NAPA -- The Redwood Empire chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council is considering whether to create a Napa Valley branch.

"There is still building over there in Napa Valley, and there are wineries and other projects getting LEED certified," said Claudia Cleaver, a Petaluma architect and current chapter president.

The Washington, D.C.-based organization is the creator of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design project-certification and professional-accreditation programs. Redwood Empire chapter offices are in Rohnert Park and serve Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt and Del Norte counties.

Potentially, there could be branch offices in Marin and Mendocino counties, too, according to Ms. Cleaver.

"No one should have to come down from Mendocino for seminars here," she said.

However, there would have to be a "champion" to sponsor each branch. Napa has at least three, according to Ms. Cleaver.

Promoters of the Napa branch idea are chapter board members Bob Massaro, chief executive officer of Healthy Buildings Management Group of Napa; Ellyn Elson, a former CEO of four companies and rebuilder of a home as a LEED for Homes-registered dwelling in the city; and Jennifer Chandler, owner and managing partner of Chandler & Chandler Landscape Architects of Napa.

In an online forum called Napa Valley Building Design & Construction Consortium on the business networking site LinkedIn, Mr. Massaro garnered a dozen affirmative responses as of last week in a posted discussion on whether the chapter should create a Napa Valley branch. A few noted that they would attend chapter meetings, such as networking events and informational sessions, more often if they didn't have to travel that far.

One enthusiastic respondent was Napa-based architect Paul Kelley.

"Napa geographically has been sort of a 'fringe' area to the larger Redwood Empire and East Bay chapters of the AIA for example," he wrote. "Having a chapter here might also add clout to doing more local work that is sustainable."

The chapter leaders were set to meet Feb. 13 to discuss chapter branches and other initiatives to build membership, according to Ms. Cleaver. Local branches likely would attract more members, whose dues could support more continuing-education opportunities, such as the six-month green building certificate program offered through Longview Associates, tours of LEED projects and seminars on best practices.

More dues would also support more of a full-time chapter coordinator.

If approved, any new branch could be established by late 2011.

"It's inevitable," Ms. Cleaver said.

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