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Laying the foundations for a stronger green building movement – my vision for WorldGBC

Earlier this month, Tai Lee Siang was appointed the new Chair of the World Green Building Council for a term of two years. Here, Lee Siang outlines his vision for the future of the organisation.

2016 will go down in history as a pivotal year in our efforts to combat climate change – the year in which we moved from words to action. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the green building industry, which following the Paris Agreement, is already implementing the solutions on the ground that will keep our world to within 2 degrees of warming.

WorldGBC is at the heart of this action, and as I begin my role as Chair, I’d like to set out my own vision for the organisation and its network of Green Building Councils around the world.

Growing our core

Today, WorldGBC has 74 member GBCs. Of these, 30 are Established members – fully developed organisations, managed by dedicated staff and which are making a visible impact in their markets. A strong organisation must have a strong core, and my own definition of this is that two-thirds of our members should be Established. This means that we should aim to have 50 Established members by the end of my term. To do this, WorldGBC must continue to provide the highest level of support to increase the quality of all its members so that they are recognised and respected by governments, industries and members as the “go-to” organisations on green building within their respective countries.

We should also aim to encourage more countries to form new GBCs to grow the size of the WorldGBC family. New GBCs will go through stages of being Prospective, then Emerging members. And this is where our Regional Networks provide the platform for incubation and networking. I’d like to see us secure and devote more resources to providing tools and training that will expedite the progress of members in reaching the Established status.

Growing our community

WorldGBC must also grow a community of support with all members of society, but specifically its Corporate Network and its customers.

Our Corporate Advisory Board (CAB) plays an increasingly important role in identifying and focusing on strategic priorities and is a key cornerstone of our campaign. Since the inception of the CAB, WorldGBC has benefited from the collective wisdom of these industry leaders. Together with WorldGBC, they form an unbroken chain of unity and strength in the partnership between NGO and corporate entities, and I would like to see this model further replicated in our Projects, Regional Networks and in the growth of local GBCs.

We must also address the needs of our customers – not only our members, but also everyone who works with our GBCs – cities, governments and end-users. Cities have become the main battleground of climate change and governments’ policies have a direct impact on the green building movement. WorldGBC must build upon its strong relationships with cities and government entities to create the conditions for green buildings to flourish.

And we can only do our job better if the building users understand the benefits of green buildings. Therefore, our projects – such as Better Places for People and BUILD UPON – must deliver outcomes that matter to these people through effective communication, publicity and education.

Growing our champions

A movement can only be successful if we have great champions. Champions are grown through Board Leadership, and the WorldGBC Board must be a platform where champions of green building contribute their time, their energy and their expertise to make our world a better place. Our Board will have a positive and conducive environment that encourages active and passionate participation by the best candidates from around the world.

And our staff are equal champions of the green building movement. Lean and efficient, our CEO and team have transformed the organisation over the last 12 months. These full-time heroes take on the challenge of creating a better world, and we must nurture and improve their skills to better serve our cause.

And our champions are also grown throughout our GBC family and friends. They are often the unsung heroes, those who work tirelessly within their own countries, beyond the glare of the spotlight. We are developing channels to reward and encourage, and give a louder voice and higher-profile to these individuals and organisations who contribute towards our mission through our projects, awards and Congresses.

I believe it is people that matter most in our movement, both in terms of those who work to achieve our goal of a better, greener planet – and everyone who will benefit from being able to thrive and prosper on it. I look forward to working with you all.

Tai Lee Siang is Chair of the World Green Building Council, and was previously Vice Chair. He is also Honorary Advisor of the Board of Singapore Green Building Council. He held the position of President of Singapore GBC from 2009 to 2011. Prior to this, Lee Siang was the President of Singapore Institute of Architects from 2007 to 2009. He is also an architect and planner with more than 20 years’ experience.