From USGBC student volunteer at the University of Central Florida, to being a part of USGBC’s Emerging Professionals programming, to serving as the City of Orlando’s Director of Sustainability and Resiliency, Chris Castro is on the ground creating a healthier future for Florida.  

2020 USGBC Leadership Award recipient, Chris has held sustainability and energy-related positions with the US Department of Energy, awarded a Delegate for the National Wildlife Federation and the Clinton Global Initiative, selected as a ‘Global Shaper’ by the World Economic Forum, and is the co-founder and chairman of Florida Green Chamber of Commerce, the first state-wide business chamber aimed at creating sustainable business practices.  

Chris was also involved in the citywide sustainability efforts that led to Orlando’s 2020 LEED for Cities Gold certification — a recognition also made possible by a generous grant from the Bank of America. He has also been at the forefront of the city’s efforts to decrease carbon emissions by expanding renewable energy and electric vehicles, implementing green building policies, championing infrastructure projects that prioritize bicyclists and pedestrians, distributing over 9,000 free trees to residents for their homes, and increasing opportunities for urban farming, community gardens, and greater access to local food.  

When it comes to upholding the pillars of USGBC — and to creating a future with healthy people, places, and economies — access is the whole ball game.    

And Chris knows that better than most. Thanks to his efforts, Orlando is working on a resilient and equitable driven smart cities plan and new initiatives such as free composting, fleet farming, and incentivizing renting electric vehicles to millions of visitors, and accelerating adoption of EVs.  

What Chris’s work has shown us is that LEED inspires leadership. Through Orlando’s LEED Gold certification process, one can see a profound collaborative spirit and profound personal and emotional investments that are made in the name of creating a city-wide higher standard of living.   

To see someone who started as a USGBC volunteer making tangible differences in his community is moving to say the least. The work ahead is unfathomable in scope, but Chris’s wholehearted belief in USGBC’s worth in the world, and the city’s robust commitment to healthier building standards in a time when it’s needed most, is simply inspirational.