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Because the U.S. Green Building Council is a non-profit, people are always surprised that numerical metrics are at the core of everything we do. Numbers describe the size and scope of our organization. They give solidity to our strategies and they measure our success. Expressed through LEED, they define how buildings perform against a wide range of measureable criteria. The size of our membership, the number of LEED APs, and Greenbuild attendance are just a few of the ways we mark our progress towards our mission.

But far more important than the numbers are the people behind them. Underlying each metric is a values-led, achievement-driven community of volunteers for whom delivering green buildings for everyone within a generation is a single-minded mission. Our members, our Committees, our Chapter organization, our Board, and our staff collaboratively set our aggressive goals, focus on execution, relentlessly measure results and acknowledge what works and what doesn’t along the way. We’ve developed a culture that we think is unique among nonprofits, a hybrid model of social entrepreneurship that is helping our notably diverse constituency reach consensus and keep moving forward so that every day delivers immediate and measureable results towards energy independence, climate change mitigation, affordable green housing, and green jobs.

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S. Richard Fedrizzi
President, Chief Executive Officer and Founding Chair
U.S. Green Building Council

Early Starts:

USGBC Pioneers Endorsed Green Buildings Before Most Americans Knew What They Were

David Gottfried stands on the back porch of his Rockridge, California, home. The shower he demonstrates drains to huge “rain hog” collectors located in the crawl space, and will provide water for the local native and organic vegetable garden he is building. Six more rain hogs sit along the side of the house, capturing rainwater for the toilet’s use throughout the year. He, his wife, and two children are planting vegetables and flowers that are “hyperlocal,” so they are sure to thrive.

They’ll provide a great view from his backyard office, a detached “Lifepod” that’s complete with eight solar panels, recycled steel, fly-ash concrete floors, dual pane windows and radiant heating. The power generated through the Lifepod and the additional solar panels (electric and hot water) on the restored 1915 Craftsman bungalow home are projected to achieve net-zero energy status and LEED Platinum. “This should be the first in California like it,” he beams. “It’s 48 years in the making and my lifelong dream.”

Few Americans take sustainability more seriously than Gottfried. He roams his Oakland/Berkeley neighborhood by foot or cycle, writes and lectures on sustainability and fell in love with his wife, Dr. Sara Gottfried, an integrated medicine physician, partly because she treats people holistically and prescribes yoga more often than drugs.

“I try bringing sustainability into every facet of my life,” Gottfried says, but to call him a “greenie” trivializes his vast contributions to the green building movement. Environmentalist and journalist Paul Hawken says it is Gottfried who originally challenged the building and construction industry, the biggest industry in the world, and its relationship to living systems. He, Rick Fedrizzi and Mike Italiano established the U.S. Green Building Council in 1993, with a vision of changing that relationship.

To say that they’ve made some progress is to understate the obvious: Today there are 79 USGBC chapters, nearly 18,000 organizational members and thousands of volunteers, and an emerging World Green Building Council (WGBC) with 13 fully established councils and 38 more evolving. The LEED green building rating system launched as part of USGBC now includes more than 31,000 registered and certified buildings and 62,000+ LEED Accredited Professionals who support an industry that has 30% growth per annum. “And this is in a recession,” Gottfried says.

This accelerated growth has led experts like Scot Horst, current chair of the LEED Steering Committee (LSC), to equate the last 15 years of green building growth to architectural movements such as modernism. “As with past movements, these changes don’t just permeate architecture, they also change people’s thinking and behavior and this is profound,” he says. In its 15th year USGBC leads the way like no other organization ever has, by bringing a wide spectrum of players to the table and triggering widely diverse conversations on environmental issues. Had this been a bunch of architects sitting around talking green, it would never have gelled, says Bob Berkebile, green architect and early USGBC leader. The social evolution of green building is the most “incredible transformation” he has seen. “Before, only intellectuals talked about sustainable building. Now the bus driver, the person serving your meal and your kids discuss this, too.”

From Greed to Green

And yet sustainability was barely on the radar for Gottfried growing up in ’60s Southern California. Gottfried remembers long lines at the gas station during the ’70s gas crisis and his dad, a pioneering management consultant, curbing the family’s showers and car-washing during the water crisis. When Gottfried studied engineering and resource management at Stanford University, he studied under the renowned activist professor Gill Masters, and for his final course project he designed a small “but groovy” solar home, which became the model for his current rebuild. Despite Masters’ environmental teachings, including the fact that Americans consume 20% of the world’s energy but comprise just 5% of the population, Gottfried became an aspiring quintessential real estate developer selling and leasing properties to D.C.’s elite.

Had his clients not irritated him and his Type-A personality not driven people away, Gottfried might still be making deals. But the opulence and insensitivity of the industry depressed him, and when Gottfried attended the 1992 American Institute of Architects (AIA) national convention’s first lecture series on sustainable building and heard Bill McDonough tell everyone that “In nature, there is no waste,” his life felt changed. America was already into recycling and sustainable building was just beginning to be explored. But paints and adhesives were still toxic and Americans remained removed from their communities. Gottfried hadn’t thought of a council yet, but knew something big would need to happen.

The Rise of Sustainable Buildings

Meanwhile, across the country in Kansas City, Missouri, Bob Berkebile was undergoing turmoil of his own with his firm, BNIM Architects, the first in the U.S. heartland offering sustainable designs. He and his partners had built an excellent design firm since 1970 with high-profile commercial and institutional buildings such as the Harry S. Truman State Office Building, the largest commission in Missouri’s history at the time. But when the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City collapsed in 1981, a hotel that his firm designed, Berkebile was deeply affected and began to question the impact that architects have on people’s lives and the vitality of their communities.

This largest building failure in U.S. history prior to 9/11 was an epiphany for a man who at age six impressed his friends by building a spectacular tree house with the cherry wood carpentry tools his grandfather had made him. Berkebile went on to study architecture at the University of Kansas and worked with Buckminster Fuller, the visionary American architect and inventor, to construct the first tensegrity dome. On the final day of construction the structure collapsed but Fuller convinced the team this was a brilliant breakthrough, that failure gives rise to new knowledge and wisdom. “And following the collapse, I had to believe this,” said Berkebile, who challenged his colleagues at the American Institute of Architects to help answer these new questions and redefine good design. He became the founding chairman of AIA’s Committee on the Environment which, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and industry, began this new research.

Even while the architecture community was becoming engaged, corporations too were beginning to take notice. One of the early eco-consultants was John Picard, who was helping big retailers like The Gap make its stores more energy efficient and manufacturers to begin to think about how to make their products more sustainably. Picard, and Fedrizzi in his role as the sustainability point person at Carrier, were early pioneers in convincing corporate America to build green.

About the same time Gottfried, who was also doing green building consulting, figured out that if explained right, business people would pay for anything that lowered utility bills and could increase their return on the investment. If that was true, and if more responsible, more sustainable buildings were the goal, why not create a national-reaching council, one that was comprehensive, open and included bankers, builders, architects and designers, manufacturers, environmentalists, government and utilities all in the same conversation? That council could then develop and administer a green building rating system, and the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) that had just been adopted in England might be a good model.

Building Green Becomes a Movement

While Gottfried was exploring a national approach, several regional initiatives were gaining traction. In 1975 Pliny Fisk had founded the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems in Austin, Texas, as a place for creating building technologies, back when environmentalists focused on energy, not open buildings or connections with surrounding eco-systems. It’s the oldest non-profit of its kind in the U.S., and gave Gottfried confidence in his vision, and ideas on how to model it. In 1977 Fisk and his wife, Gail Vittori, now USGBC chair-elect, created the Austin Green Building Program, the world’s first. When it gained international recognition at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, Gottfried added this model to planning for the national council he was envisioning, which was to become USGBC.

Fisk and Vittori continue feeding the movement. Their center is on an 18-acre farm with a building that has been assembled and reassembled three times, with all the composition off the grid. Vittori compares it to Arcosanti. Interns and staff collaborate, there is a monthly open house and architecture students come to develop new products, buildings and technologies. Everyone is always looking 20-30 years ahead. “We sit in the middle of a huge experiment,” Fisk says.

And much of Fisk’s life started that way, growing up in Yorktown Heights, New York. His father, a self-taught microbiologist, built a huge compost facility hoping to sell it to the city, but with no investors the venture failed, leaving the compost around their house instead. Fisk rambled through nature like other American boys but his interest in sustainable living blossomed while studying archi-tecture at the University of Pennsylvania under Professor Russell Ackoff, an American pioneer in management science, and Ian McHarg, pioneer of ecological planning.

He soon had a chance to apply what he’d learned. In 1977, his triumph, notorious in the industry, was helping Crystal City, a small Texas town, defy the city government that had cut its gas off by installing low-cost solar water heaters and building a factory to manufacture them. This is held up even today as an example of excellent eco-pioneering, and of Fisk’s passionate fearless belief in what’s right.

Groups Unite

By 1993 USGBC needed more players, because it was still only a handful of people with a big idea. Enter Susan Maxman, a green architect and the acting AIA President at the time, and it was she who supported, guided and united the two groups. Maxman arranged for the AIA Boardroom where the first USGBC meeting took place and also made green building the theme of the AIA national meeting in Chicago two years later, helping sustain USGBC’s early growth. Her designs grew the movement, too.

Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, Maxman isn’t quite sure how she became a green architect. Her dad headed a building committee and her mother was a homemaker. And although Maxman found Columbus “gritty” and lamented when the era of urban renewal destroyed the fabric of downtown Columbus, she adored art; drawing and frequent family trips to Maine fueled her love of the environment. Though she had always wanted to be an architect, this was the ’50s and men kindly reminded her how impossible this was, given that she was a girl. It wasn’t until enrolling at Smith College and then the University of Pennsylvania that she felt hopeful. Once there Maxman had to re-take calculus because a male professor questioned that she understood it. But in her first architectural class when her professor Sasha Noviski marveled that there were 11 women out of 60 — a historical first — Maxman was moved and inspired.

As the ’80s wave of environmentalism passed over America, Maxman started her firm, Susan Maxman & Partners Ltd., in her Philadelphia house so she could also tend to her six children. Her firm’s first project, a simple building for the Oxford Girl Scouts, had cabins nestled in the woods, won national awards and remains the firm’s most well-known work. It was this practice of building as little as possible and building contextually that has been the foundation of her firm’s reputation and growth. This growth might have remained small, however, without USGBC, she says. “Once the council formed things really took off.”

The First Council Meeting

60 firms attended that founding organizational council meeting in April 1993, thanks to a full court press of letters, faxes and phone calls from Gottfried, Fedrizzi and Italiano. The presence of nonprofits such as the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund in attendance was legitimizing.

Nervous and clammy, Gottfried and Italiano read their four white papers and then proposed that the USGBC become an open and balanced coalition of the entire building industry, that it manage its own green building rating system (which later became known as LEED), and that it become the leading national resource on green building. Membership would be companies and organizations, not individuals, and membership fees would be $10,000 for the large product manufacturers with sales of over $1 billion, and a $15,000 initiation fee.

Much of this was revolutionary. It was clear that USGBC was not a typical trade association, but rather a broad group of community leaders involving all 13 sectors that comprise the building industry — including architects, bankers, educators, builders and trades people. LEED was still an idea (England’s BREEAM had launched only a year earlier) and the emotions behind the intent were huge, even spiritual. Everyone felt it was the right thing to do, Berkebile recalls. “The diverse collaboration and potential of USGBC gave us new energy and direction. When it was unanimously agreed that the council would form, men from Middle America who had never before hugged another man in public did so unabashedly. This was very moving stuff and very profound.”

The group named Fedrizzi USGBC’s founding chairman, acknowledging the value his 25 years of corporate expertise and intuitive marketing savvy would provide the fledgling non-profit. In 2004, Fedrizzi became the organization’s president and CEO, and today USGBC’s finances, membership, chapters and LEED registration are all growing at better than 50% per year.

But early on Gottfried nearly bankrupted himself, covering the start-up’s expenses, and it wasn’t until the first four to five companies paid $25,000 each as dues that things felt secure. This wasn’t enough to get the LEED pilot program off the ground, however, and had Mark Ginsberg, the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Building Technology, State and Community Programs at the Department of Energy (DOE), not given the Council its first $100,000 and then another $200,000 in 2000, LEED would not have evolved. Few government folk understood sustainable building then or saw the need for a council, Ginsberg says. “I convinced my colleagues at DOE that this was pivotal.” And it worked. Once the DOE funds legitimized the USGBC, it became clear the effort needed to grow. EPA and others followed suit. Rob Watson was named founding chair of the LEED Steering Committee, and the development of LEED took off, involving some 2,000 building industry leaders who donated their time to get the first rating system into pilot.

Ginsberg’s life had a consistent theme of green strategies and LEED, which is organized into six defined environmental categories, seemed to him pragmatic and logical. As a boy in ’50s Marion, Indiana, (population 30,000) he enjoyed an innocent, pre-TV time, lying on the grass with friends, creating epic adventures under the clouds. He became involved in student government and added energy and climate issues to student politics with the sponsorship of the first Earth Day at the University of Arizona. But his first active professional role was in 1979, directing Arizona’s Energy Office. Ginsberg loved Arizona, one of the first states leading solar energy in the ’50s, home to John Yellot, a pioneer of the cause. “We were beginning to despoil this beautiful setting and I wanted to try to stop this. I loved the Native American tradition of ‘leave a place better than you found it.’”

Ginsberg thrived as a result, creating multiple programs including the Energy Conscious Community program for cities and schools and helped found the Conference of Local Energy Officials linking states with cities. In 1993, his first proudest moment (before helping fund LEED, he says) was helping lead the Greening of the White House, which was where he first met Fedrizzi and Gottfried. Ginsberg also helped create the National Association of State Energy Officials, which remains one of the leading energy efficiency advocacy organizations in the country.

Writers Stir Interest in the Movement, Separate the Wheat From the Chaff

Environmental writers also pushed things further, legitimized the cause and helped challenge Americans to think differently about buildings and the environment. Even as green building grew from the mid-’90s, most Americans still viewed the basic concepts suspiciously. Writer and activist Alex Wilson challenged this when he founded BuildingGreen, the publisher of Environmental Building News in Vermont, in 1985, and continues today with in-depth research papers on everything from energy issues to transportation. Wilson knows the environment well from field work, from being a USGBC board member and from growing up with good, strong Pennsylvania-Quaker family values.

The 1710 Berwyn, Pennsylvania log home Wilson grew up in was one of the oldest homes in the state, and Wilson remembers a wheelbarrow of cement mortar being a frequent companion in the living room as his dad, a historian, rescued and restored the small house. Wilson’s interest in preservation and the environment grew when his family moved to Villanova in the mid-’60s. He read Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring, loved it, and well before the first Earth Day, Wilson was hooked. “Activism is often a phase for young Americans. But for me it stuck.”

Wilson’s interest in energy self-sufficiency and renewable energy led to his work on world food issues at the Library of Congress and then the White House. He also led solar energy construction workshops in New Mexico, including work with the Navajos, helping them become more self-sufficient. Wilson’s chronicles from those years became monthly newspaper columns and technical publications, such as the Thermal Storage Wall Design Manual, one of the first guides to building Trombe walls. At 25, Wilson was made executive director of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association and moved to Vermont for the job. While Ronald Reagan’s budget cuts forced other solar energy nonprofits to fold, Wilson’s prospered because he focused more on green building while few others did.

As Fedrizzi worked the delicate balance between environmental practice and practical business, the movement needed someone fair but firm to push the bar higher. Since 2000 that’s consistently been Bill Walsh, an environmental activist and writer. Walsh’s early life in Salem, Massachusetts, didn’t look very environmental — his dad supplied chlorine to the paper industry — but his law degree and internship at the American Civil Liberties Union in Denver, Colorado, gave him a wider view. Later, at a Georgetown University fellowship, Walsh helped a woman fight a lawn company who was dropping fertilizer around her home. The fumes made her sick and all the woman wanted was notification so she could close her windows. Walsh fought the case, won, and remained fascinated with the environmental damage caused by chemicals. Meanwhile the “Right to Know” law surfaced in the ’80s, along with the second wave of environmentalism, all of which kept him focused, passionate and concerned.

When he founded the Healthy Building Network, a research group and publisher of the Healthy Building News, a newsletter on market and political trends, he took his criticisms to a larger audience and has earned respect for his fairness, as well as his committed point of view. Walsh challenges the USGBC often, especially on the environmental health impacts of PVC materials. He also thinks that most materials can qualify as helping project teams attain LEED points and thinks “this feels very wrong.”

Other critics took LEED to task on its perceived clunkiness. Auden Schendler is a Colorado-based builder, green building consultant and author of “Implementing and Getting Green Done (Hard Truths and Real Solutions from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution)” due out spring 2009. But back in 2005, while LEED registrations sky-rocketed he and Randy Udall wrote a piece titled “Is LEED Broken?” that was published on grist.org. While only a few other critical papers preceded it, his articulate criticism struck a nerve as he vented his frustrations with LEED due to irritating, bureaucratic road blocks and “stupid” rules. He received many letters from others who also felt frustrated with LEED’s cumbersome approach. The USGBC and Schendler know that any system built by committee, one that took 200,000 volunteered people-hours to create, cannot be perfect. And LEED v3 will improve much. Schendler adds that his intent was “to improve the system, not napalm it. I am, only in the Ben Franklin sense, a critic. Our critics are our friends because they show us our flaws.”

International Growth

While the USGBC remained collaborative and took all critique and guidance to heart, it couldn’t help but feel excited by its rapid growth. The American green building industry was gaining serious traction by 1995. That year Gottfried’s own green consulting practice included entire cities like Santa Monica, California, and the U.S. Navy. Huge companies such as PG&E, Interface and Carrier launched green marketing or green programs. And companies like the Miller Paint Company had more sustainable paints on the market. Add this to the amazing technology happening with light bulbs, solar panels and automated controls, and suddenly it became hard not to buy a green product. The waste recycling boards also joined USGBC, and politically there were other big changes. USGBC had affiliated with EPA, DOE and the General Services Administration. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST, co-hosted two USGBC conferences before 1995, both of which were hugely legitimizing.

Even so when founding the WGBC in 1998, Gottfried never anticipated even two councils, certainly not the cluster that followed. And today, Gottfried, Fedrizzi, Horst and others are as likely to be found spreading the green building gospel in Beijing, Johannesburg and Dubai on behalf of the WGBC, as in Boise, Jacksonville, and Dallas on behalf of USGBC.

But it hasn’t been smooth sailing. No rules bound the councils and monitoring some of the questionable stuff going on abroad was impossible. Nonetheless from 2000-2005, LEED quickly spread in the U.S., then overseas. India now has the second highest number of certified green buildings in the world. This year Italy’s council formed and New Zealand wants to become the world’s first fully sustainable country.

Local leadership helped drive this. In 2002 Maria Atkinson co-founded the Green Building Council of Australia, became its CEO and helped grow this to 649 member organizations and 621 registered projects, making it the largest group outside of the U.S. Today Atkinson is Global Director at Lend Lease, a real estate development company, and she does this with classic and forever-helpful Down Under humbleness. “I just got on and did it.”

Atkinson broke the mold early. Unlike other Newcastle kids, she spent the weekends on a hobby farm where Atkinson remembers the water truck topping up supplies and bushfires lapping around. “This taught me the fragility of the environment.” Her dad made beautiful furniture from timber while her mother, from a long line of strong women, ran a building society. Atkinson backpacked through the U.S. and Canada in her 20s, and the Chernobyl disaster, combined with observations gained from her travels, had her switching degrees from biology to a laboratory certificate in environmental science. “Bells were going off. I knew I had to help the environment.”

Atkinson consulted to various places after graduating as there were no real jobs for environmental scientists in 1990 Australia, but when Sydney’s Olympics became the first green games, Atkinson applied for and landed the plum job of Environment Manager for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Village. She was the least experienced, she admits, but the most articulate and passionate, and this work showed her the need for a green building council. Atkinson also brings to the table a global overview and broad-reaching ideas. “True sustainability exists only if we replicate best practice within individual companies, between companies and across countries.”

At last year’s Greenbuild conference Atkinson told thousands that it’s not good enough having waterless urinals grow in the U.S. but not in Australia, or for dual flush toilets be ubiquitous in Australia and not in the U.S. Nor should a real estate company ensure rainwater collection and solar panels in one project, and then use incandescent light bulbs in another.

In 15 years Atkinson has seen Australians become more informed than most Americans on things like zero-emission homes. Per capita, the Green Building Council of Australia is growing faster than the USGBC, Aussies water their lawns and wash their cars sparingly, and due to droughts, most know, each day, what table_percentage the dam is full. Yet Atkinson wants Australians to embrace, market and grow residential green building like in the U.S. She remembers her first Greenbuild in Austin, Texas, having 4,000 attendees and can’t believe that last year’s attracted almost 25,000.

Moving Up, USGBC Relocates and LEED Takes Another Leap Forward

When green building spiked from 2000 onwards, USGBC needed new offices. The first DC office was a small room, one table and one phone for 10 people. It was Peter Templeton, now the Senior Vice President of Education & Research, who actually trundled the paltry files and equipment in a grocery cart to its second office on 18th Street where USGBC resided until moving into its Massachusetts Avenue LEED Platinum offices in late 2006. “This was after an hour of banter over whether a grocery cart or a cab was more sustainable. Nobody drove or even owned a car,” he laughs. Because of all of this, and because Templeton remembers celebrating the 25th LEED project in 2000 at a happy hour (when now there are more than 2300 commercial and residential certifications), his colleagues reckon he’s USGBC’s “rock” and say he “keeps the culture alive.”

Scot Horst is the second Chair of the LSC, the group developing and implementing LEED. This tough job means being Solomon on the one side, inspiring people to act responsibly for the environment rather than for their own agendas, and then Moses, ensuring that rules are clear. He became involved with LEED through a furniture line he created called “VegTable” (made from soybeans and recycled newsprint).

Horst grew up outside in rural Minnesota as the middle child of generations of Methodist ministers. His family camped and traveled every summer, often driving for days and nights on end in their Chevrolet Biscayne station wagon. As a child, Horst loved watching the world go by, and by his teens he was fearlessly climbing Wyoming’s Wind River Range and hitchhiking all over the U.S., Canada and most of South America.

Horst’s proudest achievement with the green building movement is shepherding LEED v3, the next evolution of the certification system to launch next year. He thinks that the changes that will appear in LEED 2009, the move to international certification bodies, and the enhancements to LEED Online will give new momentum to market transformation.

His LSC experience requires holistic thinking and leadership, he says, which means getting out of his own way. Horst learned this from singing opera, his first career, but applying it to his life is a milestone. The LSC is volunteer work and takes time from his consulting firm, Horst Inc., and from his family. And yet he finds that greater freedom results from giving back. His company has grown and he is happier. “So giving of myself relentlessly and with abandon, paradoxically, has given back the most,” he says.

Green Enters the Classroom

Fedrizzi has been president of USGBC during a time that it has tripled its membership, broadened its influence, and cemented its role as a leadership voice in the global sustainability movement. But ask him what matters most to him, and he’ll tell you green schools. Few people delight in this more than Linda Cato, a teacher at Imago Dei Middle School, a private school for low-income kids in Tucson, Arizona. Cato led her school to third place in the nation last year for the national Council for Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) green school design contest. The judges liked that the designs were done by hand, not computers, by students whose parents had not even finished high school. The soccer field traps water and the building faces north, towards the mountains to avoid the brutal sun. Students learned vocabulary, math and science, repurposing and rebuilding.

It wasn’t easy. Cato had to first convince the students that their ideas were valid and worth sharing before things worked. Then everybody got involved. Local artists taught the students to weld iron and create a fence for their vacant lot work space and starting a garden there allowed the community to grow and harvest vegetables, even have meals together. “We made a sustainable community, not just a school, and this is part of a bigger conversation we need to have with our young people.”

The USGBC helps promote the plusses of green schools to faculty and students with its new LEED for Schools green building certification program, and teachers like Cato are an important part of that. She notes that the building itself teaches children about weather, gardening and science while composting teaches soil chemistry. The proof is in the pudding. Adrianne Tapia, a 12-year-old student, says that before this contest she focused simply on finishing high school. Now she wants to be an environmental architect.

Green Rebuilds the Old and Damaged

Martha Jane Murray, pioneer, activist and Arkansas architect, is equally as driven, whether it’s convincing her skeptical Arkansas clients to build green, or convincing New Orleans planners that rebuilding a post-Katrina New Orleans sustainably is the only option. She knows whereof she speaks. The Murrays lived in Wynne, Arkansas, on the fringe of the Delta. Her mother religiously composted, recycled, and canned the harvest from the garden and the fruit trees, while her dad sold cars for General Motors. “We were very connected to the earth. Everything was used, reused, had a purpose and a place,” she says.

Murray’s younger brother Thompson studied environmental science before becoming a minister, and he invented wacky things, such as the hang glider he built to fly over the paddocks. He also got her hooked on recycling. Professionally, Murray only dabbled in green building in the early ’90s in California. But when she returned to Arkansas, developers threatened to damage the natural habitat in her neighborhood. Murray helped challenge them and won, then vowed to do architecture and business differently.

Murray first stumbled across the USGBC at a design conference in Seattle, attended one of the earlier LEED training programs and found it very sensible. “Everything was already there — you just had to apply it. I was a maniac, jumping on everyone— everything to learn more.” She convinced her firm to become the first in Arkansas to join USGBC (the 1,000th business to join in the U.S.; now there are 17,000+), and Murray became Arkansas’s first LEED Accredited Professional. But the conservative South still viewed green building suspiciously; many thought she was crazy, some even threatened her. Murray was patient. “I was imposing a structure that was so new, unfamiliar and therefore unsettling. But I wasn’t afraid.”

This fearlessness helped her help people in New Orleans who earned $10,000 a year save 10% to 30% of what they typically spent on utilities. “These people have no voice, no resources to make those changes,” she says. “Some say it’s like winning the lottery getting this disposable income back.” Gottfried adds that it was the greening of New Orleans that inspired big corporations like Wells Fargo to launch its green financial products. Americans also saw celebrities like Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio invest in and fight for the cause. For Murray these are side perks. Her New Orleans work showed her what has to be done: Fight for more community development grants for those needing them the most. There are not enough and yet she insists that “if we get to the decision makers, we will win.”

America’s First Fully Rebuilt Green Town

Daniel Wallach is the founder of Greensburg Green Town, the non-profit group helping rebuild Greensburg, Kansas, the town that was literally wiped out by a tornado in the fall of 2007. Green Town will become America’s first green-built city and a model for others in places as far away as Turkey and China. Wallach is a voice for rural Americans in much the same way Murray is for children and the poor, and he thinks that rural Americans, contrary to popular belief, make excellent environmentalists. “Politically this demographic is conservative and not activist, but they are more organic than most city folk,” he says.

The transition isn’t without it struggles. Before the tornado Greensburg housed 1,400, mostly elderly and mature farming people. Eighty table_percent were displaced and 800 remain. And yet culturally, it was time for change. The tornado presented the town with a chance to do things differently. At that first town meeting 500 people arrived, many spilling out on to the street, and Wallach says everyone knew and agreed that the new Greensburg would and should be green.

Everyone agreed that Wallach, whose home narrowly missed the storm, should direct the rebuild through his non-profit. He had worked with the Rocky Mountain Institute and others in Colorado and moved to Greensburg with his wife a decade earlier purely to escape Denver’s sprawl. In Kansas he felt the peace he had felt as a child. The rebuild blends old school architecture with cutting-edge green technology. The John Deere dealership, the General Motors dealership, City Hall, the Baptist Church will all be LEED certified, many Platinum, and built by developers such as Berkebile’s BNIM architecture firm. Most residential homes will see 30% to 50% increases in energy efficiency.

Everyone feels proud, he says, and Greensburgers epitomize what rural communities bring to the environmental movement. Many of their ancestors homesteaded the land around the sun, built well-insulated homes with rain catchment systems. Most Greensburgers grow crops. And while nobody calls it “recycling,” most own sheds containing scraps of metal and wood for fixing things. Wallach thinks that this very fabric sustaining this displaced but strong community is essential to sustainable living and that green building is just a byproduct.

Concerns Moving Forward

As the USGBC enjoys its 15th year, many worry however that the movement and the USGBC will lose focus and relevance in this growth era. Everyone feels immensely proud, of course, but wonders how the big player can remain the safekeeper of the movement. Horst for one doesn’t want souls lost in the process. Others think the biggest danger is calling green building mainstream when out of the 100 million homes out there, only 2% to 10% are green. C02 abatement is not at the levels we need and we need an absolute revolution now to get there, Gottfried says. “Everyone must go green, all industry, all homes, and everyone must get out of their cars.”

Performance standards must be higher and certifying buildings must become more streamlined and cheaper. “We need to see the lower utility bill once solar panels are added and have an architect sign off on it, not overpay some LEED consultant.” Walsh compares USGBC to an adolescent teenager with all aspects of the metaphor applying: A projection of confidence, idealism, independence and the idea of being able to change the world.

Others fret over the canyon between what people see as green and what really matters. Schendler for instance hates the navel-gazing among architects expounding on the sustainable materials they use. “This is secondary to the need to move into greening codes and having more LEED buildings, probably through an IRS type audit system.” The growing egotism in the industry is a problem too with many claiming to be first at things and “green before the color was invented.” And while Energy Star Systems are good starts and writers like Wilson closely monitor greenwashing, the average consumer remains confused. Ginsberg dislikes that corporations get to look green, without completing LEED certification. He has driven the same 1993 Nissan Altima for 15 years and wonders if Americans yet know how to adopt sustainable living. After 40 years, he sees no comprehensive recycling system and thinks that more instruction must exist. Horst thinks that it comes down to the fact that if we can be wasteful, we will be. “There was a great natural heritage out there but we forgot about it, because we could.”

Murray sees meeting demand as the biggest USGBC challenge. She sees architects stampeding to become LEED certified and thinks that the movement’s intentions might get diluted. This makes Aldo Leopold’s wonderful quote, “In our attempt to make conservation easy, I fear it becomes trivial,” become so pivotal. The devil is in the details — working through all levels of sustainability but in the rush, can this be maintained? And how about finding balance between work and family? Rebuilding New Orleans took her away from her family and this was heart-breaking. “How can we not feel guilty helping the Earth when we neglect our children to do the work?”

And Fisk wants to see the council look at the entire country, not just its buildings, and apply its learning to other sectors. “Why aren’t we extending this lifecycle footprint procedure to include anything— materials, energy, even food?” The USGBC could broaden its scope and programs considerably, but it must start thinking in this bigger model framework. “The sky is the limit,” he says.

“We’ve accomplished so much since those early back-of-the-napkin conversations David and I used to have,” said Fedrizzi. “It’s entirely possible that in the next 15 years we’ll have net-zero energy buildings in all communities and that USGBC will be obsolete. Those are worthy goals. But if we become complacent, and the status quo becomes the bar, we will have squandered the biggest part of what we could and should do for our nation, our planet and our children. And that’s just not acceptable.”

Everyone agrees that USGBC is on the right path and that these are mere growing pains. And everyone is still excited by projects like Gottfried’s and finds the ReGreen program and what to do with the nation’s existing buildings an exciting challenge. This all feels incredibly satisfying to Gottfried, who as summer ended, finally moved his family into his renovated green home.

At the end of our life we must feel a sense of purpose and legacy. What better way to feel proud than reducing our own environmental footprint and showcasing the pathway for others?
Strategic Plan 2009–2013: Executive Summary
  • Leading Transformation In A Rapidly Changing World

    The U.S. Green Building Council has developed its strategic plan for 2009 — 2013 amidst rapidly changing conditions. “Green” is booming. Being green has become mainstream. At the same time, achieving sustainability on a large scale is still very far off. Green buildings and other green products remain very small table_percentages of total market shares. The pace of change must increase to prevent significant deterioration of ecological conditions in many places around the world. USGBC is keenly aware of the scope and scale of these challenges—and we are prepared to evolve as needed to mobilize and lead the building community’s contribution to the transformation toward sustainable communities. As our understanding of USGBC’s mission broadens, so must the scope of our strategies and programs evolve and expand. This plan sets forth our strategic vision for the next five years.

    key strategic issues facing the green building community

    Key strategic issues facing the green building community in general, and USGBC in particular, include:

    • Shift in emphasis from individual buildings toward the built environment and broader aspects of sustainability, including a more focused approach to social equity;
    • Need for strategies to reduce contribution of the built environment to climate change;
    • Rapidly increasing activity of government in green building arena;
    • Lack of capacity in the building trades to meet the demand for green building;
    • Lack of data on green building performance;
    • Lack of education about how to manage, operate, and inhabit green buildings; and,
    • Increasing interest in and need for green building expertise internationally.
  • Guiding Principles

    Along with its Vision and Mission, USGBC’s Guiding Principles provide the foundation upon which the work of the organization stands and the reservoir of intent and imagination out of which its strategy grows. They also serve as touchstones by which USGBC evaluates the success and integrity of its work both inside and outside of the organization.

    fostering social equity

    USGBC seeks to elevate social equity as a value and outcome integral to sustainable built environments. Because this dimension of sustainability and the triple bottom line has received too little attention both by USGBC and the green building community at large, we have added Foster Social Equity as a Guiding Principle.

  • Agenda For Transformation: Strategic Goals And Objectives

    The strategic goals presented here define the priorities USGBC will pursue to further its mission over the next five to ten years:

    • Sustainable Cities and Communities: Catalyze and lead the building sector’s active participation in the movement to achieve sustainable cities and communities.
    • Climate and Natural Resources: Lead the dramatic reduction and eventual elimination of building construction and operations’ contribution to climate change and natural resource depletion.
    • Green Building Marketplace: Accelerate green building demand, delivery, and accessibility.
    • Public Policy: Advocate for effective and comprehensive green building policy and codes at all levels of government.
    • International: Advance green building around the world by developing certification capacity, sharing knowledge, and collaboratively advancing regionally appropriate and effective green building practices and policies.
    • Organizational Excellence: Leverage USGBC’s organizational structure and capacity to support and catalyze the market transformation required to achieve its mission.
  • Program: How USGBC Achieves Its Goals

    USGBC core programs and competencies guide its choices about how best to pursue its mission and goals.

    • Leadership and Transformation: USGBC provides leadership to the green building community and society at large by advancing effective, cutting edge innovation in green building vision, theory, practice, design, and construction.
    • Education: USGBC will continue to raise awareness of critical issues and build capacity among a wide range of sectors within the building community, as well as those who purchase, manage, operate, maintain, and regulate buildings.
    • Research and Development: Research and development play a vital role in the achievement of USGBC’s vision and mission by accelerating the scope and scale of green building. USGBC seeks to drive research critical to the expansion of green building.
    • Outreach: A strong partnership and close coordination between USGBC and its chapters and members is essential to fulfilling USGBC’s mission. USGBC will continually refine the relationship between the national organization and chapters to enable maximum effectiveness in achieving the goals of all.
    • Advocacy: Societal transformation of the scope and scale required to realize USGBC’s vision requires changes in public policy at all levels of government. USGBC will continue to expand the application of direct advocacy both for comprehensive efforts to transform the built environment and for particular legislative or regulatory outcomes.
    • Collaboration: Large-scale transformation requires creating partnerships, forging alliances, and building coalitions, a collaborative approach intrinsic to USGBC’s values.
  • The Path Forward: Implementation

    The Executive Management Team (EMT) and Board will work together to establish metrics for evaluation of all objectives and to identify implementation and operational strategies. USGBC will mobilize its many resources and diverse stakeholders to achieve the far-reaching goals set forth in this plan. Specifically, chapters, in collaboration with regional councils, and program steering committees will be responsible for developing annual work plans and focused strategies that align with national goals and objectives.

  • The Strategic Planning Process

    The Strategic Planning Committee, established by the Board in July, 2007, identified key strategic issues facing the green building community and developed strategic goals for the USGBC to address them. The Executive Management Team (EMT) was fully involved from the outset. Meridian Institute facilitated the process, which extended through July, 2008.

    [This plan was adopted by the Board on July 17, 2008.]

Consolidated Statement of Activities
Change in unrestricted net assets2007%
Revenue
Membership Dues$ 9,082,71620%
Education$ 13,617,17529%
Registration & Certification$ 11,195,46224%
Conferences and meetings$ 8,435,56118%
Grants & Sponsorship$ 2,126,1205%
Investment Income$ 978,2642%
Other$ 1,006,3962%
In-Kind contribution$ 0
Total revenue$ 46,441,694
Expenses
Program services
Registration and Certification$ 8,247,75123%
Education$ 5,645,79916%
Conference$ 6,615,80118%
Total program services$ 20,509,351
Supporting services
General and administrative$ 9,988,31228%
Fund Development$ 225,4211%
Public Advocacy$ 100,000<1%
Membership development$ 5,049,30614%
Total supporting services$ 15,363,039
 
Total Expenses$ 35,833,449
Change in unrestricted net assets$ 10,569,304
Net assets, beginning of year$ 10,330,968
Net assets, end of year$ 20,900,272
Statement of Financial Position
Assets2007
Cash and cash equivalents$ 15,180,556
Accounts receivable, net$ 3,566,379
Investments$ 18,581,660
Prepaid expense and Deposits$ 479,536
Other Assets$ 0
Property and Equipment, net$ 3,575,895
Total assets$ 41,384,026
 
Liabilities and Net Assets2007
Liabilities
Accounts payable and Accrued expenses$ 5,541,021
Deferred Revenue$ 13,695,603
Note Payable$ 680,209
Deferred Rent$ 542,479
Subtenant deposits$ 24,442
Total Liabilities$ 20,483,754
Net Assets - unrestricted
Undesignated$ 16,479,907
Board designated$ 4,420,365
Total Net Assets$ 20,900,272
Total Liabilities and Net Assets$ 41,384,026
2007 Board of Directors
Charles Allen
Center for Bioenvironmental Research (CBR) at Tulane and Xavier Universities
Dan Burgoyne
California Department of General Services
Tim Carey
New York Power Authority
Eric Clifton
Onteriors, LLC – Newland Communities
Tim Cole
Treasurer
Forbo Linoleum Inc.
Mick Dalrymple
Desert Moon Productions
Michael Deane
Turner Construction Company
Rick Fedrizzi
President, CEO and Founding Chairman
USGBC
Rebecca Flora
Chair Elect
Green Building Alliance
Tony Gale
Starbucks Coffee Company
David Gottfried
Founder
Thomas Properties Group
Richard Graves
WBRC Architects-Engineers
Bob Harris
Lake/Flato
Mike Hess
GreenTime LLC
Don Horn
GSA Public Buildings Service
Michelle Hucal
Environmental Design + Construction
Kevin Hydes
Immediate Past Chair
Stantec
Vivian Loftness
Carnegie Mellon University
Mark MacCracken
CALMAC Mfg. Corp.
Sandra Mendler
HOK
Punit Jain
Cannon Design
Frank Sherman
Global Thinking
Kim Shinn
TLC Engineering for Architecture
Lisa Shpritz
Bank of America
Ted van der Linden
DPR Construction
Gail Vittori
Secretary
Center for Maximum Potential Bldg Systems
Bettina von Hagen
Ecotrust
Paul von Paumgartten
Alliance for a Sustainable Built Environment
Rob Watson
EcoTech International
Sandy Wiggins
Chair
Consilience, LLC
Lauren Yarmuth
YRG sustainability consultants
Greenbuild 2007

USGBC thanks the following organizations for their generous sponsorship of Greenbuild 2007:

Lend Lease
Sloan Valve Company
Steelcase Inc.
McGraw Hill Construction
Trane Inc.
General Motors Corporation
Knoll, Inc.
Honda Motor Company, Limited
Turner Construction Company
Schüco International KG
Homesite Insurance
Haworth, Inc.
GE-Real Estate
The HON Company
Steel Recycling Institute
Antron carpet fibers
Armstrong Ceiling & Flooring Systems
Autodesk, Inc.
Webcor Builders
Canadian Consulate General
Shelbourne Development Group
Acuity Brands Lighting, Inc.
Gilbane, Inc.
Clark Construction Group, LLC
Holcim (US) Inc.
MWH
Pella Corporation
Perkins + Will
Revival Fund Management, LLC
The Sherwin-Williams Company
Skanska AB
SunPower Corporation
Green Building Blocks
The John Buck Company
Morgan Stanley Real Estate
Green World Now
HOK Group, Inc.
Candela Hotels
Johnson Controls, Inc.
Target Corporation
Commonwealth Edison
Milliken Contract
SiteStuff, Inc.
Kohler Co.
CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc.
Teknion Corporation
International Interior Design Association
Planet Green
The Pugliese Company
Tishman Construction Corporation
Knauf Insulation
The EPS Molders Association
M.A. Mortenson Company
OSRAM SYLVANIA Inc.
Scheinmedia
Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc.
Kawneer Co. Inc.
Hunter Panels
Nora Systems, Inc.
Chemtura Corporation
Construction Owners Association of America, Inc.
One Source Services, Inc.
Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd
Boston Architectural College
Rulon Company
Solutia Ultron
Building Commissioning Association
Arcom Control Systems, Inc.
Second Look Recycled Wallcovering / LSI Wallcovering
Kimball International, Inc.
All American Homes, LLC
InterfaceFLOR, LLC
Forbo Holding
Sebesta Blomberg
Construction Specialties Inc.
mannington Mills, Inc.
Earth Tech
SKIDMORE, OWINGS & MERRILL LLP
Allsteel Inc.
Exotic Hardwoods+Veneers
Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
Calison
ProLogis
Collaborating Organizations
Alameda County, CA
City of Albuquerque, NM
Arlington County, VA
California Energy Commission
Clinton Climate Initiative
City of Dallas, TX
City and County of Denver, CO
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
City of Grand Rapids, MI
ICLEI — Local Governments for Sustainability
City of Kansas City, MO
Natural Resources Defense Council
Pacific Gas & Electric Company
City of Portland, OR
Puget Sound Energy
City and County of San Francisco, CA
City of Seattle, WA
Seattle City Light
Sierra Club Cool Cities Campaign
The United States Conference of Mayors
US EPA, Climate Protection Partnerships
2007 Supporters

We gratefully acknowledge the following individuals, corporations and organizations whose generous contributions and inkind gifts allow USGBC to extend the benefits of green building to those who work and learn in America’s schools, to residents of affordable housing and to communities at risk. Donations also have supported our Greenbuild365 education portal, research agenda and international work:

Alliance to Save Energy
Mechanical Contracting Education and Research Foundation
Media Logic
Newland Communities LLC
Olive Higgins Prouty Foundation
The Home Depot Foundation
United Technologies Corporation
Alameda County Waste Management Authority
City of Grand Rapids, MI
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Environmental Protection Agency
City of Albuquerque, NM
State of California
City of Kansas City, MO
City of Portland, OR
City of Seattle, WA
Pacific Gas & Electric Company
O’Rorke, Inc.
City of Denver, CO
Sierra Club
Arlington County, VA
City of San Jose, CA
Puget Sound Energy