“Congratulations, you’re now a FLEED!”

This is what my good friend in the design world exclaimed upon learning of my elevation to the 2014 class of LEED Fellows.

She made me laugh, and I must admit, “FLEED” rolls off the tongue a little better than “FAIA for AIA Fellows.”  And did you notice the most important part of that story? My friend had associated the LEED Fellow designation as being equal to that of an AIA Fellow.

Before the first class of LEED Fellows was announced in 2011, I had been thinking about what a great idea it was to have a credential that represents career-long contributions to the field of green building.  I was a part of the initial USGBC meetings that were held to organize a higher level of LEED AP. Little did I know that I would one day have the honor bestowed on me!

When I was notified that I had been selected, I was elated and grateful for all of the opportunities that I’d had to pave a path in sustainability that allowed me to be my true authentic self. I looked at all of the years of hard work and thought, “I have truly accomplished something unique that others will be able to build upon for years to come.”

This year I have the honor of once again being a member of the LEED Fellow review committee (I also served in 2016). And I find myself wondering what future LEED Fellows might be working on today that will eventually earn them this esteemed designation. And as I dig through the applications, here’s what will be on my mind:


I am most motivated by my peers when they are innovating and establishing new baselines for performance. Is the role of a LEED Fellow to perfectly execute on a LEED certification, or is it something more disruptive? And how has their work helped to shape the future of USGBC and GBCI?


The next generation of LEED Fellows includes individuals who have been battered by conversations around scorecards, checklists, and questions about “LEED fatigue.” Those who have moved the needle forward and tied sustainable design to more than just verification outcomes get my vote.


I don’t want to reward checklist mastery – I will recognize people who have built a career on their passion. My vote is for people who educate the market and create higher-level awareness of the global issues that LEED has brought to the mainstream. Those who capture existing building stock in the sustainability conversation, and have demonstrated that sustainability is for everyone – those dreamers, too, get my vote.

Each generation of LEED Fellow has their challenges, and also surprises us with their accomplishments. The first ten years of classes represented a wave of early adopters. The next decade will represent the innovators. I look forward to being surprised by what you imagine and make real.

What do you think the role of the LEED Fellow is? My co-Fellow at Paladino, Brad Pease, had a challenge for LEED Fellows in his post, which you should read, here.

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