Rob Watson is an international leader in market transformation, circular economy, sustainable materials management, and green buildings. Watson is known as the “Founding Father of LEED.” Under Rob’s direction, LEED became the largest and fastest-growing international green building standard. Author Thomas Friedman called Rob “one of the best environmental minds in America.” In 2019, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine recognized Mr. Watson as one of the “25 Most Influential Alumni” in the College’s 250-year history.

Watson is a Principal with Upland Road, LLC, which develops eco-industrial campuses around a disruptive technology and business model that will revolutionize the global materials management industry by separating, diverting, and recycling up to 95% of municipal mixed waste that is collected in one bin.

Rob is also the Founder and Co-Chair of the SWEEP (Solid Waste Environmental Excellence Performance) Standard, a system of market transformation standards geared to move the waste industry toward sustainability.

Previously, Watson launched ECON Group and EcoTech International to implement cutting-edge lifecycle-optimized LEED projects in the US and China.

Watson was a Senior Scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for 21 years and received the 2013 International Conservation Award from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. In 2011, he was an international Zayed Energy Future Award semi-finalist & was profiled on CNN International. Watson was the first foreigner honored for Green Building Innovation by the Chinese Ministry of Construction in 2005 and received the first-lifetime achievement award from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2002.

Mr. Watson is an Adjunct Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and has an MBA from Columbia University and a MS from UC Berkeley. He is married to Green Schools Alliance Founder Margaret Howard Watson and has a 23-year-old son, Max.

Show Highlights

  • Rob Watson, the Founding Father of LEED shares his stories and expertise on making a difference in the industry. 
  • The ability to grasp complex systems, understand how they’re put together, and how to change them. 
  • The curve balls are thrown from the industry and how to adjust your swing to support and create systems that work. 
  • Rob breaks down the SWEEP standard as “LEED for solid waste.”
  • Creating a structure where value is captured by providing: buildings as a service. 
  • The problem of the industry that the USGBC needs to be focusing on to transform and deliver sustainability that has true value. 
  • The development of eco-industrial campuses that recycle 90-95% of everything.
  • Smart centers sustainable materials and advanced recovery technology.
  • Be part of “Humanity Inc. and a subsidiary of Planet Co.” by being systems thinking, but with a futurist mindset.
  • AI could possibly be the seed of our salvation.
  • Beyond tweaking LEED. We need to figure out how to deliver the Living Building Challenge and LEED Zero in a cost-effective way.
  • The need for radical confidence and a Star Trek moment before 2200.

Get the episode transcript here!!


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