In late June, a delegation from the Sichuan Province of China took time out of their busy schedules while touring the U.S. to visit the USGBC Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and discuss sustainable development in their region.
Sichuan Province, home to 80 million people and counting, is a mixture of residential and non-residential infrastructure. The group consisted of professionals from a variety of backgrounds, including policy research and education, all of whom were interested in learning more about LEED. They met with three USGBC staff members; Joe Crea, Director of International Marketing; Jason Hercules, Manager on the LEED team; and Elizabeth Beardsley, Senior Environmental Policy Council.
With a mission to advance green buildings, Mr. Qiu Jian, the Chief Planner of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in Sichuan Province, sought expertise from USGBC as he faces down a significant challenge: raising awareness about the benefits of green building. Although he has already participated in 52 projects identified as green, both he and his colleagues agree the buildings could be improved. LEED provides a set of standards with people and environment in mind as opposed to energy efficiency alone.
With the demand for buildings rising, Mr. Jian believes that green construction will best support Sichuan’s people, landscape and economy. One of the greatest barriers to sustainable development is the lack of understanding of what a green building actually entails. Mr. Jian’s goal is to provide an opportunity for locals to expand their knowledge by showcasing LEED projects of his own.
The bulk of the meeting was focused on how to define a green building and educate the public. LEED offers a starting point for this conversation. LEED isn’t simply a stamp of approval but a resource for communities, a roadmap to sustainability. LEED is adaptable and can be region-specific, enabling professionals to combat and focus on issues relative to their country. As a landmark of the human environment, architecture is not only a vessel for our lives, but also a vital cultural asset, embodying society’s unique dedication to creativity and innovation. Green buildings are designed with culture in mind and USGBC is committed to providing healthy, sustainable structures for everyone, everywhere. In China, there are already 120 million gross square meters of LEED space and more than 2,100 LEED projects.
When the meeting concluded, the two groups parted ways with plans to meet again. With leaders across the globe recognizing LEED as a powerful market tool that works, USGBC will return to China in the near future. USGBC hopes to serve as a force to accelerate green building in China and looks forward to providing Mr. Jian with the technical training and marketing materials he needs to promote green building in Sichuan Province.