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Greenbuild Opens with Call to Action

Thursday, November 19, 2015

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“There is work to be done, so we do it.”

That’s the key message Rick Fedrizzi, the U.S. Green Building Council co-founder and CEO, delivered to a crowd of 10,000 during the opening address Wednesday (Nov. 18) at the Greenbuild 2015 conference and exposition in Washington.

Fedrizzi shared the opening stage with U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro; MSNBC Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski; and filmmaker and environmentalist James Cameron. Topics discussed ranged from Pope Francis to what Cameron had for breakfast.


“The environment and economy are deeply connected," said USGBC co-founder and CEO Rick Fedrizzi during the keynote address at Greenbuild 2015.

Fedrizzi’s message to the crowd of sustainable building professionals and trailblazers comes as the organization is going through a “re-engineering” of its leadership.

Change Ahead

The visionary co-founder is stepping down from his post as CEO at the end of 2016. USGBC’s Chief Operating Officer Mahesh Ramanujam will move into the role in 2017.

“As a founder, I could not be happier, and as a CEO, I could not be more satisfied that I’ll be able to leave USGBC in the best hands possible,” said Fedrizzi.

Moreover, the USGBC will add its first ever Advisory Council in 2016. The council will provide guidance on policy and initiatives across the sustainability movement.  Fedrizzi invited Ramanujam, members of the council, as well as the USGBC board of directors to join him on stage during his remarks.

Jill Speegle / Durability+Design

The Greenbuild 2015 conference and exposition started Wednesday (Nov. 18) in Washington. Speakers discussed how climate change and the economy affect sustainability and design.

Throughout Fedrizzi’s tenure, the organization has had sweeping global impact and becoming the most widely-used green-building certification program. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, projects can be found in more than 150 countries.

LEED guides the design, construction, operations and maintenance of more than 69,000 projects worldwide, comprising 12.4 billion square feet of commercial and institutional construction space, and more than 181,000 additional residential units.

Focus on Climate Change

In addition to the evolving governance of the green-building organization, Fedrizzi’s comments focused on climate change, urging building professionals to raise their collective voice on the issue of sustainability.

He said the leaders of the country and those who are seeking leadership in our country need to get the message: “Sustainability is the one and only choice.”


USGBC’s Chief Operating Officer Mahesh Ramanujam will move into the role of CEO when Fedrizzi setps down at the end of 2016.

He dismissed the ideas that climate change is a “pseudo-scientific” and a “hoax,” arguing that those ideas ignore the business and development of green building.

“The environment and economy are deeply connected,” he added.

The old-world view that environmentalism and capitalism are separate is mistaken, he said. Green construction is an industry worth $3.8 trillion and by 2018, there will be 3.3 million U.S. jobs in green building, Fedrizzi said.

The CEO’s call to action for the building community is one not about saving the planet, as “the rock will be here long after we are” but about “saving humanity.”

Climate Council

HUD Secretary Castro spoke to the Greenbuild attendees about the work the agency is doing in the green building arena.

He noted that the agency has developed a Climate Council with three main objectives: to give families the opportunity to live in healthy homes; to provide housing that is ready and able to deal with natural disasters; and to expand and provide residents with training in green technology, energy and related fields.

“Green means good health and more wealth,” Castro said.

Interviewing Cameron

Brzezinski provided the attendees with a live interview with the master behind blockbuster films, such as Avatar and Titanic.

As a member of the media and entertainment, Cameron said he attempts to educate the public about environmental issues through his work and thus get people to take action by voting.

“Leaders don’t really lead. They follow polls,” he said.

He said action on climate change must be taken seriously, noting that some of the candidates for presidency are in “paid denial mode” on the topic.


“Leaders don’t really lead. They follow polls," said filmmaker James Cameron.

Cameron called climate change the number one threat to national security. He spoke about the causal link between climate change and the collapse of communities, famine, wars, and other crises.

He referenced the collapse of Syria and severe drought as an example.

During the interview, Cameron also suggested that pricing carbon would be the “only way to cut emissions.”

His passion for the environment also translates to what he eats. The filmmaker says he eats a vegan diet and encourages others to as well.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Building design; Building Envelope; Conferences; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Green design; Greenbuild; Latin America; LEED; North America; United States Green Building Council (USGBC)

Comment from Robert Munn, (11/19/2015, 8:03 AM)

So called "Green Building" is merely an offshoot of the greatest hoax in history. The greedy opportunists can now fleece an entire industry, by creating a solution in search of a problem, and in so doing, raise the cost of goods sold for everyone. They sell this tripe within a supposition that there is a moral imperative at stake, and these "green" organizations are the Knights Templar in the quest to save Earth. Their leaders are all one percenters who will, if they can convince the pixielated public to believe this scam, reap billions in reward for valiantly warding of the knuckle-dragging "deniers" before the oceans can consume several major coastal cities. It is very telling to review statements of pending doom made 20 years ago by the likes of Al Gore, Their hair was on fire then just as wildly as it is today. The difference now is that the "science" and "modelling" on which their specious claims are based have been exposed as fraudulent junk-science. The proper course of action would be to investigate the entire cabal as a criminal enterprise under the RICO statutes, and to thereby end this charade once and for all.

Comment from Mark Anater, (11/19/2015, 12:05 PM)

Robert is obviously well-versed in the language of conspiracy theories, but no amount of raging will change the facts. Climate change is already evident, as average temperatures creep up around the world and oceans warm up even faster. It's affecting the eco system and farming. Refusing to believe it won't make it disappear.

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (11/19/2015, 4:53 PM)

If the climate change thing is a hoax, what do we have to lose by saving energy? Less air pollution? Less kids with asthma? The people who call themselves 'conservative' do not understand the root definition of that word.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (11/23/2015, 10:53 AM)

I'm sorry....but this current movement needs a better name for their cause than "climate change". Climate change has happened as long as the Earth has been around and far, far before we had any potential to impact it...if it hadn't, we likely wouldn't be here (or at least not in our current form). It was a convenient change after "global warming" was bruised, battered and beaten...but really, the spearhead to the drive is the concern over anthropogenic climate change. That said, being kinder to our planet and reducing our impacts to it is a noble cause and worth doing...after all, it's the only one we can currently inhabit. Only problem is, even if the US, Canada, Australia and Europe were able to be carbon neutral overnight, we have countries like China who are far worse and going in the wrong direction (China is to open another 157 coal fired power plants in the next few years).

Comment from Juan Sergoodo Rodriquez Perez III, (11/24/2015, 4:14 PM)

Practice thoughtful design that enhances the surrounding enviroment with minimust damage. I design a perfect location for window and don't need a checkbox for (1) one point to add a window for the benefit of sunlight. OR (1) one point checkbox for a "NO Smoking" sign, I put them in the design anyways. Climate Scientist and their predictions are no better than super pschycic fortuneteller and since when does fortunetelling rise to the level of science. I find more and more time is invoiced to comfort client to trust that man cannot destroy God's creation...So many stressed by impending doom of exhale TAX: A tax on air, food for the plants. I donot belief the soothsayer, the so called climate "scientist"...easy to dismiss the idea and prediction that climate change caused by man.

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