UK Green Building Council selects new CEO to replace Julie Hirigoyen

Smith Mordak (left) will take over from Julie Hirigoyen (right) this June.

Current chief executive Julie Hirigoyen announced last September that she would be stepping down in summer 2023 after an eight-year tenure. Hirigoyen was appointed to lead the UKGBC in April 2015 from JLL’s corporate sustainability team and is credited with hugely expanding its work. Presently, the Council convenes more than 700 members.

The Council has today (21 February) named Hirigoyen’s successor, selecting Smith Mordak, the current director of sustainability and physics at Buro Happold.

In a statement, the Council said that Mordak “brings a wealth of industry knowledge, deep technical expertise, first-hand insights as a longstanding member of UKGBC, and plenty of fresh ideas to the role, at this critical moment in time”. It added that they are passionate about delivering a “regenerative economy”.

Mordak holds Bachelor’s degrees in architecture and engineering with maths, plus other qualifications in fields including retrofit. They have been working in the UK’s built environment sector for more than a decade, holding roles in the private sector and in the public sector at the Greater London Authority.

Mordak has been the director of sustainability and physics at Buro Happold since spring 2020 and also holds additional roles at the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity; as a nationally elected councillor at RIBA, and on the editorial board of the Journal of City Climate Policy and Economy. They have previously written columns advocating for built environment sustainability in The Guardian, Dezeen, the Architect’s Journal and RIBA Journal.

The chair of the board of trustees at UKGBC, Sunand Prasad, said Mordak “combines a deep, science-based and systemic understanding of the climate emergency with a clear-sighted, principled and pragmatic approach for what needs to be done in response.”

Prasad added: “From founding an innovative, award-winning design practice to helping a major international consultancy, [Mordak] has consistently shown imagination and determination in achieving change. Along the way, they have been active in significant industry initiatives to achieve an equitable and lasting transformation of the built environment to a sustainable and regenerative model.”

Hirigoyen will step down on 1 June. She has stated that she is handing over the post “with great confidence and the utmost respect”.

Also on 1 June, the current director of communications, policy and places at the UKGBC – Simon McWhirtier – will move into a deputy chief executive role.

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to work with the amazing team, trustees, and membership at UKGBC,” Mordak said.

“I’m looking forward to building on the charity’s extraordinary body of work and Julie’s inimitable legacy. We live in existentially challenging times. Our actions over the next few years will have an outsized impact on the Earth’s ecosystems and on many generations to come. I’m honoured that I’ll be playing my part in this crucial period as part of this powerful, change-making coalition.”

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