Nora Cronin

Lane grad becomes nation's 1,000th certified sustainable building advisor

Nora CroninWhen Nora Cronin of Eugene completed the exam to become a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor she had no idea she would became the 1,000th CSBA in the country. This was significant for both her and the national SBA Institute, which offers courses locally through the Northwest Energy Education Institute at Lane Community College.

With more attention being focused on conserving natural resources and protecting the environment, courses that teach the principles and techniques of sustainable design and construction are gaining in popularity and importance. The Sustainable Building Advisor Program was created in 1999 to meet needs of designers, builders and planners in the Seattle area who wanted a comprehensive training and certificate program that would enhance their professional skills. Since then the program has grown and is now offered in 28 locations in North America including Lane. The course is certified nationally and taught locally by experienced professionals.

Cronin, a housing development associate for St. Vincent de Paul in Eugene, heard about the program from their architect who highly recommended it. She says she was attracted by "the holistic approach to sustainable building, not just adding green features but really thinking about how all the pieces work together."

"The instructors were outstanding," she said after completing the nine-month course. "So much quality information and expertise ... I was blown away by the high caliber of instructors and felt privileged to be a part of the class."

Before taking the SBA training at Lane, Cronin had completed a bachelor of science degree in architectural studies from the University of Illinois and a master's degree in community and regional planning from the University of Oregon.

The SBA curriculum covers the techniques and strategies used to design, construct, and maintain sustainable buildings and sites. Classes are held one weekend per month for nine months and successful graduates are eligible to take the national certificate exam and earn the CSBA credential.

To date, 39 Eugene-area students from a diverse range of professions have completed the program, including architects, planners, contractors, facilities managers, utility employees, government employees, developers, realtors, and college students. Guest instructors are drawn from an extensive pool of talented, knowledgeable and inspiring regional experts.

One of Eugene's first SBA graduates, Kristen Taylor, is the lead instructor. She has more than 22 years of broad educational and professional experience in the field of architecture and planning where she has integrated her passion for sustainability. Taylor also is a planner and architectural senior project manager at TBG Architects + Planners.

Cronin has found that the concepts and techniques she mastered during the SBA course can be directly applied to her work for SVDP. "I have started incorporating what I've learned into my current job and projects. I am excited and inspired and look forward to using what I learned to build better projects, which will not only be better for the environment but will ultimately result in a healthier, more affordable place for low income households in our community to live."

A new SBA course is scheduled to start in October. Free information sessions are held periodically. For more information call Elaine Vidal at 541-463-3154.

Additional information is online at