Mahesh Ramanujam, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Green Building Council, is a global leader on sustainable residential and commercial building. Below, he answers a few questions on where he sees opportunities for investment in the future.

  1. What’s your main takeaway from IFC’s Green Buildings report? How could it make a difference in accelerating the development of more green buildings?

    The report clearly underscores what the global green building community has been saying for a long time – that green buildings are good for people, are good for the planet and are good for profit. And as we look to the future, it is clear just how important green buildings are.

    In the coming years, millions of people and trillions of dollars in assets will be at risk due to climate-related risks. The most vulnerable among us will be hit the hardest and with close to 50 percent of the world’s population still living below the poverty line, it is clear we need to act now to ensure a sustainable and resilient future. As builders, it is our responsibility to ensure sustainable and equitable development is always prioritized in all developments to ensure we can raise the living standard for all.

  1. Where do you see the greatest potential for investment in green buildings in the next five years? Why in that country or region? What are the dynamics that will take green building to the next level?

    The Asia Pacific, Latin America and African regions offer some of the greatest potential and challenges for green building investments. Many countries in these regions are in their early stages of economic development – and are grappling with how to grow their economies while also raising the standard of living for their citizens.

    Many citizens in these regions don’t have access to very basic needs for themselves and their families like affordable energy, clean water and air, basic sanitation and access to healthcare. These countries can go a long way towards raising quality of life for their citizens and reap enormous benefits by ensuring their development efforts incorporate sustainable design. If more countries in these regions were to take this approach, it would go a long way in catalyzing the transformation of both the new and existing building sectors – through education, awareness, evolution of the supply chain and mainstreaming of green investments.

    In order to take the green buildings to the next level, we must continue to clearly communicate how green buildings can help save costs, improve value, attract new capital and improve the social and economic health of their communities.

  2. Are there any developers or banks that you believe deserve credit for innovative programs or initiatives that has spurred more investment in green buildings?

    In 1993, the U.S. Green Building Council was formed by a diverse group of members that spanned industries – from designers, contractors, real estate executives, developers, product manufacturers, owners and more. The entire building design, construction, operations, manufacturing and reuse continuum was in the room in one way or another. And thanks to their leadership – and the contribution of other green building certification systems like EDGE – today, green building has grown into a trillion dollar industry. It would be hard to name a few, as I believe everyone in the global green building community has made unique contributions to this story in some way. However, at the recent Greenbuild Atlanta conference in November, I had the honor of presenting three companies with Leadership Awards for their work around ESG: Hermisferio Sul Investimentos, Commonwealth Partners and Oxford Properties Group. These three companies achievements around LEED and GRESB are excellent examples of the progress our community is making around increasing investments in green building.