The UK Green Building Council’s (UKGBC) Julie Hirigoyen is set to step down as chief executive next summer, with the not-for-profit organisation announcing its search for her successor.

Hirigoyen was appointed to lead the UKGBC in April 2015 after working in JLL’s corporate sustainability team for several years. She has overseen the development and execution of UKGBC’s strategic approach. During her tenure, the organisation has grown from a small NGO to a nationally and internationally renowned organisation with more than 700 members from across the built environment value chain.

The past seven years have also been a time for rapid change in the definition of climate and sustainability leadership for the sector, particularly in regards to the net-zero transition.

Under Hirigoyen’s leadership, the UKGBC published and refined its Net Zero Carbon Buildings Framework Definition, increasing ambitions across the sector on operational emissions and bringing discussions on embodied carbon from a niche issue to a key consideration. The Definition has laid the foundation for a new UK Net Zero Carbon Buildings Standard, which is due to launch next year.

The Council has also, during Hirigoyen’s tenure, launched a specific arm in Scotland and produced much advocacy, research, analysis and guidance on issues beyond carbon, including social value, biodiversity and the circular economy.

The UKGBC is now commencing a formal search for a new chief executive, who will take the helm from mid-2023. Hirigoyen has not yet announced plans for her next role.

“Having led the executive team for over half of UKGBC’s existence, Julie can take huge credit for its growth and increasing impact across the sector,” said the Council’s chair of the board of trustees Sunand Prasad. “She has been an outstanding leader; she has steered the organisation adeptly through times of global crisis and been instrumental in uniting our network on action to drive tangible progress in decarbonisation”

Hirigoyen herself said: “I am immensely proud of UKGBC’s collective achievements and impact over the last 8 years and deeply honoured to have worked with such a passionate team and so many engaged and ambitious stakeholders.

Although I will leave behind an organisation I deeply care for, I am excited to see it embark on a critical next chapter under new leadership. My decision to stand down was a challenging one, but I believe that fresh direction will allow for an infusion of new creative ideas at a pivotal moment in time, ahead of the step-change required to 2030. My focus now is on supporting a smooth transition and getting the organisation ready to welcome in new leadership.”