As President and CEO, Templeton will direct USGBC’s and GBCI’s efforts to increase the reach and impact of green building and green business market transformation activities around the world. He will lead the execution of strategic plans and partnerships and will accelerate the global adoption of practices that improve human health, environmental well-being, and quality of life.
Prior to his appointment to President and CEO, Templeton served in senior leadership roles at USGBC where he led global market development, established strategic partnerships, and directed conferences, LEED training and programs, and green building research initiatives. He was also the first President of GBCI from 2009 to 2012.
Outside of USGBC and GBCI, Templeton served as President and CEO of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute from 2018 to 2021. He began his 25-year career as a Program Manager and Environmental Planner on international development projects that promoted sustainable land use and resource management best practices.
Templeton holds a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University. He currently serves as a board member of the World Green Building Council and Sustentabilidad paraMexico.
Having spent his entire career improving public health and the environment in communities around the world, Templeton recently offered his wisdom and insights into the world of green building.
What first sparked your interest in green building, and how has your passion for the environment helped lead you to where you are today?
I was really very fortunate to begin my professional career working in international development projects and trying to find solutions to environmental and health issues in communities around the globe. I worked on really trying to overcome resource management issues in different scenarios globally, and that work just really highlighted the need for defining best practices and measuring impacts and making sure that we were accomplishing the outcomes and the benefits that we were trying to achieve. In working in such diverse environments around the globe, I realized that that didn’t really exist at that point of time and that's how I got involved with USGBC and their work to define leadership and to define best practices through the development of these standards. So I got involved very early, and I’m certainly tremendously proud that our work now is continuing to influence development practices around the globe for the better.
Have you encountered any challenges in your career, and how did you overcome them?
Honestly, there have been challenges, but that's really what we're here to do is to address those challenges and just really make sure that we're addressing issues that face us as an industry and as a nation and as a planet. So it really has been about how is it that we can mobilize action most effectively and make sure that we’re making progress through those actions. I've been fortunate to work with brilliant people across the industry and across the planet, and it really has been leaning into those relationships to identify who has come up with better solutions or better ways of doing things that we can help scale and bring to market.
What goals do you hope to accomplish during your time as President and CEO?
I'm tremendously proud of everything that we've achieved over the past three decades, and I’m looking to build on that momentum and those past successes to accelerate the pace of progress and affect change at the scale that we need to. So that means working with cities and communities and companies to meet their climate and sustainability goals across their portfolios and ensuring that the benefits of green building reach all members of our communities. We want to meet challenges with the same sense of urgency, but equipped with the solutions that we’ve been championing over this period of time and making sure that we bring them to conventional practice.
How do you think the adoption of green building practices will benefit or change the world?
The equation is pretty simple. Buildings are responsible for over 40 percent of all carbon emissions around the world. So we need to make sure that we are addressing that aggressively and all of the opportunities that are presented across the built environment, from the structure to buildings to communities. We have those solutions that are able to deliver our buildings that are not only lowering emissions, but are also helping ensure that they're more resilient to the impacts of climate change and healthier and more able to serve all communities, especially those that are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change.
What advice would you give to companies looking to adopt more green building practices into their construction projects?
We need to address the challenges in front of us, but the awareness of those challenges is reaching a greater number than it has before. Companies, communities, and organizations around the globe are looking for solutions right now, and so being able to turn to our industry and the expertise that exists is an incredible advantage. I encourage our entire industry to lean into this, to be the ones that can help us overcome the challenges that we're facing. The benefits of green building are known and proven, and we can have green buildings that are good for the environment and make good sense for both the economy and for people. Green buildings are reducing carbon emissions, energy, and waste, conserving water, and lowering the health impacts to occupants. I encourage everyone who is working in the design and construction and operations of buildings — as well as cities and communities — to be looking at how it is that they can contribute to those solutions and be the ones that are providing those solutions to the rest of the world.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.