On Friday Rick Fedrizzi, founding chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council and current President and CEO, sent out a letter to USGBC constituents to address general market concerns relating to the economy and future of green building.  I thought the letter was interesting because he mentions something I’ve been thinking about for over a year now: the allocation of sustainable accountability.  Whether it’s the newest green ad campaign or some politician’s promise, I feel the prevailing mentality is that the government or businesses or someone else, someone other than me, is going to help us figure out the toughest of tough issues.  Anyway, I don’t want to put words in the venerable Mr. Fedrizzi’s mouth, so here’s the letter if you didn’t get the email yesterday:

Dear USGBC Constituents:

In recent weeks, a wave of fear and pessimism propagated by the world financial crisis has stolen the headlines, gripped the nation, and challenged our movement.  In conversation after conversation, people are asking what will happen to the green building movement if our community is plunged into a recession.

And I have an answer for them.  The greed that led the world economy into crisis will not defeat our commitment to good work.  Fear will not dominate our agenda.  And our commitment to change – even in the face of so great a challenge – will not waver.

Change doesn’t wait on Washington.  And it doesn’t depend on Wall Street.  Change comes from within.  The green building movement has been demonstrating that fact for more than 15 years.  Before there was a single government green building policy, before the business community stood up and took notice, before there was a LEED – there was you.  Thousands upon thousands of committed individuals dedicated to doing better by doing good.  You’ve built this movement.  You’re building sustainable communities.  And every single one of us has a contribution to make towards pulling our country out of this crisis.

We cannot lose sight of our mission.  It is within reach.

How?  It’s time for the green building movement to deploy the expertise and capacity we’ve built in new construction to green what we’ve already got.  Ninety-nine percent of achieving our mission is wrapped up in our existing homes and buildings.  It will save money.  It will save energy.  It will help save our climate.  And directly relevant to today’s economic environment, it will create good, green, local jobs.  As just one example, USGBC estimates that a 100% commitment to greening existing commercial buildings alone would create more than 1.5 million new opportunities for employment for out of work Americans.

In four weeks, we will meet together at Greenbuild.  And when you get to Boston, we will celebrate everything that your individual commitments have accomplished so far.  We’ll enjoy the fellowship of more than 20,000 friends and colleagues who share our vision for a sustainable future.  And we will keep moving forward, together.  I’ll see you there.

With gratitude,

U.S. Green Building Council S. Rick Fedrizzi
CEO, President and Founding Chair,