The Building Innovation Hub (Hub) helps building industry professionals in and around Washington, DC create and operate high-performing buildings. It is a project of the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that specializes in driving demand for high-performing buildings.
Our goal for the Hub is to meet the current needs of the building industry while simultaneously pushing it towards the innovative solutions that we will need to build and operate high-performing buildings. To do this, we provide resources and connections to help building owners, operators, designers, contractors, and tenants improve their buildings. We highlight market leaders, educate decision-makers on rising trends, assist in making critical connections, clarify regulatory requirements—such as those from the Building Energy Performance Standards and the new local building codes—and break down barriers to making building improvements with sustained impact. Through this work, we help ensure the District remains a highly competitive market and a leader in sustainable and equitable building practices.
Theresa Backhus, Director
Theresa (she/her) brings her experience improving the performance of buildings and landscapes to her role as Director of the Building Innovation Hub, ensuring its mission and strategic vision are executed. Prior to joining IMT, she was a green building consultant, supporting the DMV building industry in navigating policy, code, and certifications. At the U.S. Green Building Council, she was integral to the development of the LEED v4 rating system program. Her past work also includes planning, design, and construction observation in both the public and private sectors. Theresa holds a BLA from Virginia Tech, and an MEM from the Duke Environmental Leadership Program. She is a Registered Landscape Architect, LEED AP, and SITES AP. Read her full LinkedIn profile or contact Theresa at Theresa [at] buildinginnovationhub.org.
Yolanda possesses 13+ years of facility and operations management experience ranging from a variety of building typologies such as residential, commercial, medical, and local government. Her previous role as the building management lead for all Fire & EMS facilities for the Department of General Services (DGS) led to the reinvention of the maintenance structure between two local government entities, while simultaneously building trusted life long connections and relationships. She is a Certified Property Manager and is currently completing her Construction Project Management Certification. Yolanda also has a background in Accounting and is experienced with the implementation and structure buildout of Salesforce to meet any organization’s needs. Connect with her on LinkedIn or contact Yolanda at yolanda.bonner[at]imt.org.
Mary Thomas is Associate Director for the Building Innovation Hub, helping the local building community design, build, retrofit, and operate high-performing buildings in and around Washington, DC. Mary’s responsibilities include events planning, outreach, and resource development to support the success of the Hub.
Prior to joining IMT, Mary spent 15 years in the commercial real estate industry in Washington, DC, managing construction projects for Hines, a global real estate developer, and Clark Construction. At Hines, she managed comprehensive design, permitting, and construction activities on a variety of development projects, navigating complicated stakeholder relationships, tracking and communicating project priorities, and fostering collaboration among all parties to ensure positive outcomes. Mary has in-depth experience across a broad range of project types in the DC area, including residential, office, site civil, and mixed-use development. She has a background in visual and environmental studies, earning a BA from Harvard, and she has been an accredited LEED AP BD+C since 2008. Outside of work, Mary volunteers with a local organization to plant and maintain trees in the DC area. Connect with Mary on LinkedIn or contact Mary at mary[at]buildinginnovationhub.org.
Alexandra Laney, Associate Director of Communications
Alexandra Laney is the primary point of contact for Hub communications. She is the Associate Director of Communications at IMT, responsible for media outreach and digital strategy execution. Alexandra holds an MBA from The George Washington University and a BA from Vassar College. She is also a certified PMP from the Project Management Institute. Prior to joining IMT, Alexandra served in a variety of communications and consulting roles with Booz Allen Hamilton, AES, and NeighborWorks America. Read her full LinkedIn profile or contact Alexandra at alexandra.laney [at] imt.org.
Rita Perez, Senior Communications Associate, Digital Strategy
Rita Perez is IMT’s Senior Communications Associate of Digital Strategy and joined IMT in August 2019. She shapes IMT’s online presence by creating and implementing the organization’s strategy for programmatic newsletters, social media campaigns, and website improvements. She also leads the multi-media production of outreach plans across different IMT programs, such as the Building Innovation Hub, Green Lease Leaders, and the Energy-Efficient Codes Coalition.
She holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and Global Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Read her full LinkedIn profile or contact Rita at rita.perez [at] imt.org.
Caitlin M Caplinger, Senior Communications Associate, Storytelling
Caitlin M Caplinger (they/them) is IMT’s Senior Communications Associate, Storytelling, and joined IMT in April 2022. They collaborate with expert team members across programs to ensure that stakeholders understand the impact of IMT’s thought leadership and regulatory work. Caitlin also works to raise the voices of IMT partners and collaborators, as they are vital to achieving IMT’s mission to equitably decarbonize buildings. Caplinger draws from their background as a playwright and performer to craft content that is hopeful, informative, and relevant. They hold a B.A. in Non-Profit Administration and Leadership from Christopher Newport University. Prior to joining IMT, Caitlin worked in marketing and development for several DC-Metropolitan arts non-profit organizations. They are deeply committed to ensuring that people can equitably access and invest in the environment, technology, and the arts. Read their full LinkedIn profile or contact Caitlin at caitlin.caplinger [at] imt.org.
Read more about the Building Innovation Hub’s Founding Director, Lindsey Falasca, here.
Questions & answers
Not just higher up-front costs, but a broad range of financial barriers including building valuation, access to suitable financing, the split incentive, and investment timelines. See our Funding & Financing Map to identify available options that are right for your project.
Education and awareness
Communication across all building industry professionals, from design conception to occupation, is challenging in a highly segmented industry and while some team members might be savvy about high-performance building practices, it typically does not extend through all involved parties. See our Building Industry Playbook for actions various building industry professionals can take.
The need for more specialized, skilled labor in all facets of project development and delivery including designing, building, and operating high-performance buildings. See our Service Procurement Guide for help locating qualified vendors to complete your projects.
There is a complicated web of regulatory requirements and approval processes for owners and practitioners to navigate. See our resources about the Building Energy Performance Standards, recent code changes in DC, and where the two intersect.
The building industry is averse to change and there is a perceived risk associated with being innovative. See our case studies to learn about what market leaders are already doing in the area.
Climate change is here and District residents are already feeling the effects of hotter summers and more extreme weather. The energy used in buildings accounts for 71 percent of the District of Columbia’s greenhouse gas emissions. For the District to reach its ambitious climate goals as stated in its sustainability plan, it must move quickly to significantly reduce emissions in order to become the “the healthiest, greenest, and most livable city in the nation by 2032.” Even though the Hub is operated independently of the District government, the Hub aims to fundamentally transform the definition of “business as usual” and to make the District a model for a sustainable, market-based approach to climate action by both supporting those who are new to concepts and principles of sustainable buildings and by encouraging the market leaders to continue to push harder and share their stories.
Currently, the District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) is the Hub’s main source of funding.
Funding provided by:
The Hub also receives support from its numerous members who are committed to advancing the Hub’s mission. Additionally, the Hub has received in-kind donations from various building industry organizations and local companies who have contributed their expertise to Hub products.
In-kind donations from:
- Apartment and Office Building Association of Metropolitan Washington (AOBA) Educational Foundation
- Cushman and Wakefield
- DPR Construction
- Housing Up
- Tower Companies
The Hub will work to provide anyone in the industry with the information and connections they need to help make informed decisions. While we will not provide 1-on-1 technical assistance, we will work to ensure you are connected to the people who can.
No, you cannot submit any government requirement documents to the Hub for review, approval, or to provide to the government on your behalf.
Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE)
DOEE focuses on providing regulatory and compliance guidance for the District’s benchmarking, Building Energy Performance Standards, and other requirements. It operates a Help Center that provides technical assistance in using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and complying with related District regulations. They also provide additional resources to assist in compliance assistance for other requirements such as stormwater and the green area ratio.
DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU)
The DCSEU provides technical assistance in identifying energy efficiency improvement opportunities and rebates and incentives to implement various energy conservation measures.
DC Green Bank
While still early in its development, the DC Green Bank will support the District’s commercial real estate industry by providing a variety of financial products to accelerate energy efficiency improvements and the deployment of clean energy technology. This will include providing one-on-assistance to building owners to develop sound financial strategies and obtain additional financing.
Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA)
DCRA is the District agency that issues licenses and permits, conducts inspections, and enforces building, housing, and safety codes. DCRA can provide guidance on concerns or questions related to permitting and code compliance.
Private Consultants and Companies
The District’s sustainability professionals are well positioned to provide direct, detailed, technical one-on-one assistance with any project type.
The Hub’s resources, services, and educational programming are currently free for everyone, regardless of whether or not you or your company are based in the District. Co-hosted programming may require a registration fee, based on any partner organization structures.
No, the Building Innovation Hub and the Institute for Market Transformation are independent from the District government. If warranted, Hub and IMT leadership may choose to report private sector trends or concerns to the District’s Department of Energy & Environment, but only in aggregate or with permission.
The Hub is a program of the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), a District-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to catalyze demand for high-performing buildings. IMT has worked for more than 20 years with both real estate and policy makers to overcome common barriers to widespread deployment of high-performance building practices.
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