Perfecting Podcasts

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Perfecting Podcasts

USGBC has recently been focusing efforts on producing podcasts for all of you followers out there. We’re working extra hard to produce content that isn’t just focused on green building in general, but is really focused on the people behind our sustainability movement. I was able to take a minute to touch base with Rukesh Samarasekera who has been putting a lot of time and effort into our new podcast series: Changemakers@USGBC. Check out what he had to say below!

AH: Walk me through the steps of generating a podcast.

RS: At USGBC we have a multimedia team that talks through the vision for an individual podcast series. We want to make sure we’re clear on the overall intention so the team has a common understanding of why we’re creating it while giving individuals the autonomy to make it happen. Every series is different, but I can speak to the process of developing Changemakers@USGBC. It happened organically…I had an idea for a show, and was told to draft a proposal explaining the why, who, what, how, and when. Fortunately, we were looking to expand our multimedia to include podcasts, so the timing was just right. As a team we ideated and further refined the why, who, what, how, and when of the series.

AH: Why do we create them?

RS: We all have busy lives and podcasting allows you to listen on the go or while you’re doing something else. It doesn’t require your undivided attention. We often say, “Every story about green building is a story about people.” Changemakers@USGBC will go beyond the buildings and connect with the hearts and minds of the people behind the sustainability movement.

AH: What makes a good podcast?

RS: This is a tough one because everyone has their own definition of what’s “good.” I’m no podcasting pro but I can tell you what I like listening to. I like content that’s informs and inspires. I like it to be conversational. I like learning information that helps me make better life choices. If you could have at least two of these elements in a podcast I think it makes it good.

AH: What are some common mistakes when creating podcasts?

RS: We all make mistakes (and no experience is wasted if you learn from it) but instead of focusing on what not to do, here are seven things I try to do as much as possible:

  • Build support. Whether you’re working within an organization or creating a podcast on your own, you alone are not enough.
  • Test. Do you have enough battery power? Is all the equipment working? It’s always good to do a quick test.
  • Give yourself time, and track it. I’m definitely working on this. I know how long the interview is (it’s right on the recording), but how long did it take to book the interview? How long did it take to prepare (background research, constructing questions, setting up)? How long did it take to edit? How could you streamline the process? There are always exceptions but by tracking your time and being aware of how you could be more efficient, you’ll master your technique.
  • Plan. How many episodes are you going to release? How often? How many have you already recorded? Do you know who you would like to talk to? I’m not the best planner but this experience is making me think like one.
  • Make the person (or people) you’re talking to feel comfortable. Let him/her know how much you appreciate their time, be kind, and open with general questions.
  • Listen and allow the conversation to flow naturally. You may have a sheet of awesome questions, but you may not get to ask all of them. That’s okay. Pick a few you absolutely must ask. If you listen to what the person is actually saying you’ll be able to ask better questions and make the entire conversation more enjoyable.
  • Be “on.” What does that actually mean? From the moment you say hello, your job is to be confident, enthusiastic, and present. If you’re not conducting the interview in person make sure you’re in a space that won’t distract you.

AH: Why not just write an article recapping events or quotes from people?

RS: The human voice is like a fingerprint, it is unique and a window into a person’s soul. Unlike an article, this platform not only allows us to talk about someone, but it allows them to express their own identity in a way print alone cannot.

I think that one of the best things Rukesh brought up is “I like content that’s informs and inspires.” At USGBC I believe we are striving to constantly create content that informs and inspires our viewers, followers, and listeners.

Tune in to #USGBC’s new #podcast series: #ChangemakersUSGBC; we go beyond just #buildings. New episodes will be posted weekly. We’d love to know what you think. Leave a comment below or use #ChangemakersUSGBC on social media.

Behind the Scenes: T-Shirt Design

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Behind the Scenes: T-Shirt Design

When you design projects, it’s generally easy to get behind a simple process: you make a draft, send off the PDF, wait for some comments, and eventually it’s done. Designing clothing can be a little different. We recently needed to produce a t-shirt for our Green Apple initiative.

There were a few requirements: it needed to be timeless, needed to use as few colors as possible, and needed to include the logo. Otherwise we had creative freedom to produce anything we wanted.

I started by searching for inspiration. I went through some blogs, illustrations, band t-shirts, popular clothing lines, etc. I focused on Green Apple’s slogan, “Where we learn matters”, and the fact that they care about healthy, safe and efficient schools. I pulled all of these visual inspirations into my project notebook in Evernote, that way it was easy for me to locate later.


After gathering some inspiration, I moved onto some mockups. One thing that is really important when designing clothing, is to mockup your design on a template that is very similar to your final product. Sometimes a design looks really awesome on your white computer screen… but when you lay it out on the front of a t-shirt you realize it just doesn’t work. I always like to provide real life mockups!

We got some feedback on the mockups, and the result was a printed t-shirt that turned out great! Take a look at the final product:


Photos thanks to Ana Ka’ahanui.

#FFF: Fast Food Fridays

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#FFF: Fast Food Fridays

Who doesn’t love a good lunch? Something fresh and wholesome. What happens when your lunch happens to be 10 minutes sandwiched between meetings? You need a quick, simple yet satisfying solution…made with ingredients mostly found at your local farmer’s market.

Hello, Fast Food Friday.

Keeping with the theme of alliteration, I give you The Triple P: Petite Pita Pizza. (Say that 5x fast.)


Whole wheat pita
Tomato sauce (I used a homemade tomato basil marinara)
Mozzarella (fresh buffalo)
Toppings of choice (went with pepperoni today)
Basil (obligatory leafy vegetable element…also for flavor)


Assemble and pop into the microwave (HIGH setting) for 1 minute. The ingredients for The Triple P should yield at least a week’s worth of lunch. Save time and a few dimes.






What’s on Your Desk?

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What’s on Your Desk?

What’s on your desk directly influences your work habits and creativity. What does your workspace look like? Are you neat or are you messy?

As a designer, what’s on my desk is pretty important to my daily workflow. I’ll skip the boring stuff like my laptop (duh), or my monitor for larger scale projects. I’ll move right into the top 5 things I have to have on my desk to have my workday be a success:

  • Water bottle — Hydration is a pretty big deal in my daily workflow. I sit at my desk for hours sometimes, and if I don’t have a water bottle, I end up super dehydrated! The water bottle is a good reminder to take a break, and take a sip.
  • Inspirational art — I mean, I think this is a given as a designer. Looking at other art is always inspirational, and can get the creative juices flowing. But for me, I have had one piece of art on my desk for a few years straight now: my “Focus” print. I bought it a while back because the colors are calming and the typography is inspiring.
  • Lip balm — This goes hand in hand with my hydration obsession. My lips are always chapped, and without lip balm at the ready I’d forget lip balm even existed.
  • Headphones — Between blog posts, infographics, presentations, podcasts, and Instagram videos, my day involves a lot of moving pieces. Which also means I’m switching mediums constantly! I always need my headphones to listen to sound bites real quick, or edit a video and get it posted ASAP. Plus, listening to music in between those projects doesn’t hurt.
  • Sticky notes — I know I wrote a post a while ago about using Evernote to digitally take notes… But that doesn’t mean I have totally abandoned my love for handwritten lists. I am always writing stuff down: inspiration, hex color codes, quotes, grocery lists, recipes — you name it.

Are there things you keep on your desk to help make your workflow successful?

Top Design Resources for Non-Designers

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Top Design Resources for Non-Designers

So. Your boss asked you to create some graphics. And you thought, “Awesome! This is just the creative outlet I have been searching for.”

One problem: you are not a designer. And have never been a designer. In fact, you have never designed anything in your life! Unless your 4th grade diorama counts as “design”…

Never fear. Thanks to all the other people out there in your same situation, and the growing number of real, live designers out there, tons of resources exist. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Lynda — An awesome online learning resource for anyone. They offer online tutorials about how to learn graphic design, video production, photography, and so much more. Some courses require a paid membership, but lots of them offer a handful of free tutorials to get started!
  • 99u — Making ideas happen. A great resource for taking what ideas you have, and making them come to life. When you aren’t in a design role, but need to make designed projects happen, sometimes you need a little help. They also provide local resources in case you need to bounce ideas off someone!
  • Creative Market — Awesome resource for fonts, graphics, illustrations, and pre-made designs. Everything found on the site is designed by independent creatives around the world. Most items are pretty cheap, but some are free! Make sure to click the Free Goods tab at the top to check them out.
  • Adobe Color — If you’re not a designer, sometimes the idea of selecting a color palette seems daunting. With the Adobe Color Wheel, they do the hard work for you. Just select a color, and decide if you’re looking for monochromatic or complimentary — Voila! HEX and RGB swatches at your fingertips. There is even an option to develop a color palette from a photograph.
  • Canva — Canva is an easy way to develop graphics if you don’t have access to a real, living, graphic designer. Canva helps you create designs for web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more. Oh, and did I mention it’s totally free?
  • Dribbble — Looking for inspiration from other designers out there? Dribbble is your #1 inspiration hub. Dribbble asks the question: What are you working on? It’s an awesome place to see concepts, in progress work, and final products. But not only does it feature work from designers, it’s also a great community to connect with. You can comment, ask questions, or reach out to different artists.
  • infogram — So you need to make an infographic. But all you have are numbers. No problem. Infogram helps you pick infographic templates, and create a final product that is compelling and interactive. It’s data visualization made very, very easy.

What are some of your favorite design tools out there? If you don’t have access to an in-house designer, how do you solve your design problems?

Meet Amy

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Meet Amy

Everyone: Meet Amy.

Amy is a member of our innovative Studio team. She does graphic and web design for all of the moving pieces that make up USGBC.

10 Questions with Amy:

  1. Where were you born? Richmond, Va.
  2. Favorite city to visit? Savannah, Ga. — my college city!
  3. Describe your role on the USGBC Marketing Team. I support our marketing team by designing graphics, presentations, one pagers, slide templates, printed collateral, and sometimes landing pages.
  4. Go-to Karaoke Song: Mr. Big — The Next To Be With You
  5. Do you believe in Aliens? Yes, there’s definitely something else living out there.
  6. Zodiac sign: Aries — go rams.
  7. How do you get to work everyday? Since I recently moved to the H Street Corridor in Northeast DC, I’ve started walking to work! It’s about a 3.5 mile walk, but it’s really beautiful. I also have a bus I sometimes take that drops me off right in front of our USGBC headquarters!
  8. Favorite ice cream flavor: Dolce de Leche
  9. Best movie: Fear — 1996 thriller staring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Wahlberg.
  10. Favorite guilty pleasure TV show to watch: Real World. Or really any show on MTV.

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 Amy — stay tuned to meet the rest of our talented team members!

Pinterest Cheat Sheet

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Pinterest Cheat Sheet

Pinterest is a great medium to market your organization in an engaging way—and to create visually compelling creative that elevates your organization’s brand. Check out some of our tips on how to make your Pinterest boards successful and the best practices that we as an organization try to follow.

Make your content diverse, but target specific customers: The green building movement involves a variety of players—from developers, to builders, to sustainability advocates, and much more—so we like to curate boards that cover a wide variety of topics. Offering an array of sustainability-related images on our boards actually allows us to target a wider audience and reach specific customers more efficiently. The trick to accomplishing this is to stay organized! Instead of pinning a ton of images with no context, we divide our boards into topic areas with information that specific customers would want. Our diverse boards range from green schools, to health & wellness in building, to green building general information. Each board is designed with a customer in mind!

Cross-promote your pins: To reach a maximum audience, make sure that you share your pins on your other social media channels and that relevant pins link back to your blog or website. In addition, make sure to embed any applicable pins within your blog posts, offering visual and engaging examples to complement your story. All of these steps will help continue the conversation, bring more people into your network and ensure your online audience continues to engage with you.

Be creative! Try different ways to engage your audience: I love to use Pinterest maps to enhance our story in an original way! These visual and informative location-based boards tell a comprehensive story, map areas of interest and create local guides. At USGBC, we use 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 our movement. Our maps help our online community learn about green building news in their specific area of interest and are more dynamic than a stand-alone image.

Feature your customers: Use Pinterest to highlight the accomplishments of your customers. We like to showcase specific projects, developers, member companies, community members and other customers who are making a difference in the sustainability movement, transforming the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated. By promoting our customers stories, we make them feel appreciated and increase their level of engagement.

Check out our Pinterest page to see first-hand how we are using our boards to communicate our message digitally!