Mahesh Ramanujam
4 minute read

The next 25 years of USGBC will ensure that LEED is not only the leadership standard, but also a Living Standard.

On behalf of USGBC, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy New Year.

We’re just a week into 2019, and I’d like us to take a brief moment to both reflect on our accomplishments and look ahead to the promise of the year to come.

By any measure, 2018 was an incredible year in the history of USGBC. Thanks to all of you, we’ve made real progress over the last 12 months. We all have a lot to be proud of, and I’m so grateful to be a part of this community, because we never stop striving to be better.

In 2018, we celebrated our 25th anniversary at USGBC! For 25 years, we’ve come together to make our planet stronger, greener and more sustainable. Over the last quarter century, green building has grown into a trillion-dollar industry, and LEED has become the most widely used program of its kind in the world.

Last year, we held five successful Greenbuild conferences in Europe, Mexico, the U.S., China and India.

We also transformed our membership model and asked our members to go all in. USGBC is a diverse family of green builders working to build healthy, efficient and equitable communities for all. I want to thank all of you for being a part of this transformation in how we communicate with each other and in how we give back to our planet and one another. There would be no USGBC without the generous support we have received from you, our growing, global family.

We launched LEED v4.1—the most comprehensive, collaborative, accessible and effective LEED system to date.

We also started with releasing LEED O+M v4.1 as a beta system for radically influencing how LEED impacts the existing building market. At Greenbuild in Chicago, we launched LEED for Transit, announced that all LEED projects can now recertify by providing 12 months of data and embedded a carbon metric into LEED with the new LEED Zero certification programs. And we also announced that we will soon launch LEED v4.1 BD+C, ID+C, Residential and Cities and Communities in 2019—with full performance outcomes embedded within each system, powered by Arc.

I want to personally thank our USGBC and GBCI Board of Directors, our Advisory Council, the LEED Steering Committee, the Technical Advisory Groups, all of our committees and all of our staff at USGBC who supported this effort. With LEED v4.1, we have fundamentally transformed our rating system development process. It has allowed us to become more agile and adaptable to incorporate real-time feedback, so that we can realistically raise the bar on the marketplace. Transparency has been a hallmark of the LEED rating system since its inception, and I am proud of the work being done to ensure that LEED is able to continuously evolve and remain the market leader. Thank you for making LEED v4.1 the first true green building performance standard for buildings, communities and cities.

When USGBC was founded in 1993, we started with a simple vision: buildings and communities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation. But as we close one important chapter, we are reminded that opening our hearts and minds to what’s possible is how we open the next door, turn the next page, and prepare for our next and greatest set of challenges yet.

A lot has changed in 25 years. In 1993, there was no defined green building community, so LEED was created as a way to measure and define what "green building" meant and to provide a road map for developing sustainable buildings. The focus was on developing sustainable buildings. And that was important. But today, it’s not enough.

As the global green building market has evolved, we must evolve with it. We have to expand the way we talk about sustainability. The heart of the green building community’s efforts must go well beyond construction and efficiency, and the materials that make up our buildings. We must dig deeper and focus on what matters most within those buildings: human beings.

Our focus must be on human beings because the standards we are most committed to raising is that of the quality of life itself—for every member of this community, and in populations spanning every corner of the planet.

That’s why we launched the new Living Standard campaign at Greenbuild—to connect green buildings and LEED, and to connect our products to PEOPLE!

In the future, we will continue to broaden our focus beyond buildings—to making green communities, cities and even entire nations recognize that sustainability is not limited to the places we live and work; it is also part of the way in which we lead our lives. So, I am asking all of you to visit our website, livingstandard.org, to sign up to be a part of this new campaign and start sharing your stories. And over the next 12 months, we’re going to explore what it means to raise the living standard in communities all across the world.

This is what the next 25 years of USGBC will be about: raising the bar to ensure that LEED is not only the de facto leadership standard but also a Living Standard. This campaign aims to enhance the work that USGBC, LEED, Arc and GRESB are doing to raise the quality of life for the people within those buildings, communities and cities. Because a new living standard is not a privilege. It’s a right. It’s what every human being deserves.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing an initial research report USGBC has conducted that will illuminate how much power changing the way we conceptualize our mission can have on people’s behavior. I am thrilled to be able to explore these revelations with both our longstanding allies and with people who may not yet be familiar with the life-changing and live-saving benefits of green buildings and communities.

Thank you for an incredible last year.

Your work has fueled us over this first generation. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together, and I’m excited and optimistic for what we will build next.

The second generation begins now!

Join the Living Standard campaign