Committing to DEI Through GBU's Work

By Yogesh Saoji

Posted April 13, 2023

The Green Building United (GBU) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee was created in July 2020 to lead, coordinate, and report back on the work being conducted to implement GBU’s values across the organization. The creation of the DEI Committee was considered by the GBU Board as a necessity in order to truly embody our organization’s values and its mission of a healthy, sustainable, built environment for all. In December 2022, GBU’s Board adopted new by-laws making the DEI Committee a permanent part of GBU’s governance structure.

It is the committee’s belief that DEI work takes place at every level within GBU; from its Board of Directors and Committees, to its member communities, educational and networking events, programs and initiatives, and to our members themselves. DEI Committee members includes Board members, staff, and GBU members-at-large. All work together to ensure that the work is participatory and informed by different perspectives from across the broader community.  Since its creation, a key part of the committee’s organizational strategy includes the following objectives: 

1. to make continued progress on DEI, including organizational statements, commitments, and goals that have been set to date, and to guide strategy and goal setting.  

2. to improve the multicultural competency of the organization and its members.

yogesh saoji

In the last few years of its formation, the DEI Committee has continued to guide GBU, its programming, and initiatives through the lens of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by focusing on working with various committees and communities with a focus on the above two objectives and stated commitments. Although much remains to be done, the committee continues to chart its progress. Below, we outline a brief overview of some of the activities the committee has undertaken as well as highlight a few others that we are embarking upon.

Assessing the diversity of the GBU membership and its reach: The Committee collaborated with the GBU Staff to revamp the prior membership application form on the website to make membership more economically accessible and diverse; the GBU Board and DEI committee continue to work on this arena including increasing the diversity of its Board.

Multi-Cultural Organization Development (MCOD) Assessment and Survey: The Multi-cultural Organization (MCO) is an organization that seeks to improve itself or enhance its competitive advantage by advocating and practicing social justice and social diversity internally and externally to the organization. In the summer of 2019, before the formation of the DEI Committee, the GBU Board members participated in the retreat and a survey to assess GBU’s progress on advocating and practicing social diversity and justice. The survey results were used to expedite internal organization structures and external programming and the organization’s work through its activities.

Community Agreements: The DEI Committee developed Community Agreements as a collective vision for how we want to be in a relationship with one another. They are explicitly developed and enforced by the group and must represent a consensus. These are a framework for all GBU members, including the DEI Committee, and for GBU Community meetings, working groups, and volunteers.

Website Resources: The GBU Staff developed a list of relevant resources to help implement the DEI mission and commitments across the organization and for its members. The resource is continually updated.

Review of Actions and Priorities: With the feedback from committee members, GBU Staff, and its ongoing work through GBU, the DEI committee developed a list of actions and priorities with the intent to monitor or track the progress of various committee priorities. We are working on receiving feedback from the membership and will work on priorities for these actions. A few of the action areas include:  

  • Discussion of Best Practices: The DEI committee continues to review best practices by reviewing the work of other organizations and through the experiences of the work of its members. We regularly discuss and review these best practices in our monthly meetings and highlight relevant lessons from which to recommend to the GBU executive leadership, and Board for implementation.
  • Programming and Partnerships: The Committee continues to identify partnership and programming opportunities to expedite the implementation of our DEI goals across the GBU network. We are currently implementing DEI-focused process improvements and programming at GBU’s annual Sustainability Symposium and Groundbreaker Awards.
  • Equity and Community Leadership Groundbreaker Awards: GBU instituted a new Groundbreaker Award in 2022 to highlight the importance of environmental sustainability and commitment and success centering equity, environmental justice, and community priorities in the design and construction of our built environment. GBU highlighted this year’s nominations through its website and social media, including highlighting the work of this year’s winner.


We invite your thoughts and comments about how we can be more effective in implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion through actions focused on environmental sustainability and justice. As GBU undergoes the strategic planning process and Sustainability Symposium, the DEI Committee’s focus is on ensuring our objectives are centered in all activities of the GBU organization, including its various communities and committees. We welcome you to join this cause by joining GBU if you are not a member and invite you to join the DEI committee to help expand the DEI cause!

Yogesh Saoji is the current Chair of Green Building United's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

To learn more and join the DEI Committee, please contact Yogesh Saoji ( or Rich Freeh (  

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