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USGBC Minnesota takes part in Schoolyard Garden Planting Week and Green Schools Roundtable

March 29, 2017
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Green schools are growing strong in Minnesota. Take a look at what USGBC Minnesota is up to this spring:

Green Schools Roundtable

On Feb. 23, USGBC Minnesota participated in the first Green Schools Roundtable, held by the Minnesota Green Schools Coalition. Individual members and friends of the coalition gathered to discuss barriers they meet and solutions they find in greening schools.

Together, we celebrated successes, learned about new resources, sourced big ideas and even formed a new collaboration. A handful of teachers will be working together across districts, charters and grades to develop a citizen science project, with the students studying tulips at bloom time. The community thanks our sponsors, KLJ, IPS-Solar and ReCharge Labs, for helping us provide this project with a microgrant to get it started. The project will serve as an ongoing part of Schoolyard Garden Planting Week and Green Apple Day of Service.

Schoolyard Garden Planting Week

Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Planting Week returns this year from May 22–26, Governor Dayton has proclaimed. The week presents an opportunity to celebrate and support schoolyard gardens in Minnesota for the second year in a row, as announced at the recent Schoolyard Gardens Conference.

USGBC Minnesota is digging in once again, and school and community garden administrators can register their garden project as a Green Apple Day of Service to receive updates, opportunities and kudos for all they do help green their school and support hands-on environmental learning. Community members can get involved as sponsors and volunteers. 

Join us

You can join us to take part in green schools activities in your community. Contact Steph Leonard to get involved in Schoolyard Garden Planting Week or the Minnesota Green Schools Coalition.

Learn more about Schoolyard Garden Planting Week

Nominate your project for a 2017 Nevada GREENFest Award

March 29, 2017
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USGBC Nevada and Green Alliance are rolling out the green carpet to celebrate the best of sustainability in Nevada. Nominate your project or an outstanding leader today. Award winners will be celebrated at the GREENFest Awards Gala on Fri., April 28 at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas. Tickets for this evening of dinner, networking and celebrating are on sale now.

Project teams, buildings, companies, organizations and individuals who have demonstrated leadership between September 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016 may apply for consideration in the following categories:

  • Rob Dorinson's Environmental Hero Award: Earth Day celebrates great men and women who've defined modern environmentalism. This year's Environmental Hero demonstrates dedication, cunning and an unflinching love of the environment. This hero's passion has paved the way to bring about awareness and change.
  • Avant-Garde Award: This award honors those who believe in groundbreaking efforts that introduce experimental, new ideas that pioneer innovation and are ahead of their times. This awardee cultivates a cutting-edge attitude and is not afraid to break through barriers. 
  • Community Green Building Legacy Award: For any building constructed, renovated or operated within the past 10 years. This award recognizes buildings/projects that were innovative in sustainable practices and pushing the envelope of sustainability in design and development.
  • Community Green Schools Leader: For a K–12 school that demonstrates sustainable leadership in facility operations and student/community engagement. This can be either a LEED-certified schools project, a stellar school that participated in Green Apple Day of Service or any other demonstration of green schools leadership. (Applicants for this award are encouraged, but not required, to have achieved LEED certification)
  • Community Volunteer Leadership: This award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding commitments through their personal time and energy, community connections or other support. The awardee must be an active community member at the time of submission to be eligible.
  • Transformers Award: This award honors those who have committed to being a changemaker. Through tireless work, this awardee has seen measurable results through thorough and dramatic change in community, business, practices, products or services, while moving the mindset toward a sustainable society.
  • Triple Bottom Line Award: This award honors those that have engaged in a plan to benefit people while protecting our planet and improving economic prosperity. This awardee creates the sustainability balance of the triple bottom line.

Nominations are due by 6 p.m. PT on Fri., April 7, 2017. Qualified applications will be reviewed by a local panel of USGBC Nevada and Green Alliance members, as well as green building experts. Award winners will be notified in early April, and will be publicly recognized at the GREENFest–GREEN Award Gala on April 28, presented by USGBC Nevada and Green Alliance.

The GREENFest Gala will also honor the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Patricia Mulroy. The evening’s festivities will be emceed by Sherry Swensk, 8 News Now’s weather anchor and host of “Living Green in Las Vegas.” RSVP for the gala.

Submit a GREENFest award nomination

USGBC North Carolina advisory board member earns WELL AP credential

March 29, 2017
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USGBC North Carolina congratulates its 2017 Market Leadership Advisory Board member Alicia Ravetto, FAIA, LEED Fellow, on earning her WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) credential. This credential, granted through the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), places Ravetteo among a group of leading professionals dedicated to supporting human health and well-being in the built environment.

The WELL AP credential is the new, leading credential signifying advanced knowledge of health and well-being in the built environment and specialization in the WELL Building Standard (WELL). WELL APs have successfully passed the WELL AP exam, an assessment based on the expertise of leading practitioners in the field of design, health and wellness in the built environment. Developed using GBCI’s rigorous test development best practices, the WELL AP exam is designed to test a candidate’s knowledge and proficiency in building wellness and the principles, practices and applications of the WELL Building Standard. The WELL AP Exam was launched in October 2016, was complemented by a comprehensive educational program.

The firm of Alicia Ravetto Architect plans to incorporate the WELL Building Standard into its sustainability strategies and practices, including the first registered project in the Triangle Region of North Carolina and a new independent living facility for seniors in Pittsboro, North Carolina, that is in the planning phase.

Learn more about the WELL AP credential

Taking a deep dive into LEED v4 materials (USGBC Northern California)

March 28, 2017
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USGBC Northern California and stok partnered for the second installment in their LEED v4 educational series. Anjanette Green is a materials analyst at stok.

With LEED v4, buildings have swiftly moved beyond solely addressing their impact on the environment and have shifted focus to human health. Notable are the credits found within LEED v4’s Material and Resources category. In partnership with USGBC Northern California, stok hosted a special Materials Deep Dive into the revamped MR credits. At DPR Construction’s Net Zero Energy and LEED v4 Platinum office, Melanie Colburn, a Project Manager focusing on education at USGBC Northern California, introduced stok’s resident experts: Materials Analyst Anjanette Green and Indoor Environmental Health Specialist Kristen Magnuson

Materials and Resources

With special focus on the Building Product Disclosure and Optimization (BPDO) credits, we went into explicit detail, explaining the approaches teams can use to help with this cause.

  • Regarding the acronyms in the Environment Product Declaration (EPD) credit: A PCR defines the parameters of an LCA, which gets summarized in an EPD. With multiple options for credit value and compliance, there are rewarding ways to work EPDs into your project via the BPDO EPD credit.
  • We walked attendees through the options nested within the Material Ingredient credit and its terminology, such as the difference between a material and substance and the differences among Health Product Declarations (HPDs), Declare, C2C and C2C Material Health Reports, Level Certification, and Greenscreen Certification.
  • Each reporting and optimization path provides a unique approach and result. For example, ILFI’s Declare is solely a transparency label, whereas multi-attribute certifications, such as full C2C certification, rate an entire product’s life cycle impacts by its lowest achievement level. Due to its involved process, that can be an expensive option, and requires a certified C2C Assessor for certification.
  • The Sourcing of Raw Materials credit, which is now where several familiar credits such as FSC wood now reside, has been made more robust with the addition of Corporate Sustainability Reports (CSRs) and leadership extraction practices. Both options give the industry an incentive to veer away from fossil fuel-based products toward biobased ones. In stok’s experience, this is the least complicated BPDO credit to attain, as it directly mirrors former credits from LEED 2009.

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor Environmental Quality credits and indoor air testing requirements are also very important. Materials have a profound effect on indoor air and are inextricably linked to a building’s total suspended particulate matter (PM 2.5), as well as total volatile organic compounds. Teams that forego specifying the healthiest materials they can source risk failing their indoor air quality tests and missing viable credits for their projects.

Learn more

Get an overview of the presentation from these selected slides, and please feel free to reach out USGBC Northern California for more information.

Sea View community in New York City ties sustainability to human health

March 28, 2017
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Sustainable design, once unconventional, has become the norm for many developments. Health-promoting design is emerging as a new trend, due in part to the realization that how we build matters—not just in terms of environmental sustainability, but also in terms of human health. Pioneering projects are now engaging in a new type of health-focused design.

One of those pioneers, Sea View Healthy Communities, is the subject of a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) recently released by the New  York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Initially developed as a tuberculosis facility, the hundred-year narrative of Sea View’s history in the context of its future vision reflects the public health community’s shift in focus from infectious to chronic disease. This shift was discussed by NYCEDC’s Munro Johnson in a recent blog published through our colleagues at the Build Healthy Places Network.

When asked by the Staten Island borough president to create a “health and wellness campus,” NYCEDC initially envisioned state-of-the-art health care facilities and residential communities for the disabled. This is not surprising, as health care facilities often come to mind when discussing health in the context of real estate development. However, the RFEI for Sea View takes a different approach by striving to develop Sea View instead as a healthy community, with explicit requirements to promote health through both design and operations.

It’s a unique ask, especially at the neighborhood scale. Munro Johnson, Vice President of NYCEDC, and Tommy Boston, Project Manager at NYCEDC for the Sea View Project, describe how they got there.

From health care to health promotion

The new focus on developing a “healthy community” was informed by data collection and cross-sector collaboration. According to Johnson, NYCEDC began with a medical services demand analysis and was surprised to find very low demand for additional medical facilities. In spite of having several highly ranked health care facilities, NYEDC discovered, the Staten Island borough has the highest mortality rate in New York City, specifically due to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Johnson explains that this “paradox led us to the doorstep of healthy communities research and healthy communities design, and the current vision that we are working with for the project.” Johnson continues, “the original underlying policy objective [is] better health. Based on the numbers and the data, the best way to achieve that turned out not to be building a bunch of gleaming new health care facilities, but rather by building health into the design of a neighborhood.”

Health and sustainability side by side

In addition to health, the RFEI also includes sustainability goals. The NYCEDC team explained that requiring a focus on sustainability performance is viewed as a nonnegotiable, standard feature in procurement. For Sea View, Johnson referred to health and sustainability as “a natural match," stating that “part of the nature of sustainable design is to surface what is happening in the environment in order to be better stewards of it—and living with a better relationship to nature is intrinsically healthy in most cases.” Boston added, “I think that the physical sustainability of the built environment in Sea View will comingle with the individual sustainability of its residents and inhabitants.”

This inclusion of health alongside sustainability in the “ask” for Sea View makes a bold statement, challenging the development community to consider what’s next for health and sustainability, and how we will define high-performing sites in the future.

Developers interested in the Sea View RFEI can sign up for updates or to attend an upcoming site visit. Project teams and owners interested in prioritizing health alongside sustainability are able to use a new process credit within the LEED Pilot Credit Library and to take advantage of technical assistance supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Learn more about the Sea View RFEI

First LEED Platinum single-family home in the Middle East continues to serve as a model

March 28, 2017
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Building to a superior level of performance, such as LEED standards, is a challenge in Saudi Arabia. In addition to hot, dry and windy desert conditions, the Kingdom’s residential construction culture is unfamiliar and untrained in modern building practices; by extension, the local manufacturing and supply chain isn’t equipped to deliver products that support high-performance building. Meanwhile, deep government subsidies for energy and water undermine incentives to build homes to a higher standard of resource efficiency.

But an 800-square-meter Demonstration House in a commercial business park in Riyadh provides the local and regional building industry and its supply chain a glimpse of what can be accomplished with collaboration, thoughtful design and an integrated systems approach to housing performance.

Built as part of a three-building campus supporting Home of Innovation™, a regional growth program initiated by Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), the Demonstration House become, in 2015, the first single-family home in the Middle East to earn Platinum certification under LEED for Homes.

All photos copyright 2016, courtesy of SABIC.

Among its accomplishments:

  • A 38 percent reduction in overall energy use compared to villas of similar size, thanks to an airtight (< 1.0 ACH) thermal shell of insulated concrete forms and high-performance fenestration, a structural system supported by proper building orientation and deep roof overhangs that helps control solar heat gain. 
  • A pair of four-ton, variable-speed heat pumps and a single mini-split unit to regulate indoor comfort. A robust fresh-air ventilation and filtration system maintains healthy air quality.
  • A 28-kW solar array on the roof, as well as a pair of solar thermal collectors to further reduce energy demand from the local power grid. The House is designed to achieve a net-zero energy balance.
  • A combination of low-flow plumbing fixtures, faucets and appliances and grey/rain water reclamation for the irrigation of native, drought-tolerant landscaping deliver a 40 percent reduction in potable water use, addressing Saudi Arabia’s extreme scarcity of fresh water resources.

“These accomplishments prove that we can achieve the highest levels of building performance in one of the harshest climates in the world,” said Abdullah Al-Refaie, program director of Home of Innovation. “Such an accomplishment can only be achieved through collaboration among all members of the project team.”

SABIC leveraged many of the 45 global, regional and local companies participating in Home of Innovation to refine the concept and outfit the house with innovative yet commercially available high-performance solutions. A global design-build team, including local project management and construction labor, collaborated from the beginning.

“We were confident that the House would achieve LEED Platinum,” says Mario Seneviratne of Green Technologies in Dubai, UAE, which served as the certified Green Rater and worked closely with IBACOS, a housing innovation consultancy in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to deliver integrated systems and construction quality assurance. That collaboration helped the house earn 114 out of a possible 136 credits under the LEED for Homes rating system.

To educate the local and regional building industry on the concepts and systems used to achieve such a performance standard, the house features a Performance Zone converted from two secondary bedrooms and a shared, working bathroom. The exhibit space features the core systems of Structure, Water, Air, Energy and Control articulated with graphics, interactive digital displays, videos, mock-ups and display products. One wall of the bathroom was left open to showcase its water-efficient plumbing system.

The Home of Innovation is available for scheduled tours by request.

Learn more about The Home of Innovation

LEED Link: LEED rating systems overview

March 28, 2017
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USGBC has recently been publishing updates to our "Getting Started With" series on the various LEED rating systems. Those are great for finding links to the resources you need to launch your project. But if you'd like a broader overview of all the rating systems, visit the one-stop shop that is our page.

This page's clean and intuitive layout allows you to click a tab for each rating system at the top to see a snapshot of what that system covers, without having to navigate among different pages. In addition, each description includes a statistic relevant to that area of green building—for example, that 92.2 percent of LEED-certified new construction projects are improving energy performance by at least 10.5 percent.

Use this page to familiarize yourself with our rating systems, and also share it with others, if you need some quick bullet points to share about the benefits of LEED green building in your community.

Browse the LEED rating systems

USGBC takes part in international conference in Beijing

March 27, 2017
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Nellie Cheng, director of USGBC global market development, and Mark Ginsberg, senior fellow at USGBC, spoke to participants at the 13th International Conference on Green and Energy-Efficient Building and New Technologies and Products Expo in Beijing, China, on March 22.  

As China’s largest green building event, the conference is one of the most important platforms for professionals across the world to learn the latest development of green buildings in China, with two days of programming featuring dozens of forums and workshops covering a wide range of green topics.

By the end of 2016, China had become the largest market for LEED-certified projects outside the United States. With over 1,000 certified projects, LEED has been continuously building its reputation in China and strongly supporting the country’s green building market transformation.

Cheng and Ginsberg were invited to present at four key sessions hosted by renowned Chinese developers and professional institutes, to share their expertise and best practices in the world green building market. In addition, Ginsberg was invited to the Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA) forum as one of the experts on its panel discussion, which aims to assist subnational governments in speeding up the process of adopting best-practice policies and implementing building efficiency projects.


Above: Mark Ginsberg at BEA's panel discussion. Feature image at top: Nellie Cheng delivering a speech at the forum on market development for green building.

Get the emails you want from USGBC, GBCI and our family of brands

March 27, 2017
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We want you to have the best USGBC email experience possible and to read about the news that most interests you. That’s why we recently updated our email subscription preferences for USGBC, GBCI and our whole family of brands. Our new email subscriptions page allows you to be in charge of the types of emails you want to receive.

By updating your preferences, you ensure that you won't miss out on the best articles, updates and events.

Updating is simple. Log in to your account and make any desired changes to your account information. We think you’ll like what you find. Pick the content that’s relevant to you—life is too short for irrelevant emails!

Not sure how to update? Follow these four easy steps:

  1. Log in to your USGBC account.
  2. Click “Email subscriptions” in the left-hand column.
  3. Select the emails that are interesting to you.
  4. Click "Save changes."

Get ready to receive the most relevant content. If we missed something, let us know. To suggest other content you'd like to receive in your inbox, contact Ursula Fox-Koor.

Update your subscription preferences

USGBC North Carolina's Traci Rider receives grant to improve multifamily health

March 24, 2017
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USGBC North Carolina would like to congratulate member Traci Rider, PhD, on a recent grant award. 

On Februrary 13, 2017, Designlife at North Carolina State University ran an article by Monique Delage, "Rider Proposal for Community Health Research Receives Substantial Grant," about a proposal by Rider to assess and improve health in multifamily housing developments. The proposal has received a $250,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Read the full article


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