Your lawyers since 1722

We interviewed 17 CEOs committed to green building on the biggest accomplishments of 2017

Following on the heels of our recent blog post, we present to you our second set of interviews with Established Green Building Council CEOs. This time, we asked them to tell us their proudest accomplishments from 2017…

Advancing the green building movement through certification

Green Building Councils (GBCs) around the world are pushing investors, owners and managers of real estate forward through the successful establishment and expansion of green building certification systems.

GBC South Africa achieved a great milestone in 2017 – the rebranding of Green Star SA to Green Star Africa – to support its uptake throughout the continent. Dorah Modise, CEO of GBC of South Africa, remarked:

We celebrated the first Green Star certification in Kenya – also the first residential development to be Green Star-certified on the continent. Shortly after, we had the first residential development in Africa to receive EDGE final certification, and the first school to be Green Star-certified.”

Norway GBC also reached some lofty heights in 2017. CEO Kjersti Folvik shared:

BREEAM-NOR achieved a 70 per cent market share of office buildings certified in Oslo for the period 2013–2017. The figures for 2018 and beyond are projected to be close to 100 per cent, as nearly all planned or under construction office buildings in Oslo are looking for BREEAM certification.”

As DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2017, it also achieved record numbers in the certification of sustainable buildings and districts, with a growth of 30 per cent. CEO Dr. Christine Lemaitre said:

“We were able to successfully implement our certification scheme for interiors on the market and have set a real milestone in sustainability certification with the development of the new version 2018 of the DGNB system, addressing key challenges of the global building market like the Sustainable Development Goals, circular economy and design quality.

Brazil has become the fourth largest market for LEED certification, with more than 1,280 projects certified.Felipe Faria, CEO of GBC Brasil, commented:

“Today, sustainability is not a privilege of new commercial buildings. In Brazil, we have certified schools, hospitals, retail stores, industrial plants, homes, sports venues, hotels, museums, public libraries… and more.”

USGBC launched two new all-encompassing certification programmes – LEED for Communities and LEED for Cities – bringing the work that GBCs do out and beyond the walls of buildings. CEO Mahesh Ramanujam commented:

I am proud of how our organisation worked hard to elevate what we can expect from not just buildings but also communities and cities this year.”

Developing knowledge for a greener future

GBCs are increasingly producing valuable knowledge that is having an impact on national dialogue and progress for sustainability. Emirates GBC’s achievements in 2017 included the successfully rebranded MENA Green Building Awards and the launch of its Defining Nearly Zero Energy Buildings in the UAE report. Lora Shrake, Director, explained,

Both are the direct result of dedication and commitment to green building best practice that not only support the nation’s pledge of combating climate change but also highlight the growing momentum and impressive achievements made in sustainable building practices region-wide.”

Cristina Gamboa, CEO of Colombia GBC, stated:

We are very enthusiastic about the potential impact of work we delivered for the Ministry of Education in 2017. This study established the first-ever Guidelines for Sustainable Construction for Public Schools in Colombia, including new construction, operations and maintenance.”

The guidelines will be actively promoted for use in 2018 for the construction of 16,000 new classrooms, demonstrating great impact!

Building on the experience and know-how gained by creating the second largest market for LEED in the world, Canada GBC released a comprehensive study about the importance of the retrofit economy, and launched one of the world’s first zero carbon building standards. CEO Thomas Mueller, said:

“It is evident to me that we, and the Canadian industry, are ready to hit the ground running and do our part in the countdown to 2030…. The time is now to deliver on health and wellness, and low carbon in buildings across Canada.”

Raising awareness & making waves

In 2017, the green building movement in Brazil and its prominent penetration in the residential market received significant media coverage. Brazil’s Jornal Nacional news story remarked that green buildings have become the best option. With the station having the largest audience during prime time on Brazilian TV, Felipe Faria shared:

“At least 10 million people that night learned about the benefits of a green building. It was one of the most important moments for us.”

On the other side of the globe, New Zealand is moving ahead leaps and bounds.

“There’s been a whacking great growth in green homes in New Zealand. In just two years, the number of Kiwi family homes being built to the warm, healthy, safe Homestar standards has soared twentyfold. That’s excellent news for New Zealanders,” shared Andrew Eagles, CEO of New Zealand GBC.


Working collaboratively for progress

For all of our GBCs, it’s integral to work collaboratively with partners in the nonprofit, private and public sectors to advance the green building movement. For example, Yvonne Soh, Executive Director, Singapore GBC explains how they have

“finally closed the loop with real estate agents in 2017, who are essential in helping to create the demand for green buildings.” She adds: “The partnership will see property firms and their agents better equipped with practical knowledge of green building and the benefits it brings to owners and tenants.”

GBC’s are becoming a valuable presence in their communities as Ale Cabrera, the Executive Director of Mexico GBC (SUMe) remarked:

“I’m proud of my team. Together we organized SUMe´s Sustainable Week, that included our Annual Congress, workshops, green building tours and events in collaboration with FSC and ASHRAE. We are really proud that in one week we trained over 600 people in different sustainable subjects.”

In June, Hong Kong GBC co-hosted the World Sustainable Built Environment Conference 2017 Hong Kong, which brought together over 1,800 delegates from 57 countries. In addition, they

“are being recognised by the government as one of their closest partners in fulfilling Hong Kong’s commitment in combating climate change through HKGBC’s ACT-Shop programme, BEAM Plus and other promotional programmes,” shared Ir Cary Chan, Executive Director.

A year of growing GBCs toward making big strides

Finally, we want to give a big applause to GBCs everywhere who are working on growing and strengthening their organisations to carry out the green building mission. We’re proud of all of our teams that are making a difference.

Guatemala GBC is investing in a long-term strategic plan as Belem Sálomon, Executive Director explains:

“We doubled the size of our team, strengthened our technical department – which allowed us to create local tools for the market – and we became a JUST-labeled organisation in Central America. 2017 was an extraordinary year for us!”

Ala’a Abdulla, Executive Director of Jordan GBC, tells us GBCs are nothing if not for the passion and hard work of their teams:

“The past year has not been easy, but what I’m proud of and satisfied about is having loyal and trustworthy staff and Board members who have contributed to all of our great achievements at all levels.”

Ale Cabrera added,

“I’m proud of SUMe´s becoming an Established Member of the WorldGBC – making us the smallest Established Council with just two people in our staff at that time.”

Sundaresan Raghupathy, Executive Director, Indian GBC remembers 2017 fondly as his GBC hosted WorldGBC Congress 2017:

Some of my proudest accomplishments in 2017 were hosting WorldGBC Members’ Day and Annual General Meeting, alongside Indian Green Building Council’s Congress 2017 and the launching of a rating tool for the health and well-being of building occupants.”

Francesca Mayer Martinelli, CEO of Peru GBC, concluded,

“Strengthening our team was my proudest accomplishment in the year 2017. I firmly believe that in order to generate real impact outside of the organisation, we first need to work within ourselves; to generate the right tools and have a clear mission and goal for our country’s sustainable development.”

2017 was an extraordinary year indeed. We’re eager to see what great (green) things we’ll achieve together this year.

Read the first blog piece with our Established GBC CEO Network here