Accelerating Action Together for Ourselves, Our Buildings, and Climate Change

— by Ben Stapleton

An edited version of this appears on the USGBC website.

We sit at a profound moment in our green building movement, in many ways that moment we have been waiting for since we started this journey. It is that moment where we realize that maybe, just maybe, other people might care, too. From water cooler conversations around embodied carbon to the dawning realization for the business world that climate risk disclosure requirements foreshadow a future of transparency they need to be more prepared for, the momentum is building. We are seeing the policy battle in our cities and communities around a more electrified future, forcing the development of decarbonization pathways for hydrogen, energy efficiency and storage, and more. Someone who shall remain nameless that I have known for a long time, and pretends to know what I do, actually mentioned to me that they heard buildings account for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions and we should do something about it.

We are, and we have been, building the community of those who want to be involved and impactful, but the reality is there are far too few of us. We are generally too white, we are too homogenous in our thinking, overly complex, comfortable, and self-justified. These are generalizations of course and my apologies if this offends you; but the reality is we need to diversify and broaden our green building movement, our moment, to create change we want to see. This means doing the work to figure out the place at the table for others so that it makes sense for them to be here.

Our new corporate friends are here because they feel like they have to be–the potential cost too great to not be engaged; but we need to show others that this green building thing just might be a solution to improve housing affordability and occupant health, to create good clean jobs, while better preparing ourselves for an uncertain future. We need to take on the hard work of showing the potential for this growing industry to reduce our construction and long-term operating costs, the opportunity to improve our building infrastructure and efficiency as we electrify mobility and heating, while at the same time developing new technologies to address manufacturing, resilience, and more. When you can come to the table with a proposal that combines more jobs in growing industries, improved health, and reduced costs, that should be a short conversation. But it’s not, because we have been speaking amongst ourselves and in a language only we understand.

This is why after twenty years of hosting our Municipal Green Building Conference and Expo, USGBC-LA has chosen to rebrand our signature conference to My Green Building Conference and Expo, to help show that everyone has a place in this work. We have added a Community Day on Saturday to this largest and longest running green building conference in Southern California because the public must be part of the conversation, and we want that to be fun, because being fun is a critical part of how we broaden this movement while enjoying it ourselves. That means this year, in addition to hosting more than twenty workshop sessions on topics such as climate action and adaptation, resilience and health as well as equity and environmental justice, we also have hands-on activities for kids, design models you can use to reimagine our city, new technologies to play with, live renewable energy powered music, and more.

We want to come together to learn and to connect, but we also want to come together to celebrate and share. To that end we will hear from emerging business leaders in our movement such as Jonathan Scott of the Property Brothers and Andrei Cherny from Aspiration Bank, but also those on the front lines of equity and policy such as Marta Segura from LA’s Climate Emergency Mobilization Office and Jorge Madrid from The Energy Foundation.

We hope you can join us either in-person at Los Angeles Trade Tech College (LATTC) campus in Downtown LA or online starting with the USGBC LEED Convene and Connect on Thursday May 19th, followed by MyGBCE Industry Day on Friday May 20th, and Community Day on May 21st. We have worked hard to make sure there is something here for everyone, so bring your friends, bring your family, but most important of all, bring your willingness to be a part of accelerating action together in this critical decade of the fight against climate change. After all, it is Your Green Building Conference and Expo.

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