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International Summit spotlight: Urban design for health

October 10, 2017
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Feature image: Rendering by Sasaki, courtesy of Inmobiliaria Las Salinas.

The International Summit at Greenbuild kicks off the world’s biggest conference on green building with new research and new ideas. Bold experiments in driving sustainability are revealed, and the teams behind exemplary new projects share their stories.

In Boston this year, International Summit attendees will have a chance to hear directly from a project team from Chile that is dedicated to sustainably strengthening the fabric of their city. Inmobiliaria Las Salinas is seeking to certify to LEED for Neighborhood Development standards under LEED v4—a first for their country and community.

Join us on November 7 for the summit breakout Las Salinas Neighborhood: Urban Design for a Healthier City and learn how the project sought to transform the community by addressing whole-city and ecosystem health in the design stage and integrating communities, businesses and activist groups around common purpose and meaning.

The methodology that informed the urban design process for building a new neighborhood in a former brownfield site challenged tradition by building relationships with the environment and being open to permanent evolution. Learn how to apply this methodology to your own projects and how this approach can be carried through to certification achievement.

Professionals in building, infrastructure, design, manufacturing, policy and finance are creating a more sustainable world within their fields and beyond, and rating systems like LEED are helping to advance their work. Join USGBC and Inmobilaria Las Salinas for this vital conversation.

International Summit: Local Leaders, Global Gain: Pursuing Sustainability at Every Level

Tues., November 7, 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

The one-day summit convenes multi-disciplinary leaders for dialogue, knowledge sharing and problem solving to address issues related to sustainable development and collaboration on a global scale. Scot Horst and John Mandyck will present the opening plenary before an array of breakout sessions.

Register for Greenbuild Boston

Rhode Island adds SITES and LEED ND to its Green Buildings Act

October 10, 2017
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The Ocean State has taken a big step toward embracing sustainable development and landscapes. Building on the state’s eight-year legacy of green public buildings policy, the Rhode Island legislature has passed a bill to expand its coverage to include public lands.

The Senate passed S-0952A/H-5427A, amending the state’s Green Buildings Act, to apply to any “public real property site” in addition to public buildings, and specifying the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES) and LEED for Neighborhood Development as applicable rating systems for certification. This move makes Rhode Island the first state in the nation to reference the SITES rating system in public policy.

Since 2010, the state has been applying LEED in its newly constructed state-funded facilities, but starting immediately, state and local governments working on new projects that address the space between buildings through public parks or landscapes will also consider applying SITES and LEED ND to sites adjacent to public facilities. LEED and SITES are complementary and can be used independently or in tandem, earning credits that count toward both rating systems.

SITES is based on the understanding that land is a crucial component of the built environment, and the rating system can be applied to development projects with or without buildings—ranging from national parks to corporate campuses, from streetscapes to homes.

LEED ND incorporates the principles of smart growth, New Urbanism, and green building into a global standard for green neighborhood planning and design. The voluntary leadership standard for neighborhood development helps guide development projects in terms of where they’re located, how they’re designed and how they perform.

By using these rating systems for public projects, Rhode Island is creating healthier, more sustainable and more resilient places for its residents. In addition, the state is also being a good fiscal steward of the public’s funds while signaling to the private market the state’s support for sustainability in the built environment. Green infrastructure and built landscapes protect people and buildings, as well as mitigating the impact of natural disasters.

USGBC thanks the bill sponsors in the House, Rep. Blazejewski, Rep. Edwards IV, Rep. Marshall, Rep. Marszalkowski and Rep. Walsh, as well as the Senate, Sen. DiPalma, Sen. Coyne, Sen. Miller, Sen. Seveney, and Sen. Sosnowski.  Additionally, we would like to recognize Kenneth J. Filarski, Chair of USGBC Rhode Island chapter, for his tireless work and persistence in getting this legislation passed.

Teach environmental literacy with Green Apple Day of Service

October 10, 2017
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Youth who are educated about sustainability and the environment help move us toward a society that considers the environmental impact of its everyday actions. Additionally, today’s younger generations must be literate in sustainability to compete in the growing green job market. Green Apple Day of Service is a great way to start implementing sustainability education in a school.

See our tips on how to educate for environmental and sustainability literacy as a Green Apple project.

Take a look at how these inspiring 2016 projects in Mexico implemented their ideas:

Green building education at Instituto Mater

Bioconstrucción, a green construction company in Mexico, dedicated a day to educating students and staff of Instituto Mater in Nuevo León about sustainability. The company was invited by the school to offer instruction on sustainable practices, such as identifying efficient A/C systems, insulating around windows to maintain the building temperature and using building orientation to maximize natural light and water collection. Using these tips, the school crafted a plan to remodel their buildings to be more sustainable.

Green Apple Day of Service with Bioconstruccion

Afterward, Bioconstrucción invited the students, ages 4 to 15, and staff to tour the company’s LEED Platinum building to learn what sustainable construction and green practices looked like in action. They provided advice for the school staff to promote and practice sustainability and provided information on the Green Classroom Professional certificate program available through USGBC.

As a result of the Green Apple Day of Service project, Instituto Mater has made a commitment to creating a more sustainable environment for their students, including incorporating sustainability into their educational program. The school also enhanced this commitment by enrolling teachers in Learning Lab, an online platform for teachers to find and use sustainability and STEM-based lessons.

Creative competitions with Escuela Promesa

As part of their 2016 Green Apple Day of Service program, Escuela Promesa, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching students about environmental education, challenged 90 schools (and their 61,490 students!) to participate in a “Google and SUMe” competition. SUMe is a partner organization dedicated to green building in Mexico. Two competitions were presented to schools, each based on age group, which challenged students to think about sustainability and the actions they could take to make a positive impact.

Green Apple Day of Service with Escuela Promesa

In the elementary schools, students created a story that that described the changes they could make in their own homes to make them more sustainable. Middle and high school students made videos explaining their vision of a sustainable city and the practices that their own cities would need to enact to reach that vision. Eight schools were recognized for their level of participation in the competition, and the winners were given certificates, plants for their school and (for the older students) a tour of the LEED Gold Google Mexico office.

These two projects in Mexico reflect how Green Apple projects can prepare students worldwide, through education, to face future environmental challenges.

Register a Green Apple Day of Service project

LEED v4 stories: NOI Techpark Suedtirol

October 9, 2017
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The LEED v4 stories article series features the people the behind diverse LEED v4 projects. Project team members and project owners tell of their experiences—both the wins and the challenges.

For more perspectives on LEED v4 Neighborhood Development, check out our interviews with team members from Brooklyn Basin and Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City. To dive deeper into LEED v4 Neighborhood Development, take a look at “Getting to know LEED: Neighborhood Development.”

NOI Techpark Suedtirol achieved LEED Gold under LEED ND: Plan in February 2017. Originally home to an aluminum factory in Northern Italy, this site is being transformed into a hub for innovative sustainable technologies through a partnership between the City of Bozen, Business Location Südtirol (BLS), and private developers.

NOI Techpark Suedtirol

The project has been designed to revive the surrounding area through a combination of private and public amenities, including four large parks. ​To ensure the project’s high design standards are implemented, strict guidelines are provided to developers for the design and construction of all new buildings.​

I spoke to Alexander Alber, engineer at BLS, about their project and their experience implementing LEED ND.

What drew you to pursue LEED for Neighborhood Development for the project?

NOI Techpark is a regional development project with a long-term perspective. Over 1 million cubic meters of construction volume are going to be developed for public and private businesses. The goal: a new and innovative, thus sustainable, district that responds to excellent quality standards. From a single building, up to a large scale area. To achieve this objective, it was necessary to define and find a standard that emphasizes holistic and well-established practices that benefit all parties involved. LEED perfectly responds to that demand.

NOI Techpark Suedtirol

Another positive effect, needless to say, is the international reputation LEED has gained. Using the LEED standard has helped NOI Techpark create the foundations for authentic communication and marketing. It is one of the largest infrastructure projects of the region of Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. Considering that NOI Techpark aims to attract young talent and create an innovative working environment, LEED is a tool to foster innovation and the competitive landscape of the region.

Having these two aspects in mind, the planning team decided to apply for LEED ND: Plan certification, which would not only help promote the project internationally, but also identify the project’s main characteristics regarding sustainable development. Our Gold-level certification represents a huge step forward, and we hope it can foster the development of more sustainable projects within the region.

What is the coolest credit in LEED ND?

The credits on Access to Quality Transit and Bicycle Facilities, within the Smart Location and Linkage section. The topic of green mobility has been under special attention worldwide in recent years. We know that climate change is real, and reducing emissions is an important step to tackle it. The LEED credits regarding access to public transit and connection to cycling infrastructure are important tools to foster the implementation of sustainable initiatives in the mobility sector of new planned areas.

NOI Techpark is happy to surround itself with more than 20 bus stops, a train station within a 400-meter reach, and a well-established bike lane network that connects our location with the city center in approximately 15 minutes. Combined, these strategies made a significant contribution to our total points.

NOI Techpark Suedtirol

Was there a cost difference between this and other projects you’ve done?

NOI Techpark is the first project of this type carried out by BLS. Since the project was based on sustainability claims right from the beginning, acquiring LEED ND certification did not interfere much with the project´s budget composition.

What were the biggest lessons learned in pursuing LEED v4?

One of the most important lessons learned in this process is that considering and implementing sustainability guidelines during the project planning phase can be done easily without increasing the project´s costs, but massively improving the overall project quality on a long-term scale.

How are you preparing for LEED ND: Built certification?

Currently we are focusing on the implementation of our sustainability objectives, which were defined in the planning phase. In this context, it is necessary to find the right detailed solutions in the now given framework. NOI Techpark will grow in multiple expansion stages. Once the appropriate development grade is obtained, we will apply for certification as a Built Project.

Learn more about LEED ND pathways to certification

How LEED saves energy

October 9, 2017
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The current worldwide mix of energy resources is weighted heavily toward oil, coal and natural gas. However, In addition to emitting greenhouse gases, these resources are also nonrenewable: Their quantities are limited, or they cannot be replaced as fast as they are consumed. When it comes to energy use, buildings play a very large role—approximately 40 percent of the total energy used in the United States.

Starting with a focus on reducing energy demand through guidance related to energy usage and efficiency, and then also rewarding renewables, LEED v4 raises the bar on energy and offers new solutions for achieving goals.

LEED saves energy

Within the Energy and Atmosphere section, teams will find:

  • With 30 percent of all points allocated to building energy efficiency, LEED has an increased emphasis on energy and the associated impacts.
  • Emphasis on enhanced building commissioning for greater energy and operational performance.
  • Benefits of smart grid thinking through an option that rewards projects for participating in demand response programs.

The LEED Building Design and Construction energy credits and prerequisites include:

  • Prerequisite: Fundamental commissioning and verification
  • Prerequisite: Minimum energy performance
  • Prerequisite: Building-level energy metering
  • Prerequisite: Fundamental refrigerant management
  • Credit (up to 6 points): Enhanced commissioning
  • Credit (up to 18 points): Optimize energy performance
  • Credit (1 point): Advanced energy metering
  • Credit (2 points): Demand response
  • Credit (up to 3 points): Renewable energy production
  • Credit (1 point): Enhanced refrigerant management
  • Credit (up to 2 points): Green power and carbon offsets

The LEED Operations and Maintenance materials credits and prerequisites include:

  • Prerequisite: Energy efficiency best management practices
  • Prerequisite: Minimum energy performance
  • Prerequisite: Building-level energy metering
  • Prerequisite: Fundamental refrigerant management
  • Credit (2 points): Existing building commissioning—analysis
  • Credit (2 points): Existing building commissioning—implementation
  • Credit (3 points): Ongoing commissioning
  • Credit (up to 20 points): Optimize energy performance
  • Credit (2 points): Advanced energy metering
  • Credit (up to 3 points): Demand response
  • Credit (up to 5 points): Renewable energy and carbon offsets
  • Credit (1 points): Enhanced refrigerant management

Join USGBC at Greenbuild 2017 in Boston, India and China, to learn more about LEED and energy. In addition to education sessions, Greenbuild in Boston and India will feature expo halls where attendees can interact with the newest and most innovative products the market has to offer.

The Boston Greenbuild event will also include a special session on LEED v4 and how it addresses energy:

Course: Energy in LEED Today and Tomorrow

Thurs., November 9 from 9–10 a.m.

Discussions about the water-energy nexus have reignited conversations about energy impacts and consumption. During this session, we will delve into how LEED addresses energy today through LEED v4 and through pilot credits. Presenters will use real-world examples to show how unique building and space types have successfully implemented and documented their energy impacts and performance.

Register for Greenbuild Boston

LEED credits to green your schools

October 9, 2017
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USGBC has specific LEED credits for schools that can help deliver safe, healthy and sustainable learning environments for all children. As volunteers in 70-plus participate in Green Apple Day of Service events, USGBC’s Center for Green Schools is excited to share a movement of parents, teachers, companies and organizations working to transform schools around the world.

Through the #TheresACreditForThat campaign, we showcase the LEED v4 credits that are most effective, particularly for the places where we learn. Here are a few of our favorite credits to can help make green schools a reality everywhere.

Green Vehicles—BD+C, 1 point

The Green Vehicles credit aims to reduce pollution by promoting alternatives to conventionally fueled automobiles and can be applied to schools in the form of alternatively fueled school busses. Making this switch will have positive impacts on both the environment and public health, as diesel exhaust from idling buses releases fine particulates, such as soot, which are particularly harmful to children.

You can bring this credit to your school through various projects.

  • Register your school for National Walk and Bike to School Day in October. This action will reduce air pollution from vehicles, create a healthier environment for the school and bring students and families together to build a stronger community.
  • Raise awareness of the associated risks of idling cars with the anti-idling Turn it Off campaign. Since elevated levels of toxins have been found during pickup times at schools, this campaign challenges parents and guardians to pledge to turn off their cars if they will be idling for over 10 seconds.
  • Start a Flag Program at your school to alert students and staff to how clean or polluted the local air is that day. Every day, your school will raise a flag that responds to the air quality, changing from green to purple flag if the air is unhealthy. This allows staff to adjust outdoor activities depending on the air quality of a given day.

Daylight—BD+C, 1 to 3 points

The Daylight credit helps connect building occupants with the outdoors, reinforce circadian rhythms and reduce electricity use by introducing natural light into the space. Increasing daylight in school buildings can have positive effects on the health and behavior of students and staff. It’s also been shown to improve student performance and increase workplace productivity, as well as conserve resources.

Schools can introduce the benefits of daylighting into their communities in a multitude of ways.

  • Improve lighting in classrooms by taking simple steps, such as removing children’s artwork from the windows or opening blinds to let sunshine in.
  • Connect environmental learning with your curriculum. USGBC’s Learning Lab offers a lesson on “Investigating Lightbulbs,” which allows students to conduct experiments on light bulbs and consider the pros and cons of different light sources. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory also offers STEM programs to engage students and teachers in energy efficiency learning.
  • Work with your school administration to host classes outdoors or in areas of the school with better daylighting. The National Education Association offers a great list of tips for taking your class outside.

Low Emitting Materials—BD+C, 1 to 3 points

The Low Emitting Materials credit intends to reduce concentrations of chemical contaminants that can damage air quality, human health productivity and the environment. Schools can incorporate this credit into their buildings by ensuring that interior building materials are low-VOC, as prolonged exposure to VOCs has been linked to chronic health issues.

There are various projects that you can adopt to bring the benefits of this credit to your school.

  • Perform an indoor air quality (IAQ) walk-through of your school to inform what kind of strategies you should pursue to improve. Check out the U.S. EPA's IAQTools for Schools Action Kit for guidance.
  • Implement a Green Cleaning Program by training your facilities staff and custodial team on the importance of green cleaning in reducing environmental hazards and protecting community health. Refer to the Healthy Schools Campaign’s Green Clean Schools Program for a list of steps.
  • Incorporate student learning into your indoor air assessment. USGBC’s Learning Lab offers a four lesson module called “Air Eco-Audit,” which guides students in leading their own indoor air audit. This can help the school maintain healthy air quality while engaging students in environmental learning.

These three credits highlight different ways you can incorporate learning about energy efficiency into your school. Adopt these projects and join the movement to make schools across the world healthier and more sustainable for future generations.

Follow the conversation using #TheresACreditForThat on Twitter and Instagram.

Green codes and 2018-IgCC at Greenbuild

October 6, 2017
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Green building professionals and advocates for green codes will find at Greenbuild Boston the industry updates they need.

Earlier this year, the collaborating organizations of USGBC, AIA, ASHRAE, ICC and IES announced updated plans for promoting a unified green building code that could become the foundation for LEED certification. The next version of the International Green Construction Code (2018-IgCC) will be published and ready for use early next year. This iteration will be the first version to integrate ASHRAE Standard 189.1 and the IgCC into a single model code (dubbed "the IgCC powered by 189.1").

Attend the Green Codes Breakfast Summit at Greenbuild with representatives from the organizations working to scale up green codes. Hear updates on upcoming connections in LEED to the IgCC, learn about new tools that help simplify the search for green products and engage in a lively discussion about how we accelerate the transformation of our built environment.

Green Codes Breakfast Summit

When: Wed., November 8, 7–9 a.m.
Where: Room 102B, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

Sign up by October 20 to attend. For more information on the event, contact Wes Sullens at USGBC.

Greenbuild education opportunities

Greenbuild education sessions, workshops and tours will also examine issues related to building codes and sustainable cities. Here are just a few:

Explore Greenbuild tours.

Register for Greenbuild Boston

Greenwatch Latin America: Growing and innovating with Arc

October 6, 2017
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Since 2007, Brazil has been certifying buildings to LEED standards, and the country currently ranks fourth globally for gross square meters of LEED-certified space, with over 1,230 projects. The growth of LEED in the region started in the private, high-end office market and has now spread all throughout the construction Industry. We see churches, hotels, warehouses, schools, mixed-use developments, hospitals, institutional buildings and neighborhoods being certified.

Growth and innovation in Brazil

2016 showed the second best growth rate for Brazil, behind only 2012, when the nation experienced an economic and construction boom. In 2016, 192 new projects were registered and 80 were certified. In only 10 years, we’ve seen LEED projects grow from 48 in 2007 to 1,250 in 2017.

Although this expansion can be partly attributed to the increasing demand for LEED certification by certain sectors of the real estate market, it is also partly due to the natural resources crisis the country has been facing for the past few years. One of the most severe droughts the country has ever faced affected an estimated 80 million people in the southern part of Brazil. In response, ingenious technologies and solutions emerged, from recycling of greywater to new businesses that focus on water or energy efficiency.

Going further with Arc

The people of Brazil are increasingly aware of new technologies and strategies to make homes, offices and other spaces better for the environment. The new Arc platform from GBCI is a state-of-the-art platform that allows buildings and spaces to compare performance metrics across the globe and connect them to green building strategies.

LEED-certified buildings can use Arc to improve and benchmark with their peers, as well as verify LEED performance on an annual basis to keep their certification up to date. Projects that are not yet certified can also use Arc to make sustainability improvements over time, to eventually achieve LEED certification.

This platform collects data on five categories: energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience and calculates a performance score out of 100, based on a global data set and action-oriented strategies.

Learn more

Learn more about Arc

LEED addenda update: October 2017

October 6, 2017
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The October 2017 quarterly LEED rating system and reference guide addenda is now available.

To view the changes:


Three new interpretations were published (LI 10466–10468).

  • LEED interpretation 10466 provides clarifications for the applicability of structural engineered wood products in the LEED v4 IEQ Low-emitting Materials credit.
  • LEED interpretation 10467 provides guidance on what qualifies as a surface that is “designed to be illuminated.”
  • LEED interpretation 10468 provides guidance for net zero or off-grid projects attempting to achieve points under the LEED v4 EA credit Demand Response.


  • The LEED v4 for Homes Design and Construction Rating System was updated to remove language regarding “qualified energy raters” and “verification team.”
  • The LEED v4 for Homes Design and Construction reference guide was updated to include guidance regarding the Extended Producer Responsibility.
  • The LEED v4 for Neighborhood Development Reference guide was updated to replace guidance on ISO/IEC Guide 65 or 17065 requirements for non-LEED rating systems.

To see all corrections, download the reference guide tables.

Calculator updates

Local leaders build sustainable communities [USGBC+ September/October 2017]

October 5, 2017
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The September/October 2017 issue of USGBC+ shares projects and practices through which the green building movement engages new audiences and empowers advocates to build stronger local economies that support sustainability.

Take a look at four of our top stories from the issue:

  • Retraining American Workers for Green Energy Jobs: In coal country and elsewhere across the U.S., workers are learning necessary skills for emerging jobs in solar and wind, ushering in new opportunities to diversify local economies.
  • Taking Flight: Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Center advances wildlife conservation, rehabilitation and education efforts by leveraging its LEED Platinum headquarters.
  • From Steel to Silver and Gold: The world’s first LEED-certified steel production mill brought 500 full-time, high-paying jobs to eastern Arkansas.
  • Engage and Empower: U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy shares how local and state leadership can make a difference in the ways communities experience sustainability, pointing to his own home of Burlington, Vermont, as a prime example.

To receive 1 hour of GBCI CE credit, read the magazine online and then take the quiz in Education @USGBC. Learn more.

Read more articles in USGBC+


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