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20 years of USGBC: LEED recollections

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This article is part of a series of stories from USGBC's community celebrating 20 years of green building triumphs. Take a walk down memory lane with USGBC, as we reflect on favorite moments and share memories from the last 20 years. Share your own green building triumphs using #USGBC20.

Fun stuff, this birthing of a significant market transformation process. The 1990-decade was an energizing period for green building. There were so many issues to address and very little money to do so.

What is a green building, what metrics should we use? What benchmarks need to be established; will they be too high, too low? Why would we use heavy metals as an award for green? Who says what issues should be included? What if it overwhelms the marketplace? What if it is too expensive to engage? Should we design the system for new buildings, for office buildings? Where will we get the most traction? What is the governance structure? How will we market this? How do we evaluate success? Who’s going to manage this thing? Where do people collect the reference information; how detailed do we make it? And so on . . .

Luckily we had a dedicated committee of seriously interested folks and Rob Watson who held the reins pretty firmly. Those early committee phone calls were tedious and torturous with challenges being constantly raised. A few of us were using LEED in our design practices and after the first approval ballot of LEED v. 1.0 we felt we could do better. The marketplace was already advancing and a credit system organized by the alphabet was just too cumbersome. We had some serious lifting to do.

The committee decided to go back to the drawing board and assemble a charrette of experts from North America and Europe to design LEED v. 2.0. This was in the summer 1999 with the need for a re-ballot for a Spring 2000 launch. Mark Ginsberg of DOE had challenged us the year before to get this system launched “Don't let perfection be the enemy of the good!” The pressure was fairly intense

Kristen Ralff the Executive Director of the USGBC had been doing a great job of networking and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund agreed to host the upgrade charrette at Pocantico north of New York City. It was a very successful vetting of issues. Rob organized the outcome and the balloting went ahead. LEED v. 2.0 was launched!

Thank you all who contributed and continue to contribute to this work. It’s a pretty amazing thing to realize how much of a transformational benefit LEED has had and will have for the planet. From my perspective, the benefit is not really direct, it is in what we are asked to think about and address as part of our co-evolutionary role. LEED has established a whole new list of questions that inspire many people to go much deeper than they would have without it.

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    Bill Reed made 1 contribution in the last 6 months

Bill Reed

Principal Integrative Design Collaborative

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President and CEO, Integral Group
I recall the first ever LEED workshop in Seattle. Of course there were not LEED buildings yet. So the slides showed images of green buildings CK Choi Building composting toilets in Vancouver which Bob Berkebile and I worked on , for example. 20 years later we have so many great examples. Great work USGBC and the tens of thousand of you Pushing the edge. Kevin Hydes Past Chair USGBC CEO integral Group

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