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Our Instructors

Ben Kaufman  .  Alistair Jackson  .  Kathleen O’Brien  .  Cate O’dahl  .  Debra Shapiro

Ben Kaufman
Ben Kaufman, Core Instructor
Owner & Broker
GreenWorks Realty

  Ben is the Founder and Designated Broker of GreenWorks Realty and has overseen $50 Million in real estate transactions. Ben uses his vision, contacts, and passion to make transactions happen, and to lead and grow the GreenWorks Realty brand. This year Ben received the Built Green® Pioneer Award. Ben holds a BA in Urban Planning from the University of Washington, a Professional Commercial Real Estate Certificate from the University of Washington, a Permaculture Design Certificate from Crystal Waters, Australia, a Certified New Home Sales Professional Certificate, and co-instructs a 14 clock hour Washington State approved Green Agent Essentials course for Real Estate Agents. Prior to founding GreenWorks, Ben was co-founder of Co-Opportunities Northwest, a 2001 conference to identify and advance emerging trends in sustainable community development in Puget Sound. Ben has been active in low impact land development and marketing and selling real estate for 15 years and is the current Treasurer of the 500 member Northwest
Eco-Building Guild and is an Executive Team member of the Seattle/King County Built Green® program. Ben is currently permitting a 32 unit Built Green cottage housing development in Newcastle, WA. Ben’s recent achievements include initiating and authoring Environmental Certification checkbox additions to the local MLS and authoring the first study comparing environmentally certified homes to non-certified homes for new construction in the country. He has been featured in numerous publications and a regular speaker at green conferences around the country. Ben is an avid backcountry skier, rock climber, and backpacker.
Alistair Jackson
Alistair Jackson
Principal, O'Brien & Company
  Alistair is principal with O’Brien & Company in charge of the residential technical services team. He will directly oversee O’Brien & Company/SDTI staff in the development of new course material, as well as technical instruction that may be provided by the technical services team. He has developed and delivered many workshops on LEED for Homes, the Evergreen Standard, and greening affordable housing, and is an instructor on materials for the SBA Certificate Course. He was the direct supervisor on the development of the Sustainable Home Professional (for Earth Advantage). He is approved to teach through the Washington State Board of Realtors.
Kathleen O'Brien
Kathleen O’Brien
Founder, O'Brien & Company

Kathleen is the Founder of O’Brien & Company, and the Director of the Sustainable Development Training Institute. Kathleen has been active in the field of sustainable building for 25 years, and has been responsible for the training of thousands of working professionals in design, construction, and associated fields. She is approved to teach in Washington by the State Board of Realtors, and is the author of the popular book aimed at laypersons titled “The Northwest Green Home Primer,” which has sold thousands of copies since its publication in March 2008.Kathleen was instrumental in the development and success of the SBA Certification program now in its tenth year at the Seattle Central Community College where she is Lead Instructor, and offered in nearly 20 locations including several in Washington State. In addition, she coordinated the first conference on Green Building in the region: Building with Value in 1993, as well as a Building with Value workshop series for the EcoBuilding Guild. The series was funded by a Department of Ecology grant, and focused on waste reduction in construction. She has overseen the development of several courses, including most recently, the Sustainable Home Professional (for Earth Advantage), and the Green Broker (for Cascadia). She has been a member of the Guild for many years, and served on the Board as Secretary in its early years with Chris Stafford, Jon Alexander, and other green building pioneers.

Cate O'dahl
Cate O'dahl, Core Instructor
Owner & Consultant
ESP Services
  Serving as promoter, organizer, and educator, since 1990, Cate is an early-adopter of green building in Washington State. Working with private enterprise, non-profits, and governments, she designs, supports, and promotes green building initiatives and project promotions throughout the Northwest, primarily in the Seattle metropolitan area. Notable projects include the Green Pages for the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild since 2002, Built Green® manuals for King and Snohomish Counties, and most recently, editorial manager for the Nisqually Watershed Building Guide in collaboration with Stewardship Partners. Cate served for three years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Sustainable Development Task Force in Snohomish County, increasing awareness and opportunities for sustainable development in this rural and growing county, especially for Low Impact Development (LID). Bringing green education to the real estate market has
been Cate’s focus for the last few years: creating curriculum for deep green Real Estate education classes in association with GreenWorks Realty and O’Brien and Company, and developing several classes for North Seattle Community College’s Green Real Estate Certificate program, a thorough examination of green building. According to Cate, teaching green real estate classes to aspiring green professionals “is a fantastic feeling after all these years of talking to the choir.” When Cate is not doing something ‘green,’ she’s playing with her dogs. “My practically-perfect Golden Retriever, Brooklyn, and her pals keep me and my husband/business partner busy, happy, and full of joy.”
Debra Shapiro
Debra Shapiro, Core Instructor

Debra Shapiro has a long history dedicated to educating and inspiring others to think, design, work, and live sustainable lifestyles both locally and on a global scale. Her objectives as a Certified Instructor through The Washington State Board of Realtors is to teach the basic fundamentals of leadership in Green Real Estate Practices to real estate agents and the basic principles of sustainability to the broader members of the real estate community such as appraisers, home buyers and sellers, and home inspectors. She became a licensed real estate agent in 2003. Her professional demeanor took shape while owning and operating a small business in the core downtown neighborhood of the Washington State Capitol. She successfully sold her business of 20 years in 2006 to pursue a career in sustainability in order to live her values. Her understanding of the nuances in the small locally owned businesses continues to overlay with her ability to close successful real estate transactions. As a small business owner, she learned that the difference between success and failure can be tipped by even the smallest of decisions. Her strongest suit has always been creative target marketing during difficult economic times. After returning to school to complete The Sustainable Building Advisory Certificate program, she officially changed careers and began teaching Green Real Estate practices for clock hours  throughout Washington State as well as through The Board of Realtors in Chicago and various agencies in California and Florida.  She has helped co-ordinate events such as the Habitat for Humanity "Going Green"  conference and written classes which promote sustainability and energy efficiency. She was a member of the regional board of The Northwest Eco-Building Guild and later served for two years as president of the South Sound Chapter. She presently is the acting chair of  the educational committee which develops programs for the monthly meetings. Besides teaching, she continues to practice real estate in the South Puget Sound Region and recently moved her license to Green Village Realty in Olympia where she and her partner reside. Her real estate practice is primarily focused on energy efficient homes, low impact land development, co-housing, and eco-communities.


A program of GreenWorks Realty and O'Brien & Company.


Green Agent Essentials