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A Solid Foundation: How the DVGBC started small, then blossomed


Like other influential movements, the Delaware Valley Green Building Council started informally. And like America’s origin story, the seeds of the DVGBC were sown in Carpenters’ Hall.

“I’ll tell you how it started,” recalls architect Sandy Wiggins, the godfather of Philly’s green building movement and a current principal at the firm Consilience. “It began with an invitation to anyone who was interested to get together for an evening of discussion about green building.”

As Wiggins remembers it, the invitation was distributed virally, and on that first night, 15 people showed up at Carpenters’ Hall, the site of the First Continental Congress.

“It was a mixed bag of people: architects, a developer, someone from city government, someone from UPenn,” remembers Wiggins. “It was a really amazing evening. … Everyone who showed up was hungry to exchange ideas.”

The next month, a second meeting took place. After three or four months of regular meetings, the 15 or so attendees decided to make their relationship official. “These 15 people became the board of DVGBC,” says Wiggins, adding that about a half a year later, they’d formed a nonprofit, eventually latching on to the then-fledgling United States Green Building Council.

“In the early days, that handful of people was pretty much the whole community in Philly of folks that were serious about green building,” remembers Wiggins. “We were all learning from each other, and about what we could do as an organization to affect change in Philadelphia.”

The council grew by holding public events, and more people began to show up. From that original core group, the DVGBC has grown into a “very large nonprofit that’s having a regional impact, with a very large community of people,” says Wiggins. “Obviously it was a good idea.”


Over the past 10 years, membership for the Delaware Valley Green Building Council has grown from 15 to more than a thousand at its peak, counting itself as one of the largest and most established chapters of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The nonprofit supports the Lehigh Valley, Bucks and Montgomery Counties, the Metro Philadelphia area, as well as the state of Delaware, and has members of all different skill levels—ranging from students to veteran professionals. Joining DVGBC is an easy way for community members to meet and form partnerships, promote projects, and access educational resources. Individuals are encouraged to join, even if their companies are already USGBC members.

Other membership benefits include a searchable profile on the DVGBC website, discounts and invitations to events, and the chance to develop green building programming through committee membership and advocacy work. To join, visit

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Latest from #031 October 2011