What makes the green building community like no other.

Community. This word is bantered about these days without much of the meaning that really should be associated with it. We as a people are social animals and connection to each other is an incredibly important part of what makes us who we are. In these modern times, we form these communities in very different ways, finding groups that resonate with us in the work we do, at our kids’ schools, in an online forum or wherever else we can establish that connection for a moment to someone that is actually listening and cares as much as we do. We’ve seen the devastating personal and societal effects even just over the past couple weeks when we can’t seem to find that connection. There are countless communities and groups formed around the endless possibilities of interest that surround us. But today, I want to talk about the Green Building Community and if you’re reading this, that’s probably you. 

Over the past six months now I have been on an exploratory journey to get to know this community, and for much of the time I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it. Recently, I took a step back and the identity of this community fully formed before me for the first time, and I was a bit overwhelmed by it. I realized that this is one of the most authentic, inspiring, purpose driven group of people I’ve ever met and what an awesome privilege and responsibility it is for me to spend my working hours supporting it. This group of professionals is determined to make money and be successful just like everyone else, but is doing it with a sense of collective purpose, a focus on higher learning, and an ever-present awareness of the impacts of the work they do. 

I’m simply not sure where else you can find this. I’m not even close to knowing every business community and industry group out there, but I would venture to guess if you were to spend the months doing market research and investigating, you would come up with the same conclusion. Just try to find another group in the business world where money isn’t the driving factor, where people don’t construct, consciously or not, a false identity for themselves to project externally, or where information, knowledge, and experience is seen as a competitive advantage not meant to be shared. Sure, I sound jaded, and I know these exist to a certain extent in our green building community, but not nearly to the same level. So, it turns out, you are pretty awesome and so are your peers. 

We believe you’re so awesome that this year we’re dedicating our Green Gala to our Community, that special, beautiful nerdy beast that is our green building tribe. We’re going to award the volunteers and members of this community that lead by example and give of themselves to be a shining light for others. Ultimately, we make buildings and the infrastructure to support them; but by doing that, it turns out we also make human connections, we make the places that form their own communities, and collectively we are all trying to figure out how we make the world a slightly better place in the process. That’s what makes us different, that we recognize the lasting effects of our work on this planet and we are determined to find a better way, to push the limits of our socio-economic and technical boundaries within our lifetimes so that the constructs we leave behind are a positive legacy for those who come after us.

About the Author

Ben StapletonExecutive Director for USGBC-LA. A native Angeleno, Ben Stapleton is a recognized sustainability leader, who brings to this position extensive experience and connections across real estate, technology and innovation. He launched and managed the La Kretz Innovation Campus in Downtown Los Angeles, most recently serving as SVP, Operations & Finance for the LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI). The Campus has become an epicenter for sustainability in the region featuring events with prominent local, national and international leaders, while being home to a community of cutting-edge businesses and nonprofits. At LACI, Stapleton led major operational growth, program development, and partnerships to triple revenue for the non-profit. Simultaneously, he helped lead efforts that resulted in the La Kretz Innovation Campus becoming an iconic green building for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the City of Los Angeles, with multiple certifications, as well as pilot projects targeting waste, water, and energy efficiency. Stapleton has also held the positions of Managing Director of the LA Better Buildings Challenge and Vice President & Cleantech Practice Group Lead at JLL. He has served on the boards of LA Bioscience Hub and USGBC-LA. Representing competing schools in Los Angeles, Stapleton holds a MBA from the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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