A lifetime of brilliance in Bill Worthen [USGBC Northern California] | U.S. Green Building Council
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Posted in Community

In January, Bill Worthen both inspired the crowd and made them laugh at a USGBC Northern California event.

The USGBC community suffered a terrible loss following this event. Bill Worthen, FAIA, LEED Fellow of Urban Fabrick, passed away suddenly after presenting his work at the event below. For more information about Bill’s legacy, please see this article.

In January, USGBC Northern California hosted a stellar event in downtown San Francisco. The Covo venue was excellent, the crowd was enthusiastic, and the “five minutes of brilliance” was nothing short of the word: brilliant.

The event was a rekindling of community engagement events hosted by the USGBC Northern California. The evening celebrated the close green building community in Northern California, invited new members to get engaged and heard wise words from one of the greats in our field. 

I got to see some longtime friends and leaders in green building, from LEED Fellows like Barry Giles, Andrea Traber, and Anthony Bernheim, to enthusiastic new members like Cole Schoolland of Yardi Energy and Julia Farber of Epsilon. But best of all, I got to see my dear friend Bill Worthen, and I got to see him wear a “poop” hat. Let me explain.

Bill, the featured guest speaker at this community event, has been working on some of the most amazing, progressive and ground-breaking water reuse systems in the world. In classic Bill fashion, he wanted to share not his accomplishments, but his passion for solving complex and important design challenges with the USGBC community.

You see, besides being incredibly smart, Bill also has a knack for taking complex subjects and distilling them down into simple terms that inspire action. So he donned a “poop” hat to talk about wastewater: blackwater from toilets in particular. He made us chuckle by wearing the hat, then connected the dots for us by explaining that reusing precious water is all about toilets—we need to get comfortable talking about this subject if we’re to solve the problems. We might as well make it fun, too!

He then spent just a few minutes discussing how even the world’s largest buildings can reuse wastewater in closed-loop systems. Bill was comfortable in the spotlight, where he engaged the audience, encouraged those in the room to get involved and made us laugh. To top it off, Bill shared an update on a water reuse design guide that his firm’s nonprofit arm is developing (the Urban Fabrick Collaborative) in order to share his lessons with the world. 

After the presentations, the crowd mingled and chatted with a positive energy that lingered for over an hour and spilled out beyond the foyer. It was a truly amazing night, made more magical in hindsight. 

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1 commentLeave a comment

Sustainability Consultant, AHA Consulting Engineers, Inc.
Not only did I like Bill Worthen for his inspired intelligence and commitment to the fields of sustainable Architecture and social justice, he was just a great person to know and talk with. From time to time we are reminded that the people who make an impression on us, who motivate us or make us smile, should be acknowledged and appreciated every day. Thanks for writing this Wes, as you say, it's a great loss, and I know Bill would want us to keep doing the best we can to keep his vision alive.

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