Q&A with Mark Ginsberg

Mark Ginsberg founded Ginsberg Green Strategies in January 2012 to consult on eco-cities, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. In Fall 2012, the U.S. Green Building Council designated Ginsberg as the first USGBC senior fellow, where he serves as a senior policy advisor and ambassador. Prior to that, he served as a senior executive at the U.S. Department of Energy for 20 years and the Arizona Energy Office for 10 years.

Illustration by: Tristan Chace

Q.What is your greatest fear?
That logic may not always prevail. I am a person of reason and facts—and I fear that we are in an era of denial of truth, science, and logic.

Q.Which historical figure do you most identify with?
One could hope to be Jefferson, Edison, or Plato, but I more relate to the “humble bureaucrat” who has a garden in China dedicated to him and other civil servants.

Q.Which living person do you most admire?
Barack Obama for his values, humility, thoughtfulness, perseverance under fire, and for being a class act.

Q.What is your greatest extravagance?
Prime season tickets for Washington Wizards basketball.

Q.What is your favorite journey?
A sentimental journey—any return to old haunts, favorite memories, happy moments. I still get a chill going back to campus, flying into Washington, a walk with a special friend. Sorry, I travel too much to have one favorite place.

Q.What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Confidence. It too often verges on arrogance.

Q.Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Really”—as I express amazement, skepticism, wonderment, or incredulity.

Q.What is your greatest regret?
Not doing a better job in communicating the urgency of addressing climate change and telling the powerful story that energy efficiency, renewables, life-cycle costing, and the green economy can lead to economic revival, health, and a bright future—all while addressing climate.

Q.Which talent would you most like to have?
A less painful version of Mr. Spock’s mind meld—to more fully have empathy, understanding, and wisdom. Or play the piano.

Q.What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being in the right place, at the right time, and having the good luck to provide the early funding for LEED.

Q.If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
An immortal young Robert Redford. Hey, a guy can dream.

Q.If you could choose what to come back as one thing, what would it be?
A rich philanthropist, i.e., Gates or Buffett.

Q.What is your most treasured possession?
My memories. Sorry, not big on “things.”

Q.What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Having a child be unable to achieve his or her full potential.

Q.What is your favorite occupation?
Doin’ it. Consulting on a variety of green strategies. But I’ve always wanted to be a philanthropist.

Q.What is your most marked characteristic?
Cheerful, positive spirit.

Q.Who are your heroes in real life?
Thomas Jefferson, Bobby Kennedy, and Albert Einstein in history. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oprah, Angelina Jolie, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson today.

Q.What is it that you most dislike?
Hearing a child cry, followed closely by anyone in pain. Or hearing a developer defend “least first cost.” Now, that’s painful!

Q.What is your motto?
“If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true.”

Q.What will you have them put on your tombstone?
If that day must come, “He tried to make the world a better place.”