Rick Fedrizzi at the Greenbuild conference in 2012.

The US Green Building Council has been named as a winner of the United Nations’ top environment award, the Champions of the Earth, for its contribution to sustainable building.

The Entrepreneurial Vision award went to the USGBC for its contribution to sustainable building through its LEED tool, which is the world’s most used green building rating system.

“In little over two decades the USGBC has gone from 60 firms and a few not-for-profit organisations, to 76 chapters, nearly 13,000 member companies and organisations, and more than 198,000 LEED certified professionals today,” United Nations Environment Programme executive director Achim Steiner said.

“This is a truly remarkable success story of community partnership where all sectors of society benefit through sustainable entrepreneurship – leading to improved quality of life for millions of people, while also making significant contributions to climate change mitigation.

“Organisations like the USGBC are a leading example of how sustainable business can profit the planet by providing energy efficient places that give people better, brighter, healthier spaces to live, work and play.”

USGBC chief executive and founding chair Rick Fedrizzi said he was honoured to accept the award.

“We see it as a signal that the sustainability of buildings is increasingly being treated as a critical environmental and socioeconomic issue, not just in the US but across the world,” Mr Fedrizzi said.

“This award will inject more momentum into our global advocacy efforts. Our networks have been lobbying policymakers quite successfully in the last few years to implement more green building policies.”

The Champions of the Earth is the United Nations’ flagship environmental award recognising leaders in the fields of policy, science, entrepreneurship and civil society action.

Past laureates include Mikhail Gorbachev, Al Gore, Felipe Calderon, Mohamed Nasheed, Marina Silva and Vinod Khosla.

The awards were announced Wednesday night by UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki-moon and UNEP executive director Achim Steiner at a ceremony attended by UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bundchen at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.