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Top engineers in green building

August 9, 2017
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On the road to Greenbuild 2017, we take inspiration from some of the top engineering firms in green building. The work of these companies demonstrates that whether a project is new construction or an existing building, in a domestic or international location, LEED certification is the hallmark of sustainable building everywhere.  


Skanska aims to build key infrastructure like schools, homes, hospitals, offices and roads to propel development and economic progress. Their holistic approach to green building continuously evolves, along with their understanding of what shapes and constitutes sustainable societies. For every project, Skanska sets targets for energy, carbon, water, material selection and waste in accordance with an internally developed strategic tool that helps measure and guide its green activities.

101 Seaport, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

101 Seaport is a 17-story, 440,000-square-foot LEED Platinum office building, and the first in Boston to use an active chilled beam mechanical system. Other notable sustainability features include a triple-glazed curtain wall and rainwater reuse system, which cut energy use by 30 percent and water use by 40 percent.

Thornton Tomasetti

Thornton Tomasetti integrates proven green solutions into the planning, design, construction and operation of buildings. They apply whole-systems thinking and analytical tools to develop solutions that balance triple-bottom-line factors, knowing that sustainability goals are best realized when performance is measured and compared with targets. A USGBC Education Partner with two LEED fellows on staff, Thornton Tomasetti leads by example, demonstrating that education is critical to improving sustainability in the built environment.

Palazzo Lombardia, Milan, Italy

The Palazzo Lombardia ("Lombardy Building") is a complex of buildings in Milan and the main seat of the government of Lombardy. The project includes five nine-story, wave-like buildings totaling 98,000 square meters, including a 43-story tower. The civic complex also features rooftop gardens, open-air public plazas between the buildings and a large piazza enclosed by an innovative roof structure.


WSP believes that they can bring the most influence to creating a sustainable economy through their expertise and customer service. Their “Future Ready” global client-facing program assists with preparing for the future, seeking ways to protect against challenges beyond the horizon. In a world of climate change, mass urbanization and expanding population, WSP ensures projects are ready for what comes next, with flexible designs and lower ownership costs.

270 Albert Street, Ottawa, Canada

270 Albert Street is the first commercial project in Canada to be certified under LEED v4, achieving LEED Gold for O+M. After a 2013 energy audit determined that the 14-story, 164,000-square-foot office tower was already operating efficiently, the building’s energy performance was improved by a further 25 percent through LEED. Despite having been built in 1975, the building achieved an impressive operational energy use intensity of 20 ekWh/sf and an Energy Star score of 91.

Check out this session for engineers at Greenbuild Boston:

Course: Speculative Platinum to Profitable Investment

Fri., November 10 from 8–9 a.m.

Learn how Skanska Commercial Development used a low-tech “clever-building” strategy to achieve a high-performance building and a LEED Platinum certification within recession-era financial parameters. Attendees will hear about specific strategies, including site planning and building orientation, energy efficiency, daylighting, solar controls, new cladding materials and structural design, as well as the community-based planning process.

Register for Greenbuild

Access free, high-quality K–12 lessons that foster sustainability

August 9, 2017
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As a K–12 teacher, you need lessons developed to help you foster a more sustainable future for your students. Learning Lab is the online platform that can give you those educational tools.

With a catalog of more than 450 lessons in both English and Spanish, educators now have a one-stop shop for high-quality, standards-aligned curriculum that promotes student leadership and global citizenship. And, at a price of $40 for an individual annual subscription, Learning Lab is a great value for schools and educators.

Access free lessons

If you’re interested in getting a better sense of what Learning Lab lessons look like without a subscription, we’ve got you covered. We invite you to dive into the 28 English lessons and 11 Spanish lessons, across all grade levels, that we have made available for free. See for yourself the robust preparation, implementation, assessment and extension guidance our education partners have designed into their lessons on Learning Lab.

To get started previewing a fraction of what’s available, first create an account on Using the same email address and password, log in to Learning Lab, then navigate to these modules:



Get started on Learning Lab

A ripple effect in Los Angeles continues from WaterBuild 2016

August 8, 2017
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A charrette-style session that took place at WaterBuild 2016 is helping make Los Angeles more water-resilient. In preparation for WaterBuild 2017, here’s a look back at the part of last year’s program that focused on local issues.

The challenge

In April 2016, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed county departments to create a forward-thinking water efficiency ordinance that seeks to make the county more water-resilient. At the time, only local California governments, such as San Luis Obispo County and the City of Santa Monica, had implemented water-neutral development ordinances. Though the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ proposed policy was not the first, it would have the largest reach—L.A. County has a larger population than 42 states, and the areas the ordinance specifically targets consist of over a million people.

WaterBuild 2016

In partnership with USGBC Los Angeles, USGBC worked with Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles to tackle this challenge and kick-start stakeholder discussions. In November 2016, at the inaugural WaterBuild Summit at Greenbuild Los Angeles, a charrette-style session titled “Towards Net Zero Water in Los Angeles County” brought together nearly three dozen Greenbuild participants to help the county brainstorm approaches to reducing water consumption.

Public officials from L.A. County and the City of Los Angeles facilitated tables of lively discussions among Greenbuild attendees. Participants tackled issues such as water data management, the costs and benefits of various water conservation and water reuse strategies, centralized and decentralized system solutions and how best to maximize public engagement throughout the process.

The result

A year later, L.A. County successfully built on the dialogue at WaterBuild and subsequent community conversations and developed a strong draft ordinance. Given the need to further engage relevant stakeholders, the Board of Supervisors granted the ordinance workgroup a one-year extension, to be finalized by April 2018.

The current draft proposes a set of nine enhanced water conservation measures (EWCMs) that may be required of all new development. The EWCMs range from the instillation of water-efficient plumbing, like kitchen faucets and Energy Star dishwashers, to rainwater catchment systems for landscape irrigation.

More specifically, renovations of single-family residences must feature at least one measure, while entirely new construction of single and multifamily residences must meet at least two measures and also potentially pay a mitigation fee to offset water use. In addition, the policy proposes a requirement for all buildings, both commercial and residential, to be retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures at resale, exempting affordable housing projects with the expectation that they build in the most efficient manner possible.

What’s next?

L.A. County’s new water conservation policy promises big results after adoption, and it sets a new standard for local water policy, encouraging governments statewide to make water conservation a California way of life, as it now is for state facilities. The City of Los Angeles, specifically, has prioritized water efficiency through Mayor Garcetti’s OneWater LA initiative, aiming to locally source 50 percent of the city’s water supply by 2035. The ensuing effort from Los Angeles has led to investments in green stormwater infrastructure, water reuse and recycling and new treatment methods.

We look forward to seeing Los Angeles County and the City of Los Angeles take these important next steps implementing some of the ideas discussed at Waterbuild 2016 into smart water policy in California.

USGBC will host the next chapter in our water resilience series at WaterBuild 2017 at Greenbuild 2017 in Boston. Participants will be invited to dive into a local issue focused on a set of land development issues in one of the largest areas in Boston slated for redevelopment.

Register for Greenbuild

LEED Link: LEED AP study plans

August 8, 2017
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Once you've made the commitment to earn your LEED AP credential, then it's time to study for the exam. Where do you start? USGBC wants to help you become a LEED professional and leader in the green building community, so we've made it easy by putting together four-week study plans for three types of credentials.

Each plan contains step-by-step guidance to help you organize your study time, as well as free resources. You will also need to purchase the reference guide for your chosen specialization. For a sneak peek, take a look at the BD+C syllabus.

To get started, log in to your account, or create a free account

View more LEED exam prep resources on Education @USGBC

Nominate your volunteer team for the 2017 Malcolm Lewis IMPACT Award

August 7, 2017
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USGBC is “All In” for Greenbuild Boston. Our movement is driven by passionate and talented individuals, and we want to celebrate and recognize the local leaders and teams who improve their communities. We also remember USGBC’s forward-thinking past leaders who helped get us to where we are today, and are reminded of the dedication of Malcolm Lewis, PhD, who dedicated 30 years to his leadership in advancing the green building industry, market and movement.

The Malcolm Lewis IMPACT! Award, created in honor of Malcolm’s significant contributions, brings awareness to the amazing work of volunteer teams across the U.S. who are moving the needle for green buildings and communities. To help elevate awareness of each team’s great work, nominations are shared online as videos, picture slideshows or infographics for public voting. The nomination with the largest number of public votes will be recognized during the Leadership Awards Luncheon on Thurs., November 9 at Greenbuild.

In 2016, we recognized the Calvary Women’s Services Volunteer Team in Washington, D.C. Calvary is a nonprofit that empowers homeless women by providing housing, healthcare, employment and education. Their facility serves as a transitional home for 40 women and a space for programming.

The USGBC National Capital Region emerging professionals volunteer team dedicated over 200 volunteer hours and secured over $20,000 of in-kind service and material donations. An anonymous group of volunteers donated $7,500 in memory of Malcolm Lewis to Calvary Women’s Services in support of the volunteer team’s continued efforts. We are grateful to Malcolm Lewis’s friends, who will continue their generous donation in 2017 to further the work of volunteers in support of their project or initiative.

We encourage you and your team, who are making green buildings and communities a reality, to submit a nomination.


Aug. 8–Sept. 25 Nominations open
Sept. 27–Oct. 13 Viral voting
Oct. 18 Winner announced
Nov. 9 Leadership Luncheon at Greenbuild

Eligibility and submission requirements

The USGBC Malcolm Lewis IMPACT! Award recognizes a team of volunteers who have performed a high-impact project or initiative. Although we appreciate the work and impact realized by individuals, only teams of three or more volunteers are accepted for this award.

  • Winners of the award are ineligible to resubmit for three years following their receipt of the award.
  • All volunteer groups working within sustainable/green building are eligible to apply.
  • Applicants are not required to be officially affiliated with USGBC or to contain USGBC staff or USGBC volunteers. USGBC staff are, however, eligible to submit.

Submissions must be in digital form and submitted as a video, a picture slideshow or an infographic. Videos and slideshows should be no longer than 60 seconds in length. Nominations should

  • Introduce the volunteer team.
  • Identify the "problem" the team sought to address.
  • Tell the story of how volunteers worked toward success.

People’s choice viral voting

To share the great work accomplished by the nominees with a greater audience, nominations are posted to Facebook. The online community is welcome to “like” any nomination they feel is deserving of this recognition. The nomination with the most number of likes by the closing of voting will receive the award.

Check out the 2016 nomination gallery.

Past awardees

Submit your nomination

Onsite water reuse explored at Best in the West webinar (USGBC Northern California)

August 4, 2017
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Integrating onsite water reuse

USGBC Northern California recently presented a Best in the West webinar about onsite water reuse, which was attended by over 50 participants from eight states. Attendees learned about incorporating onsite or district-scale water reuse systems, including how to determine what types of systems will work, what's allowed in different jurisdictions and the pros and cons of different technologies.

To follow up, a working group of design professionals is developing a guide for practitioners to better understand why and how to integrate onsite water reuse into the design process. The guide, which will be available for free on the website, will be available soon.

Where does water come from?

Many aspects of our national water infrastructure are in abysmal condition and pose serious health and environmental threats—think Flint, Michigan. The U.S. EPA may not be a well-funded partner in the near future. And yes, there’s that pesky little thing we call global climate change.

And yes, many of us probably do take for granted that when we turn on the tap on the kitchen sink, clean water will pour out, and when we flush our toilets, dirty water will go away, forgotten. But a great deal of energy goes into getting water to where we live and work, and cleaning it before and after our use.

Water, therefore, is a design opportunity, yet many architects and engineers do not consider water reuse in the design, construction and operations of our buildings and neighborhoods. Part of the reason for this is that we have not felt it to be necessary. Another reason is that talking about what happens to water makes many of us uncomfortable—the “yuck factor.”

Addressing water use proactively

However, there are plenty of reasons to consider onsite water reuse. It can ease the burden on overstressed infrastructure. It can mitigate regional shortages. It is a pathway toward meeting several green building certification criteria, such as the LEED v4 wastewater management credit. It may even be required for some building types, depending on your location.

Onsite water reuse involves treating used water at a building or district scale to a degree fit for another purpose, such as flushing toilets, irrigating landscaping or use in a cooling tower. The technologies—the easy part of the equation—have been around for a long time, and they continue to evolve. The tough part is getting all parties past the yuck factor, communicating the benefits to clients and working with regulatory officials to assuage public health concerns.

Onsite water reuse graphic

Clearly, reusing water in your building project requires much from the design teams involved. To start, they must be well versed in the intricacies of developing a water budget by understanding the amount and quality of the water coming into the building, and the same for all uses. They must also have a basic understanding of the regulatory requirements of the building’s jurisdiction; is water reuse even allowed?

To any designer, this should be seen as a classic design problem and a major opportunity to start thinking differently about the future of designing with water and the benefits water reuse holds for the projects we design and build. Success is having the framework to navigate the design process to onsite water reuse.

To that end, the water reuse working group of design professionals is developing the guide to integrating onsite water reuse into the design process, and it will be released this summer. Using an architect-friendly, visually appealing interface, the guide will offer tips for talking about and implementing onsite water reuse, go over whether water reuse is appropriate for your project, discuss strategies for getting projects permitted and provide descriptions of current onsite treatment technologies.

See more upcoming USGBC Northern California learning opportunities

Support sustainability this school year with the Connect the Dots program

August 4, 2017
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USGBC's Connect the Dots: Green Schools Challenge program challenges K–12 schools across Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland and West Virginia to develop and implement the most creative, effective, no- or low-cost sustainable practices for their schools and communities.

Any school sustainability initiative can be a Connect the Dots project! Projects can engage the entire school, a grade level or a single classroom. Schools are matched with volunteer mentors who help plan projects and make connections to environmental partners, resources and subject matter experts.

We’re currently seeking volunteer mentors and interested school participants for the 2017–2018 school year.

Participating schools can target projects over the course of the school year that aim to lower school operating maintenance costs, improve indoor air quality and/or conserve natural resources. Schools are encouraged to register their projects as part of USGBC’s annual Green Apple Day of Service campaign to access additional funding and project planning resources. Past projects have included:

  • Implementation of schoolwide recycling and composting
  • Energy audits
  • Installation of outdoor gardens and rainwater collection barrels
  • Environmental awareness assemblies and tours

View ideas for service projects.

The schools that most effectively meet this challenge are rewarded for their achievements at a ceremony around the tie of Earth Day. Participation requires a final project report, due at the end of March. Check out the 2016–2017 project participants and award winners.

Connect the Dots is right for you if

  • You’re a teacher or administrator with an interest in advocating for school sustainability and aren't sure where to start.
  • You’re a school staff member with a great classroom sustainability project in mind that could use some help taking ideas to action.
  • You’re a building/design professional looking to give back to your community and share your knowledge with the next generation.
  • You’re a parent with expertise in green building and want to promote a better learning environment for your local school.

Sign up to be a volunteer mentor by October 13. The deadline to register your school to participate the same date.

Register your school for the Connect the Dots Program

Leadership platforms: Building education opportunities for your WELL community (USGBC Minnesota)

August 3, 2017
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The USGBC Minnesota community recognizes that whatever the challenges, we need the right people, tools and platforms to solve them. With increasing focus on not only reducing our environmental impact, but also improving our health and well-being, we have embraced the WELL Building Standard.

Over the summer of 2017, USGBC Minnesota is featuring three articles that focus on the action being taken to improve health and well-being in the built environment. Join us as we investigate this leadership platform through the lens of the Minnesota WELL Collaborative, the efforts to increase educational opportunities and achieving WELL AP credentials and a case study of one of the first projects in Minnesota registered under WELL.

They say that it is an honor just to be asked. When you are one of the first, though, that honor can seem rather daunting. Early this year, BWBR hosted a USGBC Minnesota Green Scene event, the first one approved in the region for WELL continuing education credits. Although GBCI now has very specific criteria for earning CE for LEED, WELL and general credits, at the time the process for earning specific credits was developing. The relatively young WELL program also added to the challenge.

Touring the BWBR offices

Touring the BWBR offices.

The criteria for achieving accreditation is straightforward: develop four learning objectives (for WELL, make sure three of those objectives speak to the WELL standards) and make sure the information is fact-based (not opinion). There are other criteria related to the allocation of credits, placement of logos, distribution of certificates and advertisement of the course in relation to exam preparation.

Still, the criteria is more of a how-to guide, rather than a what, and for such a young program as WELL, that gave BWBR the opportunity to evaluate both how we are developing toward a firm promoting WELL and what the firm is doing to incorporate WELL into projects. We formed our talking points by examining what the design community could learn from our activities and what we could present that was useful for illustration.

When developing CEU-approved content for WELL, we looked closely at the details of the learning goals. Which precondition or optimization strategies aligned with the content? Learning objectives should describe the specific parts of the strategy about which the attendee will learn. GBCI provides extensive guidelines with many strategies, emphasizing the need to break it down into smaller, digestible units.

WELL is giving the design community an opportunity to help organizations see how their space affects individuals, bringing real benefits for mental and physical health, as well as productivity, to the workplace.

Putting together a course on WELL helped us see both how we are doing in promoting healthy design and how we can open the eyes of clients to the potential that WELL criteria can being.

Standing in front of peers for a presentation can be intimidating. With the guidelines and assistance, learning objectives become easier to write and allowed presenters to formulate content around the objectives, freeing up the focus to build a fun and informative session.

Join the Minnesota WELL Collaborative Meeting

When: Every fourth Tuesday of the month, 9:30–10:30 a.m.

Where: HGA Architects & Engineers, Minneapolis

To join the calls, email Brent Suski.

Workshop: The WELL Building Standard

Take a deep dive into each of three concepts for a better understanding of how the specific features will affect your design and operational processes. The pre-conditions of each concept will be explained, and other select features will be considered.

When: Three consecutive Mondays: September 18 and 25 and October 2, 1–5 p.m.

Where: Ryan Construction, Millwright

Learn more and register

Life as a LEED volunteer: Advancing professional expertise

August 3, 2017
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The application period for new LEED committee members is open through August 31, 2017. In honor of that, USGBC is bringing you stories and perspectives from members of the various LEED committees.

Marcelo Gregório is an Acoustic and Theatre Consultant with Arup and joined the Indoor Environmental Quality Technical Advisory Group (EQ TAG) in 2017.

Why did you apply to be a volunteer?

I have always had a big interest in environmental subjects. It’s rewarding to see that by helping USGBC come up with new sustainable strategies or by reviewing their existing ones, we can have a big impact on the building industry.

On average, how much time do you dedicate to LEED Committee work per week or month?

I do other activities related to sustainability, but just in regard to the LEED committee, I spend about 4–6 hours per month.

How does your service on a LEED Committee intersect with your professional work?

I work in New York as an acoustics consultant at Arup, a global multidisciplinary engineering firm. Arup provides me with the opportunity to work on a wide range of unique and challenging projects that advance my professional expertise and help me collaborate with the EQ TAG. At the end of the day, we are working on projects that are applying for LEED, so being able to create our design to comply with LEED standards makes it interesting and fun.

What are the most important changes and the future that you see for the EQ TAG?

I see the future of the EQ TAG giving more emphasis on the health and comfort of the users, improving their requirements and standards on subjects like acoustics. Talking about the perception of acoustics, I believe that in general, users can experience an architectural space using three sensory organs: seeing things, touching and walking towards objects or spaces, and listening.

The issue with this later one is that we cannot isolate ourselves from the acoustic environment in which we are immersed, and when acoustics from a space is poor, this negatively impacts our experience of it and our health. There is plenty of research that proves that a good acoustics design brings economic value and health benefits to the users of the space...I want to make people more aware of how acoustics can benefit us daily.

Interested in becoming a LEED Committee volunteer? Start by taking a look at the current volunteer opportunities and learn more about LEED Committees.

Apply to be a Committee Volunteer

Join USGBC at VERGE 17 in September

August 2, 2017
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VERGE 17 is just around the corner, and you can receive a 10 percent discount on your registration through USGBC. Always a hot spot for cutting-edge thinking at the intersection of technology and sustainability, VERGE exists to accelerate the clean economy. USGBC is a Knowledge Partner for the event's Healthy Adaptive Buildings Summit.

When: September 19–21, 2017
Where: Santa Clara, California

Bringing together 2,000 leaders from the world’s largest companies and utilities, progressive government agencies and disruptive startups, VERGE invites you explore the next wave of innovation and thought leadership.

This year’s featured speakers include:

  • Lisa P. Jackson, Vice President of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives at Apple
  • Laura Phillips, Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Walmart
  • Kate Brandt, Lead for Sustainability at Google
  • Congressman Jared Huffman, (D-San Rafael, CA)
  • Carla Peterman, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission

Program tracks include:

  • Renewable energy procurement
  • Distributed energy systems
  • Grid-scale power
  • Next-gen buildings
  • Connected transportation and mobility
  • Smart infrastructure
  • City and regional resilience
  • Circular economy

Register for VERGE before August 18 to take advantage of the early bird rate, and get an extra 10 percent off your registration when you use the code V17USGBC.

Use your special code to register


U.S. Green Building Council - Long Island Chapter
150 Motor Parkway - Suite LL80
Hauppauge, NY 11788