2020 year in review: Strategy

Sarah Merricks
February 1, 2021

As Chief of Staff at USGBC and GBCI, I have worked closely with our President and CEO, Mahesh Ramanujam, to help set our strategic framework for both organizations. During my nearly 8 years with USGBC and GBCI, I’ve witnessed so many successes stories from our members, stakeholders and projects as they execute our strategy and use our products to meet their sustainability goals. With GBCI’s stewardship, there are now over 106,000 registered and certified LEED commercial projects, nearly 2 million registered and certified residential units and nearly 205,000 professionals transforming buildings and implementing LEED around the world. Our customers have been instrumental in this growth and ensuring LEED’s unrivaled global presence, and their leadership gives me great hope for the future.

GBCI’s distinct objective has always been to advance both USGBC’s mission and LEED. And today, because it is ultimately responsible for the physical implementation of LEED, GBCI is bringing the global green building community one step closer to realizing healthy people, in healthy places, equals a healthy economy. To achieve this, GBCI operates from a strategic plan that provides a compass to ensure that the vision and values by which GBCI was created remain clear and relevant as we continue to fulfill our unique mission.

With each project and each credential GBCI delivers, the organization is carrying out our commitment to a healthier future by adhering to a set of guiding principles outlined in this plan: ensuring validity and quality, operating with transparency and clarity, adapting to change, providing excellence in service and driving change to create lasting benefits for the world.

By prioritizing these commitments, GBCI will be able to achieve a trio of long-term strategic goals including:

  1. Evolve a global business model that is scalable, accessible and sustainable for delivering credentialing and certification programs;
  2. Create and sustain an organizational culture for innovation;
  3. Enhance the performance continuum.

Our strategic plan also dictates that the organization’s scope of work will be dynamically adjusted to evolve, prioritize and improve depending on the conditions of the market, economy and technology, as well as the availability of new research.

Meeting our goals requires us to be a customer-focused organization. We continue to apply our learning from LEED and other rating systems to better adapt and respond to the changing needs of the market and our customers. As always, our chief priority remains advancing USGBC’s mission by building and expanding on LEED, and specifically by helping the world move from an awareness of the merits of LEED to a universal, mainstream acceleration and adoption of it.

But the sustainability market has evolved since LEED was created, and to stay relevant, we need to adapt with it. We are always looking for the next topic, theme or program that will provide the most value to our customers and to ensure we are in step with a sustainability market growing more diverse and competitive every day.

This is why today GBCI has collected a suite of nearly 15 professional credentials and certificates and 10 certification programs. Each of these programs not only builds on LEED and serves to advance our mission in their own unique ways, but they allow us to create new markets, build capacity, reach new audiences and create lasting value for the organization and our customers.

GBCI is also a lab for testing new ideas. Recognizing the innovative thinking and leadership of our customers is GBCI’s core and delivering the high-quality services they are seeking is our charge. While we don’t expect every program we bring in to scale at the level of LEED, in this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, we need to continue to innovate on behalf of our customers to support them in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and help them in adopting next generation practices.

We can’t rest on our laurels. And if we stand still, we will only fall behind. But with today’s momentum, GBCI will continue, in partnership with USGBC, to strengthen our purpose-driven organizational ecosystem, prioritize complementary initiatives and focus on forward progress for LEED and more.

Thank you for being our partners in this work.