Gala Recap: Green Building's Big Night Out

Last week, luminaries and up-and-comers of the green building movement met to cut loose, crack wise, enjoy gourmet food and drinks, and celebrate the achievements of the past year. Building on last year’s networking-focused format, Tuesday’s event included a live band and inspiring remarks from the night’s two honorees, Chris Erikson (IBEW) and Rick Fedrizzi (USGBC).

The lobby was bustling by the time doors opened at 6pm at Tribeca Rooftop 360, where elevators carried guests to a space decked out in NYC-inspired designs and street-style signage pointing to the various “neighborhoods” we’d set up: Chinatown’s dim-sum stations, freshly-rolled sushi at the Fulton Fish Market, a pasta bar in Little Italy, and the Meatpacking District’s slider station. As the first guests entered, the band broke into a stripped-down rendition of Otis Redding’s (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay, setting the relaxed atmosphere that has become a hallmark of our annual Gala.

At 8pm the announcer ushered us into a sprawling, candlelit dining room for desserts, remarks, and the presentation of ornate glasswork awards to our honorees. Urban Green Board Chair John Mandyck of United Technologies kicked off remarks by taking the opportunity to thank the hundreds of attendees who’d come out to show their support. Afterward, Executive Director Russell Unger took the stage for another green trivia quiz. The questions were tough, but not as tough as the issues they covered: the intricacies of the new energy code, and just how much energy New York’s buildings use for heating.

Incoming 2016 Board Chair Scott Frank ofJaros, Baum & Bolles took to the podium to welcome the night’s first honoree, Chris Erikson, whose work has helped thousands of union members become trained in GPRO, and who helped enlist thousands more for last year’s historic Climate March.

Mandyck then returned to the stage to introduce his friend and colleague Rick Fedrizzi. With over 1.85 million square feet of construction space certified every day, said Mandyck, “it’s hard to overstate the impact of LEED domestically and globally.” He could just as well have been referring to Fedrizzi’s role transforming the building industry. With 2016 as his last year helming USGBC, Fedrizzi focused his remarks on the possibilities of the future rather than the many accomplishments of the past, lauding the local organizations that do the work of sustainability every day.

With remarks complete, Silda Wall Spitzer of NewWorld Capital, Vice Chair of the Urban Green Board, ended the festivities on a high note. Faced with a gaggle of potential quiz winners, she narrowed the field by picking the high-scorer whose birthday fell closest to the date of the Gala, presenting an Urban Green tote bag against a backdrop of quiz high-scorers. Congratulations to Richard McSpedon, Jr. of Local No. 3 IBEW for winning the quiz contest!

As the program concluded, the band leapt into a medley of classic dance numbers and top 40 hits, and guests mingled until closing time.

About the authors

Jonathan Walsh
Jonathan Walsh is Communications Manager at Urban Green Council. He lives in Greenpoint.