Leading the Way

Mahesh Ramanujam

Chief Operating Officer, USGBC, president, GBCI

The U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has been established for 22 years, and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for 15. As we travel around the globe, we hear one consistent message from our leaders: “USGBC is leading the way.” LEED, our tool for market transformation, is used in more than 150 countries and has helped create a trillion dollar industry. USGBC and LEED continue to serve as inspiration for many green building councils and green building rating systems around the world.

USGBC has been able to realize this phenomenal success by associating equal emphasis on the development and implementation of LEED. While USGBC focused on the development aspects of LEED, Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) began focusing completely and singularly on LEED implementation in 2008. In the past six years, GBCI has accelerated the growth, adoption, and implementation of LEED.

From my past experience with IBM and Lenovo, I know very well that to stay relevant in today’s global landscape, an organization must focus and scale its core competency. In 2013, our board of directors gave me and Rick Fedrizzi, CEO of GBCI, the mandate to “enhance the performance continuum.” Our response to this mandate was a three-step strategy: (1) Continue to focus on capacity building, (2) Create access to a wide variety of markets, and (3) Create significant value to the community, both perceived and actual.

First, GBCI has developed strategic partnerships with Canada, Korea, and Sweden green building councils, in addition to Green Building Japan. We also have established a global strategic partnership with Bureau Veritas (BV) allowing access to their certification capacity in about 100 countries around the world. The Energy Resources Institute (TERI) will help GBCI in India and the Southeast Asia region. These partnerships will focus on establishing regional and local capacity for certification, credentialing, education, and building performance.

Second, in addition to LEED, GBCI also will become the exclusive certification and credentialing provider for the WELL, Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal (PEER), Sustainable Sites, and Green Garage Certification standards. Through these engagements, GBCI is able to extend its core competency to new sectors like health, wellness, electricity, microgrids, green parking garages, sustainable land design, and development.

Third, GRESB was added to the GBCI portfolio in September 2014. Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) provides the same kind of transparency into the sustainability performance of global real estate holdings as LEED provides to a building. For the first time, there is an asset to portfolio sustainability measurement solution for the world’s largest asset class.

By integrating the LEED Dynamic Plaque, which delivers a live LEED performance score for a building; and GBIG, which provides insights into a green building; into GRESB, GBCI will establish the next generation platform for demonstrating actual and perceived value of green buildings and communities. This is the future.

Recently, I heard a Michelangelo quote in one of our member meetings: “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

I am grateful that USGBC and GBCI are aiming high with our goals for market transformation. “Everyone in a green building within this generation” is our target, and I have no doubt—with our entire green building community leading us from the front—we will achieve our mark.


Mahesh Ramanujam