At the 2008 "Summer Camp" in the Adirondacks.
Photo: Mike Cox
The green building industry lost one of its pillars this week. Less than two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2007, Gail Lindsey, FAIA, of Wake Forest, North Carolina, passed away on February 2nd. She had been recovering from a third round of chemotherapy when a sudden recurrence of liver cancer was discovered late last week.
Gail has been a key part of the green building movement since its earliest formative days. She was one of EBN
's most enthusiastic supporters since joining our advisory board at the beginning of 1994, and was always willing to share wisdom and encouragement whenever asked. For architects, Gail was perhaps best known as chair of the National AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) during a particularly formative period when the annual Top-10 awards were launched.
For thousands of architects, builders, developers, and facilities managers, Gail is remembered as an enthusiastic and inspirational teacher. She led more than 200 workshops and charrettes on green building, and never failed to brighten and inspire those participants.
I remember sitting in one of those charrettes — I can't remember where or when. After each of the 30 or 40 of us sitting in a circle introduced ourselves, I was astounded to hear Gail repeat each of our names. It was one of Gail's many gifts, and it helped each of those participants feel listened to and important. It was all about them, the students, not about her, the instructor.
Among the many charrettes Gail was involved with were the Greening of the White House, the Greening of the Pentagon, the Sustainable Design Initiatives for the National Park Service, and the Sustainable Design Training Program for the Department of Defense. I remember her describing the bizarre ending of a charrette at a military base on September 11, 2001. President Bush was diverted to this base on his return from Florida to Washington after the terrorist attacks. The military personnel didn't know what to do with these civilian instructors in their midst so, in the panic, locked them up in a room.
Photo: Mike Cox, December 2008
Gail was involved in creating the LEED Rating System, the Army's SPiRiT rating system, the North Carolina Triangle J High Performance Guidelines, and the International Green Building Challenge Assessment Tool. She was one of the first twelve LEED trainers for the U.S. Green Building Council, and she co-chaired the U.S. Team for the International Green Building Challenge starting with its inception in 1996.
We worked very closely with Gail in creating the Green Building Advisor
— not our new online tool GreenBuildingAdvisor.com, but the CD-ROM-based brainstorming tool of the same name that BuildingGreen produced ten years ago in partnership with Gail's company, Design Harmony, and the Center for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technology (CREST). The early meetings about this tool at our home in Dummerston, Vermont are fond memories; Gail connected with my two daughters and always asked about them in the years since.
In recent years, Gail was focused on the evolution of green building beyond energy and water and materials — the holistic aspects of this field. In 2005, Nadav worked closely with her, Bill Reed, Joel Todd, and others on the Expanding Our Approach
workshop supported by the General Services Administration. A year later, I was fortunate enough to join Gail and thirty other visionaries in a symposium on biophilia. Last summer Jim Newman, on our staff, participated in a five-day "Summer Camp" in the Adirondacks organized by Gail and a few others pursuing deeper connections, personal growth, and fun (a pursuit that Gail thought didn't get enough attention in our meetings and conferences).
When Gail was recognized in 2007 with a Leadership Award from the USGBC, Nadav noted
, "Gail's influence on BuildingGreen, and on me in particular, has been nothing short of profound." Gail will be sorely missed by all of us at BuildingGreen and by thousands of others in the green building field whose lives she deeply touched. We offer our deepest sympathies to her beloved husband Mike, who has cared so ably for Gail these past two years, and to her wide circle of supportive friends. During her illness, Gail gave as much support to this circle of friends as we were able to give to her. Gail's endearing smile will live on for all of us.
— Alex Wilson