Leading the Way

Mary Tod Winchester came to CBF in 1971 as a young mother who wanted to use her free time to make a difference. Today, she's CBF's Vice President of Administration and a noted expert in the field of sustainable building. Her vision helped push CBF to "practice what we preach," making our facilities into groundbreaking models of green building and powerful educational tools.

This spring, CBF's regional headquarters in Virginia, the Brock Environmental Center, achieved Living Building Certification, the most stringent environmental standard for buildings in the world. In April, Mary Tod was recognized by the International Living Future Institute with a prestigious "Hero" award, given to individuals who continually raise the bar on behalf of the green building industry. She was characteristically modest when asked about these achievements.

How did you first become aware that the Bay needed to be saved?

Having grown up on the rivers and the Bay, I started recognizing that the underwater grasses were disappearing. And the crabs and the rockfish. I started thinking about the future. I was a new mom, I wanted my children to be able to grow up and enjoy the creeks and rivers and the Bay as much as I did.

You've been with CBF since 1971. What motivates you to stay?

That we are making a difference. Pollution is being reduced, environmental laws are being enforced...It took a long time to get the Bay in a bad situation, so it's going to take a long time to get it back. But what's exciting is that we're beginning to see progress.

What accomplishment are you most proud of in your time here?

To have been a part of building two of the greenest buildings in the world—I couldn't have dreamed of that! I'm so proud of the team that did it and to have been a part of it. I just had a dream; they made it happen. [The Philip Merrill Environmental Center and Brock Environmental Center.]

Are you surprised by the interest in the Brock Environmental Center?

We've had more people visit the facility than we ever estimated: 35,000 and counting. There's a lot of interest. People want to know what they can do.

What's next?

Expanding the educational component. How do we get more people to say, 'I can do that in my home or office'? If every person who visits walks away saying, 'I can do this one thing,' what a huge difference it would make!

We'd love to see you there! To schedule a tour of the Brock Environmental Center, please call 757-622-1964 x3312 or email BrockCenterGreenTours@cbf.org.

Photo Credit: 1. Prakash Patel/SmithGroupJJR, 2. Nikki Davis, 3. Jay Fleming.