Last week concluded the annual Greenbuild Conference & Expo, presented by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and owned and operated by Informa Connect. Throughout the virtual event, USGBC delivered key updates intended to help push the industry closer to a regenerative future as outlined through LEED Positive, while prioritizing solutions that promote social equity, resilience and health across communities.
“The world today is facing intersecting crises that cannot be resolved with fragmented solutions, but require integrated, equitable practices and an industry wide commitment to standardizing those practices,” says Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC, Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) and Arc. “We must set the standard for building a better world and it starts with LEED. This year’s Greenbuild may have looked different, but I’m grateful for the continued commitment I see from the thousands of green building professionals around the world.”
The growing risks associated with climate change coupled with the global pandemic have reinforced the need for accelerating the adoption of LEED and other green building and sustainability practices. During education sessions and keynote addresses, USGBC outlined commitments and actions to help support a healthy, sustainable, resilient and equitable recovery:
- USGBC ALL IN – An equity program from USGBC will serve as a roadmap for how the organization and the green building community can better contribute to addressing social, health and economic disparities in communities around the world. USGBC released a draft equity strategy that includes 12 priorities and actions the organization has committed to, to ensure equity is embedded throughout everything the organization does. A final strategy will be released in 2021 and USGBC is soliciting feedback on the current priorities outlined and available online. As a first step, USGBC will provide funding for 500 individuals in underserved communities to earn their LEED credential.
- Living Standard – USGBC is expanding its Living Standard campaign to become its pivotal grassroot initiative, a galvanizing and inspiring tool to share best practices and support the organization’s ambitious, inclusive and resilient vision.
- Return on Investment (ROI) Study – To help the industry better quantify the benefits of green building, USGBC will be conducting an ROI study that looks at both the value of investment, as well as impact of green building. USGBC will also conduct a credentialing survey to understand the needs of the market as it works to build the green building workforce. More information on USGBC research will be available next year.
- LEED Zero for design – As part of a session on the future of LEED, USGBC announced that a LEED Zero rating system will be released for projects in the design phase. More information is to come on the rating system and its release.
- Leadership Awards – This year, USGBC recognized 10 individuals, companies and projects for their commitment to LEED, as well as improving Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance, enhancing citywide sustainability and resilience, and introducing innovative waste management solutions.
The three-day conference featured virtual networking events and more than 160 education sessions led by industry experts covering the latest trends and critical topics, including renewables, materials, indoor air quality, climate adaptation, the impact of the pandemic and more. Keynote addresses were delivered each day by sustainability leaders, such as Christiana Figueres, architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, USGBC’s President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam, design innovators Catherine Huang, Julia Watson and Kotchakorn Voraakhom, and gender equity and LGBTQ advocate Dr. Paula Stone Williams. New Greenbuild education will be offered in the first quarter of next year and more information will be available in 2021.