Millennials Embracing sustainability
Realty Plus had an exclusive conversation with Rick Fedrizzi, Chairman and CEO, International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) where he described the importance of embracing sustainability.
How has Greenbuild been transformed through the years?
During my early tenure as founding chair and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), we envisioned Greenbuild as a vehicle to gather together those interested in this new approach to building, educate them about LEED and help them become LEED APs, and celebrate our achievement and progress. That idea of a networking event has evolved over the last 15 years to become the world’s largest and most influential green building conference – with events now taking place across the world in Europe, Mexico, the U.S., China and of course, India, and reaching tens of thousands of people each year.
In 2017 at the inaugural Greenbuild India, just like the first Greenbuild held in Austin, Texas, those many years ago, we saw India’s green building leaders make history as hundreds of professionals convened in Mumbai. Alongside the interactive expo hall, attendees heard engaging keynote addresses from inspiring leaders on the front lines of sustainability in India, participated in educational sessions and made invaluable connections through Greenbuild’s networking opportunities.
This year, in my role as chairman and CEO of the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), I was delighted to deliver a special address at Greenbuild India to shine a light on the important impact of buildings on people’s health and well-being. I want to encourage the real estate, architecture, design and operations communities in India to join us in riding what I like to call “the second wave of sustainability” and rise to the challenge of delivering better buildings that help people thrive.
What do you think about millennials today? Are they embracing sustainability?
I am constantly energized and inspired by the young people I meet around the world. We often refer to them as sustainability natives. Not only have they grown up embracing the concept of sustainability in every aspect of their lives, their work and lifestyle choices are driving the trends we’re seeing in which companies are creating workplaces and corporate cultures that put the well-being of employees front and center.
Companies are increasingly looking to the workforce of the future and want to create successful work environments for the coming generation. Younger employees prize human interaction and flexibility, and are attracted to organizations that are grounded in a social purpose. Almost nine in 10 believe that the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial performance.
So companies are taking notice by addressing what motivates this next generation of workers. They are leveraging their physical workplaces to help them recruit and retain the best talent, reduce absenteeism and improve the happiness, satisfaction and productivity of their employees. By signaling to the world that they are putting people first in their facility decisions, they can stand out as an employer of choice in the marketplace and attract health and sustainability-minded millennials.
How do you manage to take care of the environment and earn revenues at the same time?
I’ve gladly shared this fundamental truth many times about enterprise and the environment in the twenty-first century: sustainability has become an incredible business opportunity. I call it “Greenthink”, which is, In fact, the subject of a book I wrote. It has become abundantly clear at this point in human history that, if we want to continue to thrive, we must not exploit the natural world, but live and work in harmony with it.
Here’s an excerpt from the book,
The bottom line is that the tired, old narrative through which most people understand the world, and the groupthink within business and environmental circles that sustains it, are preventing a lot of money from being made and a lot of planet from being saved. But a new narrative is emerging—a new way of thinking, even—that is deeply rooted in reality, not distorted by history.
While the old narrative claims that the environment is the enemy of growth, the new narrative holds that the environment and the economy are deeply, fundamentally connected. They share common enemies: waste, inefficiency, pollution, climate change, resource scarcity, and environmental degradation. They also share a common ally: sustainability. And instead of intractable, insulated groupthink, they share a common outlook: greenthink.
Greenthink occurs when businesses, nonprofits, governments, and individuals marry environmental and economic principles for the benefits they can receive from both. Throughout the global economy, a select number of enlightened companies are already engaged in greenthink by leveraging the power of sustainability to drive profits. These businesses aren’t using less energy and fewer resources in the name of self-denial or out of the goodness of their hearts; they’re consuming less in order to earn more. The economic incentives are changing, and so are the business models. The result is a measurable reduction in the damage that many companies inflict on the environment and people, an increase in innovation and the overall quality of their products and services, and a reward in the form that business understands best: cold, hard cash.
I’m happy to say I’m now seeing the same enthusiasm for the return on investment in people as I’ve witnessed for the planet. Investing in people’s health and well-being, whether it’s at the workplace, in homes or in schools, is not just the right thing to do. It also makes business sense and drives long-term value for our communities and the economy.
What role will business vs government play in sustainability?
Sustainability has the greatest potential for success when business and government work hand-in-glove, with the recognition that the environment and the economy are deeply, fundamentally connected. Businesses and governments, not to mention non-profits and individuals, must conjoin environmental and economic principles to drive profits responsibly and ultimately long-term economic growth. It’s time that all sides recognize the opportunities to be uncovered by providing the right incentives and leveraging private-sector forces to drive change.
Who are your biggest competitors in the market and how do you set yourself apart from them?
Honestly, our biggest competition is the status quo. That’s why we cherish the opportunity to work closely with collaborators around the world to deliver buildings that support people’s health and well-being, and model – increasingly at scale – how putting people at the center of building decisions is not only the right thing to do, but the best thing to do. The WELL Building Standard (WELL) is a true, third-party verified certification, administered by Green Business Certification Inc., one of the world’s leading certification bodies providing certification and credentialing services to a wide variety of organizations involved in buildings and communities. The hallmark of WELL’s holistic approach is that WELL Certified spaces are required to meet performance metrics for indoor air quality, water quality, light and acoustics. Because when it comes to quantitative metrics like air and water quality, if you aren’t measuring it, you can’t maintain or improve it.
And with the WELL v2 pilot, the latest version of WELL, we’ve unveiled a suite of enhancements aimed at making WELL more flexible, inclusive and optimized for all types of projects in every part of the world. Through close collaboration with technical experts in key markets, our goal is to ensure more pathways in WELL that reflect local realities, making it relevant, equitable and inclusive to all, while working within a global framework to promote better buildings everywhere. The latest version of WELL not only expands the number of health-focused concepts that WELL covers, but also reflects up-to-date research, and our knowledge of the most effective, tangible strategies that organizations can apply to drive positive change.