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Celebrating the heroes of green building

If you care about the buildings and communities around you, and want to take action on climate change, there really is no other week like it.

In the World Green Building Council’s London office (which we share with the UK Green Building Council), there has been a palpable sense of excitement – and, I’ll admit, some nervousness – in the air, as colleagues have spent the last few months busily preparing for report launches, events, building tours, announcements and a range of other celebrations.

It is, of course, World Green Building Week (WGBW).

As someone who has worked on green buildings – and specifically around how to communicate them – for nearly five years, and is employed by WorldGBC (okay, so I’m a little biased), it is exhilarating to be at the epicentre of this global awareness raising week.

My first experience of WGBW was back in 2013 in a previous role for UK-GBC. As a newbie to green buildings, I was taken aback by the passion exhibited by their members when it came to improving buildings, and by just how many of them used the week as an opportunity to share that passion to a wider audience beyond just the usual suspects within the building and construction industry.

I was heavily involved with UK-GBC’s involvement in WGBW for three years and attended lots of events – even a WGBW-themed pub quiz! But a clear highlight for me during that time was seeing someone on the tube reading a double-page spread on healthy, green buildings in a popular commuter newspaper. It felt as if green building had gone mainstream!

It’s not always been so easy to attract mainstream, sustained media coverage for green buildings – in a world where many issues besides climate change can seem more urgent and relevant to now. And when climate change is talked about, it seems largely dominated by politicking or outdated discussions questioning the climate science.

That’s why I believe World Green Building Week is such an important event in the annual calendar. It gives us that yearly chance to potentially reach a wider audience and show people why they should – and how they can – care about buildings, and the impact they have on them as people, and on our planet.

In 2017 – the second year I have worked directly on the WGBW campaign in my role at WorldGBC and the 8th WGBW – we’ve tried to put communication of green building front and centre of the campaign. As you might have guessed if you’ve seen the tagline #OurHeroIsZero, the week is all about showing how buildings – and specifically net zero buildings – are the heroes in the fight against climate change.

We hope the campaign is a fun and engaging way of highlighting what is a serious issue. If we keep building as we are today, we’re worsening the already evident effects of climate change. We need net zero carbon buildings. But we want this call to be inspirational, not alarmist. If we all club together, a net zero carbon future is entirely possible – our recent report shows us how.

Our Thunderclap social media campaign has also proved critical in reaching this wider audience, with major players like the UN, The Climate Group and C40 Cities joining forces with us to send one key message – that we want buildings that help us win the fight against climate change. Earlier today, we reached over 2.5 million people with this message – and we hope to have reached many more through the course of the week.

WorldGBC is proud to lead World Green Building Week. But the success of it, of course, depends on the global green building community – our family of over 70 national Green Building Councils, their 32,000 member companies, our corporate partners, and the thousands of other non-profit organisations and individuals who rally behind the week – hosting walking tours, giving seminars, planting trees, visiting school children, and even doing flashmobs. It is they who make this week arguably the seven most visible days for green building around the world.

So, while this year’s WGBW is all about celebrating how net zero buildings are heroes, let’s not forget that you – the people reading this blog, the people working tirelessly to deliver and promote green buildings, the people celebrating their impact throughout this week – are also heroes too.

James Kershaw is Marketing & Communications Manager at the World Green Building Council

Read more about World Green Building Week 2017 here.