Unbridled Enthusiasm

This may seem like a strange term to include in a book about green buildings, but it is important nonetheless. I have never met a more enthusiastic group of professionals than the green building crowd. Enthusiasm is a key quality in making any major changes in existing systems. Stemming from the Greek phrase en Theos, "possessed by a god" or "God in me," enthusiasm helps overcome all obstacles.

The 19th century American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." For Emerson, enthusiasm gave a person courage to follow her inner direction. "Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage."

David Gottfried was a successful young property developer in Washington, DC, when he got the urge to found the US Green Building Council in 1993. He later founded the World Green Building Council in 1999, which now numbers ten member countries, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, United Kingdom, Mexico, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates and Japan. David's enthusiasm for green buildings is infectious; as a result of his leadership acumen, persuasive skills and incredible drive, the USGBC is now the most dramatic force for change that the building industry has seen in decades.

A Canadian, Joe van Belleghem is an accountant by training. Currently, he is developing Dockside Green, promised to be the world's largest all-LEED Platinum development in Victoria, British Columbia.153 Anyone who listens to Joe talk about how doing the right thing is the best business proposition comes away convinced that they need to do the same. To win the competition to build Dockside Green, Joe's development team beat out a better-funded team, in terms of resources and reputation. Joe's enthusiasm won the competition and continues to overcome all obstacles to the project's success.

Kath Williams holds a doctorate in education and was director of research at Montana State University when she got the green building bug well into her professional career. Working with national green building leaders, she sponsored one of the pre-eminent green building projects of the 1990s, the EpiCenter at Montana State. Now an international green building consultant heavily involved in the World Green Building Council and past vice-chair of the USGBC, Kath is a sophisticated, no-nonsense cowgirl from Montana who can convince anyone that not building green is incredibly stupid.

Meet Bob Berkebile, a founding partner of a leading architectural firm in Kansas City, Missouri, and a co-founder of the AIA Committee on the Environment in 1989, whose skillful rendering of sustainable design into a number of landmark projects continues to inspire new generations of architects and engineers. Bob seems to gain more enthusiasm for green buildings with each passing year. If the green building movement has the equivalent of Star Wars' Yoda, the wise elder, Bob is it.

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