USGBC worked with Silicon Valley industry leaders in the high tech, biotech, and financial sectors, to develop a corporate sustainability leadership challenge, the California Best Buildings Challenge, to leverage California's culture of innovation and propel the green building movement forward. Inspired by the unrelated well known television show, The Biggest Loser, that challenges participants to lose as much weight as possible in a short amount of time, the California Best Buildings Challenge calls on property owners, managers, and tenants with property in California to strive towards a goal of achieving significant reductions in energy, water, and waste in two years.
The California Best Buildings Challenge helps advance USGBC's mission to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.
The Challenge is also inspired by other building challenges, mainly the White House's Better Building Challenge (BBC). The California Best Buildings Challenge sets more stringent performance goals than the BBC in a landmark, short time-frame. While the President's Better Buildings Challenge seeks 20 percent energy reductions by 2020, the California Best Buildings Challenge calls for 20 percent energy, water, and waste reductions in just two years.
The Challenge will highlight the sustainability leadership of Northern California's preeminent companies, and send a powerful message to the world about the feasibility and importance of improving the efficiency of all buildings worldwide, and particularly those that are low-performing. It will leverage the unprecedented exposure brought by Greenbuild, the largest industry conference worldwide (35,000 expected) in November 2012 in San Francisco, to mobilize businesses of all sizes who own property in California to commit to the Challenge goals. The Challenge is part of a larger initiative, the Road to Greenbuild, which builds momentum and excitement in the region culminating in the conference.
USGBC has a three year Action Plan to execute the Challenge, as highlighted in the following section, including educating the wider community about the critical importance of green building, and its feasibility over a short time period.
The Founding Partners commit to try to achieve 20% reductions in energy, water and waste in specific properties of their choice, with open and transparent documentation and benchmarking of progress with USGBC-NCC. Founding Partners will utilize this challenge as an opportunity to engage their employees in addition to showcasing facility upgrades.
The Founding Partners and their commitments include:
-Google: global leader in internet search, cloud computing, software and advertising: 12 buildings
-Adobe: global leader in digital marketing and digital media solutions: 5 buildings
-Prudential Real Estate Investors: invests in real estate on behalf of institutional clients, with gross assets under management of $49.1 billion: 993,000 square feet (a campus)
-Genentech: among the world's leading biotech companies, the biggest energy user in the Bay Area: 783,000 square feet
-Zynga: world's leading provider of social game services with more than 240 million monthly active users: 670,000 square feet
-SAP: the market leader in enterprise application software: 428,000 square feet (a campus)
Over 5 million square feet of space is already committed to the challenge.
As part of committing to the Challenge, companies are asked to tell their unique Challenge story in a variety of ways, to advance the green building movement forward through education. Possible forms of storytelling and education are spelled out in the Commitment Letter every participating firm must sign and may include: participating in articles, editorials, or interviews in industry journals or media, hosting special events, creating YouTube videos highlighting Challenge successes, and internal/external stakeholder education. In addition, Google has expressed interest in even showing what didn't work, as a way of evolving the conversation.
The skills, expertise, and capacity to support the Challenge will continue to come primarily from USGBC and USGBC-Northern California Chapter staff, as well as the Challenge Technical Advisory Board made up of industry experts. To date, comprehensive FAQs, a Tracking/Reporting Tool, and a Commitment Letter have been developed and will continue to be piloted with the Founding Partners until the program is launched.
USGBC is in discussion with a variety of organizations, including product suppliers, about providing special services, discounts, or support for Challenge participants, particularly the smaller to mid-size businesses that do not have in-house sustainability experts like most of the large California firms.
USGBC has already begun the process of recruiting and signing up select companies to participate in the Challenge. The program tools are currently being piloted with six Founding Partners before the Challenge is launched and opened to all.
Phase 1 -Finalize Challenge Program, Pilot with Founding Partners, January-May, 2012 (Prior to formal Challenge launch)
Work with Technical Advisory Board to develop Challenge protocol and tools including: Recruitment Package and FAQs, Commitment Letter, and Tracking/Reporting Tool.
Pilot the Challenge Tools with Founding Partner firms, April-May 2012
Create Challenge website page and social media to direct traffic.
Local announcement to recruit Northern California global brands, recognize Founding Partner firms, 5/23
Approach firms, mainly Founding Partner firms, for Challenge sponsorships, April-July, 2012
Target and secure supporting partners who can offer discounted/free services to assist Challenge participants, May-July, 2012
Phase 2- Launch and Recruitment Campaign, June - October, 2012
- Showcase global brands at the launch.
- Launch Challenge website page and social media to direct traffic.
- Recruit as many firms as possible with California property to participate in the Challenge.
- Leverage USGBC/USGBC-NCC's 350,000 constituent base, particularly USGBC's Fortune 500 contact base, to recruit participants nationwide. Utilize internal tools, resources, and contacts including USGBC and USGBC Chapter websites, newsletters, social media, and media/press relationships.
- Host an Executive Luncheon in San Francisco/Silicon Valley to build enthusiasm and mobilize recruitment.
Phase 3 - Greenbuild Announcement, November, 2012
Highlight the Challenge at Greenbuild, the largest green building industry conference in the world (35,000 expected) run by USGBC, which will occur during mid-November in San Francisco. This may include: an announcement at the opening plenary session; a master speaker session with Founding Partners, followed by news conference/social media support; and a special meeting for Challenge participants with California policy-makers.
Phase 4 - Implementation January 2013-Fall 2014
- Showcase Challenge stories.
- Drive media interest through report sessions, (e.g. Earth Day 2013, Labor Day 2014, Greenbuild 2013/2014/2015, USGBC-Northern California's Annual Super Heroes Galas 2013/2014).
Phase 5 - Conclusion, Spring 2015
- Recognize participants at the USGBC-NCC Annual Super Heroes Gala in 2015.