An Open Letter to @USGBC: Do Not Steal #GreenBuild From #SanDiego In 2016 For The Political Ambitions Of Mayor Garcetti

RE: Don't Take GreenBuild 2016! San Diego is Truly the Future of Sustainability & Los Angeles Needs To Wait In Line.

Although you may think that San Diego is a city of passive aggressive beach bums, we will simply not overlook your attempt to stifle our long-awaited turn to host GreenBuild. GreenBuild, for those who are not fully aware, is the world's largest annual conference and exposition dedicated to the green building industry. David Gottfried, an original founder and founding President of the United States Green Building Council in San Diego, took a big risk to certify the Ridgehaven Building in our city (not LA), which is greatly overlooked as an original seed for this entire movement. Much like David, I moved to San Diego to found my green career—I believed that, if David could succeed in San Diego, I could too. For other young entrepreneurs advocating for sustainability, the influence of David’s project was profound, because it put history makers into motion beyond the confines of trendy Los Angeles. San Diego was destined to host GreenBuild and 2016 is finally our moment!

I saw a Facebook post on April 3rd at 3:36pm stating that Matt Petersen, the outgoing President of Global Green USA and now staffer for the Mayor of Los Angeles, was proud to announce that: Mayor Garcetti Hosts President Clinton at City Hall; Announces GreenBuild Coming to LA In 2016. I nearly fell out of my chair. How could Matt and his colleagues eagerly deprive the San Diego green economy of such an honor? What about our efforts to advance sustainability into the mainstream consciousness of three million people? 

Many of us started at the bottom in San Diego and endured pressure from critics stating that green building was a fad, a trend, a fluke that would go away—our city is now behind us 100%! And, we have quietly waited for our turn to host GreenBuild. Austin in 2002. Pittsburg in 2003. Portland in 2004. Atlanta in 2005. Denver in 2006. Chicago in 2007. Boston in 2008. Phoenix in 2009. Chicago in 2010. Toronto in 2011. San Francisco in 2012. Philadelphia in 2013 and New Orleans in 2014. I am sorry Matt and Mayor Garcetti, but disregarding us and our legacy of hard work will not go unnoticed. Do the Super Bowl planners simply decide to change venues mid-stream and start fresh in another city? How about the Olympics or World Cup hosts? So, if you are attempting to overshadow our glory for your own, I am asking my city to stand behind me once again. 

You need to play nice in the sandbox and wait your turn. Press releases stating you want Los Angeles to be the greenest city in the United States are just that—press releases. How about trying to beat San Diego in having more installed residential solar than other cities? Or supporting the largest Earth Fair in the world and climate science that's replicated across the globe? More small organic farms than us or more clean technology companies, investments, and innovation?

San Diego residents have just as much right to host GreenBuild as their Los Angeles counterparts, and our green buildings are the same green plus certified in silver, gold, and platinum. Our LEED APs are equally as passionate and our green builders just as celebrated. The citizens of San Diego are just as healthy and environmentally conscious in adopting electric cars, local organic food, green products and materials, renewable energy, and adolescent education. 

What is so appalling and disturbing to me about this complete disregard for glorious San Diego is the equal disregard for our citizens and contributions. If this move occurs, the negative economic impact on our city will be disastrous and will undermine green initiatives and the adoption of green products, services, tourism, and cuisine. The loss of hotel taxes alone will be staggering and the impact on the local job market will result in loss of demand.

I sincerely challenge our new Mayor and old I-Mayor to stand up for San Diego and make a bold statement regardless of the controversy that may ensue.

The city of Los Angeles is not immune to political pressure—neither are the U.S. GreenBuilding Council or its President, Rick Fradrezzi. So, why am I so upset? I am not a LEED AP, however I started from the bottom in 2006, and today own a highly regarded yet small advertising agency with BIG plans for 2016. I am also not your average sustainability advocate. I am a minority presenting an industry that desperately needs more women and people of color to influence for the green movement and inspire "green for everybody,” including the poor and disadvantaged.

My weapons of choice to fight the good fight are better storytelling and better advertising. Let’s remove ads with a simple reference to “sustainability” or strategically placed photos of flowers and children. Instead, lead with a real, sophisticated content strategy based on support for big data and showcasing minorities and Spanish language translation. I push feverishly for mobile advertising, native advertising, social media marketing and digital first strategies every time I meet with a decision maker in any green Industry. I recently introduced a large nationwide brand into new territory with a first ever Twitter chat to engage with a legacy base of 17,000 Twitter followers. I publically advocate for green businesses and urge their executives to make social selling a major priority.

We are San Diego! We support the Qualcomm W building. We are home to the world's first LEED certified Marina, Sun Harbor, and tons of other major projects and residences. Yes, that trend will continue whether San Diego hosts GreenBuild or not, but our storytelling for Green Building has not advanced nationally. Older advertising campaign tactics have not evolved with the technology around us. My individually planned contribution to the 2016 show included a digital-first breakthrough within the green building industry—proving solid value and expertise leading up to 2016.

My ultimate goal is for every expo company to explore the opportunity to go digital and transform marketing and sales functions. They could energize the green community via large digital walls and constantly push the boundaries of off-site marketing and VIP events. I also plan to unleash technology to target hundreds of thousands of smartphone and tablet device users who engage with high volume apps and mobile websites. I would digitally connect budding brands with a hungry social media audience in ways that once seemed impossible.

The taste makers and risk takers in San Diego all have a stake in molding and shaping the future of our green city. We choose different platforms yet share the same goal. GreenBuild 2016 is my platform and true leaders will never back down or be quiet.

I'm not called the Fresh Prince of Cleantech for nothing! 

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