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Explosion Green: One Man's Journey To Green The World's Largest Industry Paperback – June 2, 2014
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—President Bill Clinton
“David Gottfried is the father of the green movement. This book is a must read for any serious student of how to design new systems and green building.”
— Art Gensler
“David Gottfried set a world of improvement in motion. The global built environment is now incorporating sustainability as standard practice and as a result is making better buildings that are profitable for the bottom line, the planet and its people.”
— Gerald D. Hines, Founder and Chairman, Hines
“No organization has had a bigger impact on the environment than [the USGBC]. In sharing himself and the fabric of a life well directed, we can find ourselves and know that little or nothing exceeds our grasp if we love the world as well as David has.”
— Paul Hawken, Author, Ecology of Commerce
“This is a story about an idea. An idea that became an organization. An organization that anchored a movement. A movement that is changing the world. David and his relentless pursuit of the possible helped invent the spark and carry the torch for this revolutionary idea that led us to start the USGBC and later the WorldGBC.”
— Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council
“This book is inspiring and also a great story of how one man can change the world. David Gottfried and I worked closely to build the China Green Building Council.”
— Qiu Baoxing, Executive Vice Minister, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, People’s Republic of China
“David Gottfried not only accelerates the cause with a contagious passion, he also provides a clear path towards delivering the transformational change the world needs.”
— Douglas Frye, Global President and CEO, Colliers International
“A remarkable story of a remarkable transformation. David Gottfried’s efforts transformed the building industry and himself. This beautiful memoir illuminates the challenges of change.”
— Amory Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute, Author, Reinventing Fire
“David’s inability to accept the imperfect nature of systems and institutionalized practices have required him to move forward without a map. He has shown us that we each have the potential to reshape our personal behaviors and recalibrate the value systems for entire global markets.”
— Che Wall, Cofounder, Green Building Council of Australia
“I’ve known David for over a decade and been hugely inspired by his work in founding and growing the global Green Building Council movement. This book can change your life and help inspire you to not only dream big, but put it into action.”
—Jim Allen, President & CEO, Sloan
“David Gottfried’s work has been instrumental in connecting the marketplace to game-changing products. Read about it and get in the game.”
— Rao Mulpuri, PhD, CEO, View, Inc.
“Transformation of the most important sector in the nation’s energy economy resulted from David Gottfried’s pioneering work. Students and professionals will be inspired by this book as it describes the pathway that led to such monumental results.”
— Gil Masters, Professor Emeritus of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
“Explosion Green shows us how our passions can accelerate sustainable business and change the world. I’ve been privileged to participate in David Gottfried’s story describing the world’s most incredible transformation of its largest industry.”
— Kevin Hydes, CEO and Founder, Integral Group, Former Chair, U.S. and World Green Building Councils, Founder, Canada Green Building Council
“David inspires us to believe we have the ability to envision a future that we might create. He has lived it firsthand and generously shares his learning with us.”
— Maria Atkinson Am, Cofounder, Green Building Council of Australia
“A refreshing, delightful and candid memoir of how a young, bright ‘Type A’ developer created a revolution in how buildings are designed and built, and finds his higher self in the process.”
— Sim Van Der Ryn, Professor Emeritus of Architecture, UC Berkeley, Author, Design for an Empathic World, Ecological Design and Sustainable Communities
“Explosion Green will not only inspire you, but change your life. This beautifully written book portrays the creation of the global green building movement, while catalyzing each of us to proactively foment the change we hope for the world.”
— L. Hunter Lovins, President and founder, Natural Capitalism Solutions Coauthor, Natural Capitalism
“There are serial entrepreneurs, who have founded multiple, successful companies, and serial change agents, who have guided change in multiple institutions, but David Gottfried is the exceptionally rare individual who is a serial founder of change movements. Embedded in the stories he tells in Explosion Green is David’s secret formula for success.”
— Dan Slone, Partner, McGuireWoods, USGBC & WorldGBC General Counsel
"Explosion Green" describes how the author got into the green-building business at its inception and helped to carry the movement into full swing. A good backroom look into corporate activism, this interesting memoir presents an alternative to engineering change in environmental policies. Instead of focusing on noisy extremes and protests, it demonstrates that one person’s years of quiet hard work and unrelenting determination can make a difference in even the most immobile systems.
It’s fairly easy to vote green, install energy-efficient lighting, and turn down the heat at home, but relatively few people take further steps against climate change. Gottfried, however, basically devoted his career to his cause, taking true professional risks to bring green-building certifications into reality. More than a memoir, this book functions well as an inspirational tale for anyone working in the green sector or simply striving to manage a cleaner business or lifestyle.
Part of the charm of this book is Gottfried’s marriage of traditional business tactics and earnest idealism. His personal and business connections and experiences in the boardroom represent a world that many modern professionals may find familiar. The book shows how the author incorporated his personal feelings about climate change into decisions he made in his career. As he navigates the difficult border between idealism and pragmatism, Gottfried explores a conundrum experienced by too many Americans and addressed by too few. Vivid detail and a strong descriptive voice help to round out the author and make him a likable, sympathetic personality.
Though the many boardroom discussions the book recounts can get a little repetitive, the author’s voice is engaging and personal enough to keep it interesting. The book’s strong linear structure fits nicely with the more well-known time line of the environmental movement, from the relative ignorance of the seventies to the increasing awareness today. It is easy to imagine a new generation of environmental pioneers taking over the business world in the pattern that Gottfried lays down in this book.
Gottfried’s point of view will fascinate any entrepreneur. Innovators struggling with ways to reconcile the demands of their work with the needs of the environment will find this accounting valuable, and it could be considered required reading for activists. --- By Foreword Reviews
About the Author
David Gottfried is known as the father of the global green building movement, founding both the World Green Building Council and the U.S. Green Building Council, which has done more for carbon mitigation than any other organization. He has two annual awards in his name, has published two memoirs, "Greed to Green" (2004), and "Greening My Life" (2010), and has appeared on KQED/NPR with Michael Krasny, NPR Radio, Discover Channel's Renovation Nation, ABC News, Metropolitan Home, in the Jerusalem Post, Australia's Financial Times, and dozens of other publications.
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Back to the mid-1980s, Gottfried has been influencing the entire construction industry to green its practices. Without him, we would not have the amazing network of Green Building Councils around the world, which have certified hundreds of thousands of committed architects, builders, and product manufacturers as green. We also wouldn’t have the set of LEED standards now used to certify green buildings in 140 countries. The standards his organization developed are now required by numerous local government agencies, and the planet is noticeably greener because of this organization.
In a siloed universe of specialists, each with their own professional organization, Gottfried and his colleagues created the first green building organization that was open to every sector, discipline, and size. It welcomed Fortune 100 companies, and also solo practitioners with small consultancies. It was open to profit-making businesses and nonprofit membership organizations. This strategy allowed agents of change to dialog with executives at companies often attacked by environmentalists, and get them to see the wisdom of a green approach.
GBCs have directly enabled hundreds of thousands of buildings to be built or renovated in more environmentally friendly ways:
As of October 2013, there were 56,000 LEED Commercial and Neighborhood Development projects (totaling just over eleven billion square feet) and another 119,615 residential units using LEED. USGBC [just one of the GBCs worldwide] also had about 190,000 LEED Accredited and Green Associate professionals.
There are now Green Building Councils in approximately one hundred countries with about two dozen green building rating systems. Some 63 percent of global new construction starts are planning green projects for 2105. [p. 230]
And that, in turn, has helped to bring down the prices, so that green advocates can now make a very successful case for going green on economic grounds. Gottfried notes that the price of doing a green commercial building dropped 38 percent from 1995-2003 (p. 131)—and that workers in green buildings tended to be 6 to 16 percent more productive (p. 132). Oh yes, and when these buildings change hands, they fetch about 11 percent higher prices than comparable nongreen buildings (pp. 245-246).
Much of the early LEED construction took place in California, and Gottfried posits that this may be why California was able to hold energy use more-or-less constant for the last 40 years, even as the US as a whole chewed up 50 percent more energy. This is especially remarkable, considering how many power-slurping massive computer installations have been installed to power California companies such as Google, Facebook, Apple, and Hewlett-Packard.
In Chapter 20, Gottfried lays out USGBC’s 9-step success formula:
1. Dream big
2. Create an inclusive, noncompetitive model
3. Exercise leadership
4. Recruit volunteers
5. Demonstrate business savvy
6. Achieve LEED
7. Have a strong sense of purpose
8. Collect data and using it to create change
9. Pay attention to the lessons (from both the successes and the challenges)
Near the end of the book, Gottfried build on Amory Lovins’ concept of negawatts and negabarrels (the energy we save through deep conservation) to discuss “negafootprint,” extending to carbon, energy, water—which he sees as crucial in the coming years, as I do—and waste (p. 270).
And on page 276, he calls for businesses to take advantage of the massive “global business opportunity” in green building—advice that the entire construction industry would do well to heed.
What is it like to be a visionary and a change maker responsible for starting an organization and a movement with the potential to save our planet? David Gottfried chronicles his twenty years of being at the forefront of the green building industry in his third book, Explosion Green. With great inspiration and self-deprecating humor, the book guides the reader to understand his entire journey from consumerism to sustainability.
After graduating from Stanford University at twenty-two, Gottfried’s cousins offered him a position in their prosperous real estate development company in Washington, D. C. Affable and a quick study, it wasn’t long before Gottfried was dressed in expensive suits making deals, driving a BMW, and living the good life. In that environment the measurement of success was financial and Gottfried was quickly on his way to achieving it. After ten years of witnessing construction site waste, toxic materials in new offices, and unhealthy buildings, Gottfried began studying ways to incorporate environmentally safe elements into building while saving energy, water, and the landfills. In the beginning his new green epiphany awarded him a pillow on a friend’s couch in San Francisco. But when you dream the big dream and are willing to put all of your focus, passion, resources, and time into making the vision a reality, the stars line up. The magic within Gottfried appeared.
The world population has crossed the seven billion mark, and as our Earth heats up to holocaust levels, governments are finally realizing, thanks to David, that sustainable and regenerative construction is necessary for survival. David was the spark that ignited the creation of the U.S. Green Building Council and the World Green Building Council, now with GBC’s in over 100 countries. With the assistance of human capital, he created LEED, the most widely utilized green building rating system on the planet. To many, David is considered the father of the green initiative, yet he is quick to give credit to his numerous collaborators, including the wise advice from his own father who advocated: “Do not confuse efforts with results.”
Gottfried writes in a friendly, flowing tone that invites you to share his struggles, successes, ups, downs, twists, and turns as he regenerates a brave new world. His patience, determination, and perseverance will inspire you to embrace change and strive to make a difference. President Bill Clinton sums up the important message best with his Explosion Green cover testimonial: “Our future depends on integrating sustainability into all we do…David Gottfried’s pioneering work is proof that we can do it, and Explosion Green tells us how.”
Explode, go green, regenerate.
Cynthia Brian is a New York Times best selling author, TV/Radio host, and Founder/Executive Director of the literacy charity, Be the Star You Are!® empowering young people to read, lead, and succeed. [...]; [...]