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Notes from the Networks – Americas, a thriving region taking steps into the future

This blog is part of the ‘Notes from the Networks’ series, which focuses on how WorldGBC’s five Regional Networks around the world are delivering change on the ground.

If you were to use a single word to characterise the Americas region, it might well be “diverse”. As one might expect with such an enormous part of the world, North, Central and South America are in themselves distinct regions, and the countries within them each face their own unique set of challenges related to the environment, the economy and the wider society.

Yet many of these sub-regions and countries share similar risks that come with growing cities, resource scarcity, poverty, and climate change. Encouragingly, they also share a recognition that buildings offer a key opportunity to address many of these risks and to provide plentiful opportunities.

Peru is one such country within the region that holds this view, and so it was appropriate that Peru Green Building Council played host to the first WorldGBC Americas Regional Network meeting of 2017 in Lima. With the participation of 10 Green Building Councils (both present and joining online), this reunion had a particular purpose – to determine the strategic plan for 2018, and to identify the unique opportunities for the region when looking to the future.

It was also the first time Johnson Controls, our first Regional Partner in the Americas, participated in a meeting, and they shared with our GBCs how it as an organisation is contributing to the green building movement and its focus to offer products and services under the same concepts of “Safe, comfortable and Sustainable” for the next few years. Their Global Energy and Sustainability Vice President Clay Nesler also presented a session on smart cities at Peru GBC’s annual conference Greenbuild, which ran alongside the meeting.

The non-profit organisation Habitat for Humanity also presented at the meeting, outlining new paths on how GBCs can participate in the process of raising awareness for the need of social housing that protects the environment, and that builds on the best practices that green buildings have to offer for families with low incomes, especially relevant in a region such as the Americas.

One of the highlights of the day was a session led by the World Resources Institute which explained in detail the opportunities that cities across countries in the region have for joining the Building Efficiency Accelerator program, which is supported by WorldGBC. This session talked about the core impact and importance of having GBCs taking a lead role to provide valuable technical advice and bringing together the building and construction sector to support the collective development of a city’s energy efficiency policy or strategy – much in the way Colombia Green Building Council has done with the city of Bogotá.

By the end of the day, the GBCs had shared their knowledge and experiences in matters such as the BEA program, strategic planning, market intelligence and how to develop a new net zero energy certification, as Brazil GBC recently did through WorldGBC’s Advancing Net Zero project. With this, the region now has a clearer path and route of actions to take to embrace the opportunities presented by green buildings, and Green Building Councils are ready to act to facilitate this.

And just to add another novelty to the reunion, it was the first meeting organised by the region’s first full-time regional manager – me! I am delighted to join the WorldGBC team (having previously worked at Colombia Green Building Council) and to coordinate projects and provide strategic insight to strengthen the GBCs and promote their active engagement across the region. I look forward to witnessing this dedicated – and diverse – action over the coming year!

Juanita Alvarez is Regional Manager of the Americas Network, based in Colombia.

If your company is a supporter of national GBCs in the region and wishes to get involved with our work at the America’s level, contact to discuss partnership opportunities..