Another year gone by, exactly 1 year since my convocation and another annual birthday blog post. This year is my 23rd one on the planet and my 5th one involved in trying to make it a little greener. A year ago I had just returned from travelling overseas and was profoundly influenced by how far ahead many parts of the world were compared to all that I had known. A year ago I had a funny little idea to become a rock star of sustainability, frolicking across the continent spreading the financial and environmental merits of consciously designing and constructing the built-environment. I couldn’t see myself just helping already converted building owners achieve their green goals, but rather attempt to enlighten others and empower them with tools to progress North American building practices. My goal for humanity has always been progress and I am satisfied if I can play a tiny role in pushing our lifestyle in the ‘right’ direction, to prosper in a sustainable future.
In this past year I have held green building training classes in over 60 unique cities to over 1000 students and professionals. From sustainably minded Burlington, Vermont to the vineyards of Virginia and driving down the coast of California; I met countless personalities who expressed perspectives that I never knew exist. I encountered individuals who would only eat organic foods, whilst fighting tooth and nail for their right to bear arms, others who only saw the green industry as a way to make profit and extremists on all ends of the spectrum. The one idea that stuck with me was our embedded nature in their idea of what is right and wrong and the challenge of shifting that embedded nature. At one point this year I even turned to politics to see how lobbying groups and grass roots movements affect our political parties but this realm is engulfed in stubborn people unwilling to listen. This is the issue that is plaguing our society from the top of our pyramid to the bottom – our inability to change and see the light at the end of that tunnel. However, as I continued my travels I began to see that each person had a kryptonite, whether it be financial possibilities, risks to future generations or just trying to better ones self.
My vision has taken a shift for my 23rd year to one that sees the necessity of driving change and breaking the public’s embedded nature to see that dim or bright green light. The new version of LEED is helping me do exactly that as it is a bright green light which is driving change in numerous industries. In the past I have used this annual post to point out the flaws in LEED such as its large “non-profit” budget and dare I say Greenwashing. As I continue to study LEED V4 and learn about America’s backlash against it, I can see how it is driving markets, industries, companies and even individuals to change their embedded nature reluctantly for the better. Too many of our minds are engrained in the idea that if we kick the can down enough generations, someone will figure out how to reverse climate change. This end of pipe approach is a highly risky one as we simply do not know when that road will wash out and the Earth’s systems simply cannot recover from our damage. Even I do not think that this will be in my lifetime, but right there is an example of a mindset in need of discarding.
By this time next year I hope to be reflecting on my teachings not only on this continent but also in other parts of the world including Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Mexico and Dubai lined up for the coming months. I hope my knowledge does not only translate into LEED professional designations which allow people to tout their sustainable knowledge but also alter their outlook and day-to-day life. As the public gradually realizes Earth’s mortality we will begin to drive change across all nations, governments, communities and individuals.