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A view from the top: CEOs share their bold green building ambitions for 2018

We recently asked CEOs from our Established Green Building Councils (GBCs) around the world to share with us their ambitions for 2018. We’re excited to share some of their answers here. Read on to learn more about the ambitious targets they’re setting for green buildings globally.


Moving toward net zero

Felipe Faria, CEO of GBC Brasil, told us that the Council hopes to penetrate the residential market with rating tools that focus on climate change, health and wellbeing, biodiversity, water resources, green economy, education and communication. He said as well that, “we will intensify – in Brazil – net zero energy-certified buildings through the GBC Brasil Zero Energy rating system.”

Speaking of net zero buildings, GBC South Africa is preparing for its 2018 Convention in October, themed “The Race to Zero”, which will focus on buildings that achieve net zero carbon emissions, as well as net zero water, waste and ecological impact. Additionally, the CEO of GBC South Africa, Dorah Modise, said, “In 2018, I look forward to 100 more green building certifications, with a significant portion coming from the existing building stock. We have barely scratched the surface, and for us to make a real difference we will have to work hard on changes in current practices.”


Making green (buildings) the new normal

What does this mean for our GBCs? Dr. Christine Lemaitre, CEO, DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council), shared that, “In 2018, we will continue working to make sustainable the new normal – in Germany as well as in the more than 40 countries in which we are active. Our cooperation with the IFC (International Finance Corporation) and its EDGE system is one important element here.”

This chimes with the view from Belem Sálomon, Executive Director, Guatemala GBC: “Our main ambition is to contribute to the creation of greener, healthier, socially just, better buildings – which will become the new normal. We want to lead by example and open the way to transformation.”

It seems clear that a shift in mindsets will be key to ensuring everyone sees green buildings as the smarter choice – the new normal – and GBCs are eager to lead the way.

As Kjersti Folvik, CEO at Norwegian GBC, explains, “Our ambition is to make the whole Norwegian market understand that building green is the natural choice, and not more expensive than building non-green buildings. The market must see that buildings with low environmental standards are expensive and risky.”


Transforming homes and the building market

Thomas Mueller, CEO, Canada GBC, revealed his Council’s plans to help create a “retrofit economy” in Canada: “Along with increased levels of investment in the sector, the industry should expect greater attention on the use of carbon as a key metric to assess building performance, an enhanced focus on green skills development – especially for the trades – and government policies and programs to support the development of a retrofit economy.”

We’re heartened to see that GBCs will continue to be at the forefront of these changes, advancing new ideas and initiatives to prepare the building industry for a low carbon future.

Ir Cary Chan, Executive Director, Hong Kong GBC, shared his Council’s ambitions to help push the industry forward: “I wish to see many more existing buildings of our 42,000-plus building stock go green. Thus, our job in 2018 is to speed up the market transformation. We will take the leading role in building the industry’s competence in retro-commissioning through training, developing tools to assess performance of chiller plants, as well as continue to expand our network to all walks of life.”

Andrew Eagles, Chief Executive, New Zealand GBC, voiced his Council’s profound goal for 2018: “Our ambition in 2018 is to make sure that more of our children, our parents and our grandparents are living in safe, warm homes.”  

Supporting national and regional commitments

Ala’a Abdulla, Executive Director, Jordan GBC, said, “My ambition is to see the Jordan GBC as a key reference in Jordan and the MENA region, and to be able to create more leaders who believe in the cause to complete the mission on green buildings that began nine years ago.”

It seems that more countries are starting to move toward making sustainability a priority issue in their communities. “A commitment to sustainable development is central to the vision of the United Arab Emirates,” Lora Shrake, Director, Emirates GBC, explained, “and in 2018 at Emirates GBC, our energies will be directed to continue support of the nation’s sustainability and energy targets, and strengthening a culture of sustainable built environments.”  

Francesca Mayer Martinelli, CEO, Peru GBC, is full of enthusiasm for the coming year: “2018 is Peru’s year! We plan to exponentially grow by strengthening our relationship with the Ministry of Environment, Construction and Culture.” Peru GBC will also be developing a campaign to promote sustainable practices within all sectors and have a direct impact on the country’s reconstruction plan after the devastating El Niño natural disaster events of 2017.

Singapore has declared 2018 the Year of Climate Action, and Yvonne Soh, Executive Director, Singapore GBC, explains how it is “gearing up to launch an exciting nationwide campaign that will bring green building awareness to the ‘streets’.”

It’s clear that countries around the world are seeing the importance of becoming more sustainable, and GBCs are aligning themselves to support these moves. We look forward to how green buildings will help shape the future for a more sustainable world in 2018.


Setting targets and celebrating milestones

Sundaresan Raghupathy, Executive Director, Indian GBC, offered some ambitious targets that can inspire us all, “As we march ahead, I positively look at the Council to add another 500 million sq. ft. of registered green building footprint in 2018, and touch the magical 5,000 million sq. ft.”

He also revealed that in 2018 the Indian GBC is hoping to launch another 10 local chapters across the country, further spreading the Council’s membership base to 3,000 organisations.

For 2018, Mikko Nousiainen, CEO, GBC Finland, shared goals that encompass the whole building value chain: “I’m confident that the real estate and construction industry will work hard and find new ways to implement the circular economy in business and practice, both in Finland and internationally.”

And finally, happy anniversary! Both Colombia GBC and USGBC are celebrating big milestones in 2018. According to Columbia GBC’s CEO, Cristina Gamboa, “The Colombia GBC is very proud to celebrate 10 years of work that has enabled real change and a positive evolution of the construction industry towards sustainability.”

Mahesh Ramanujam, CEO, USGBC, also shared some inspiring thoughts as the Council celebrates its 25th anniversary: “My hope is that we continue to create unstoppable momentum in the marketplace and make great strides toward our mission of a sustainable future for all. To achieve this, we will continue to work to level the playing field – especially for underserved communities – and expand access to sustainable, healthy green buildings, communities and cities, and all of the benefits that come with them.”


We wish our Green Building Councils the best, and to all of you, we say go forth and go green! Here’s to an exciting 2018.

We’ll be sharing more thoughts from our CEOs next week. Stay tuned!