A statement from president and CEO, Mahesh Ramanujam: Reflecting on 12 years of transformational leadership

Mahesh Ramanujam
September 7, 2021

Over the last three decades, the green building community has proven that progress and profit can go hand-in-hand as we endeavor to create a higher, healthier living standard for every single person on Earth.

I am incredibly proud of USGBC, GBCI, Arc, the people we serve, and the incredible staff and volunteers who make our work possible — and it has been the honor of my professional life to build USGBC, GBCI and LEED into the premier green building organizations and rating system on the planet. After twelve years, and as I round out this final year of my term as President and CEO, I have decided to chart my next professional chapter and will be leaving the  organization this fall, on November 1, 2021. 

In some ways it has felt like the right time for a while, and in other ways it is inspired by remaining healthy and having a positive outlook after experiencing the loss of many friends and loved ones during the pandemic in my home country of India. Either way, the time has come to begin my next adventure.

Nothing makes me prouder than the fact that we have endured and continue to endure the challenges of a global pandemic without any layoffs — all while maintaining a strong balance sheet, continuing to certify millions of square feet to LEED standards, and preparing cities and communities with new tools for safe re-entry into buildings around the world.

The most rewarding part of my tenure over more than 12 years at USGBC and GBCI, including five as its president and CEO, has been the countless relationships I’ve built with people across the globe — people who share my passion and commitment to growing both a non-profit and for-profit enterprise that promises to improve our collective quality of life for generations to come. I am also tremendously proud of USGBC, GBCI, and Arc’s next generation of staff leadership with whom I have worked to chart our collective vision for the future.

USGBC has an opportunity to expand upon that singular camaraderie and compassion we have in this field, and to continue building on the important progress we have made. I’m proud of what has been achieved during my time at USGBC. From reaching more than 107,000 LEED registrations and certifications, to LEED’s expansion into 182 countries and territories, to engaging nearly 205,000 LEED professionals, to having 21,000 projects across 135 countries and territories measuring their sustainability performance in Arc, to 273 global cities and communities participating in LEED, not only have carbon numbers dropped, but mindsets and understandings have evolved to a point where new visions for the future can take root.

As we emerge and learn from the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, it’s the right time for our work to evolve. LEED targets have provided a starting point, and I believe that now it is imperative that the built environment reach net zero and net positive as quickly as possible to prevent climate disaster. This will be the focus of my next ventureto do everything in my capacity to help us realize that vision. And wherever and however in the future I can help USGBC, GBCI, Arc, and all of you as our paths cross, I will and I look forward to doing that.

Some additional announcements will soon follow mine, as both Board of Directors will keep everyone apprised of plans for transitional leadership and a search for my successor. We have a lot to accomplish in these next couple of months as I wrap up, and I look forward to helping the Boards with a smooth transition.

I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to serve as COO and CEO and I wish my colleagues every success in delivering a future where better buildings equal better lives.