Richard Fochtman

The Pacific Region is home to some of the most sought-after natural and built environments in the United States. It includes the states of California and Hawaii, covering more than 162,000 square miles. Nine local USGBC chapters in distinct areas throughout the region are providing significant "boots on the ground" support to USGBC’s strategic initiatives and promoting the benefits of green buildings. Eight chapters are in California—Redwood Empire, Northern California, California Central Coast, Central California, Los Angeles, Orange County, Inland Empire and San Diego—and one chapter represents Hawaii. The success of these efforts is evidenced by the impressive interest in the LEED rating system in California and Hawaii, leading to 2,785 LEED-certified projects, which equates to more than 390 million square feet.

With a land area of slightly more than 6,400 square miles and a population of 1.4 million people, Hawaii is confronted with enormous demands on resources and a growing dependence on imports for life’s necessities. Its state motto, “Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono,” which translates to, “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness,” shows how important the environment is to Hawaiian culture. Finding a balance between economic prosperity, a healthy quality of life and sustainable resource use is the challenge that the people of Hawaii face and the motivation driving the growth and awareness of sustainability. One great example of this awareness is the Hawai’i 2050 Sustainability Plan. Sharing USGBC’s focus on the triple bottom line, Hawaii created this plan as a road map for the islands to achieve the critical balance between economic prosperity and environmental responsibility, as well as to restore the prominence of sustainability in Hawaiian culture.

California, the nation’s most populous state, has a total land mass of 155,779 square miles and a population of more than 38 million people. With an economy ranked as the sixth largest in the entire world and recognized as a leader in progressive environmental policy, California struggles to maintain the quality of life that draws people to the Golden State and the adequate supply of resources to meet ever-increasing demand. In response, green building has seen tremendous growth in the state. Inspired by the success and quantifiable benefits afforded by LEED, in 2010 California instituted the United States’ first green building code, known as Cal-Green. Moving toward a more energy-independent future, California is also challenging the design and construction industry with our nation’s first-ever net-zero energy goals: all new residential construction by 2020 and all new commercial construction by 2030.

The chapters in the Pacific Region are very proud of the great progress we have made toward more sustainable design and construction, but we know that green buildings can do more to help our communities find balance between the economy, environment and our well-being. The statewide snapshots USGBC created will provide our region with the real-life examples of successful green building projects and accurate performance data needed to realize green buildings for all within a generation. After all, "A’ohe hana nui ke alu ‘ia," or, "No task is too big when done together by all."

*Today’s update also includes market activity reports from Washington, Oregon and Alaska. The Cascadia Region Green Building Council is USGBC’s chapter organization in the Pacific Northwest.