The truth about LEED Fellowship is that those of us who have attained this honor have more in common than our LEED accreditation and passion for sustainability in the built environment.  The accomplishments that led to recognition in our diverse careers were possible because of key qualities that are not unique to LEEDers but rather to leaders.   We may have as much in common with the leading buildings we work on as we do with the leading LEEDers.


Sustainable buildings have flexible work spaces; multi-use rooms with flexible functionality. Sustainability leaders have flexible styles – there’s no “my way or the highway” in leadership, and we must excel when changing course quickly and innovating with our approaches.

Lead by influence rather than authority

Even with unprecedented projects like The Tower at PNC Plaza or the Brando Resort, there is no single design for a perfectly sustainable building. Every green building achievement invites the next generation of buildings to build upon what has been accomplished. Buildings inspire other buildings and set new markers for achievement like ENERGY STAR, CBECs, and GRESB.  Innovative building designs challenge convention and can forever change the way people think of a certain place in the world.

Similarly, leaders must build consensus and allow others to draw conclusions of their own. If we want to expand our reach and influence, we must coach rather than manage. Leadership in sustainability means that we put lots of brains on big problems and leaders guide rather than dictate. Leaders need to challenge thinking and heighten awareness of a perspective that perhaps has never been considered before.

Deliver business value

Buildings are business tools. They need to make money, one way or another. And sustainability leaders need to align innovative ideas to business value. Sustainability leaders need to be as well versed in the pro forma and Total Cost of Ownership as they are in LEED scorecards. You can design the greenest building in the world, but if it loses money for the owner, it’s not a success. Leaders need to bring sustainability and business performance together.

Dynamic versus static

Buildings are evaluated year-over-year to identify strengths and weaknesses. Commissioning and retro-commissioning are used to validate performance and unearth opportunities for improvement.

Leaders never stop learning. Our self-improvement is continual and the process of learning, failing, growing, teaching repeats infinitely throughout our careers.

Contextual and relational

Buildings are always considered in the context of their environment. Each building design is expected to participate in the overall experience of its place in the world. Leaders in our industry demonstrate our respect for others through our kinder approach to the environment and through our mutual commitment to each other. Our relationships are distinctly human, and our interconnectedness influences our success or failure.

Getting a LEED Fellowship is sort of like hanging a LEED Plaque on our CV. And don’t we say that the plaque isn’t the goal? It’s the back-check on performance. We at Paladino are harnessing leadership from the pool of LEED Fellows to drive performance after the LEED plaque! How do you define performance as you move past your LEED Fellow milestone?

I’ve joined my colleague and LEED Fellow Brad Pease in our call to LEED Fellows to join together and use our collective experience, influence, and capacity for innovation to DRIVE the next conversation in green building.

Congratulations to the 2017 class of LEED Fellows.  If you are heading to Greenbuild in Boston, take a moment to congratulate our new class – they will be the ones wearing the special LEED Fellow conference badge flag.

I’ll be at Greenbuild. Find me and let’s talk!



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