A higher standard of living starts with a higher standard of storytelling. To create a better world than the one we inherited, we have to dig deeper, look at life through someone else’s lens, ask questions of people who don’t look like us, don’t live where we live, don’t experience everything the same way we do.

We do that by making sure, every single day, we aren’t promoting our values in a vacuum. If we want people to believe in our work, and believe that a better and more sustainable future is in our reach, then we have to make ourselves vulnerable, too. We have to open our own hearts and minds first.

In this new year, we’re taking a closer look at how sustainability champions first began their journeys in environmental action and how they continue their work today. Just as every hero has an origin story, or “Storigin,” so too do the champions of the green building community.

Every single person’s story matters. And when you feel that about yourself, that you have a right to matter, to live a healthy, sustainable life, you will want that for others.

Check out these stories from across the country, and then share your own with us. We might feature you here or on our social channels.

Living Standard

The stakes are higher, the challengers are greater, but so are the opportunities.

Laurie Kerr | LK Policy Lab, New York, NY

“I want the cities that we have to outlive us.”

George Bandy Jr. | Mohawk Group, Atlanta, GA

“How do I begin to engage all communities to understand that sustainability is critically important?”

Carmen Yulin Cruz | Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico

“The human spirit soars real high in a crisis.”

Mahesh Ramanujam | President and CEO of U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, DC

“I continue to recognize why it is important to pay it forward.”

David Chiesa | S&C Electric Company, Chicago, IL

“Your heart goes out to these people and you want to make their lives better.”

Kathie Tovo | Mayor Pro Tem, Austin City Council, District 9

“If we design spaces that are wonderful, it does make people healthier and happier.”

Paul Pabst | S&C Electric Company, Chicago, IL

“I think a company plays a huge role in improving someone’s quality of life and their living standards.”

Maria Ortega | NS Bluescape Coated Products North America, California

“LEED plays a very big role … in terms of contributing to a healthier environment for businesses and education and the occupants within those buildings.”

Josh Radoff | WSP, Colorado

“Every single inch of the building had something that was related to health or workplace experience.”

David Chiesa | S&C Electric Company, Illinois

“It’s not just the way you build it, but it’s the way you execute it and the way you sustain it.”

George Bandy | Jr., Mohawk Corporation, Georgia

“They’ve seen us create sustainable platforms inside the organization.”

Laurie Kerr | LK Policy Lab, New York

“Prior to USGBC anybody could say anything whether their building was green. By codifying it, they enabled green building to have traction.”

Sarah Talkington | Commercial Austin Energy Green Building Team, Texas

“It’s proof that sustainability works.”

Kimberly Lewis | U.S. Green Building Council, Washington, DC

“This is a conversation that’s going to make herself and her children’s lives better.”

Annie Perkins | Sustainable Forestry Initiative

“Vibrant timber cities really bring wood and nature back into where we are in urban settings.”

Rami Vagal | Mohawk Group, Atlanta, GA

“One of the beautiful things about hand printing is that you have to think about the ripple effect that it can generate.”

Gina Lamotte | EcoRise, Austin, TX

“Young people right now will be charged with redesigning the world in which we live.”

Mayor Michael Hancock & Jerry Tinianow | Denver, CO

“This certification by USGBC really addresses the key elements that we believe are going to be important in combating climate change.”

Rami Vagal | Mohawk Group, Atlanta, GA

“What we’re trying to do is train these students on the importance of renewable energy and sustainability early on in their childhood.”

How a recycling center is changing lives

Mike Carey, Orange Coast College Recycling Center

Jerry Tinianow | Denver, CO

“We spend too much time in our society measuring things in terms of economics and dollars, and gross domestic product, things like that — and I really think that the most important measure is human happiness.”

Clayton Bartczak | Ambient Energy, Denver, CO

“It’s about helping people change their mind about what’s possible