AsiaGreenBuildings had the opportunity to sit down with Terri Wills, CEO of the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), to discuss one of the most lucrative markets for green growth – Asia. Terri Wills’ leadership at the WorldGBC aims to accelerate the green building movement by adopting new strategies, including taking marketing initiatives to new heights through stronger social media presence and better storytelling to significantly raise global awareness.
Terri Wills emphasizes Asia’s strength points in the green building area, including urban densities and policy leadership across countries. Furthermore, she points out a number of future market trends in the green building industry, and how Asian countries can actually play a vital role in the development across all stakeholders.
How would you accelerate the green building movement upon joining with the WorldGBC?
For me, the first would be by supporting green building councils working in their respective national markets and bringing them together, sharing best practices, and supporting them in areas where they need support to really accelerate transformation in their individual countries.
Secondly, we believe that it is very important for us to better tell our stories about green buildings and the impact that green building councils can have.
We’ll be playing an increasing role in our global influence around the world, increasing our marketing and communication, supporting networks, hiring – for the first time – a marketing and communications manager.
By increasing our presence in social media, in the press and also widening our target audience, we begin to really focus on the end-users, the owners, the occupiers and ensuring that they understand the benefits to themselves through living, working, playing within the green buildings.
What has been the strength that Asian region has in terms of green building development so far?
Asia has been tremendous as in my views in two key areas.
The first area is that the density of Asia is really an indicator of whether the rest of the world needs to go. Living in dense cities, high population and small areas are actually really best for reducing green house gas emissions and is the most efficient way to live and I believe many of the cities in Asia have been really successful in creating high density and sustainable places for people to live that many countries around the world can learn from.
The second area that we’ve seen is policy leadership. I know Singapore has been so progressive in their leadership on climate change, in environment, setting standards, supporting those standards, providing voluntary action, as well as supporting the private sector.
How have the green building trends shifted in the last 3 – 5 years? To what extent does Asia play a role here?
I think what really changes over time is recognition that there are significant economic, social and cost benefits to green buildings. In the last couple of years, the health and well-being perspective have been tremendously impactful on the green building movement.
We spend about 90% of our time in buildings, so for a building to be constructed in a way that considers our happiness, our health can only be good for us. I think this movement has been very helpful for green buildings because it helps to make good business sense.
We need to actually recognize where we are with green house gas emissions and where we need to get to, to stay within 2 degrees of global warming.
And again I think Asia places tremendous green leadership rules in both of these areas.
I think many countries have demonstrated Asia’s leadership on climate changes, as Singapore has been very clear in their intention to reduce emission from buildings in order to meet their national contribution from the COP 21 at the end of the year.
How does WorldGBC intend to overcome critical issues such as lack of sustainability policy enforcement, for instance, in Indonesia?
We really believe that green building councils in each country, including the Indonesian green building council, should work closely with the country as possible to identify ways and to overcome some of the challenges.
We also see that policy is not the only route to success in transforming markets towards green buildings. There are also many ways to reward and recognize the private sector, and through certification, through work programs, through highlighting successes globally to media and others, we think there are many ways also to increase a green building in places like Indonesia where there maybe some challenges and weak enforcement.
Many of our GBCs don’t focus on policy, but they do focus on recognizing and rewarding leadership in their private sector – either through certification or other programs.
About World Green Building Council
The World Green Building Council is a network of national green building councils in more than one hundred countries, making it the world’s largest international organisation influencing the green building marketplace. With one hundred thousand buildings and almost one billion square metres of green building space registered, the influence and impact of this global network is a significant force for social and environmental change.
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