Rick's Journal: Greenbuild Day One | U.S. Green Building Council
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USGBC CEO Rick Fedrizzi reflects on the exciting announcements of Day One at Greenbuild.

If there's one thing we’ve always inherently understood at USGBC® and GBCI®, it’s that our mission is on-the-ground local, and at the same time, relentlessly global. Our planet’s delicate environment, just like its weblike world economy, relies on multiple partners and multiple efforts in multiple ports-of-call in countries around the world.

On Tuesday, our pre-conference programs were awash in global issues and crackling with energy as environmental leaders and difference-makers from around the world met at the L.A. Convention Center. I had the pleasure of kicking off the Greenbuild International Summit, and I could literally feel the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. That’s how exciting the moment was and how chock-full of anticipation the room became.

And that sensation was only heightened after I’d welcomed everyone and brought Scot Horst onto the stage to introduce him as the very first CEO of an exciting new venture between USGBC and GBCI. It’s called arc.

We’re using lowercase letters as a matter of style and branding, but there’s nothing lowercase about the boldness of our vision. Scot said “Action without connection is busywork," and this new platform is all about connection that will help us accumulate, analyze and make available to businesses in all four corners of the globe essential environmental and sustainability data, especially such numbers and analysis as related to economic issues and concerns.

We know that by doing so, we will help the rest of the world start to see what you and I have long known: that sustainability is hardly the enemy of economic development, growth and prosperity. On the contrary, the two can be—and, more often that not, are—one and the same.

And I cannot tell you how excited I am that Scot is the guy who will be heading up this spinoff venture for USGBC and GBCI. As one of the great tinkerers, sweat-the-details guys and new product—and I use this term with the deepest affection—geeks I know, Scott was born to play the role we’ve cast him in.

My confidence in his ability to transform arc into a kind of household name is so strong because he’s done the same for LEED®. He’s been involved from its earliest days as a key volunteer, then as the chief shepherd of LEED 2009 and v4. Out of that experience with LEED as a design tool, he’s helped shift it to a performance metric through the creation and deployment of the LEED Dynamic Plaque. And now, arc takes that idea to a whole new level. It’s exciting stuff, and its launch on Tuesday was typical Scot—passionate, visual and brilliant.

My affection for him as a friend, my respect for him as a colleague and my deep admiration for him as a fellow pioneer in the vast frontier we now call sustainable building knows no bounds. And it was a great way to kick off Greenbuild 2016 in Los Angeles.

Speaking of game-changing announcements, at yesterday’s International Summit, Scot and I also used the moment to introduce LEED for Cities, an all-new and all-encompassing initiative that will apply the collective and hard-won knowledge that we’ve has gleaned from years of studying and analyzing individual structures to apply it to the very cities they inhabit.

It’s a natural progression, if you think about it. As my friend and soon-to-be CEO of USGBC, Mahesh Ramanujam, has been saying about LEED for Cities as long as we’ve been developing and fine-tuning it, it is simply “scaling the vision” of everything we’ve learned over the past 15 years about LEED. What, in his words, had once only applied to a single structure can now be applied to a neighborhood, a city, a state, a country, a continent “and, in time, the world.” Stay tuned for more on this.

Of all the things of which I’ve been proud during my tenure at USGBC, perhaps none is any greater than this: This organization I helped create has come to be as diverse, all-welcoming and all-encompassing as any organization on the face of this planet. And the reason for this is because USGBC realized many, many years ago that diversity does not simply mean diversity of race, or gender, or religion or culture. Diversity is as much an economic distinction as any of those other metrics.

Sustainability and a holistic approach to resource use and management will only have meaning, and it will only have real merit, if sustainable practices are available to all and resonate with people everywhere, from the richest to the poorest and from the largest cities to the tiniest villages.

This specific form of diversity, of course, is more relevant than ever these days, as in countries around the world, middle classes continue to shrink in size and social standing and economic disparity emerges as the third rail of global politics.

All that is just a way of me saying how proud I am that Day One of Greenbuild 2016 also featured the Communities and Affordable Homes Summit and WaterBuild, the first Water Summit at Greenbuild—both of which dealt extensively with sustainability in many of the world’s (and our country’s) neediest, most deserving and most at-risk communities.

I give two big thumbs up to the many members and volunteers who spent the past year developing and putting together all three of these vitally important summits.