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GBCI releases LEED in Motion: Europe report

May 23, 2017
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Last week, GBCI, the certifying body for all projects participating in the globally recognized LEED green building rating system, opened its newest office in Europe. LEED certification continues to grow throughout the region, and I am pleased to take on the role of director for the GBCI Europe office in Munich. 

In conjunction with the launch, GBCI released LEED in Motion: Europe, an overview of LEED growth in the region that also provides important insight on the market.

Within the GBCI family, LEED remains the core offering. After 17 years, LEED truly is a long-term contributor to Europe’s green building movement. This latest report includes a well-researched snapshot of the state of green building in Europe and highlights the more than one billion square feet of LEED space that exists from the over 5,200 LEED European projects.

Since global green building is expected to double every three years, LEED in Motion: Europe offers strategies for integrating LEED into buildings and cities to help improve environmental performance, as well as human health and well-being. This report also introduces Arc, a new, state-of-the-art digital performance platform that allows any project—whether a single building, a community or an entire city—to monitor performance across key building systems for energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience.

Several projects are profiled in LEED in Motion, including the LEED Silver Vodafone Village in Milan, Italy; the LEED Platinum Siemens Headquarters in Munich, Germany; and the LEED Gold Klara Zenit in Stockholm, Sweden. Of special note is the Regional Solutions for Europe section, which explains how the LEED credit system is being adapted to further increase its relevance to European buildings.

Also, because one of our top priorities is to educate new building professionals on LEED strategies for new and existing buildings, the report offers current information on the nature and value of LEED professional credentials.

Globally, more than 165 countries and territories use LEED, and it has become the most widely used green building rating system in the world. In Europe, LEED’s relevance is due, in part, to how the rating system has evolved to address the needs of our own building community. LEED-certified projects can be found in Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

GBCI Europe will provide outstanding on-the-ground customer support for these countries, serving as an operational hub to deliver full-service onsite certification and verification not only for LEED, but also for GBCI’s expanding portfolio of sustainable building frameworks and their corresponding professional credentials, including PEERSITESGRESBICPParksmart and Zero Waste

View the report

LEED Link: Find a LEED stadium near you

May 23, 2017
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When USGBC released the LEED in Motion: Venues report earlier this year, we also shared our Going Out Guide, an interactive display of LEED-certified sports stadiums, concert halls, theaters, restaurants and other event spaces across the United States. Pro sports facilities have increasingly made strides in attaining green features, and now you can search for them on our map. Chances are, there's one near you.

For many fans, summer is synonymous with baseball, and there are plenty of examples of state-of-the-art green ballparks. Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, recently achieved LEED Gold certification after many years of making sustainability a priority. The LEED Silver Nationals Park brings fans in droves to southeast Washington, D.C., and AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, was an early adopter of using LEED standards to reach sustainability goals.

Curious about what's in your area? Whether you're into baseball, basketball or football, use our Going Out Guide to find a stadium near you that makes a commitment to reducing its footprint through LEED certification.

Find a LEED stadium

Nominate your project for the LEED Homes Awards

May 22, 2017
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Did you work on a truly exemplary green home in 2016? Are you a developer or homebuilder who has gone above and beyond with LEED? If so, we want to turn the spotlight on your great work.

The LEED Homes Awards recognize architects, developers, home builders and projects that have demonstrated leadership in the residential building marketplace.

There are several award categories: 

  • Outstanding Commitment to LEED
  • Outstanding Affordable Project
  • Outstanding Affordable Developer
  • Project of the Year/Outstanding Innovative Project
  • Outstanding Multi-Family Project
  • Outstanding Multi-Family Developer
  • Outstanding Single-Family Project

The awards also recognize the LEED Homes Power Builders, which USGBC developed to honor an elite group of developers and builders who have exhibited an outstanding commitment to LEED and the green building movement within the residential sector.

In order to be considered as a Power Builder, developers and builders must have achieved LEED certification for 90 percent of their homes/unit count built in 2016. Homes at any LEED certification level—certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum—are eligible for consideration.

To be eligible, the project needs to have been certified between January 1 and December 31, 2016; the nominations deadline is June 19.

See last year’s winners.

Nominate a project or Power Builder

Green schools resources now count for CE hours on Education @USGBC

May 22, 2017
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Over the years, the Center for Green Schools, together with many partner organizations, has published a range of research and best practices for green schools. From white papers to reports and research papers, these resources span the three pillars of sustainable schools and are designed for all types of green schools advocates.

We are excited to offer a selection of green schools resources for continuing education (CE) hours through Education @USGBC. Although these resources are offered for free through our resources page, the associated quiz and continuing education hours are now also available through an Education@USGBC subscription and for individual purchase.

Learn about the whole school sustainability framework, behavior-based strategies for energy savings in schools, developing policy solutions and more: Now you can deepen your green schools knowledge while maintaining your LEED credential.

Check out these six resources that are now eligible for CE credit:

The Whole School Sustainability Framework

For 1 CE. Using the Whole-School Sustainability Framework, this report defines each principle and uses literature from multiple disciplines to illustrate how each principle manifests in a school and why it is critical to successful sustainability.

National Action Plan for Educating for Sustainability

For 3.5 CE. Based on a 2013 convening, this report outlines a national action plan toward environmental and sustainability literacy for all students by 2040, through collaboration, alignment and large-scale implementation.

Powering Down: Behavior-Based Energy Conservation in K–12 Schools

For 1 CE. This toolkit follows the experiences of five public schools that have reduced electricity use by 20 to 37 percent through behavior-based strategies alone, looking to these schools as models for others and examining common strategies.

The Impact of School Buildings on Student Health and Performance: A Call for Research

For 2.5 CE. An accessible account of current research connecting school buildings with student health and performance, this paper analyzes various studies to understand the impact of school facilities on the way students breathe, see, hear, move and learn.

The Green Schools Investment Guide for Health, Efficient and Inspiring Learning Spaces

For 4 CE. This guide helps school stakeholders advocate for renovations, retrofits and upgrades to their school buildings through identifying building improvement opportunities and finance and implementation strategies.

Greening Our Schools: A State Legislator’s Guide to Best Policy Practices

For 4 CE. This toolkit is a comprehensive guide for state lawmakers who are developing policy solutions that improve the health, productivity, efficiency and fiscal responsibility of schools in their state.

State of Our Schools: America’s K–12 Facilities

For 3 CE. This report is an unprecedented account of the facilities funding of K–12 public schools in the United States, projecting an annual under-investment of $46 billion.

Subscribe for unlimited access to Education @USGBC

Companies are agents of social change

May 22, 2017
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Last week I had the honor of participating in a panel titled “A New Paradigm: How Companies Can be Agents of Social Change,” at the World Social Marketing Conference. The panel focused on ways companies can create an impact, particularly in the current political and economic climate that has created a sense of uncertainty and frustration for a lot of people in the U.S. and globally.

To set the stage for this conversation, Porter Novelli shared some results from a spring 2017 ConsumerStyles survey on environmental issues:

  • 57 percent of people are personally concerned about climate change.
  • 80 percent of people say it’s personally important to them that companies reduce their impact on the environment.
  • 74 percent say they want companies to support local community events.
  • 68 percent are looking for companies to donate to charities.
  • 57 percent want companies to take a stand on social issues.

At USGBC, we aren’t surprised to see these issues as important to consumers—we see our community working toward social change every day. The LEED brand has grown because companies, consumers and the environment all benefit from sustainable buildings.

According to a 2015 global survey by Cone Communications, 91 percent of global consumers believe companies should do more than just make a profit. By focusing on the triple bottom line—people, planet and profit—thousands of companies, from Fortune 500-level to small businesses, have embraced LEED as a way to reach their sustainability and business goals.

As a member of the USGBC community, you’re already a social change agent. Here are a few ways you and your company can maximize and amplify your efforts.

Storytelling

There is a powerful storytelling opportunity through simply showcasing the sustainability features of your LEED building or by highlighting your company’s sustainability efforts to the people who occupy, visit or work in these spaces. Educational signage in stores and places of work, in-person engagement and education opportunities or events, website content that highlights your sustainability efforts and media engagement opportunities are all ways to enhance your social marketing efforts.

Porter Novelli’s ConsumerStyles survey also found that 90 percent of global consumers would like to see more responsible products and services offered from companies. This is highest in the countries that are embracing LEED outside of the U.S., India (95 percent), China (94 percent) and Brazil (93 percent).

Even before you get your LEED certification, you should look into environmental product declarations and material ingredient reporting tools, which provide architects and designers with more information on the contents in products and the manufacturing process. EPDs address how products are made, their material ingredients and other tools provide information about who makes them, and this information can transfer to what you share with your consumers.

When you achieve LEED certification for a new project, don’t forget to check out USGBC’s PR guidelines for newly certified LEED projects, which includes sample press releases and messaging for media, social media and other marketing channels to help you accurately promote and celebrate your accomplishment publicly. A LEED plaque when you enter a certified building is another simple way to showcase your achievement to all who enter.

Education

Consider attending the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo for the best green building education and to stay informed on the latest and most innovative sustainable building products. You will also reach key influencers and decision makers interested in your products and services. Greenbuild truly is a global opportunity. In addition to the U.S. show in Boston, Nov. 8–10, Greenbuild will also take place this fall in Shanghai, China, and Mumbai, India. Greenbuilding Brasil will take place Aug. 8–10 in São Paulo.

Can’t make it to Greenbuild? Our Education @USGBC platform recently released Education @USGBC playlists, which take the guesswork out of finding the right course. Playlists range from credential maintenance program packages to general updates on the LEED rating system. New playlists will be released on a quarterly basis throughout 2017.

Transparency

Porter Novelli found there is anxiety among consumers and also a lack of trust, with only 12 percent of the country said they trusted the information coming from the U.S. government. The private sector has an important role to play in making sure information is transparent and authentic for its employees, consumers and other stakeholders.

Last year, we launched Arc, a new online performance platform that provides shared use of technology, feedback and recognition excellence for the sustainable built environment. Arc allows any project—whether a single building, community or even an entire city—to enter the platform and measure improvements and benchmark against itself and projects around it. LEED-certified buildings can use Arc to improve and benchmark against other certified buildings. Any LEED user has immediate access to Arc and can start entering information today that can be shared with stakeholders in an effort to improve transparency.

Advocacy

Beyond the building, there are many ways companies can and should be taking a stand on environmental issues. USGBC’s member companies continue to vocalize support for the Paris climate agreement, and hundreds have signed on to a letter USGBC issued in opposition to the administration's proposed budget cuts, to urge support for core EPA programs. We are also encouraging members of our community to reach out to their local policymakers and media to vocalize their concerns about these proposed changes.

Community engagement

Over the last five years, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC’s Green Apple Day of Service has become a great community engagement tool for companies and individual volunteers wanting to support social change in the schools in their local communities.Green Apple Day of Service catalyzes days of action to recognize and celebrate the central role that schools plan in educating students for a healthy, green, sustainable future. We are currently recruiting promotional partners to spread the word, as well as corporate partners that are interested in helping schools get supplies and funding for their projects.

Thank you for all you are doing to create a more sustainable world. If you have social impact stories you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments.

IMPACT 2017: Local leaders, global gain (USGBC Minnesota)

May 19, 2017
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On May 3, about 300 green building professionals and sustainability experts from the Midwest, joined USGBC Minnesota at the Saint Paul RiverCentre for the sixth annual IMPACT Conference: Local Leaders, Global Gain.

The conference was opened by the president and CEO of USGBC and GBCI, Mahesh Ramanujam. His presentation made poignant and inspiring connections between local and global scales while always keeping a focus on health and wellness. As one of our attendees said of Ramanujam's presentation, "I loved the focus on healthy buildings for all—especially the most vulnerable."

The IMPACT Conference and Program Committees worked hard to solidify a great speaker lineup, filled with thought-provoking speeches and expert panels and highlighting the great work of sustainability professionals across the region. Three tracks of programming provided relevant information for professionals throughout the industry. Whether you wished to hear about renewable energy financing, neighborhood scale sustainable development or the WELL Building Standard, IMPACT had you covered.

The exhibit hall was full of activity throughout the day. For the first time, IMPACT included Conversation Corners, where attendees and exhibitors could gather to network and discuss critical issues in sustainability and the built environment. Over 30 organizations exhibited in the RiverCentre’s hall, connecting professionals to useful products and services.

IMPACT quite literally practiced what it preached, as it was also run with sustainability in mind. Composting was provided, and the overall recycling rate was 91.4 percent. One hundred percent of the electricity used was offset by wind power, thanks to Xcel Energy’s WindSource® program.

The conference concluded with a keynote speech from the inspiring polar explorer and educator Will Steger. As an eyewitness to climate change effects, Steger shared stories about his explorations in the arctic over the past 30 years. His presentation was a reminder to all attendees about the critical role they play in improving efficiency in the built environment and mitigating the effects of climate change.

It is truly amazing what can happen when Minnesota leaders come together to share ideas and best practices for creating a greener, healthier and better future. Representatives from corporations, architecture firms and nonprofits alike shared their sustainability stories during an inspiring day! Attendees came away from the day understanding how local leaders like themselves are at the forefront of global gains in sustainability. 

See more photos from the conference.

If you would like to volunteer for the IMPACT 2018 Planning Committee, fill out our sign-up form and indicate you would like to help with IMPACT. 

Volunteer for IMPACT 2018

USGBC Tennessee celebrates LEED Gold Terra House Apartments

May 19, 2017
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On May 10, the USGBC Tennessee community recognized the Terra House Apartments in Nashville. Terra House, which has achieved LEED Gold certification under LEED for Homes, is a 194-­unit, mixed­-use apartment building on Nashville’s Rolling Mill Hill.
The project was developer SWH Partners' first attempt at LEED certification. Using an integrated design team and approach, the company quickly upgraded their initial goal of Silver to Gold, demonstrating exceptional sustainable leadership; environmental stewardship; and commitment to the health, comfort and well-being of its residents and the larger Nashville community.
The project's successes include: 

  • Land use density of 76 units per acre
  • Immediate proximity to 176 transit rides daily
  • Energy-efficient lighting and windows
  • Energy Star appliances
  • Apartment fixtures that use an average of 28 percent less water than EPACT 2005 flow and flush rates
  • Aging-in-place design strategies
  • Building materials that resist mold, ultraviolet radiation and pest infestation
  • Landscaping with native and drought-tolerant species
  • Recycling of 80 percent of construction and demolition debris  

Additionally, third-party verification was a key component of this project's success. Testing required by LEED for Homes identified multiple performance failures in the building’s envelope and equipment that were corrected before occupancy. These failures are common in conventional construction, but they are rarely identified or corrected in projects that don’t require third-party verification.
USGBC Tennessee congratulates SWH Partners, the Metropolitan Development and Housing AuthoritySmith Gee StudioGenesis EngineeringLittlejohn EngineeringHodgson DouglasRC Matthews ContractorsRAM Partners LLC, and Wilmot Inc, all of whose work has helped raise the bar for what we should expect from our built environment. This is how market transformation occurs. Terra House is where the good life meets the green life.
Learn more about LEED for Homes

ACEEE city scorecard gives credit for LEED certification

May 19, 2017
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The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has released its annual City Energy Efficiency Scorecard Report. Ranking 51 large U.S. cities, the report shows what each one is doing in five key areas of energy efficiency:

  • Local government operations
  • Community-wide initiatives
  • Buildings policies
  • Energy and water utilities
  • Transportation

The report breaks down the rankings and achievements of each city—for example, in the summary of our USGBC headquarters city, Washington, D.C.—giving cities an independent view of where they lie on the spectrum, highlighting best practices and invoking friendly competition, all aimed at improving city-led energy efficiency.

Each year, ACEEE revises the categories and scoring to reflect new information. This year, the “local government operations” included a point incorporating LEED and Energy Star standards. Cities could earn up to 1 point for policies encouraging energy efficiency in public building construction and in procurement of equipment and supplies.

ACEEE awarded 0.5 points to cities with green building requirements for new public buildings—for example, if a city requires municipal buildings to exceed the citywide energy code or meet LEED Silver or above certification. ACEEE cited the update to LEED v4 as well as studies showing that LEED-certified buildings consume less energy than their traditional counterparts.

Click on your city from their main report page to learn more about its initiatives and energy performance.

Download the full report

Partying for the planet at the Red River Zoo (USGBC North Dakota)

May 19, 2017
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How did you celebrate Earth Day? Here in Fargo, USGBC North Dakota was partying with the Red River Zoo at its annual Party for the PlanetTM event by hosting a Green Apple Day of Service within the event.

Party for the Planet is hosted by members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums throughout the United States and Canada. The event is an opportunity to celebrate Earth’s biodiversity and teach people how they can act to make a difference in their own communities.

The partnership between USGBC North Dakota and the Red River Zoo began in 2016, when USGBC held a board leadership training opportunity in Fargo. Included in the schedule was a visit to the zoo, where our board members learned about the sustainable strategies being implemented there. 

So, when we began reviewing activities to celebrate Earth Day, the Party for the Planet came to the forefront and we asked “How can USGBC help highlight the zoo’s accomplishments and provide education about sustainability and LEED?”

That question led to the idea of the LEED Scavenger Hunt, in which a station associated with each LEED credit category would highlight a strategy used at the Red River Zoo. At Party for the Planet, each station included an informational poster and hints to answer the question on the scavenger hunt list. Once a station was found, the participant then answered a question, most of which related to activities the participant could do at home. The stations included the following:

  1. Location and Transportation: Highlighted carpooling, use of public transportation and cycling. The local public transit system MATbus system also had one of its buses on display.
  2. Sustainable Sites: Highlighted stormwater management. The zoo has a rain garden on site, which has information from Riverkeepers, located in Fargo.
  3. Water Efficiency: Highlighted the use of rainwater collection and storage systems at the zoo and how the collected water is used for gardens and plants.
  4. Energy and Atmosphere: Highlighted the geothermal system at the zoo’s carousel building and the reduced energy consumption from its use.
  5. Materials and Resources: Highlighted the use of salvaged materials for the new opossum exhibit and the reuse of a building materials for a porch at one of the exhibit buildings.
  6. Indoor Environmental Quality: Highlighted the access to views and daylight within buildings—with a great view from the cabin building to the wolf exhibit.
  7. Innovation: Highlighted the gardening and composting program at the zoo. The zoo receives donated produce from a retailer, using what it can for feeding animals with any food waste being used for compost. That compost is then used for gardening programs.
  8. Regional Priority: Highlighted local animals, such as porcupines, prairie dogs and white-tailed deer and their habitats in North Dakota.

The event provided a fun educational opportunity for the younger citizens of North Dakota, and in listening to the conversations between parents and their kids about sustainability, it succeeded in its mission.

Learn more about USGBC North Dakota

Women in Green celebrate achievements in D.C. (USGBC National Capital Region)

May 19, 2017
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Women in the green building industry came together on May 8 with USGBC National Capital Region to celebrate progress and set new goals.

Inside the great ballroom at the University of the District of Columbia's new student center in Washington, D.C., which is seeking LEED Platinum certification, Women in Green came together for a power breakfast to celebrate local leaders in sustainability. The event was an opportunity to share inspiration at this critical time for environmentalism and feminism.

The event featured remarks by Chrissa Pagitsas, USGBC Board Member and Multifamily Green Initiative Director at Fannie Mae, who kicked off the event emphasizing the potential of Women in Green groups in communities as well as at the national level. Lida Lewis, USGBC National Capital Region’s Market Leadership Advisory Board Chair and Director at HKS, also spoke at the breakfast.

The panel discussion and facilitated sessions focused on the complexities of women’s leadership and proven leadership principles as practiced by an inspiring group: Joan Kelsch, Green Building Program Manager for Arlington County; Barbara Deutsch, Executive Director at Landscape Architecture Foundation; and Susan Klump-Williams, Managing Principal at HOK.

Attendees also participated in small-group discussions on the unique qualities that women bring to the sustainability industry, how unconscious bias is addressed, tips on value promotion, how to retain women in leadership roles and the challenges of juggling workplace demands and family life. The audience was also encouraged in a breakout session to discuss what specific plans they will set for their career in the next year and how they will help others grow.

The 170 women and men gathered will reconnected at a USGBC National Capital Region Women in Green Task Force event in the fall of 2017.

The conversations were fueled by delicious locally sourced and organic food from Green Plate Catering, which is Green America Gold certified. We thank our committed sponsors, DPR ConstructionHKS Architects, GHT Limited and HOK for making this event possible.

See more upcoming USGBC National Capital Region events

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