“I took on this position because I wanted to make a difference,” says Nick Mueller, the newly elected president of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance. Mueller, who is a project manager with The Boldt Company in Appleton, has the opportunity to do just that.
The WGBA, the Wisconsin affiliate of the U.S. Green Building Council, is a not-for-profit educational organization whose purpose is to “shape our future by facilitating and promoting ecologically sustainable practices within Wisconsin’s built environment,” says its website. The alliance’s 320 members include large construction corporations, power companies and global manufacturers as well as individuals like lawyers, architects, landscapers, educators, realtors and students.
“Sustainability in construction is an important issue to me and I’m proud to be part of an organization devoted to educating others about the topic,” says Mueller. “I’m honored to serve as president and I look forward to leading the Alliance and its programs to continued growth in Wisconsin.”
Mueller, a native of Manitowoc who recently turned 30, brings a solid pedigree in sustainability to his new responsibility. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture from UW-Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning and is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional.
Mueller created Boldt’s tracking process for LEED building certification and has played a major role in some of Boldt’s greenest projects. For example, he was project manager for ThedaCare Physicians’ Darboy Clinic and co-managed the construction of Lawrence University’s Warch Campus Center, both of which are LEED Gold facilities.
“Nick has a passion for being friendly to the environment,” says Boldt Group President Jim Lee. “When we get passionate people, we support that, and this is a great cause.”
Mueller is not the only key WGBA player with ties to the New North region. Heather McCombs of Appleton became executive director of the statewide organization last August. In fact, she and Mueller helped start the northeast Wisconsin branch of WGBA about four years ago.
McCombs, an interior designer by training, realized that an understanding of sustainability would be important for her to be successful in her profession. She became a LEED Accredited Professional and arranged for a volunteer internship with Boldt, where she had the opportunity to work with Mueller.
“I contacted the WGBA to get involved in the Fox Valley chapter,” says McCombs. “When I found out there was none, we decided we needed to start one.”
The local group developed monthly programs to help people who are practicing sustainability connect with each other and learn about new technologies. The WBGA is now implementing similar networking opportunities in Madison, Milwaukee and Wausau/Eau Claire.
Mueller joined the board of WGBA two years ago, and served as secretary before being elected to his term as president.
“Nick’s been a great addition to the board,” says McCombs. “He’s a natural leader and has excellent project management skills that he’s applying to our board’s work. We have a shared vision – that every building and design professional in our state deserves the opportunity for sustainable building practice education, programming and the networking that come with these events.”
“There’s a growing number of energetic and tenacious young professionals that we want to activate and get involved,” adds Mueller. “We’re partnering with UW-Milwaukee, including their students, to make our annual SE2 (Sustainable and Energy Efficiency) Conference the best conference ever, for example.”
McCombs also sees the organization’s vision expanding beyond impacting “everyone who works in a building” to include “everyone who lives in a house.” The Fox Valley group has begun working with the local Home Depots to help them understand what the WGBA is and to experiment with educational sessions that will bring green concepts from a commercial scale down to a residential scale.
Finally, the WGBA sees a real need to promote Wisconsin and its commitment to the cause. “Wisconsin is a quiet leader in sustainability and corporate responsibility, and now we’re trying to tell our story – to create opportunities for our state to be in the sustainability spotlight nationwide,” adds McCombs.
Mueller credits The Boldt Company for its forward thinking and for giving the latitude to young professionals like him to be involved in these kinds of opportunities.
And McCombs credits Mueller for his leadership in the WGBA. “A key to our success is partnerships,” says McCombs, “not simply any one person or any one company. But it takes a champion, and Nick is one of those champions.”