No. 569 . 03 October 2012 
ArchitectureWeek

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With myriad green features like open office partitions that combine low solid portions for daylighting with high glass sections for acoustical separation, the USGBC headquarters in Washington, D.C. are Platinum certified under the LEED v3 system. Photo: Eric Laignel

USGBC Founder Rick Fedrizzi

by Holley Henderson

Rick, what does sustainability mean to you personally?

To me, the definition of "sustainable" is simple: It means living my life today in a way that ensures my children, their children, and their children will be able to live as well as I did.

It means laying the groundwork for a future that is more prosperous, more healthful, and more equitable than our present. It means that our habits — at a personal level as well as at a global level — don't lead to an inevitable depletion of resources that would disrupt our quality of life.

Living sustainably means exactly what it says: that our lifestyles can be sustained, and that we don't prove to be our own worst enemies.

Why did you enter the field of green building, and how did you make the transition?

I was fortunate enough to have worked for 25 years at United Technologies Corporation (UTC), an early pioneer in what was then a fairly esoteric idea: that the unprecedented technological progress of our era could actually be harnessed for good.

In other words, UTC recognized that true progress isn't about a decision between technological expansion or environmental quality; it is about embracing them both, and especially the places where they intersect and complement each other.

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Envision Design designed the USGBC headquarters, which occupies two floors of a nine-story office building in northwest Washington, D.C. Photo: Eric Laignel

It was the beginning of our understanding of the triple bottom line, and I knew I wanted to be part of it.

We hear so much about the negative impacts of human activity on the environment; tell us how, in your view, green building acts as an "antidote" to alleviate these negative impacts and/or creates positive impacts on the environment.

Green building isn't about a laundry list of negative human behaviors that we shouldn't do. It's about all the innovative, exciting, and life-affirming things we can and should do that lead to an economy, an environment, and a social landscape in harmony with each other. It's about solutions, and the businessman in me knew that this was the key to making real change.   >>>

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Rick Fedrizzi is President, CEO, and Founding Chairman of the United States Green Building Council

This article is excerpted from Becoming a Green Building Professional by Holley Henderson, copyright © 2012, with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.

 
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