USGBC remembers Bill Worthen | U.S. Green Building Council
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USGBC remembers Bill Worthen, a longtime leader in the green building movement.

Over his 20-year career as an architect, Bill Worthen worked to better connect policy, practice and design through the power of collaboration, sustainability and storytelling. To the world, he was a leader in his profession and a champion of the green building movement.

To USGBC, he was family.

Bill lit up every room he walked into. His laughter, passion and charm were infectious. I had the pleasure of working side by side with Bill for over seven years. We even got to the point where we would finish each other’s sentences. He would look at me with that twinkle in his eye, give me that hearty laugh and big smile and would just know what I was thinking. And I am sure there are others who feel the exact same way…that was our Bill. 

Bill was a founding member of the USGBC Northern California community, and his legacy is seen across the region. As a sustainability consultant, he worked on several notable green building projects in San Francisco, including the first project in California to receive Platinum certification under LEED for Commercial Interiors, the Energy Foundation; the LEED Platinum San Francisco Public Utilities Commission Headquarters; the LEED Gold original buildings on the University of California, Merced, campus; and San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 2, the first airport terminal in the United States to achieve LEED Gold for New Construction.

Bill also served as a member of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Green Building Task Force, which drove the city’s pioneering Green Building Ordinance. He won the first World Green Building Council Government Leadership Award in 2011. Most recently, he served as a member of San Francisco’s Eco-District Formation Task Force. Mayor Ed Lee appointed him to the public seat on the Municipal Green Building Task Force.

“Bill was a champion for expanding equity and diversity in green building. He often used his own community as an example when he spoke about the revitalization of urban neighborhoods through sustainable and collaborative design," says Brenden McEneaney, executive director of USGBC Northern California. "He was active in expanding the reach of future leaders within the green building movement by mentoring countless emerging professionals and practitioners around the globe.” 

Bill served four years on USGBC’s LEED Implementation Advisory Committee, holding the first nationally elected architect seat on that committee. Further, Bill served as the AIA National Director and Resource Architect for Sustainability from 2010 to 2012, spearheading several cross-industry collaborative sustainability initiatives, including growing the relationship between USGBC and AIA.

“Bill’s efforts over the past dozen years have helped shape the LEED rating system. His ability to make complex problems and technical issues easily understandable to non-technical audiences made him an invaluable part of the team that develops LEED,” recalls Brendan Owens, chief of engineering at USGBC. “In recognition of these and other contributions to the green building movement, Bill was unanimously selected by his peers as a LEED Fellow in 2014, a designation awarded to the most exceptional professionals in the green building industry. It is the most prestigous designation awarded by GBCI.”

Bill certainly left a mark on the Greenbuild Conference and Expo, where he participated for many years on the program committee and helped craft a compelling program with the right mix of inspiration and practicality. In 2013, he helped plan and run Greenbuild San Francisco as part of the host committee. Recently, he took part in championing water efficiency and wrote the playbook for the new Water Summit at Greenbuild.

“Bill was not only a volunteer critical to the success of Greenbuild, but he was a friend. His passion for the good work of this movement was an inspiration to all,” says Kimberly Lewis, USGBC's senior vice president, community advancement, conferences and events.

Bill Worthen will be deeply missed by the USGBC community, but the impact he left will be felt for generations to come.

In lieu of flowers, Bill's family asks that people send donations to The Urban Fabrick Collaborative to help continue Bill's mission and global impact. The Urban Fabrick Collaborative was co-founded by Bill, and is a design, policy and practice network for people working in the design and construction industries.