USGBC’s California Best Buildings Challenge More than Doubles to 13 Companies

Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chairman of the U.S. Green Building Council unveiled new participants on-stage at the W Hotel, San Francisco, during executive lead-up event to Greenbuild International Conference and Expo

San Francisco, Calif. – (Sept. 20, 2012) – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and USGBC’s Northern California Chapter (USGBC-NCC) announced that 13 companies in California have committed to the California Best Buildings Challenge, totaling more than six million square feet of collective building space. Bayer, Integral Group, Lockheed Martin, Method, Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Webcor Builders, and XL Construction join existing Challenge participants Adobe, Genentech, Google, Prudential Real Estate Investors, SAP, and Zynga.

Inspired by the White House’s Better Buildings Challenge that seeks 20 percent energy reductions by 2020, participating companies of the California Best Buildings Challenge commit to pursue 20 percent reductions in energy, water, and waste in their existing commercial buildings in just two years. Read about it in the SF Business Times.

“California companies have always been trail blazers,” said Dan Geiger, Executive Director, USGBC-NCC. “When President Obama initiated the Better Buildings Challenge, we thought California firms could go further with the California Best Buildings Challenge. In the lead up to Greenbuild coming to its birthplace San Francisco, these firms are stepping up to pursue aggressive environmental goals in a landmark accelerated time frame – and most importantly, to inspire others to do the same.”

USGBC-NCC initiated and developed the Challenge, which was launched by USGBC and USGBC-NCC with President Clinton at the closing plenary event of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America), a meeting focused on finding solutions for economic recovery in the United States. The California Best Buildings Challenge was selected by CGI America as an exemplary approach to addressing challenges in the clean electricity and efficiency space. Watch the launch; watch Rick Fedrizzi’s pre-launch announcement.

“Watching the California Best Buildings Challenge gain momentum and grow has been exciting, and cements the idea that green building and efficient business practices go hand-in-hand,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO and Founding Chairman, USGBC. “The Challenge participants are bona fide leaders in the sustainable business movement, and we hope California-based companies and beyond will follow suit.”

“Some of the companies are committing to pursue the Challenge in already very efficient, even LEED Platinum, buildings,” said Ashleigh Talberth of USGBC-NCC, Director, California Best Buildings Challenge. “This Challenge could kick start a new wave of unprecedented, cutting-edge sustainability.”

Today’s event was attended by 150 regional executives as part of USGBC-NCC’s Road to Greenbuild effort to build momentum for the largest industry conference in the world – Greenbuild International Conference and Expo – coming to San Francisco this Nov. 14 to 16. The luncheon featured a keynote address by Rick Fedrizzi, remarks by Dan Geiger, and an on-stage announcement lauding the new and initial California Best Buildings Challenge participants. Executives from the participating companies appeared on stage.

Quotes from participating firms:

Bayer Healthcare, Terry Hermiston, VP, Biologics Research US Site Head, US Innovation Center:
“At Bayer facilities throughout the world, sustainability shapes how we manage our business and plan for the future. Our manufacturing sites in the San Francisco Bay Area are recognized environmental leaders. Now, having recently established our U. S. Innovation Center in San Francisco, we look forward to taking actions that will meet the rigorous standards of the California Best Buildings Challenge. Thank you for giving us this opportunity!”

Genentech, Carla Boragno, Vice President of Site Services:
“As the founder of the biotechnology industry, Genentech is excited to be part of the California Best Buildings Challenge and we look forward to sharing best practices with other leading California companies. As we continually strive to create and deliver innovative medicines for patients, we also seek to employ new, more sustainable technologies and processes in order to minimize our impact on the environment.”

Google Inc., David Radcliffe, Vice President of Real Estate and Workplace Services:
“When it comes to greening our office buildings, we apply the same focus that we use for any of our products: put the user first. Improving the environmental performance of our buildings not only helps us reduce waste, save energy and water and improve indoor air quality, but also positively impacts the health and productivity of our employees around the world. Through our early participation in the California Best Buildings Challenge, we hope to inspire companies of all shapes and sizes to implement innovative approaches to reducing their environmental footprint.”

Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Matt Fust, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer:
“At Onyx, our focus is on innovation and putting people first – whether we are developing medicines to help patients with cancer, or using sustainable building practices to minimize our impact on the environment. Through the California Best Building Challenge, Onyx looks forward to joining other leading companies dedicated to creating a healthier environment for our communities and our employees for years to come.”

Prudential Real Estate Investors, Allen Smith, CEO:
“As a major investor in commercial real estate around the world, PREI is committed to our investors, our tenants, and each other to find creative, sustainable approaches to building, improving and managing property. We’re excited to be part of the California Best Buildings Challenge as it is an opportunity to demonstrate that commitment by bringing out the best in us while improving our environmental practices.”

SAP, Peter Graf, Chief Sustainability Officer:
“SAP is committed to developing innovations that help run operations more sustainably for ourselves and our customers. A key part of SAP’s sustainability leadership is our dedication to environmentally-sustainable buildings, including optimizing the efficiency of our existing buildings and when creating new buildings from the ground up. By participating in the California Best Buildings Challenge, all companies have an opportunity to demonstrate how they are driving sustainability into their core business strategy and communities.”

Webcor Builders, Phil Williams, Vice President of Technical Systems and Sustainability:
“As the region’s leading builder, sustainability is pivotal for Webcor’s designs, job sites, business practices, and research and development. Through a combination of experience and innovation, we are fundamentally committed to improving the quality of the built environment and collaboratively delivering this knowledge to the industry.”

XL Construction, Dave Beck, Vice President:
“XL Construction is excited to be joining the likes of Genentech, Google and Zynga in the California Best Buildings Challenge. As a builder committed to sustainability, we are always seeking better ways to serve our clients and communities. In challenging ourselves to meet the 20% reduction of energy, water, and waste in two years, we will be implementing strategies at home that we can then bring to our clients with living proof of efficacy and cost-effectiveness. We also hope to lead the industry in continuing to push the boundaries of efficiency and sustainable building.”

Zynga, Jim Morgensen, Vice President of Workplace:
“Zynga takes the challenge to reduce our environmental impact seriously and we are proud to be an inaugural participant of the California Best Buildings Challenge. We are committed to reducing the consumption of energy, water, and waste in our San Francisco headquarters building by 20% or more in two years. Zynga fundamentally believes that with innovation and diligence that we can achieve our commitment goals. We hope the Challenge will inspire other building owners and managers to do the same.”

About the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)
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 certification program, robust educational offerings, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates, the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, to be held this year Nov. 14-16 in San Francisco, and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @USGBC, and Facebook at

About USGBC-Northern California Chapter (USGBC-NCC)
USGBC-NCC is one of the largest USGBC Chapters in the country, with 22,000+ constituents, 10,000+ LEED accredited professionals, and more than five percent of the world’s LEED-certified square footage. The chapter hosts more than 150 annual events, workshops, and conferences with regional, national and international organizations throughout Northern California, and is the leading advocate for green building in the region.

The California Best Buildings Challenge is a signature initiative of USGBC-NCC’s Road to Greenbuild effort to build momentum for Greenbuild coming to the Northern California region. The Challenge is also part of USGBC-NCC’s larger strategic plan to raise awareness about the feasibility and critical importance of greening the existing building sector. For more information about the California Best Buildings Challenge, contact Ashleigh Talberth at or see

West Coast Commercial Real Estate News