Perspective On 2020

By Alex Dews

Posted December 31, 2020

I want to end this very strange year by expressing my deep appreciation for everyone in the Green Building United community, and sharing a little bit of my perspective on the year. 

 Ten months ago we were only beginning to grasp how much the pandemic was about to change the world, and while we can turn the page on 2020 tomorrow, we're all still making our way through an uncertain and difficult time. Like many of you, we've had to completely change the way we approach our work, and learn new ways of doing things as we go. I’m grateful that we were able to stay in close contact with so many of you to understand the landscape from your perspective, and to adapt and respond based on your feedback. We have been incredibly fortunate that most of what we do has continued as planned or transitioned effectively to a virtual format, and I'm keenly aware that this is only true because our community - of members and supporters, staff, and volunteers - stayed connected and engaged in our mission all year.

This year is mostly characterized by what we have lost,  and it will be some time before we can gather freely to take stock and adequately honor this collective experience. While we wait for that return to normalcy, I want to focus on making sure that some of the gains we've made become permanent. Emerging from the chaos of the early part of the year, the clear connection between public health and the built environment was elevated in our national discourse. The powerful social justice movements that emerged after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others lifted the veil on the pervasive racial inequality that still exists in this country. We will continue to focus on centering equity and inclusion in our work and to build stronger ties between the environmental sustainability and climate justice movements. We are proud to work alongside several partners who represent frontline communities in Philadelphia through the Housing Equity Repair and Electrification for Climate Justice (HERE4CJ) coalition, which we launched this year in partnership with Philly Climate Works. This work is just beginning, and the coalition holds tremendous promise for changing the way we build and repair housing and care for our most vulnerable communities in the face of a changing climate. 

The indoor environmental quality of schools - an issue long championed by the green building movement - remains a major news story today, and should continue to receive the attention and investment necessary to maintain safe and healthy learning environments for educators and their students.

In 2021, Green Building United will begin work with the School District of Philadelphia to address these issues in the context of compliance with Philadelphia’s newly passed Building Energy Performance Policy, and we will also continue to lead the Pathways to Green Schools program in Delaware. 

We have really missed seeing everyone face to face, and cannot wait to do it again soon. But we’ve also found that our community can be bigger and more inclusive with remote events, and with partners in different cities. We’re thinking a lot about how to integrate the positives of virtual gathering and information sharing with the irreplaceable value of human connection when meeting in person. As always, we'd love to hear your perspective as we plan the year ahead. 

I am so grateful to everyone who has supported our work during such a difficult year. I want to especially acknowledge our incredible staff for their creativity, patience, and persistence, and I’d also like to recognize our Board of Directors for their calm and careful leadership. 

So thanks, again, for being part of the Green Building United community. As a small nonprofit organization, we really do run on the generosity of our members and broader community of stakeholders. Thank you to everyone who has made a contribution already, and please consider donating today if you are in a position to do so. 

Thank you, 

alex dews signature 190px

Alex Dews, Executive Director

Legacy Partners

Platinum Partners

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