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Upscaling Resiliency: From Buildings to the Re-Visioned Community

May 5, 10:3011:30 am

Approved for 1.0 general GBCI CE and 1.0 AIA LU



Demetra McBride, Bureau Chief, Arlington County's Office of Sustainability and Environmental Management

Smita Chandra Thomas, Founder and Principal, Energy Shrink LLC

Annette Osso, Managing Director, Resilient Virginia




A 21st-century planning approach needs a revisioning that orchestrates the built environment with ecosystem service assets, adaptive infrastructure, and climate-based building design. While 20th-century planning focused on the interface of land use and buildings with the interspersal of community spaces and, sometimes, the required infrastructure, a modern blended approach optimizes use of space and resources for increased populations without degradation. It moderates demand and redevelops for future needs and challenges. This platform for a vibrant, competitive, and healthy urban society is the macro-vision of resilience which is based, in great part, on new approaches to building design.


Resilience in buildings from a climate change point of view means the ability to withstand extreme events and recover quickly. How can we ensure that a building can survive unusually high precipitation levels, extreme heat, or a grid outage lasting a few days? Some design aspects can help individual buildings. But equally importantly, thinking of each building as a part of a connected community can lift a region. The Metropolitan Washington region has worked to move public and private buildings toward sustainability and, more recently, toward resiliency standards through mandatory requirements, such as net-zero goals, or an incentive and guidance approach. We will review the resiliency goals of the DC region, and reference regional and national resources for building and community resilience.


Demetra McBride currently serves as Arlington County’s Bureau Chief for the Office of Sustainability and Environmental Management. She joined the County after 8 years in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, where she actively redefined the opportunities for local governments in the energy sector. McBride also led California’s march from mitigation to adaptation, with Silicon Valley 2.0, a multi-sector climate adaptation blueprint. Smita Chandra Thomas is founder and principal of Energy Shrink, a consulting practice that helps innovative clients achieve decarbonization in the built environment. Energy Shrink is part of a regional Partnership pursuing a DOE funding opportunity for a local Connected Community demonstration, for which Smita is serving as the program architect. Annette Osso, LEED AP, is a resiliency professional with over 30 years of experience in energy, building, and resiliency work involving policy and program development in the mid-Atlantic and at the national level. She is currently the Managing Director of Resilient Virginia and was the President for 18 years of the Virginia Sustainable Building Network, and worked to enact the first Green Building legislation in Virginia.

Learning Objectives


  1. Rethink conventional infrastructure and land use on the path to resilience

  2. Understand the concept of resilience in relation to sustainability, mitigation, and adaptation

  3. Recognize the cost and consequences of inaction

  4. Explore available resources for achieving resilience in local communities



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