24 Feb USGBC’s Ashley Fowler on keeping the conversation going
Vice President, Human Resources
It is hard to believe that we are already well into the activities and events of a new year. It seems like just yesterday we were planning our New Year’s celebrations and reflecting on the past decade. For most of us, a lot has changed over the past 10 years, personally and professionally. There have been things to celebrate and things to mourn. But a new decade gives us the opportunity to think about what is ahead, to have hope and to create a better and brighter future.
From the perspective of the sustainability industry, it might seem like there hasn’t been enough progress in the past 10 years. Our climate is continuing to change, and the crisis continues to be our greatest existential challenge.
But when I reflect back on the history of USGBC and our affiliated organizations, I see how far we have come…we have moved the needle. We have over 100,000 registered and certified LEED commercial projects. We have 100 certified cities, which impact more than 53 million people. There are 8,058 projects participating in Arc and over 200,000 LEED APs in our network.
But we all know there is a long way to go. We need to continually think about how we can help raise the Living Standard for all people. We need to more intentionally think about how we can improve the air we breathe, the water we drink, our work and home environments, where we play, where we learn and how we respond in times of crisis.
At USGBC, we have spent the past few years redefining our strategy and organizational structure and refining our purpose. Our president and CEO, Mahesh Ramanujam, had a vision for a finely tuned symphony where every member’s purpose amplified the work of all. 2019 was the beginning of our big push forward toward market transformation.
2020 is the year to push that strategy forward and make progress. Now is our opportunity to make a change, to be inspired by what we have accomplished this past decade and to use that inspiration to continue to do the hard work to move this industry forward.
All of us know that we cannot be satisfied with the status quo, and we can’t leave it up to others to act. Moving forward to achieve true market transformation starts with each of us. But we all need to be crystal clear in what we are trying to accomplish and how we define change.
We all know that sustainability is the foundation of our work. However, as a community, we need to expand our definition of sustainability, so that we can more effectively drive change. Yes, sustainability is about saving the environment and finding solutions to climate change.
But sustainability as we know it also requires that we include health and wellness. Without those two things, nothing is truly sustainable. We must think about resilience and the ability to survive extreme climate events—and that requires encouraging a positive generative system.
Finally, our organizational definition of sustainability must also include social equity. Without demanding access and inclusivity for underrepresented people and communities in all of USGBC’s programs and governance structures, we cannot ensure a just and socially equitable society for all.
In the next decade, let’s keep the conversation going—the conversation where we share our best practices, where we inspire each other to build upon the work we already do and where we strive to lift all people up. Our mission and our mandate for 2020 could not be more clear: Let’s work in concert to create a better Living Standard for all.