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Auburn High School students discuss sustainability’s link to learning

November 10, 2017
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Feature image photo by Kierstan Meadors.

In August 2017, the new Auburn High School in Auburn, Alabama, opened its doors to close to 2,000 students in grades 10–12. A 350,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, LEED-certified high school was a welcome change for the students and the community—one of the first projects to be completed in the district’s Facilities Plan 2024.

The Center for Green Schools at USGBC is excited to share two students’ perspectives on what the new green school means to those who attend every day, including what aspects of the building are driving sustainability and what features are facilitating better and deeper learning. The essay is written by Auburn High School students Alexis Jones and Jacqui Barnes:

In the mornings at Auburn High School, students are greeted by the sound of a coursing creek on their walk from their cars to class. Sitting in a classroom, the sun streams through windows and across the clean edges of desks. If we’re lucky enough to have a class on the outer edge of campus, we can soak in the sight of towering trees surrounding the school. On stormy days, the windblown raindrops scatter across the floor-to-ceiling windows and down into the greenery of the courtyard. With such a view, even the most challenging assignments are a little less stressful.

The abundance of natural light often renders artificial light unnecessary, a sharp contrast to the fluorescent light that filled classrooms at our old high school. This use of natural light often leaves students surprised when they realize the lights have been turned off the entire class period.

Interior glass walls. Photo by Noelle Sanders.

At lunch time, we flock to the open space of the courtyard to enjoy our lunches in the fresh air. Seating along, and in between, each building encourages students to take advantage of the changing of the seasons. A large range of outdoor seating options marks a pleasant transition from the typical loud and crowded high school cafeteria.

In addition to a greater awareness of nature, many of the new high school's green elements simplify our typically busy days. Students with fuel-efficient vehicles are treated with parking spots that allow for a shorter walk to first period. The water bottle refill stations not only advocate for the use of reusable water bottles, but are also simply convenient to quickly fill up in between classes. Each time we refill our water bottles, the number of equivalent disposable water bottles is displayed. This feature, as well as other labels throughout campus, remind us of the benefits of being environmentally conscious.

To us, the best new element of this high school is the proximity to an entire ecosystem, allowing us to study nature beyond the limits of our textbooks in our AP Environmental Science class. The decision to leave the surrounding areas undisturbed gives us the opportunity to observe concepts such as the effect of human disturbance on biodiversity, variables that affect soil and water quality, and overall, the importance of preserving our environment.

Tiger Den. Photo by Hannah Smith.

We appreciate the steps Auburn High School has taken towards becoming an environmentally friendly institution. We look forward to seeing more progress in this direction on campus, working toward decreasing our ecological footprint. The effort to incorporate green elements in the school has increased our and our classmates’ awareness and made for a relaxing and enjoyable learning environment.

Whether you are building a new school or operating an existing building, USGBC has a host of resources to help your school achieve green standards that save valuable resources, promote health and wellness of all occupants and foster an inspiring space for teaching and learning.

Learn more about LEED schools

3 courses that bring Greenbuild to you

November 8, 2017
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Greenbuild is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. With more than 200 education sessions, 600 exhibitors and a full slate of workshops and summits, there is a definite buzz around Boston this week. In case you can’t make it there, these Education @USGBC courses provide insight into the topics being discussed throughout the conference.

  • Resiliency Around Sustainability: Explore the impact of climate change and social inequity on organizations and learn how, as a professional, you can take action to mitigate those risks. This module explains the physical, financial and brand threats that could affect your business and how to best prepare for this uncertainty.
  • Parksmart: An Introduction to Certifying Parking Structures: Looking to learn more about the suite of rating systems that are a part of the GBCI family? Discover the complex relationships among parking, transportation and sustainability, culminating in the certification of parking structures as described in the Parksmart Certification Standard.
  • Performance, by Arc: Learn how the Arc platform helps you collect, manage and benchmark your data. In Arc, projects receive a performance score, which translates 12 months of measured data across five categories. This course dives into each of those categories to explain how the performance score works and how you can use your score to achieve LEED certification.

Keep up with the conference throughout the week by following @Greenbuild, @USGBC and #Greenbuild17.

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

Taking stock at COP23

November 7, 2017
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This week unveils not only Greenbuild Boston, but also the start of the two-week long 23rd annual Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (“COP23”). Nations of the world, along with local government, states, businesses and organizations, are gathering in Bonn, Germany.

From the U.S., the federal government will participate despite signaling intent to withdraw, as it remains a party to the underlying convention and cannot withdraw from the Paris Agreement for several years.

COP23 marks the second meeting since the conference achieved the first-ever global consensus for climate action through the Paris Agreement, which remains a groundbreaking accomplishment. With Paris, 180 countries acknowledged that humans are a cause of climate change and that collective action should be undertaken to keep the planet’s warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius.

Taking stock of our progress

Cumulatively, all the countries’ pledges do not add up to the below-2-degree scenario, and the Paris Agreement calls for national governments to submit a new round of nationally determined contributions in 2020. Critical to informing these pledges is a large part of the formal COP23 negotiations that aim to develop a Paris Agreement rule book and to agree on details for the “Facilitative Dialogue” process that will occur in 2018. The Facilitative Dialogue is the first check on how the parties are progressing against their pledges, and includes a special Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on the pathways to 1.5 degrees. The dialogue will support increased ambition and lead into the "Global Stocktake," to be conducted every five years.

In addition to mitigation of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, other issues to be discussed at COP23 will include technology, capacity-building support, adaptation and finance.

The submitted nationally determined contribution pledged by the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is at least 26–28 percent below 2005 levels, to be achieved by 2025. Estimates show that we are already about halfway to that goal, with 2016 carbon emissions hitting a 25-year low.

A federal research report released earlier this year also found that U.S. emission growth rates slowed as the economy became less carbon-intensive, although the slowing is not yet sufficient to meet the long-term, 2-degree goal of the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, the U.S. Climate Alliance reported last month that its member states are on the path to meet their share of the nation’s Paris Agreement commitment; and the America’s Pledge initiative is undertaking an analysis of the collective impact of the commitments made by U.S. states, cities and businesses.

Building sector intensity declining, total area growing

How does the building sector fit in? The latest data indicate that buildings are currently responsible for about one-third of global energy consumption, and about 30 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions and 20 percent of total CO2 emissions.

Building energy intensity has been improving, notably from improvements in building envelope, energy efficiency and electrification offsetting more carbon-intensive energy choices. These improvements are more than offset, however, by increases in the total amount of building space driven by both per capita increases and population growth. Global energy demand in buildings could actually increase by 50 percent by 2050 without improvement.

To align with the Paris Agreement goals, it is projected that we need to decrease the average energy intensity of the global building stock by 80 percent by 2050 through low- and zero-carbon strategies. Due to the work of many in the green building community, with projects demonstrating new technologies, achieving LEED Platinum and net zero energy status, we know this is technically possible; now, we need to accelerate efforts to bring these practices to scale.

From major corporations with large real estate portfolios to small design firms, the private sector plays an essential role in reducing the carbon footprint of buildings. Companies throughout the building and real estate sectors are making a difference—investing in efficiency and renewable energy, acting on commitments and expanding products and services to drive improvement in buildings and positively impact communities.


USGBC is committed to elevating the role of green buildings and green communities as a critical part of mitigating climate change. As the leading source for green building information, education and certification, USGBC will use its presence at COP23 to highlight LEED as the global leadership standard for green buildings and to connect with attendees on policy approaches for green and net zero buildings.

Selected events include:

  • "Mobilizing the Business of Clean and Productive Energy," with co-sponsors BCSE, the Alliance to Save Energy and the Corn Refiners Association, with business participants
  • "Launch of the City Climate Planner Program," with the World Bank, World Resources Institute, and ICLEI
  • "City Actions to Decarbonize Buildings," at the U.S. Climate Action Pavilion
  • "What Is Possible? Pathways to Zero-emission Buildings," as part of Human Settlements Day
  • "Innovation in Materials and Design: Catalysis for the Transition to a Low-carbon Future," with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development

USGBC will continue to lead globally in carbon reduction and green building goals. Taking part in COP23 is an essential part of this task.

Read our report from COP22 in 2016

Systems thinking and career exploration for 9–12 students with Learning Lab

November 7, 2017
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Learning Lab Education Partner EcoRise has created a first-of-its-kind new curricular program for high school students, “LEED Prep: Green Building Lessons for a Sustainable Future." As the field of green building undergoes explosive growth, this course helps prepare students to enter a workforce with sought-after skills and experience. Also, because LEED is a global green building rating system, students with LEED credentials have skills that are in demand internationally.

In this course, students delve into what sustainability means to them personally and what it means for the built environment. With hands-on activities and group projects, students examine practical aspects of green building, such as net zero energy, sustainably sourced materials and healthy air quality. They also practice designing green building components, such as sustainable landscapes and efficient water systems.

The program includes 42 lessons for 9th through 12th grades. Eighteen are currently available on Learning Lab, and the remaining lessons will be available in the summer of 2018.

The authors of "LEED Prep" share how this program helps students develop a sustainability mindset, empowering them to improve the health of the planet, one project at a time:

Why is green building a topic that students should learn?

It takes what we might ordinarily understand about how to build something and makes it much richer and more interesting by considering the whole system it is a part of. So, students will consider not just how to put up walls and install windows, but also to look carefully at the larger context of a building, such as site selection, transportation, water efficiency, energy and the atmosphere, materials and air quality.

When students look at the whole system, they learn how to create sustainable buildings and communities that will look amazing and help us take better care of the Earth. The topic appeals to students who have a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, encourages collaboration and lets students express their original ideas. Green building credentials also look very impressive on a high school resume, and the skills students learn while studying green building can be applied in many different fields.

How does "LEED Prep" engage students in learning and the world around them?

The first module in the "LEED Prep" program focuses on ecosystems, climate change and the need for long-term thinking in order for humans to protect valuable resources on Earth. This approach is emphasized throughout the course so students really understand the value in applying green building principles. They will also discover that they can immediately begin applying green principles they learn in the course at home and at school. This makes the coursework relevant and meaningful to students on a number of levels. The course also actively engages students so they are constantly investigating, planning, sketching, designing, testing and experiencing firsthand why green building matters.

If you only have time right now to check out one lesson, which one should it be?

I think Lesson 2.1: Building Together would be a great lesson to check out, because it provides a really nice overview of green building principles and how, when applied together, they can completely transform a neighborhood into a thriving community. It also gives students an opportunity to begin sketching design plans and sharing their personal thoughts and ideas about how to develop a really unique and sustainable neighborhood that people will want to live in and visit.

Explore LEED Prep

All in: Showcasing the diversity of the global green building movement [USGBC+ November/December 2017]

November 7, 2017
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The November/December 2017 issue of USGBC+ features people, places and projects all reaching for higher sustainability standards through innovation in green building and business. As the host of Greenbuild 2017, the city of Boston proves its impact on green building in this issue through profiles of its numerous LEED projects and community engagement.

USGBC+ is the official media partner of Greenbuild Boston. Pick up a free copy of the November/December issue at the following locations within the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center:

  • Onsite registration (the majority of magazines will be here)
  • USGBC booth #1438
  • Publication bins on the Expo Hall floor
  • USGBC signature events

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

10-minute read

Texas cities’ sustainability initiatives showcase green state culture: In our biggest and reddest state, people are putting the land they love first through climate resiliency programs, green building programs, sustainability action plans and environmental research.

5-minute read

Sustainability efforts compounded by complementary rating systems: Leaders of complex sustainable spaces, Denver’s Canopy Airport Parking and Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens explain how their projects leveraged the crosswalk between LEED and other rating systems.

Project spotlight

Boston reaches new heights with stellar LEED Platinum spaces: 888 Boylston Street adds to the Boston skyline while boasting innovative green features and creating a meaningful impact on the city’s environment and its residents.

Shareable quote

“We are affirming our dedication to making green buildings healthier, more accessible and more integrated into communities that support well-being and economic prosperity. It is a declaration that we are invested in a sustainable future that benefits people from every race, class and creed all over the world.” Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of USGBC and GBCI, shares his vision for a future made better by sustainable development and green building.

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+

New learning pathways to resiliency on Education @USGBC

November 7, 2017
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Still filling out your Greenbuild Boston schedule? Check out USGBC's new, curated content on resilience and net zero topics on Education @USGBC.

Including relevant Greenbuild sessions as well as education resources, policy briefs and breakdowns of how LEED and the other GBCI rating systems achieve resiliency and net zero goals, these pathways collect the information you need to improve project planning.

  • "Learning Pathway: The Road to Resilience" has resources for incorporating more resilient practices into the design, construction and operation of your project. You can also identify opportunities to leverage LEED and GBCI systems such as SITES and PEER to increase resiliency.
  • "Pathway to Net Zero" helps you position your LEED project for net zero energy, water and waste, and to learn about how Arc can help you track carbon in building operations and work toward net zero carbon.

Register for Greenbuild to attend the recommended sessions

Sustainable sites in LEED v4

November 6, 2017
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According to the U.S. Forest Service, between 1982 and 2001 in the U.S. alone, about 34 million acres of open space was lost to development—approximately four acres per minute, or 6,000 acres a day. This is equivalent to the size of Illinois. With this rapid development came an increase in hardscapes, which increased polluted rainwater runoff into natural water bodies, in turn increasing harm to aquatic species and ecosystems.

The Sustainable Sites (SS) credit category of LEED v4 was created to ensure that a project’s natural environment would be valued and respected throughout every step of the building process, from planning to construction to management. SS credits reward projects that acknowledge that buildings do not exist separately from the landscapes on which they are built, and that the environmental integrity of those landscapes should be preserved.

Projects that comply with SS credits can protect sensitive ecosystems by completing an early site assessment and planning the locations of buildings and hardscape areas. These steps will help avoid harming habitats, biodiversity, open space and water bodies.

The Rainwater Management credit within the Sustainable Sites category is intended to reduce runoff volume and improve water quality by replicating the natural hydrology and water balance of the site, based on historical conditions and undeveloped ecosystems in the region. Learn more about this crucial aspect of site planning by attending the Greenbuild session below:

"Understanding Water and LEED: From Rainwater to Metering and Everything in Between": Fri., November 10, 8–9 a.m.

In LEED v4, buildings can earn up to 3 points by achieving the new Rainwater Management credit and earn exemplary performance in this credit by managing 100 percent of rainwater using Low Impact Development and green infrastructure. This session will present an overview of resources, strategies and tips for successful credit achievement. Attendees will hear from USGBC and GBCI experts about how water is addressed in LEED today and what's on the horizon for future development.

Register for Greenbuild

How LEED is changing city planning

November 6, 2017
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LEED isn't just a way to create individual greener buildings. Beyond energy-efficient structures with smaller carbon footprints, green building now means greener communities, greener cities and a global effort to fight climate change.

Local leaders and city planners are using the example of LEED to create healthier communities, even as USGBC works to continually improve the ways we gather data to improve performance through innovations like Arc.

Improving resiliency and infrastructure

The idea that neighborhoods and cities are their own built ecosystems is gaining influence, as forward-thinking leaders make an effort to create more equitable, disaster-resilient and environmentally friendly places to live. From the Resilient Cities Summit to the Compact of Mayors to the Better Buildings Summit, local leaders are coming together to discuss strategies.

Examples are everywhere when it comes to how cities are interweaving green infrastructure and climate action planning. As USGBC offers city planners tools for enhancing resiliency, LEED offers a structure for achieving a high-performance built environment. Plus, the recent Economic Impact Study indicated, LEED supports infrastructure goals while creating jobs and improving the economy.

Embracing green building and health in the wider community

LEED is now also a way to certify whole cities and communities. City leaders can transform their areas into environmentally friendly places that are healthy for all residents and that set an example for others across the nation. Dozens of cities around the world are already participating in the LEED for Cities certification pilot.

With the LEED for Cities pilot, urban areas can measure and improve performance, focusing on outcomes from ongoing sustainability efforts. To take part in the pilot, city project teams must register their cities in the Arc platform. Several opportunities are available at Greenbuild Boston to learn more about LEED for Cities and Arc. LEED is also for smaller communities, though—the pilot can also be used for neighborhoods, districts or microgrids.

Helping buildings, cities and communities get to net zero

Last December, USGBC introduced a tool that complements LEED: Arc, a state-of-the-art digital platform for measuring and tracking building performance. Arc allows buildings and spaces to compare performance metrics across the globe and connect them to green building strategies.

As a partner in the Advancing Net Zero program with other green building councils worldwide, USGBC is developing a formal recognition in Arc for projects that achieve net zero carbon emissions. In the U.S., more than half of buildings that have been recognized as net zero are also LEED-certified, and USGBC is working toward the 2050 goal of net zero on all levels.

Join us for a Master Series session at Greenbuild Boston on how Arc is transforming the way the world measures and enhances performance:

Powering Performance: How Connecting Actions Is Accelerating Global Market Transformation: Wed., November 8 from 2–3 p.m.

Learn from Scot Horst, CEO of Arc Skoru Inc., how Arc measures, monitors and benchmarks performance. In today’s world, data and technology help teams make informed decisions to drive continuous improvement in buildings, cities and communities. Horst brings together market leaders from across commercial real estate, hospitality, health care, retail, schools and other sectors to tell their stories of how Arc is helping them use innovative strategies that improve performance and accelerate global market transformation.

Learn more about the Arc Master Series

Parksmart is all in: Certification now a fit for all parking structures

November 6, 2017
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For the green building community, every challenge is an opportunity: How do we leverage our assets to create triple-bottom-line value for our investors, our users and our future?

Today’s parking and transportation assets—be they structures, surface lots, bike share stations, EV charging infrastructure or the people who keep them all working—are the building blocks for a future of more mobility for more people, using less resources, while creating healthier communities.

Parksmart is a global tool for leveraging these parking and transportation assets. As part of broadening its impact, Parksmart is evolving to be even more accessible to, and useful for, parking asset owners. Parksmart is now a fit for all parking structures. We are "all in."

Making transportation greener

Parksmart is the world’s only rating system advancing sustainable mobility through smarter parking structure design and operation. Administered by GBCI, the global certification body for LEED, Parksmart joins GBCI’s suite of rating systems and programs that recognize excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally. Collectively, these programs work to turn the tide of climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, preserve water and natural resources, promote health and build resiliency.

To be successful in turning the tide, we need to tackle transportation. Globally, transportation produces nearly a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions—and it’s the fastest-growing source of those emissions. Equally troubling, the number of motorized vehicles on the world’s roads is projected to double by 2030.

To create inclusive, prosperous and resilient cities, sustainable mobility leaders envision transportation that facilitates the pollution-free flow of people and goods, providing affordable, healthy and integrated mobility for all people.

Transforming the market through thoughtful innovation

Parksmart mobilizes existing parking assets and shifts new parking assets toward achieving its goals. Through evolving technology, growing consumer demand for mobility choices and entrepreneurial energy, yesterday’s single-purpose parking assets are being transformed into tomorrow’s multimodal access hubs.

By encouraging thoughtful siting and design, best-in-class facility management practices and innovative technologies, Parksmart accelerates this market transformation. Parksmart certification helps owners of parking structures cut operational costs, reduce environmental impact, increase energy efficiency, diversify mobility options, promote mass transit and encourage the use of alternative fuel vehicles.

With 80 certified and registered projects in 19 U.S. states, and five countries participating with structures from airports to office buildings, Parksmart is a proven holistic standard toward which to build. Now, the program is evolving to be even more useful to parking asset owners.

Encompassing the idea that all buildings, communities and cities can do better, and recognizing there is a tremendous opportunity to effect change on a global scale across the entire built environment, this evolution includes the following updates.

What's new at Parksmart

  • GBCI has streamlined Parksmart certification for LEED-certified projects that include high-performance garages employing sustainable parking and transportation tools and practices, by allowing LEED O+M or LEED BD+C projects to achieve Parksmart points for specific LEED credits.
  • Parksmart is now fully housed on Arc, the new technology and data platform that helps projects track and continuously improve their performance. (See the Guide to Parksmart Certification 2.0 for details.) Arc recognizes that performance is the future of green buildings, and that the interconnections between sustainability, mobility, technology and data drive performance. Although the current requirements of the Parksmart Certification Standard remain unchanged, Parksmart’s migration to Arc will enable us to collect data and grow out performance-based approaches.
  • Parksmart is more accessible to parking structures working toward certification and a more useful tool for assessing portfolios. Like joining a gym, getting a workout plan and getting access to coaches, Parksmart recognizes that implementing high-performance strategies may take time and require feedback as projects are making progress. Targeting existing parking structures in particular, Parksmart now allows projects up to five years to take steps toward certification.Email us for more information and portfolio pricing.
  • To better support architects and engineers working on new parking structure construction, look for details on a precertification process for Parksmart before the end of the year. This will allow projects to review work already completed and confirm that projects are on the correct path.
  • Finally, we have adjusted Parksmart’s fees to allow for discounts for USGBC members (Silver and above), a rebalancing of fees between registration and certification and reduced pricing for existing parking structures of USGBC members. See the details at Parksmart introductory fees.

We have an exciting opportunity to leverage the built environment to accelerate our transition to a more sustainable, equitable and efficient transportation system.Reach out today and talk with us about getting “all in” with Parksmart.

Reach out to Parksmart for more

Parksmart and LEED: Creating ripples beyond the building

November 3, 2017
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Real estate owners are amplifying the sustainable impact of their properties by embracing both LEED and Parksmart certifications. Parksmart, the world’s only rating system advancing sustainable mobility through smarter parking structure design and operation, expands sustainable mobility opportunities for both tenants and visitors.

New LEED Building Design and Construction and existing LEED Operations and Maintenance projects, under both the LEED 2009 and LEED v4 rating systems, can automatically earn credit toward Parksmart recognition. An office tower atop a parking structure or a retail mall containing structured parking can be doubly recognized, earning both certifications and creating ripples that extend far beyond the building itself.

Not only is a property’s LEED certification also recognized by Parksmart, but specific credits such as LEED commissioning, construction, life cycle and renewable energy are as well. In fact, a LEED-certified project can already be halfway to achieving Parksmart certification. To assess whether your facility is ready to achieve Parksmart certification, please download our Owner’s Checklist.

The recently released Parksmart and LEED Synergies v2 crosswalk streamlines the recognition process between both rating systems and helps parking asset owners leverage LEED certification into achieving both LEED and Parksmart certification.

Read more about how garages can benefit from both LEED and Parksmart.

Several projects have taken advantage of the synergies between the rating systems:

Bank of America Plaza

Brookfield’s Bank of America Plaza drew from their LEED certification to achieve Parksmart recognition early on. The 2,128-space garage serves a 55-story office tower in downtown Los Angeles and is a hub for the surrounding community. Sustainability measures implemented at the garage that helped achieve both certifications include energy-efficient lighting and ventilation systems, green cleaning practices, low-emitting vehicle spaces, bicycle parking amenities, electric vehicle fueling stations and access to sustainable transportation options.

Bank of America Plaza

“The Parksmart certification validated all the work/policies we implemented in the garage when the building first achieved LEED status in 2009–2010,” explains Mario Izaguirre, ABM Parking Facility Manager at Bank of America Plaza. “Knowing that the garage holds its own certification makes us all even more proud to be here, and the dual certification helps our marketing efforts and leasing discussions with prospective clients, too."

811 Main

Hines LEED Platinum property certified under Core and Shell, 811 Main (formerly BG Group Place) is currently recertifying under LEED O+M. The Houston property is wrapped in a glass façade, hosts a vegetative roof, employs efficient lighting and ventilation technologies and a condensate recovery system to reduce the property’s resource consumption, and provides commuters with local and sustainable transportation options.

811 Main

“811 Main was developed adjacent to a new public transportation feature, the Metro Light Rail, with sustainability in mind,” adds Winpark’s Nichole Crossland. “The parking garage’s green roof, condensate recovery system and its lighting controls are key to both the LEED and Parksmart certifications, so it’s wonderful to hear that the overlap is now recognized. Both LEED and Parksmart certifications contributed to the BOMA International Outstanding Building of the Year TOBY Award.

Canopy Parking

Canopy Airport Parking in Commerce City, Colorado, makes sustainability central to its development and construction, and it set out to build the most sustainable parking lot possible. The result was an award-winning carpark that achieved Parksmart Pioneer and LEED Gold certification, was recognized by the International Parking Institute as the most sustainable garage of the year in 2012 and won the National Parking Association’s 2012 Innovation Award for the Innovative Sustainability Project of the Year.

Recycled construction materials, commissioning, energy-efficient fixtures and responsible construction waste management were among the strategies employed at this location near the airport. Canopy is 80 percent more efficient than a comparable traditional parking structure, is powered by solar and wind farms and employs geothermal heating and cooling.

Canopy Parking

Photo credit: Matthew Staver

“LEED and Parksmart are two sides of the same coin, and doing both together generates even greater return on our investment,” explains John Schmid, CEO of Propark America and developer of the Canopy Airport Parking, the first project to achieve dual LEED and Parksmart certification. “Focusing on, for example, a commercial building as a building as well as a multi-modal transportation hub with impact beyond the building is like compound interest. Our impact ripples out through the building community and the transportation community. What’s better than that?”

Parksmart benefits everyone, from building owners and property managers to tenants, visitors and neighbors. Certified parking structures reduce environmental impact, improve energy efficiency and reduce energy consumption. Parksmart structures integrate sustainable mobility services and technologies, diversify mobility options, promote alternative modes of transportation, and reduce operational costs up to 25 percent compared to the national average.

If you own or manage a LEED property, or are building one, its parking structure could help your community turn to the corner to more sustainable mobility. Parksmart offers you guidance for and recognition of your thoughtful parking design and management.

Reach out to Parksmart via email or call 800.795.1747 to find out how you can get double recognition for your sustainable building work.

Explore the crosswalk details


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