After four years as vice president and then chief technology officer, Nigel Howard has left the U.S. Green Building Council, and plans to assume a position as chief operating officer of the Green Building Council of Australia in March.

During his tenure, the U.S. council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, known as LEED, has become widely accepted as the standard of sustainability for buildings. Staff at the council has grown from six people to 59, and several versions of the rating system have been launched, including one tailored for existing buildings and another for commercial interiors. “I very much enjoy the early frenetic, entrepreneurial phase of developing and establishing organizations. GBCA is at a similar stage of development as the USGBC was when I joined, and I would like to try to contribute similar levels of growth,” says Howard.

Howard was a strong proponent of making the next release of LEED more scientific by incorporating life-cycle assessment—a methodology that evaluates factors like embodied energy, waste disposal and global warming potential. “He was the great champion of integrating LCA into LEED,” says Bharat Patel, a principal at DMJM in Los Angeles and board chairman of the local USGBC chapter.

USGBC officials say that the council supports incorporating LCA into the rating system. “I am confident that there is a strong commitment to integrating LCA into LEED,” says Scot Horst, a Kutztown, Pa.-based sustainable materials consultant and chair of USGBC’s LEED steering committee, the group responsible for shaping the rating system.