24 Feb Q&A with Bob Berkebile, Chairman of the American Institute of Architects’ National Committee on the Environment
Q&A with Bob Berkebile, Chairman of the American Institute of Architects’ National Committee on the Environment
Q. Who do you admire in your field of sustainability? Greta Thunberg, for her clarity, passion and speaking truth to power, and for naming Asperger’s syndrome as her “superpower.”
Q. What has been your favorite journey? The journey from my epiphany in 1981 to today, including the extraordinary colleagues who have appeared to help answer my new questions, together with critical breakthroughs in places like the first Earth Summit in Rio, where 38,000 participants revealed the diversity and potential of the environmental movement, as well as Antarctica from 1991-1992, where National Science Foundation scientists and climatologists introduced me to the existential risk of not addressing global warming immediately with our best effort.
Q. What do you consider your greatest achievement? Creating collaborations among design professionals, governments, environmental groups and industry to create new strategies, organizations and financial systems to transform the outcome of the human story.
Q. What are the sustainability industry’s greatest challenges? Acknowledging our ignorance, embracing diversity and working with a sense of urgency for the cultural change that will be required to reverse global warming.
Bob is the founding chairman of the American Institute of Architects’ National Committee on the Environment and was also instrumental in the formation of the U.S. Green Building Council and its LEED rating system.
Q. What is your greatest regret? Not integrating social equity, regenerative thinking/design and carbon sequestration sooner and more aggressively into our design work and the LEED rating system, COTE Top 10 Awards and the Living Building Challenge.
Q. What is your most marked characteristic? Energy and passion; my colleagues began calling me the Energizer Bunny when the ad was introduced in 1988, and fortunately (32 years later, at 82), it is still used by my colleagues.
Q. Who are your heroes in life? Bucky Fuller, the teacher who changed my worldview and introduced me to “Spaceship Earth” in college; Leon Shenandoah, my spiritual guide following the Hyatt collapse [two walkways collapsed at the hotel, killing 114—it is considered the greatest nondeliberate structural failure in American history] my epiphany in 1981; and Janine Benyus, who helped Jason McLennan and me look to nature for better approaches as we were first exploring the concept of “Living Buildings.”
Q. What is it that you most dislike? Blind confidence fueled by ignorance and the arrogance of seeing ourselves as separate from nature and from one another.
Q. What is your motto? We can do this, and 2020 is the year of perfect vision!