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Addressing Resilience and Social Equity with LEED for Cities and Communities

July 30, 2020 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Via Zoom


On July 30 join the USGBC LA Chapter as we explore the LEED for Cities and Communities rating systems and how California cities and communities are aligned with the program’s emphasis on climate, resilience, health and social equity. We’ll connect directly with the program staff and stakeholders from the LEED Cities and Communities Working Group based here in southern California. We’ll also hear from a recent city and a community working towards certification on the new LEED v4.1 for Cities and Communities program. There will be ample time for questions and a discussion with our speakers. So, bring along your pressing challenges and top questions — we hope you can join us!



  • Welcome and Introductions
  • Program overview, discuss current projects in the region, distinguish between product types and approach
  • Provide examples of prerequisites and credits that address regional priorities (e.g. climate, resilience, equity, health, pandemic issues)
  • Hear from two projects; how is their work on resilience and equity are reflected in the certification process?
  • Guided Discussion and Q&A
  • Conclusion



Hilari Varnadore

Vice President for Cities

Washington, District of Columbia

Hilari brings more than two decades of experience in public administration and nonprofit leadership to her role as VP, LEED for Cities.  Previously Hilari led STAR Communities as its executive/founding director. In that capacity, she deployed the first framework and certification program for local sustainability in the US, the STAR Community Rating System. She has served as a chief sustainability officer and principal planner in local government and has led two nonprofit organizations as CEO.

Hilari is invested in helping cities, towns and counties use data to drive decision-making, investments and community improvements that are more equitable and resilient. Her approach to sustainability is holistic and rooted in the triple bottom line. Her areas of expertise include strategic planning, facilitation, program development and administration, policy development, governance, stakeholder engagement, fundraising, marketing and communications.

She holds a Master’s of Arts degree from Northern Arizona University in Geography with an emphasis in Community Planning and a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Unity College of Maine in Environmental Policy. Hilari serves on Metropolitan Washington COG’s Climate, Energy & Environment Policy Committee, the board of the Emerald Cities Collaborative, and the EcoDistrict Advisory Council. She is a 13-generation Marylander and a Girl Scout troop leader.

Listen to Hilari’s recent overview video of the LEED for Cities and

Communities program: https://youtu.be/0arx2tsTUfg

Vatsal Bhatt

Vice President – Communities

Setauket, New York

Dr. Vatsal Bhatt consults with the U.S. Green Building Council as the Vice President for Communities, where he helped conceptualize and make operational the LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities rating systems. He co-leads the Application Frameworks working group on the National Institute for Standards and Technology led efforts for developing “IoT Enabled Smart Cities Frameworks” and serves on the US technical advisory group for the ISO’s technical committee 268 for sustainable cities. He recently peer reviewed the Future of Housing Roadmap for XPRIZE. He is also serving on the Board of Advisors for the Wellbeing City Award mobilized by the New Cities Foundation.

As a senior energy policy analyst at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, Dr. Bhatt has worked on various national and international assignments for energy systems analysis and low-carbon development for the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, universities, foundations, and international governments. He has developed energy-water-climate change systems modeling for long-term national, regional and urban analysis.

Dr. Bhatt has led the USDOE’s U.S.-India-China Cities Partnership for Energy and Environment for 2007-2014 and provided technical assistance to the governments of India and China and state and local governments on low-carbon urban growth strategies and EcoCity planning and implementation. He serves as a senior advisor to US Department of State managed US-China EcoPartnerships Secretariat.

In August 2013, the Woodrow Wilson Center for Distinguished Scholars invited Dr. Bhatt to participate on a five-member panel to facilitate developing China’s Energy-Water Roadmap.

Dr. Bhatt is a senior advisor to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for New York State’s 100% Renewables Study and EPRI project on NYS Electric System Climate Resiliency.

Dr. Bhatt is a lead author of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s first-ever assessment of the “Effects of Climate Change on Energy Production and Use in the United States”, Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.5.


Chris Rhie

Associate Principal, Buro Happold

Christopher Rhie is an urban planner and sustainability strategist at Buro Happold. With a background in public policy, urban design, and environmental management, Christopher has extensive experience with the development of sustainability and climate action plans for local governments, as well as colleges and universities across the United States.

His recent projects include the comprehensive land use and climate action plans for the City of Cambridge (MA), New York City’s Roadmap to 80×50, the Los Angeles County Sustainability Plan, and Design Sprints on Connected and Autonomous Vehicles in Boston and Los Angeles.

Prior to joining Buro Happold, Christopher worked on climate action initiatives as an energy analyst at the City of New York and the City of Oakland.

Originally from Hartford, CT, Christopher holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University and master’s degrees in city planning and real estate development from MIT.

Christopher is currently serving as an Urban Design Co-Chair at the APA New York Metro Chapter, a Mentor at the URBAN-X city solutions accelerator, and an On-Call Advisor to STAR Communities.