Brenden McEneaney

The California Best Buildings Challenge was a legacy initiative of the USGBC Northern California Community. Former President Bill Clinton partnered with USGBC to unveil the cutting-edge Challenge in 2012.

“This [Challenge] is a huge deal. It's a lay down economically. It's a lay down in the fight against climate change. And in our fight to become both more energy efficient and energy independent.” —Former President Bill Clinton

“Watching the California Best Buildings Challenge gain momentum and grow has been exciting, and cements the idea that green building and efficient business practices go hand-in-hand. The Challenge participants are bona fide leaders in the sustainable business movement, and we hope California-based companies and beyond will follow suit.” —Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair, USGBC

Inspired by the White House’s Better Buildings Challenge (BBC), the California Best Buildings Challenge set more aggressive goals than the BBC in a landmark, short time-frame. While the President’s BBC seeks 20 percent in energy reductions by 2020, the California Best Buildings Challenge called for 20 percent energy, water and waste reductions by 2014.

Launch of the California Best Buildings Challenge with President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative America June 2012 Conference

Watch the launch with President Clinton and the pre-launch announcement

A special thank you to the Best Buildings Challenge partners, participants and advisory council for their dedication to a healthy and sustainable environment.

Looking for more information? Take a look at the Best Buildings Challenge Overview and Best Buildings Challenge FAQ.

Best Buildings Challenge Partners

Founding Partners

  • Adobe
  • Genetech
  • Google
  • Prudential
  • SAP
  • Zynga


  • Bayer
  • Integral Group
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Method
  • Onyx
  • Webcor
  • XL Construction

Best Buildings Challenge Participants

"We applaud the outstanding leadership of the participating partners. Their support of this initiative demonstrates the can-do California spirit of innovation, and will have a profound impact on showing how retrofitting our buildings will lead to a healthy and sustainable environment, while creating jobs and invigorating the economy." —Dan Geiger, Former Executive Director of USGBC Northern California

Executives from Bayer, Integral Group, Lockheed Martin, Method, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Webcor Builders, and XL Construction joining existing Challenge participants Adobe, Genentech, Google, Prudential Real Estate Investors, SAP and Zynga on stage for the announcement. 

Best Buildings Challenge Technical Advisory Board

The California Best Buildings Challenge Technical Advisory Board was made up of volunteer industry experts. The Board was instrumental in developing the technical and reporting aspects of the Challenge and making necessary adjustments during the pilot phase of the program.

  • Dan Ackerstein, USGBC Faculty, Ackerstein Sustainability, LLC
  • Jordan Daniels, LEED AP,  Senior Partner, BuildingWise
  • Mary Davidge, LEED AP BD+C & ID+C, USGBC Faculty, Mary Davidge Associates
  • Jim Kelsey, P.E. LEED AP, Principal of kW Engineering,
  • Raphael Sperry, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Consultant at Simon & Associates, Inc.

In the News

The Challenge was featured in over 20 media sources, including Environmental Leader, Mercury News-Silicon Valley, SF Business Times, The Almanac-Silicon Valley, and The Registry.

The Registry: Good, Better, Best

Press Release: USGBC’s California Best Buildings Challenge More than Doubles to 13 Companies

SF Business Times: California bests Better Buildings challenge with Best Buildings

Press Release: USGBC and its Northern California Chapter launch the California Best Buildings Challenge at CGI America

California Best Buildings Challenge Commitment Announcement on Stage with President Bill Clinton—CGI America 2012 [video] 

California Best Buildings Challenge Commitment with Rick Fedrizzi—CGI America 2012 [video]


Bayer Healthcare, Terry Hermiston, VP, Biologics Research U.S. Site Head, U.S. Innovation Center
“At Bayer facilities throughout the world, sustainability shapes how we manage our business and plan for the future. Our manufacturing sites in the San Francisco Bay Area are recognized environmental leaders. Now, having recently established our U.S. Innovation Center in San Francisco, we look forward to taking actions that will meet the rigorous standards of the California Best Buildings Challenge. Thank you for giving us this opportunity!” 

Genentech, Carla Boragno, Vice President of Site Services:
"As the founder of the biotechnology industry, Genentech is excited to be part of the California Best Buildings Challenge, and we look forward to sharing best practices with other leading California companies. As we continually strive to create and deliver innovative medicines for patients, we also seek to employ new, more sustainable technologies and processes in order to minimize our impact on the environment.” 

Google Inc., David Radcliffe, Vice President of Real Estate and Workplace Services:
“When it comes to greening our office buildings, we apply the same focus that we use for any of our products: put the user first. Improving the environmental performance of our buildings not only helps us reduce waste, save energy and water and improve indoor air quality, but also positively impacts the health and productivity of our employees around the world. Through our early participation in the California Best Buildings Challenge, we hope to inspire companies of all shapes and sizes to implement innovative approaches to reducing their environmental footprint.” 

Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Matt Fust, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer:
“At Onyx, our focus is on innovation and putting people first—whether we are developing medicines to help patients with cancer or using sustainable building practices to minimize our impact on the environment. Through the California Best Buildings Challenge, Onyx looks forward to joining other leading companies dedicated to creating a healthier environment for our communities and our employees for years to come.” 

Prudential Real Estate Investors, Allen Smith, CEO:
"As a major investor in commercial real estate around the world, PREI is committed to our investors, our tenants and each other to find creative, sustainable approaches to building, improving and managing property. We're excited to be part of the California Best Buildings Challenge, as it is an opportunity to demonstrate that commitment by bringing out the best in us while improving our environmental practices.” 

SAP, Peter Graf, Chief Sustainability Officer:
“SAP is committed to developing innovations that help run operations more sustainably for ourselves and our customers. A key part of SAP’s sustainability leadership is our dedication to environmentally sustainable buildings, including optimizing the efficiency of our existing buildings and when creating new buildings from the ground up. By participating in the California Best Buildings Challenge, all companies have an opportunity to demonstrate how they are driving sustainability into their core business strategy and communities.” 

Webcor Builders, Phil Williams, Vice President of Technical Systems and Sustainability:
“As the region’s leading builder, sustainability is pivotal for Webcor’s designs, job sites, business practices and research and development. Through a combination of experience and innovation, we are fundamentally committed to improving the quality of the built environment and collaboratively delivering this knowledge to the industry.” 

XL Construction, Dave Beck, Vice President:
"XL Construction is excited to be joining the likes of Genentech, Google and Zynga in the California Best Buildings Challenge. As a builder committed to sustainability, we are always seeking better ways to serve our clients and communities. In challenging ourselves to meet the 20 percent reduction of energy, water, and waste in two years, we will be implementing strategies at home that we can then bring to our clients with living proof of efficacy and cost-effectiveness. We also hope to lead the industry in continuing to push the boundaries of efficiency and sustainable building." 

Zynga, Jim Morgensen, Vice President of Workplace:
“Zynga takes the challenge to reduce our environmental impact seriously, and we are proud to be an inaugural participant of the California Best Buildings Challenge. We are committed to reducing the consumption of energy, water and waste in our San Francisco headquarters building by 20 percent or more in two years. Zynga fundamentally believes that with innovation and diligence, we can achieve our commitment goals. We hope the Challenge will inspire other building owners and managers to do the same.”