I had an opportunity some days ago to speak at length with Vicki Worden, the Executive Director of Green Building Initiative. Readers of this blog will be interested in what this thought leader in the green building movement has to say.
We spoke after the public comment period commenced on the GBI’s revision to its Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings that forms the basis for the current version of Green Globes for New Construction. The comment period runs through October 26, 2015.
You learn a lot about Worden when she explains the philosophy that has influenced her life. “Professionally, I learned early in my career from people who applied the concept of stewardship to everything they do – whether it’s volunteer leadership, politics, the environment or industry.” .. “Leave it in a better way than you found it.”
Which translates into her “desire to drive positive change in the sustainability arena,” throughout her “10 years of consulting around facilitating dialogue, education, and improved standards in green building, parking industry, mattress industry, and as a consultant to ICC in solar and rainwater harvesting, .. just to name a few.”
She is a long-time consultant to GBI and was part of the original launch team that brought Green Globes to the U.S. She served as Vice President of Commercial Programs for the organization from 2005 to 2010. All of which gives her street cred in the green building industrial complex.
While nearly a 1,000 buildings are Green Globes certified in the U.S. today, Worden talks candidly about the need to demonstrate ROI for all green building standards, codes and rating systems, .. “we have to deliver a return for the owner as well as for the environment.”
There are successes, like the acceptance of Green Globes by the federal government where 534 federal projects are Green Globes certified or have used GBI’s Guiding Principles assessment software, many of those Veterans Administration buildings.
But Worden also speaks about the reality that “there is a tremendous amount to be accomplished” when less than 1% of buildings in the U.S. are certified Green Globes, LEED or the Living Building Challenge. She talks freely about increased first costs, including articulating concerns about those costs as well as time and hassle, all contributing to “some reluctance to pursue” any third party green building certification. She believes the transparency and broad input in the process creating revised Green Globes New Construction standard will go a long way to driving growth in market share.
Which is why her ask of me was to encourage everyone to review and comment on the revised standard. The standard is now available on GBI’s website along with a public comment form at www.thegbi.org/ansi. Worden committed that through the consensus body process, each person who comments will receive a response. But maybe more important, her organization is looking for substantive comments and more innovative ideas that may well find themselves in the final version of the revised standard.
When asked about what one Green Globes building you should see, Worden responded “the strength of Green Globes is that it can be applied to any building regardless of size, type or budget.” She went on to say, “I just love the quotes from the team that completed the Three Green Globes certified University of Sciences Integrated Professional Education Complex building in Pennsylvania,” including about how Green Globes support drove the team to a greener final product.
Having lived and worked in the Washington, DC area for almost 15 years she makes clear “I’m fortunate to say that now my home and office is in a place I chose to live in for quality of life reasons Camden, Maine.”
Almost singularly focused these days in getting more and additional comments to make the draft standard as good as it can be for owners and for the environment, Worden is passionate that GBI is a small organization with a big commitment and that she was willing to follow in the big shoes of Jerry Yudelson, “because I absolutely believe in the mission.”