Ward Hubbell: "The most important public policy issue that exists"

This is another installment in my series of miniprofiles of sustainability-minded people. The Green Building Initiative is a nonprofit working to hasten the adoption of sustainable-building practices, and administers the Green Globes, a tool for assessing and rating green-building practices, comparable to the more well-known LEED program. To recap, the profiles are "mini" not only because they're short, but because all the questions are 10 words or less, and the answers are requested to match.

WARD HUBBELL, 48, Lake Oswego, Ore., President, Green Building Initiative, Portland, Ore.
Why are you doing this? “Finding a better way to power our society and our buildings is probably the most important public policy issue that exists.”
Green epiphany: “Witnessing the gas lines back in the Carter years and wondering if I was ever going to be able to drive a car.”
A sustainability practice you’ve recently undertaken at home: “I started composting in the back yard.”
Is anything wrong with having multiple green-building standards? “No. it’s preferable. For one reason, there is a multitude of buildings, budgets, and objectives that one set of standards can’t accommodate. The other thing is, having multiple credible standards creates a competitive dynamic that benefits everybody.”
The most important thing individuals can do: “Mind their own footprint. If everyone did that, the world would be a very different place.”
What don’t builders understand? “I don’t have an answer to that. I think builders will build what we want them to build.”
What don’t clients understand? “That getting from here to there is going to require near-term sacrifice.”
The one thing you wish everyone would just get right? “People’s NIMBY tendencies that get in the way of progress.”
Are we going to make it? “Oh yeah. Just in my lifetime, we’ve had a lot of very scary scenarios that we have understood and problem-solved, and I don’t think this is any different.”
What’s going to turn the tide? The biggest barrier right now is the economics. When the price of the status quo exceeds the price of doing things differently, we’ll make the kinds of strides we all want to make. We saw that briefly a year ago with $4 gasoline.”

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