Grey Lee's blog

Welcoming Vernette Allen: Grants Programs Manager

By Grey Lee, Executive Director on 3/30/2017

Updating our Staff Roster: we have a new full-time staffer at USGBC MA.

Vernette Allen will be managing our grants programs related to workforce development, professional trainings, and other grants to help grow our organization. She comes to us from having participated in the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center's Successful Women in Clean Energy program, and we are really excited to have her on board. She recently managed a multi-year training program for Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) and grants administration at Jewish Vocational Services and Northeastern University. She has an extensive network in the community development realm in Greater Boston.

Welcome, Vernette!

My name is Vernette Allen, my role at USGBC MA Chapter is as Grants Programs Manager. I’m looking forward to working closely with everyone in the green building community. 

My primary focus will be working on new sources of funding, education/training, and workforce development. As well, the Existing Buildings Committee. I hold a B.S. in Business Administration and Master's in Social Work, both from Boston University.

I was born in Jamaica, West Indies and was brought up in Brooklyn, NY.  I was fortunate to learn from an early age the importance of the environment and the need to be a steward. 

I am still passionate about the environment. In the past, I had the opportunity to work with the Franklin Park Coalition. My work included advocacy, stewardship and workforce development. I have worked in the non-profit world for several years in various leadership roles. In these roles, I have planned and developed programs. 

I look forward to meeting and working with everyone, on the USGBC MA mission. 

Grey Lee Departure Statement

By Grey Lee on 3/17/2017

Hello Volunteer Leader Colleagues of the Chapter,

Thank you again for your hard work to move our mission forward.

I have a special announcement. I have been accepted to a Master's in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School, starting this summer.

I will be leaving USGBC MA at the end of May, after almost five years. 

The Board is managing a rapid transition process and seeks to find and install the next Executive Director of our organization in the early summer. Celis Brisbin will take on the acting director role as needed. You can read a statement from Andrea Love, our Board Chair's, describing the transition process here.

I am leaving only because of the opportunity to enhance my capacity to pursue our mission to transform the built environment toward sustainability. There is nothing else I would leave for.

I love what I do, I love our mission and I love our organization. I know it is in excellent shape financially and staffing-wise. We have an amazing community of volunteers and excellent goodwill in the industry. 

I know that we will continue on an excellent trajectory and new ideas and new leadership will help that. When I started, we were half the size and it was a one-man shop. Now we have five employees and five interns. Think of this like repotting a plant. It's going to thrive!


You can read our Board's statement with a link to the advertised position description here.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our progress. I look forward to working with you in the future and I know we will stay in touch.

Thank you again,
See you at the Greenbuild Night on the 30th,

PS: Grid Modernization - Tues 3/21 ///// Intro to the Living Building Challenge - Weds 3/22 ///// LEED Green Associate Exam Prep - Thurs 3/22


The Search for a New Executive Director

By Andrea Love, Chair of the Board on 3/17/2017

A Story of New Opportunities at USGBC MA

To Our Community in Green Building:

The US Green Building Council, MA Chapter, would like to announce our search for a new Executive Director.

Our current Executive Director, Grey Lee, has chosen to take an opportunity to pursue a mid-career Master’s in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School. We are saddened to lose his leadership at the Chapter but know he will use this opportunity to step up to a new level of leadership, advocacy, and activism that will benefit us all. He is devoted to the transformation of real estate toward sustainability and our efforts for #MoreGreenBuildings!

Please join us in wishing Grey great success as he begins this new phase.


With Change Comes Energy

We are guided by our mission to “drive sustainable and regenerative design, construction, and operation of the built environment.” Our vision for “a thriving and diverse community, creating a built environment of net positive systems of water and energy, of financial and social equity, and of ecological and human health” compels us to action.

We convene a diverse community of practitioners working across industry sectors and at all levels of expertise. We work to advance the opportunities of our members and to maximize the positive impacts of our practices. Since our founding in 2009, and especially in the last three years, we have grown our Chapter and developed into the voice for the dynamic green building industry of our region. We continue to bring more and more people into the green building space and to galvanize our community for action. And this November, we plan to host the greatest Greenbuild conference ever, right here in Boston.

Today we launch our search for our next Executive Director. We seek an entrepreneurial and passionate professional to continue our momentum, to advance our net positive focus, and to lead the green building movement in Massachusetts. Please visit our Executive Director posting for additional information on the position and application process at:


Celis Brisbin, Director of Operations, to assist with the transition and fill in as Acting Director.

The Staff share the Board’s excitement and are committed to working with Grey over the coming months, and the new Executive Director upon hiring, to ensure our momentum continues to build as we advance our mission and vision and accelerate toward Greenbuild.

The Board of Directors, our members and partners, and all of our stakeholders take great pride in our accomplishments and ongoing growth. Our #1 ranking for LEED Certifications in 2016 is a reflection of the strength and commitment of our community and our collective efforts.

We look forward to a new phase in our journey and new leadership, new energy, and new successes. If you have questions or concerns, or you would like to share feedback, please send us a note at [email protected].


Thank you for your continued support as we move forward,

Andrea Love,

on behalf of the Board of Directors,

USGBC MA Chapter, Inc.


You can read Grey Lee's departure statement here.

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Smart Crowd for Smart Cities

By Grey Lee on 2/17/2017

We had an excellent program last night for our Building Tech Forum. 

Fraunhofer was the perfect venue to help us connect as a community of practitioners dedicated to improving the built environment.

Here are a few photos; we'll post more of a re-cap next week. 

Thank you to all of our sponsors and exhibitors.

Many thanks to our panelists and the engaged crowd. Thank you for attending and making the 2017 Building Tech Forum a success.


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Being Fearless: Design Professionals to the Front Lines!

By Steven Burke, USGBC MA Treasurer on 1/26/2017

As part of the green building community in Massachusetts, I am happy to serve as the Co-Chair of the Boston Society of Architects Committee on the Environment (COTE). We held our regional leadership summit on June 1 & 2, 2016, at the BSA headquarters in Boston. Over 100 sustainability practitioners gathered to build their leadership capacity and connect to share their experiences in sustainable design and green building practice.


We have developed a retrospective video and white paper of the procedings available here.

Keynote speaker Paul Hawken challenged the community to embrace fearlessness.  The time for hoping and waiting for change is behind us, and we must take it upon ourselves as individuals and as a community of practitioners to follow through with bold thinking and bold actions.  As Paul demonstrated, and as we know, the solutions are here, today.  It is on us to see them into implementation.


One of the amazing things of having 100 sustainability practitioners come together from various sectors of the AEC industry and Owner / Developer spaces, is that for us, we have redefined what competition looks like.  We are all working towards the same goal of a net positive future.  We realize that to get there, we must disregard the traditional boundaries of competitiveness across companies or hierarchies of position and title, and enable each other to be the absolute best we can be.  For us, competition is directed inward, pushing ourselves to help drive our projects, our companies, our peers, and our communities to maximize our positive impact.


Thank you for joining us on this work. We look forward to the next COTE Leadership Summit in 2018, to be held in Burlington, Vermont.

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We're Number ONE!

By Rachel Gilbert, USGBC on 1/25/2017

U.S. Green Building Council Announces: 

Massachusetts is #1 State in the Nation for LEED Green Building in 2016

Washington, D.C. — (Jan. 25, 2017) — Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its national ranking of the top states in the country for LEED green building and Massachusetts is the first state in the nation for 2016. The annual list highlights states throughout the country that made significant strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation over the past year. 


This year, Massachusetts moved from third to first place with a total of 136 LEED-certified projects representing 3.73 gross square feet of certified space per resident. Massachusetts will host Greenbuild 2017, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green buildings, in Boston on Nov. 8-10, 2017.


“Massachusetts has been a phenomenal trailblazer in green building and LEED certifications and is leading the way toward a more sustainable future for generations to come,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC. “The success of LEED could not happen without support from states likes Massachusetts that believe in being environmentally and socially responsible and have committed to transforming the built environment. With each new LEED certification, we are lowering carbon emissions, creating a healthier environment, driving economic growth and prioritizing sustainable practices that will positively impact the way residents, communities and cities live, work and play.”


According to USGBC’s 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study, LEED construction is projected to support 155,000 total jobs in Massachusetts and have a total impact on GDP of $13.6 billion from 2015-2018. 


"Massachusetts has always been a fighter for what's right,” said Grey Lee, executive director, USGBC – Massachusetts Chapter. “High-performing LEED buildings are a clear demonstration of our real estate community's commitment to excellence. Our green building practitioners work hard every day to do what's right in our built environment. Together, we are ensuring net positive outcomes for the communities of our Commonwealth. I invite everyone to go ‘All In’ to celebrate these LEED achievements at Greenbuild Boston in November!”


Now in its seventh year, the ranking assesses the total square feet of LEED-certified space per resident based on U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects certified during 2016. The full ranking is as follows:

A few notable projects that certified in Massachusetts in 2016 include:  

Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the location of Greenbuild 2017; LEED Silver

Plains Elementary School in South Hadley; LEED Silver

101 Seaport at Seaport Square in Boston; LEED Platinum - Nice work Chapter Sponsor, Skanska!


Collectively, 1,819 commercial and institutional projects achieved LEED certification within the Top 10 States for LEED in 2016, representing 309.12 gross square feet of real estate. Across the United States, 3,366 projects were certified in 2016, representing 470.39 million square feet.


The LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of green buildings. More than 59,000 commercial, neighborhood and residential projects are currently LEED certified, comprising more than 6 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 164 countries and territories globally.  





The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is committed to a prosperous and sustainable future through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building program, robust educational offerings, an international network of local community leaders, the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, the Center for Green Schools and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities. For more information, visit and connect on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. 

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On this day, we honor Martin Luther King Jr.

By Grey Lee, Executive Director on 1/16/2017

I hope you are all having a good long weekend, and taking some time today to reflect on the legacy of Dr. King. And what a right and rich legacy!

Over the years, I have read and listened to several of his speeches. I was brought to tears when I visited the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis - hearing his resounding voice while standing in the hotel where he as assassinated. It was deep breath powerful. What an amazing role model and champion for positive change in our society.

It is sad that his efforts are now so far in the past, and while much has changed, so much has not improved.

Yet one of his recurring themes was persistence, to keep moving forward.

Our work for net positive outcomes for our communities through the transformation of the built environment is fundamentally patient. The pace of real estate plods along. Projects take years to come to fruition. Planning looks at decades. Codes, fundamental technologies, methodologies of project delivery, the duration of leadership in firms: all take years to shift. The movement of practices for buildings to become better requires the long view.

Yet MLK's spirit was also one of urgency. He said "the time is always right to do what is right." We feel this urgency as practitioners. Even in a long-term oriented industry we want to support the best and right moves now. We want to execute on innovation - to save money, to reduce a building's impact, to be a more efficient contributor to the excellence of our final products.

Our urgency is not just to get ahead in the industry. Our community of practitioners is motivated by a basic concern for a sustainable and just world. We come together through this organization because it is inter-disciplinary and helps us see the way systems connect holistically.

Every day that passes is an opportunity to address the troubles in the world. Many of us are active on many fronts. Many of us are focused on our families, our careers, and our station in life. Working toward better buildings is an awesome way to connect our moral universe with the practicalities of making a living.

Together, working with our mission, we are advancing policies and market-based solutions to address the wrongs we see in the world.

Our building rating systems and performance-attainment challenges offer us ways to engage with our mission. Our techniques provide the small steps we can take today, with an eye on long-term achievement.

Together, as a community, we are growing the ranks of capacity to change the real estate industry. 

It is clear that our built environment affects social and ecological outcomes. Thank you for holding on to the complexity, the multi-stage reality, and the hard work it takes.

Thank you for your work to struggle for what is right, and thank you for being with me on this journey. I, and our staff, are here to help you in any way we can.

Let us continue our work, bending the arc toward justice, for all,


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Call for Nominations: Board of Directors for 2017

By Grey Lee, Executive Director on 12/19/2016

We are looking for a few good people to serve on our Board!


Read about the elections process here.


You can nominate yourself or recruit someone great to run.


We are reserving three seats for specific new industry sector representing roles:

  • Community Base Organization
  • Building Systems
  • Energy Sector

If you have any questions about our process after reading the description, please direct your questions to [email protected]

Thank you!


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- Arc - is here: connecting the building performance

By Marisa Long, USGBC on 12/1/2016

Arc’s mission is to connect all actions through a single platform that delivers a higher quality of life

Washington, D.C. — (Dec. 1, 2016) — A new technology company, Arc Skoru Inc., officially launched today by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). This new venture will be the official host for Arc, a state-of-the-art digital platform available at Arc allows any project — whether a single building, a community or an entire city — to measure improvements and benchmark against itself and projects around it.

Scot Horst, who has overseen and led the development of LEED since 2005, has been appointed as the CEO of Arc.

“GBCI developed Arc as a way to provide new and more transparent ways to share information,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, U.S. Green Building Council and GBCI. “Scot Horst brings many years of leadership and expertise to Arc, and we celebrate him in his new role as the CEO. For the past 11 years, Scot has led the evolution of LEED through LEED 2009 and LEED v4. He was also the chief inventor of the LEED Dynamic Plaque, a system designed to tie ongoing building performance to initial certification.”

The goal of Arc is to support the missions of USGBC and GBCI. LEED-certified buildings can use Arc to improve and benchmark against other certified buildings around them. Existing buildings that have not certified can use Arc to make incremental sustainability improvements to eventually achieve LEED certification.

“Arc allows buildings, communities and cities to compare their performance against their peers and also connect to vetted green building strategies,” said Scot Horst, CEO, Arc. “Over the last two decades LEED certification has become a symbol of leadership, signifying that a project is saving energy, resources and water, and is healthier for occupants and the community. A LEED building has become the mark of a high quality building. Now through the Arc platform, all buildings can improve and work toward LEED certification.”

Today more than ever before, the green building movement relies on technology and data, and the future of green buildings is focused on performance. Arc represents a new era for green building; the platform takes LEED to the next level through the shared use of technology, feedback and recognition of excellence.

About the Arc platform:

  • Arc is a simple digital platform for all projects pursuing LEED certification and will eventually include other green building rating systems, standards protocols and guidelines.
  • Arc is inclusive of all projects, even those not pursuing certification, so that all buildings can measure performance and make incremental improvements.
  • Arc facilitates connections to people and projects globally. It encourages innovation, enabling informed decisions on building design, operations and maintenance.

Features of the current Arc platform include:

  • Existing buildings can use Arc to earn LEED Operations + Maintenance certification and precertification using the O+M performance path.
  • Projects that are currently pursuing and planning to register for the LEED for Existing Buildings standard path can also use Arc for performance data reporting.
  • Cities, communities and districts can use Arc to start tracking data and earn LEED pre-certification.
  • All registered and previously certified LEED projects have access to Arc to keep their LEED certification up to date. Project leads can also use Arc for performance data tracking and reporting as per the initial requirements in LEED for data sharing.
  • Projects previously using the LEED Dynamic Plaque will be included in Arc.

The O+M performance path was approved by the LEED Steering Committee in January 2016 and the LEED for Cities Pilot was approved by the LEED steering committee in October 2016. LEED for Cities will be submitted for USGBC member approval following input from pilot users.

Over time, Arc will continue to add rating systems into the platform. The platform provides an entry point for all buildings with the goal of eventually certifying them to LEED or to other GBCI rating systems such as GRESB, WELL, PEER, SITES, Parksmart, etc. As GBCI adds new rating systems, the introduction of Arc makes the certification process as streamlined as possible for the end user. Projects pursuing certification under more than one rating system will realize efficiencies in places where the rating systems share the same or similar requirements.

About Arc

Arc Skoru Inc. was created by GBCI to make USGBC, GBCI and their partners’ visions a reality by connecting people all over the world to actions and inspiring them to make the most informed decisions. This empowers people to connect and collaborate toward a collective higher quality of life. Arc Skoru is the go-to place to track all of the inspirations, connections and actions related to the sustainability of our built environment.

Arc Skoru uses its Arc platform to allow users to measure performance, make improvements and benchmark against other projects. Arc is a complement to LEED and other green building rating systems, standards, protocols and guidelines and allows buildings and spaces to compare performance metrics and connect those metrics to green building strategies. Arc enables incremental improvements and can put a project on track for LEED or other rating system certification.

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Education Sessions for Greenbuild 2017

By Grey Lee, Executive Director on 11/18/2016

Greenbuild is coming to Boston in 2017!


It's time to start thinking about educational sessions to produce and deliver at the conference next year.


Greenbuild is soliciting entries from presenters already - and the proposals are due Friday, January 13, 2017.


Recently, the steering committee for the conference identified two new important priorities:

·        Academic Study: Greenbuild has a firm commitment to the role of academic studies in advancing the mission of transforming the built environment. We are seeking proposals that highlight ongoing or recent research that impacts the built environment, the health of building occupants, our communications about it, or human behaviors that relate to it.

·        New Voices: Greenbuild is a place for industry leaders, novices, and a new generation of leaders alike to gather. We are seeking to provide opportunities for new voices to share their experiences, thinking and work with the Greenbuild audience.


The subject area focii are:

  • Health and Well Being
  • Existing Buildings, with a focus on Historic Preservation
  • Innovation in Energy
  • Resilience
  • Social Responsibility, Community Action & Engagement


You have probably been wanting to present on your area of expertise: now is the time to organize a deck of slides and practice your best instructional voice. Submit a presentation for the education sessions today!


If you are interested in getting involved with the local Greenbuild Host Committee, come to our volunteer recruitment event on 12/15 in Boston after work.


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