Sep 10, 2010 12:00 PM  PDT

From the Executive Director’s Desk: Thanking Donald Simon

Build It Green wouldn’t be where it is today without the driving force of Donald Simon.  This month, I’d like to pay a small tribute to his service as Build It Green’s first board president, and tell you a bit about his next ambitions as he cedes the presidency for the first time in six years.

Donald, who specializes in construction law, green building and environmental sustainability at the Oakland law firm Wendel Rosen Black and Dean, initially became involved with Build It Green because he saw an opportunity to benefit the environment through market transformation.  An environmental activist who went to law school to “sue the bad guys,” Donald says he has found that the best way to bring about lasting change is to change how people do things.  “The building industry is the most consumptive industry out there,” he says.  “If we can change the construction industry, we can change any industry.”  Donald helped co-found the Northern California chapter of the US Green Building Council to focus on the building industry’s commercial sector, and poured his efforts into Build It Green to bring change to the residential sector.  By demonstrating the profitability of green building, instead of fighting conventional practices, Donald has found a more successful strategy for bringing about a real paradigm shift.  “This is what I was born to do,” he says.

Donald will continue to serve on Build It Green’s board of directors, but now that his presidential duties are being taken over by Michael McCutcheon, he is free to focus his full attention on his next major endeavor:  Supporting Jerry Brown for governor and the urgent campaign against Proposition 23“As far as our industry is concerned,” Donald says, “this election is more critical that the presidential election.  Everything the green building movement has been working for over the last decade is at stake.”
If the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) is suspended – which is what Prop 23 and Meg Whitman both would do – two bad things will happen.  First, it will unravel climate protection, because there’s no chance that Congress will pass a federal climate change law if the nation’s environmental leader reverses course.  And without legislation imposing a price on carbon, the market for low carbon green building and clean tech solutions will plummet, and will cause investors to flee to other financial opportunities.  That is why Donald will be working hard over the next several months to mobilize the green building and clean tech industries in this critical November election to preserve our hard-fought gains for green business and the environment. (Read more about Donald’s efforts and find out how you can get involved.)

Build It Green is fortunate to have had such a great champion of sustainable building practices at our helm, and we are glad to continue to benefit from Donald’s support, including invaluable pro bono legal services.  I hope you will join me in congratulating him on his successes so far, and supporting him in this next crucial campaign.

Catherine A. Merschel
Executive Director
Build It Green

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