LESSONS FROM LEED
What could Business to Planet learn from the growth of other membership-based non-profits?
In the early 90's, three men had an idea for a new type of organization. The trio – consisting of a construction manager, an environmental lawyer, and a communications consultant – sought out to create a membership based non-profit that would promote the betterment of buildings through more sustainable practices in the building and construction industry. In 1993, the United States Green Building Council was born.
A few years later, the USGBC decided it was time to create a unique scoring and certification tool for the building industry in the U.S. In 1995, the organization launched version one of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system.
Although the scoring criteria has evolved throughout the years to meet evolving industry expectations, the point-based scoring system has stayed more or the less the same. Today, LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world.
HOW LEED TRANSFORMED AN INDUSTRY:
LEED certifications are now globally recognized as symbols of sustainability achievement. Every day, over 2.2 million feet is LEED certified. LEED exists in 165 countries and territories, and certifications are available for nearly all building, community and home project types.
As LEED grew in popularity throughout the years, similar certifications began popping up and the green building movement took off in other innovative directions, especially within the United States. Nowadays, the nation's largest cities are getting even greener – according to CBRE's 2019 Green Building Adoption Index, 42.2% of total space across the top 30 U.S. office markets is green certified.
As the green building movement has grown, architects have taken notice. More green buildings are being built because that's what people want. As this demand for green buildings has increased, so has the demand for LEED certified architects. According to PDH Academy, "If other architectural firms in your city have LEED-certified architects and yours doesn't, you'll appear to be behind the times, you won't be able to compete as well, and you'll lose contracts. The LEED-certified designation brings you and the firm much-needed credibility. The designation is not just an achievement within the field, but more of a good housekeeping seal of approval for current and prospective clients, validated by an independent third party."
Finally, as green building certifications have become more widespread, U.S. capital markets have also taken notice. A recent study by the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association found that commercial mortgages collateralized by green-certified buildings carry significantly lower default rates – an observation which leads commercial real estate firms like CBRE to believe lenders are factoring the energy and sustainability performance of buildings into mortgage pricing.
I believe that Business to Planet could learn a lot from the growth of LEED and the green building movement. By replicating certain elemenets of LEED's organization and scaling strategies, Business to Planet could experience similar, if not more impressive growth and adoption within the fashion industry.
"TWELVE YEARS AGO, I ASKED SOME OF THE WORLD'S LARGEST COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE OWNERS AND DEVELOPERS, ‘HAS THE ECONOMIC CASE BEEN MADE TO MAKE YOUR BUILDINGS GREEN?’ NOT A SINGLE HAND WENT UP. I ASK THAT SAME QUESTION A LOT TODAY AND EVERY HAND GOES UP."
– SPENCER LEVY
CHAIRMAN OF THE AMERICAS, CBRE