mosquitos, flies, and other annoying summer bugs… Not to mention it smells like a sunny day in the garden. Great for most skin types, this formula uses soothing witch hazel and cold-pressed essential oils to get the job done.

What You Need

  • 4 oz dark spray bottle
  • 3.0 oz Witch hazel
  • 5 drops Citronella oil
  • 10 drops Lemon oil
  • 10 drops Grapefruit oil
  • 10 drops Lavender oil (Lavandula Angustifolia)
  • 1/2 tsp Grapeseed oil


Add witch hazel to small spray bottle. Add oils. Shake well before each use. Apply the bug repellent every few hours for maximum effectiveness.

There are a lot of bug-repelling oil options out there. Interested in some alternatives to the ones listed above? Check out the following options:

  • eucalyptus
  • tea tree
  • peppermint
  • cypress
  • rose geranium
  • bergamot
  • lemon eucalyptus oil (recommended by the CDC as an alternative to DEET. Should not be used for children under 3 years of age though!)


  • Per usual with essential oils, women who are pregnant or nursing should consult a health practitioner before using.
  • Use caution when using essential oils on young children.
  • Do a patch test to check for an allergic reaction before using an essential oil for the first time.
  • Make sure to label homemade products well.
  • Dark-colored bottles work best for products containing essential oils. Store in a cool, dark place when not using.


Check out our how to video and let us know if you try out the recipe for yourself!

Intro to Design Thinking Series: The Art of Brainstorming

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Intro to Design Thinking Series: The Art of Brainstorming

We’re familiar with brainstorming as being a collaborative group discussion where the participants all contribute ideas that will ultimately create a solution to a problem. This is indeed true… but what constitutes a great brainstorming session? What is the formula for making amazing ideas? Where do you start?

Rally the Troops

No brainstorming session is complete without a good team. Grab a couple people from each area involved in project production: creative team, project managers, content strategists, client/task manager, marketing associate, etc. You want a diverse group that can contribute different perspectives on the project. Definitely have a moderator, someone to keep everyone on track when the idea wheels start churning.

Ready, Set…

…a time limit. 1-2 hours. Enough time to get some steady creative juices flowing and not too much where you run the risk of burning out or overthinking. You can always have follow-up sessions. Prep the team before the meeting, so that everyone arrives on the same page when the session starts.


Now we’re getting to the good stuff! Writing supplies? Check. Ample white board space for sketches? Check. Snacks? Check. Let’s get started: State the challenge: You can’t create a product until you know how it needs to function. This where the team discusses and solidifies key performance indicators, what the end-user needs to accomplish the goal of the product and any possible obstacles. One conversation at a time, let everyone’s voice be heard. Work together to define the problem and write a problem statement. Ideate: You’ve now entered the no-judgment zone! Make some assumptions about the product. Try to consider all aspects of your product and business, including consumer/customer beliefs, production, materials, budget, distribution, product positioning, etc. Everyone should contribute thoughts on:

  • a solution
  • the risks from every angle (production and business)
  • who the users are
  • what users value
  • how the product should feel and function

Be visual! Draw mind maps, make priority clusters with post-its, make outlines… Get those ideas out there! Onward and upward: Move forward with the best ideas. These bits of genius are whittled into shape and an implementation plan is created. Brainstorming isn’t just about solving problems. It’s about empowering the team by letting everyone contribute. It’s about creating strong team bonds through effective and efficient collaboration.