April 02, 2007

Geof Syphers: Changing the World One Green Building at a Time

This week's post is inspired by a collection of essays put together by James Freedman. He is a writer, an intellectual, as well as a law professor and university president. His experiences as head of Dartmouth college and University of Iowa have led to his strong belief that a liberal education is the "'surest instrument yet devised for developing those civilizing qualities of mind and character that enable men and women to lead satisfying lives and to make significant contributions to a democratic society'". In "Liberal Education and the Public Interest" he works with the notion that "the modern university presidency [has] power to advocate for societal good" and that with this ability he/she should take "principled positions on issues of morality...to inspire our students to change the world." Here at the University of Southern California there is given an Honorary Degree. It can be for many different types of societal contributors and therefore it has different types of awards. Whoever is awarded with the USC Honorary Degree speaks at the May Commencement and therefore should be relevant to current issues. Freedman argues that an award of this nature should be given to someone of true inspiration and legitimacy. As such I would like to draw attention to someone in real estate development that is not only a success, but a catalyst for change within the industry. A man who embodies the characteristics of the USC Trojan Family, more specifically Tommy Trojan's five attributes: faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous, and ambitious. I nominate Geof Syphers for the USC doctoral degree of Humane Letters.

The world of real estate is forever adapting. Currently the issue of global warming has brought about real concerns over the lack of smart development. It will be crucial that over the coming years a trend toward green building (sustainable development) continues. Geof Syphers is aiding the development community on their journey towards a greener planet. He has traveled the world to study sustainable projects, teaches courses in green building project management and speaks at conferences on the subject. KEMA made Syphers director of their Green Building department and he is currently Chief Sustainability Officer of Codding Enterprises, a real estate, property management, and construction company in Northern California that specializes in shopping mall developments. Codding is involved in one of the largest green projects in Northern California; Sonoma Mountain Village (pictured to the right) will be a "high-density community with 1,900 housing units and 750,000 sf of commercial space including a significant retail core surrounding a town square. The estimated $1-billion endeavor would utilize the latest principles of sustainability, green technology and new urbanism and take approximately 10- to 15 years to build out."

This project represents the future of all real estate development and it is essential that it is such. Syphers's contribution to the Sonoma Mountain Village will help to bring an overall understanding of applicable green practices which are innovative as well as practical. His vast knowledge of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) will create a balance between form and function. He brings to the table a new perspective on old development practices which help him to relate the old with the new sustainable building processes. Syphers has contributed to a growing desire to aid the environment with his acquired skills. As a representative of the Trojan Family he contains all of Tommy's characteristics: he has taught others about the things he has learned, he was courageous to support green building during a time when green building it was (and still is) a costly alternative and his ambitious task to change the world. In changing his own development ideals he has set an example that will be a catalyst for change all over California, the United States, and eventually the World.

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