Tony Lee Luen Len

I come from an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean famous for its beautiful beaches and the 1.2 million inhabitants from various parts of the world. Mauritius, my country, forms part of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which have serious vulnerabilities due to the effects of climate change. I was blessed to live close to nature all my life. It has allowed me to develop a deep connection to my local environment and the planet, for that matter.

In 2007, I became a LEED AP and returned to my home country of Mauritius after living in South Africa for 15 years. In 2008, with an urge for a deeper connection to the green building movement, I attended Greenbuild in Boston. What an experience!

Greenbuild was also an event to meet and connect. On one auspicious day, I saw Rick Fedrizzi pacing across the exhibition hall. With all my courage, I went up to him, introduced myself and said I was thinking of starting a green building council in Mauritius and wanted to use the LEED rating system to certify buildings. He kindly directed me to the coordinator of council development for the World Green Building Council.

Just a few months later, the Green Building Council of Mauritius was founded.

Our ambition was to have a LEED-certified building, but all developers we spoke with simply shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads. “LEED certification is costly,” they argued. I could not expect of them what I did not do myself. In 2008, I developed the first green multi-residential project in Mauritius. It was based on LEED NC 2.2, but it never registered or went through the LEED certification process.

I was hoping that with the attention it would get, it would bring the green building concept from imagination to reality — that it would give impetus for a faster uptake to apply sustainability principles to the planning, design, construction and operation of buildings. I wanted developers to see this as the next marketing advantage and for suppliers to see the opportunity to market new “green” products for the building industry. I longed to see the transformation of the market toward a greener and more sustainable Mauritius.

It did not create the expected buzz.

Had the project been LEED certified:

We would have had significant media coverage, touching more people;

We would have had site tours organized regularly to educate about green buildings;

Our government would have heeded our call for the need for sustainable buildings and development projects: low hanging fruit to fight climate change that is an integral component of a green economy and simply the right solution to address issues of urbanization and development; and

The Green Building Council of Mauritius would have had today, five years later, more buildings that create healthier, more comfortable, and more productive settings for living and working, as well as more buildings that save resources, respect the environment, and reduce waste and pollution.

Today, all of this is possible with LEED Earth.