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LEED Fellows recognized at the Greenbuild 2017 Leadership Luncheon

December 7, 2017
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Robert Phinney and I, as co-chairs of the LEED Fellow Evaluation Committee this year, and Sarah Alexander, as Senior Vice President for Credentialing at GBCI, had the wonderful opportunity of presenting the LEED Fellows Class of 2017 at the recently concluded Greenbuild Boston conference. It was an inspiring and humbling experience for us to meet with the LEED Fellows and to hear about their amazing work and their relentless efforts to promote sustainability and LEED in their work and communities.

Behind the scenes

LEED Fellow recognition is no small achievement. This year, 23 more individuals joined the group of 235 professionals who have been longstanding advocates for the sustainable built environment and active proponents of LEED and green building.

The LEED Fellow evaluation process is one of the most rigorous exercises that we have come across. Every application is peer-evaluated by multiple LEED Fellow committee reviewers, who are all LEED Fellows themselves. Each application is evaluated through multiple rounds under the various mastery elements as laid out in the LEED Fellow Handbook and measured by their impact on the USGBC mission and green building industry as a whole.

It is not an easy task for applicants who have done so much over their decades of work to summarize all their accomplishments in few application pages. That is why, as part of the evaluation process, the reviewers reach out to applicants seeking clarification and further input, thereby giving the applicants a chance to provide additional insights into their efforts. Once the clarifications are received, each evaluation committee reviews them in detail, and a unanimous final decision is reached.

Joining a respected community

The entire LEED Fellow review process, which started in March 2017, took seven months, culminating in the formal awarding of the coveted credential at the Leadership Luncheon at Greenbuild Boston on November 9, where we had the pleasure of meeting in person each of the new LEED Fellows. By any measure, they are truly leaders in green building and are propelling action against climate change. Each LEED Fellow has their own inspiring and thought-provoking journey. The camaraderie and fellowship are truly outstanding and to be cherished.

Application tips

Are you one such exemplary LEED AP with specialty who has been driving the market forward and creating an exceptional impact over the last 10 years, or have you come across any such professional? The nomination period for the 2018 LEED Fellow application begins in February 2018. The LEED Fellow Handbook  will provide you with more information and guidance on the application process. Early next year, USGBC will post an updated version of the 2017 Application Guide, but the core information will remain the same. In addition, you can view a sample application packet from previous applicants.

As we move to the next phase of the LEED Fellow program, we are eager to welcome the next generation of LEED professionals and sustainability leaders from across the world. We look forward to hearing many more inspiring stories and learning about their impactful work, the challenges they face and the unique solutions that they adopted. Most important, we are excited to hear about what motivates them to further the green building mission globally.

Explore the LEED Fellow Handbook

3 courses that bring green building to everyone

December 6, 2017
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During this season of giving, we encourage you to share these courses with your colleagues, friends and family to help them understand your commitment to green building and sustainability. Each course provides insight into foundational concepts and connects these to our every day actions. With more than 650 hours of education, Education @USGBC courses explore diverse topics in green building strategies. 

  • Green Buildings for Everyone: An introduction for any person who wants to learn about the green buildings where they work, live, learn and play. These four short videos and supplemental guides help you explore green buildings in your community and everyday life.
  • Wanderlust: Taking the Sustainable Route: Explore ecotourism in modern travel through this two-part course. Consider different types of ecotourism and take a look at the world's top ecotourism destinations.
  • Case Studies for Sustainability Implementation: Through case studies of successful programs, learn how to make the business case for sustainability implementation strategies and identify which initiatives can give your organization the highest return.

Each course on Education @USGBC is available for individual purchase at $45. You can also access the courses through the Education @USGBC subscription.

Subscribe to Education @USGBC

Apply by Dec. 11 to present at Greenbuild Europe or become a peer reviewer

December 5, 2017
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Greenbuild Europe offers a forum for the green building community to unite and address pressing issues such as air quality, human health, energy use and global climate change. It's also a great place to network and learn about new technologies. In addition to attending, you can engage with Greenbuild on a deeper level as a presenter or as part of the review team for sessions.

Greenbuild Europe details

April 16–18 | Berlin, Germany | Radisson Blu Hotel and Meeting Center

Deadline to submit a proposal for a session or speaker: December 11 at 5 p.m. EST

Deadline to apply to become a peer reviewer: December 11 at 5 p.m. EST

To get started, view the Submittal Guide, Call for Proposals, Call for Reviewers and the Program Policies.

Tips for session proposals

  • Elevator Pitch—What is the essence of your session? If you only had one sentence to convince someone to attend your session, what would it be? (25 words maximum)
  • Abstract—What is the core information you will cover? What questions will be addressed, and what new information will be provided? (400 words maximum)
  • Regional Relevance—Why is your proposal suitable to the Greenbuild Europe show and location? (150 words maximum)
  • Presentation Style Details—How will you engage your audience? Will the use of visual aids, interactive activities or new technology be used during your session? Tell us how you wish to enhance your session and connect your materials to the audience. (100 words maximum)
  • Learning Objectives—Provide four learning objectives that clearly express what the audience will learn or be able to do after attending your session. Submitting a rating system-specific session? Interested submitters should review the Guidance on Creating Rating System-Specific Learning Objectives. (30 words maximum per learning objective)

Reminder for peer reviewers

Engaging, highly qualified reviewers with expertise in specified content areas defined in the Call for Education Session Proposals are also encouraged to apply.

Share your expertise and apply to review the 2018 Greenbuild Europe education session proposals. See more details about the calls for proposals and reviewers.

We look forward to your participation in Greenbuild Europe 2018. Please contact us with any questions.

Interested in engaging at one of other Greenbuild conferences? Here are the other opportunities open now:

Submit a proposal for Greenbuild Europe

Project teams find LEED v4 answers on LEEDuser

December 5, 2017
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In recent months, activity on the LEEDuser forum has shifted to LEED v4, charting strong project team engagement. Although new registrations for LEED 2009 closed in 2016, there remain thousands of those projects in the pipeline to certification. However, judging by activity on the popular LEEDuser forum, LEED mindshare and innovation is transitioning to LEED v4.

Out of the hundreds of questions and responses LEED professionals post on the LEEDuser forum every week, roughly three out of four relate to LEED v4.

The shift we've observed on the LEEDuser forum reflects a shift in innovation. Most LEED certifications are still under LEED 2009, but people know LEED 2009 pretty well, and they know how to achieve the credits. Project teams that are pushing the envelope are exploring the newer concepts embedded in LEED v4.

Popular LEEDuser credit forums for LEED v4 projects include:

  • MRc: Building product disclosure and optimization: Environmental product declarations, where project teams are figuring out how to gather EPDs for LEED compliance—a process that's getting easier over time.
  • INc: Innovation: Project teams are discussing innovation points for active design, walkable project sites, clean construction and other newer topics.
  • EQc: Low-emitting materials: This has been a challenge for project teams adopting to a new structure, but teams are sharing tips and moving forward on products from engineered wood to furniture.
  • WEc: Cooling tower water use: Teams are exploring what systems allow them to earn the new credit for BD+C projects,while saving the most water and energy on their projects.

The activity on the LEEDuser forum is as strong as it's ever been, eight years and 70,000 forum comments since BuildingGreen initially launched it in 2009 as a support tool for LEED 2009 projects. BuildingGreen relaunched LEEDuser in September 2017 with a completely updated look. It's now mobile-friendly and has new search tools to find the exact information you need. Take a look at the new homepage, which features a quick video showing how LEED professionals can take advantage of this resource.

Explore LEEDuser

USGBC urges preservation of greenhouse gas measure

December 5, 2017
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USGBC has submitted a public comment urging the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration to keep in place the current greenhouse gas (GHG) measure for federal highways. This message came in response to a proposed rulemaking that would repeal the measure, which requires state transportation departments and metropolitan planning organizations to monitor on-road vehicle emissions and set targets for improvement.

The GHG measure applies to state and metro area transportation agencies that receive federal funding, and is one of a suite of performance measures. The current rule does not impose any specific limit, but rather identifies on-road vehicle emissions as among the metrics appropriate for evaluating overall transportation system performance.

DOT initially suspended the GHG measure, which eight states then challenged in a lawsuit. Notably, each of the states—which included California, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Vermont and Washington—argued that they have the duty to protect their residents from the adverse effects of climate change. California, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, cited its own legislatively mandated targets for emissions reductions, as well as the state’s particular vulnerability to the consequences of high GHG emissions.

The built environment, which encompasses transportation systems and commercial, residential and industrial buildings, was responsible for 60 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions in 2015, according to the U.S. EPA. Tracking these emissions is essential to making our cities and states more livable, healthy and green—especially since you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

LEED strongly supports GHG emission reduction through innovative and mindful design and implementation, including LEED credits that offer incentives to accommodate non-motorized modes of transportation and green vehicles, as well as rewarding strategies that provide access to reliable public transit.

USGBC will continue to monitor all transportation performance-measure rulemakings, in order to support ways for society to measure and understand externalities imposed by our built environment.

Read USGBC's comment letter

Call for volunteers for LEED Regional Steering Committees

December 4, 2017
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USGBC is looking for innovative sustainability professionals and experts in the design, construction and operations of buildings and communities to serve as volunteers on the newly created Regional LEED Steering Committees.

In 2010, USGBC developed the LEED International Roundtable as an advisory network playing a pivotal role in enhancing LEED as a global framework for green building. In just the past few years, Roundtable members have collaborated with LEED staff to develop and publish 30 international alternative compliance paths (ACPs) for LEED v4 and more than 100 ACPs for LEED 2009. The work of this group has been critical to the growth and applicability of the rating system, and LEED has now reached projects and professionals in more than 167 countries and territories.

In the coming year, we will develop this concept even further in order to integrate, scale and formalize this work within the LEED development process by establishing LEED Regional Steering Committees in six key markets across the globe.

Each Regional LEED Steering Committee will be an integrated group of volunteers charged with prioritizing and overseeing LEED technical development activities in its respective region. They will review, develop and recommend technical solutions and guidance to address LEED implementation issues and facilitate market uptake in their regions, while ensuring that technical solutions maintain rigor and consider market leadership and feasibility.

The following LEED committees are now accepting applications for members:

  • Latin America and the Caribbean Regional LEED Steering Committee
  • Europe Regional LEED Steering Committee
  • Middle East Regional LEED Steering Committee
  • Africa Regional LEED Steering Committee
  • Greater China Regional LEED Steering Committee
  • Asia Pacific Regional LEED Steering Committee

The application period will close on Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. Pacific Time.

Who should apply?

Ideal candidates are familiar with the LEED rating system and have one or more of the specific areas of expertise sought by the committees. All Regional LEED Steering Committee volunteers must be employees of USGBC member organizations. They are talented professionals who can commit to regular calls (average two hours per quarter), offline review and comment on technical rating system language (average two to three hours per call), and participate in additional calls as necessary.

Each volunteer position will be for a first, two-year term beginning in early 2018. Volunteers are eligible to serve a maximum of four consecutive years total on a given committee.

Each Regional LEED Steering Committee will be led by a volunteer chair and vice chair, with up to 15 appointed members-at‐large.

Important dates:

  • December 4: Application period opens
  • January 31: Application period closes
  • February: LEED Steering Committee reviews and USGBC Board of Directors appoints candidates
  • March: Applicants notified
  • March–April: New member orientation and training
  • April 2018–December 2019: First term for new committee volunteers

To get started, take a look at the current volunteer opportunities or learn more about LEED committees.

2018 LEED Committees Organizational Chart

LEED Committees Organizational Chart 2018

Apply to join a Regional LEED Steering Committee

USGBC endorses legislation to update brownfield cleanup program

December 4, 2017
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Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of legislation that would revamp and update the land cleanup program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

H.R. 3017, “The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment and Reauthorization Act," reauthorizes the EPA's program for cleaning up and redeveloping old industrial or commercial sites with environmental contamination. Specifically, the bill would expand the eligibility of brownfield grants for nonprofits, increase the maximum award of grantees and require the EPA to capitalize a revolving loan fund to locate clean energy projects at brownfield sites.

The full Senate still needs to act before this bill can be sent to the president, but bipartisan legislation (with very similar provisions to H.R. 3017) has already received a favorable vote from the Environment and Public Works Committee earlier this year.

This all bodes well for environmental and economic redevelopment in these areas, specifically for projects that are certifying through the LEED and SITES rating systems. Both have credits to support remediation of these areas. According to USGBC credit achievement data, approximately 3,000 projects have accomplished brownfield redevelopment points, representing a significant proportion of all LEED-certified projects. We hope a modernized brownfield program will enable even greater levels of cleanup and economic redevelopment with LEED and SITES.

Read USGBC’s support letter


LEED credits help protect wildlife

December 4, 2017
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USGBC values the critical role that animals and wildlife play in maintaining a healthy planet for all. As species continue to face interruptions to their habitats and to their migration, hunting and mating patterns, USGBC is celebrating Wildlife Conservation Day by highlighting how buildings can help, rather than hurt, wildlife populations.

Through the #TheresACreditForThat campaign on social media, we showcase the LEED v4 credits that are most effective in promoting a healthy and sustainable world for all. Here are a few of our favorite credits that can help make buildings safer for the wildlife that surrounds them.

Bird Collision Deterrence: BD+C, O+M, 1 point

The intent of this pilot credit is to reduce bird injury and mortality from in-flight collisions with buildings.

Up to one billion birds are killed every year due to building collision. Glass presents various threats to birds, such as reflecting vegetation or landscapes that give birds the illusion of clear air space, or making greenery inside of buildings visible, luring birds into the glass.

Collisions are not just an issue for skyscrapers. Fifty-six percent of annual collisions occur at low-rise (four- to 11-story) buildings, and 44 percent occur at residences (one to three stories). There are multiple ways that buildings of all kind can comply with this credit.

  • Shut off unnecessary exterior lighting at night and during migration periods, such as rooftop lighting and floodlights. Light motion sensors that only detect humans are often cost-effective and energy-efficient.

Light Pollution Reduction: BD+C, O+M, 1 point

The intent of this credit is to increase night sky access, improve nighttime visibility and reduce the consequences of development for wildlife and people.

Light pollution is incredibly harmful to many animal species. Wildlife that hunt or forage at night may be unable to feed; interrupted mating patterns lead to measurable reductions in population sizes; insects such as moths, which help pollinate the world’s flora, are often killed by outdoor lights; and migratory birds that rely on stars to guide them during migration may become disoriented.

Buildings can reduce their light pollution in many ways.

  • Adopt the BUG rating method to measure backlight, uplight and glare in your building project. This measure will help you classify where your light pollution weaknesses are and inform the kinds of practices you should adopt to do better.

  • Advocate to your city to adopt a “Lights Out” program to raise awareness about the problems that light pollution causes for animals.

Site Development—Protect or Restore Habitat: BD+C, O+M, 1–2 points

The intent of this credit is to conserve existing natural areas and restore damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity.

The preservation and conservation of native ecosystems, including soils, sensitive species habitat, wildlife corridors and hydrology, contributes to maintaining overall ecosystem health. However, habitat loss from development is one of the leading forces driving species endangerment and extinction.

Building projects at every level of development can adopt strategies that protect or restore habitats.

  • Teams that are building on previously disturbed areas can incorporate restoration into their project through landscape design that highlights reinvigorating depleted soil and replanting native plants that form essential animal habitats.

  • For existing buildings that are limited in their ability to provide long-term conservation for their building site, consider an off-site approach, such as providing financial support to a conservation organization or recognized land trust.

These three credits encompass a diverse set of ways that builders and designers can incorporate wildlife protection into their plans. Adopt these strategies and join a global movement to make this planet safer for all living things.

Explore the LEED credit library

USGBC Wisconsin co-hosts first annual Better Buildings Challenge—Milwaukee event

December 1, 2017
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On October 4, 2017, The City of Milwaukee Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO) and USGBC Wisconsin teamed up to host the first annual Better Buildings Challenge—Milwaukee (BBC-MKE) awards and celebration event, ReEnergize Milwaukee 2017.

The event took place about one year after the BBC-MKE expanded bundle program was launched in September 2016 to celebrate its success to date and to honor the BBC-MKE’s commitment to promoting its participants and recognizing their work in energy use reduction.

The City of Milwaukee became a partner in the Better Buildings Challenge in 2012, one year after President Obama launched the program, by pledging to reduce the energy use of the city’s building portfolio 20 percent by 2020. Milwaukee showed great leadership in the Better Buildings Challenge through developing a showcase project with the Milwaukee Central Library and creating an implementation model for other cities to replicate in the form of a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing program.

The Better Buildings Challenge—Milwaukee received recognition for its initiative and a $750,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2015 to further develop a comprehensive energy efficiency program for private buildings that would streamline customer experience from start to finish. The city and its partners aim to impact more than 200 buildings and now offer resources that include the Energy Star Portfolio Manager benchmarking tool, free energy assessments to eligible buildings and financing incentives, including Focus on Energy.

USGBC Wisconsin Better Buildings event display

USGBC Wisconsin event display.

ReEnergize Milwaukee 2017 was held at the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center and the Bucks Preview Center. USGBC Wisconsin Director of Outreach Korinne Haeffel welcomed attendees, and ECO Director Erick Shambarger spoke of the program's success. Guest speakers included the mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett, who gave an address on behalf of the city, and Anna Garcia, the U.S. Department of Energy Director of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs.

Anna Garcia speaks at the ReEnergize Milwaukee event

Anna Garcia speaks at the event.

Five award categories and a general recognition rating were created to showcase leaders in the movement, to re-energize and strengthen our greater community and to spur action in Milwaukee to make our buildings better. BBC-MKE participants and People’s Choice Award Candidates were featured at the event, and BBC-MKE partners—including USGBC Wisconsin, Downtown BID, MATC, M-WERC, Rivion, Franklin Energy and Focus on Energy—engaged attendees with relevant information and resources.

View more USGBC Wisconsin events

Energy strategies improve learning for children at Rocky Mountain Deaf School (USGBC Colorado)

December 1, 2017
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When selecting energy-efficient solutions for a new, high-performance building, the future occupants are just as important to consider as the structure itself. This approach is exactly what made the Rocky Mountain Deaf School (RMDS) in Denver so effective.

Photo credit: Frank Ooms Photography

With a long and distinguished history in Colorado, RMDS is dedicated to providing first-class education for deaf and hard-of-hearing children and young adults. In 2011, RMDS was awarded a BEST Grant to create a permanent, functional and beautiful school optimized to serve its students.

Denver-based firm AndersonMasonDale Architects designed the first-class facility to match RMDS’s educational mission for PreK–12 students. With a budget of $9.9 million, the one-story, 46,000-square-foot facility was completed in August 2014. Primary educational components include classrooms, art rooms, science labs, a library media center, audio testing rooms, occupational and physical therapy rooms, computer rooms, an auditorium and a gymnasium. Support spaces include conference spaces, a cafeteria, a kitchen, multi-purpose spaces, a courtyard and administration facilities.

AndersonMasonDale Architects teamed up with The Weidt Group to incorporate energy-efficient strategies throughout the school and to pursue LEED certification. The three most prominent solutions—in-floor radiant heating and cooling, LED lighting and daylighting—are unique because not only do they save energy, but they also serve a distinct and direct benefit to the students themselves.

“When designing the school, we worked hard to keep the students and teachers in mind with every decision,” said David Pfeifer, lead project architect at AndersonMasonDale Architects. “This project was particularly rewarding because partnering with The Weidt Group enabled us to think about energy solutions from the unique perspective of functionality, rather than just cost savings.”

In-floor radiant heating and cooling

The in-floor radiant heating and cooling was utilized for several reasons. Temperature variance and excess air movement affect hearing-impaired students. The in-floor radiant system minimizes temperature variance and air movement, thus providing a better learning environment for the students. Temperatures are more uniform because the system provides warm and cool air from the floor, which is closer to where the students “live.” Also, with this system, the ventilation air maintains low velocity because only that quantity of air is introduced, making it much lower than what would be expected from a full airside conditioning of the space.

The system also makes sense from an energy perspective. These floors result in 5 percent energy savings over more traditional heating and cooling strategies. As such, this strategy alone represents approximately 15 percent of the school’s total combined energy cost savings.

Photo credit: Frank Ooms Photography

LED lighting

When this project was being designed, LED lighting was still very expensive. However, the project team worked hard to incorporate a significant amount of LED lighting to save energy. In addition, the light levels had to be high at both the teaching wall and throughout the classroom. This is very important so that students and teachers can easily see each other signing. The LED lights reduced the classroom LPD from 1.12 W/sf to 0.73 W/sf.


Daylighting is another essential element to consider when designing a school for the deaf community.

When one sense does not fully function, other senses compensate. For members of the deaf community, their eyes work extremely hard because they communicate visually with sign language. To avoid additional pressure on the eyes, buildings need to introduce just the right amount of daylight—not too much, not too little. Additionally, the location of daylight sources must be carefully selected so that sunlight does not enter the building behind the location of where people sign. Otherwise, the backlighting will limit or prevent a person’s ability to see another student or teacher signing.

To ensure an optimal learning environment and capture full daylight potential, direct sun penetration was mitigated by locating classrooms on the north side of the building, incorporating translucent glazing at the clerestory windows, as well as horizontal and tubular skylights. To conserve energy, the team implemented dimming daylight controls. These controls represent approximately 14 percent of the school’s total combined energy cost savings.

Graphic by The Weidt Group

In addition to these three major enhancements, the team implemented many other energy-efficient strategies throughout the school, including the following: reduced fan system power; high-efficiency, air-cooled chiller; condensing gas boiler; heat recovery; improved wall and roof insulation; cool roof; high-performance glazing; and vacancy and occupancy sensors.

When combined, all these solutions reduced the school’s energy costs by 25.9 percent. The end use breakdown of the energy costs is shown in the graph above. In recognition of these efforts, RMDS achieved LEED Silver certification under LEED for Schools in October 2015.


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