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Leadership platforms: Building a WELL Collaborative (USGBC Minnesota)

July 12, 2017
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Feature image: Rendering of the plaza at United Properties’ WELL-registered project “The Nordic” in Minneapolis. Image credit: LHB.

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 will feature 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. 

Established in May 2016, the Minnesota WELL Building Collaborative promotes healthier buildings for people in Minnesota. For the first year of our work, we’ve been busy crafting our mission and learning about the WELL Building Standard to better assist our community. Because the building standards are still relatively new, we have focused on engaging industry leaders in conversation about this new system. There have been questions about the cost, return on investment and data tracking associated with certification. 

Stakeholders are eager to know how data is being measured and what the cost looks like. Collaborative members have been working to find the answers while also encouraging developers and clients to pursue certification for the wider benefits. 

Meeting of the USGBC MN WELL Collaborative at HGA in Minneapolis.

Meeting of the USGBC Minnesota WELL Collaborative at HGA's space in Minneapolis. Photo credit: Sheri Brezinka.

As the organization continues to develop the idea of healthy buildings, we are constantly informing people from different industries about the research and work being been done by Delos and IWBI

We can organize information in the best way to share across all communities. There is abundant knowledge out there regarding health and building design, but it is not being presented to the community in a structured format. The group works closely to resolve this by organizing workshops and education series for a wide spectrum of interested people.

For future WELL groups in Minnesota and beyond, some of the best practices start from setting a strong foundation and building momentum from the get-go:

  • Define what we are advocating. There are plenty of resources available to various organizations. Seek help from IWBI and industry professionals for unanswered questions.
  • Connect with stakeholders and get their perspectives on the certification. This is a new system that requires new ideas, processes and mindset.
  • Be open to criticism and craft your story on how you would like to see the organization grow.

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.

Attend the NYC Food Waste Fair on July 25

July 12, 2017
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The NYC Department of Sanitation’s Foundation for New York’s Strongest is hosting an exhibition of food waste solutions at their annual NYC Food Waste Fair on Tuesday, July 25 at the Brooklyn Expo Center.

GBCI's zero waste program is a sponsor of the fair and will also be presenting at the event. Stephanie Barger, Director of Market Transformation, Zero Waste Programs, USGBC will be moderating the panel at the session "Establishing a Zero Waste Program: Setting Goals + Metrics" from 3 to 4 pm.

When: Tues., July 25, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
Where: Brooklyn Expo Center, 72 Noble Street, Brooklyn, New York 11222
Cost: $50

New York City businesses produce more than 650,000 tons of food scraps annually. Yet food scraps aren’t garbage—instead of wasting them, they could be used to feed people and animals, nourish soul, grow healthy food and create energy. Businesses, investors and policy makers are eager to reduce their food waste footprint. By pairing an expo-style event with workshops, digital content and live demonstrations, the NYC Food Waste Fair will provide critical resources,.

Learn about how you can build a food waste prevention plan from scratch or take existing programs to the next level. The fair’s exhibit hall will showcase vendors offering food waste prevention, recovery and recycling services. Workshops with city government officials will show you how to comply with laws and regulations, and you'll receive tips from experts on how to achieve tangible, cost-effective results.

Learn more and register 

Local leadership for global gain (USGBC Greater Virginia)

July 11, 2017
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Energy and sustainability leaders from Henrico County, Chesterfield County, James City County and the City of Richmond recently joined members and supporters of USGBC Greater Virginia for a presentation and discussion about green initiatives within their localities.

The presenters focused on local initiatives that drive sustainability leadership and measurable successes benefitting the citizens and the environment of Virginia. The audience consisted of members of the green building design community, including architects and engineers, manufacturers, vendors and consultants. The featured speakers were: 

  • Carrie Webster, Energy Manager of Henrico County, who promotes energy efficiency and sustainability in county facilities including government, public schools and public utilities. 
  • Julia Reynolds, Chesterfield County’s Energy Management Administrator, who leads Chesterfield to act locally and think globally regarding environmental stewardship and sustainability. 
  • Dawn Oleksy, Environmental Coordinator for James City County, who is responsible for energy management and the promotion of sustainability initiatives in all James City County government facilities, as well as recycling and litter prevention education and outreach.
  • Alicia Zatcoff, Sustainability Manager for the City of Richmond, who develops and leads Richmond’s Sustainability and Energy Management Program.

Attendees at the USGBC Greater Virginia event

The speakers discussed included energy benchmarking and audits, green building, transportation and planning, waste streams and recycling, education and outreach and local government collaboration. Understanding that community participation is critical to effecting change, audience members also contributed to a discussion about the types of innovative sustainability initiatives they’d like to see their local governments address in the future. 

See upcoming events at USGBC Greater Virginia

USGBC National Capital Region tours net zero school in Maryland

July 11, 2017
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According to the Maryland Energy Administration, Wilde Lake Middle School (WLMS) in Howard County, Maryland, is the state's first net zero energy school. On June 15, USGBC National Capital Region took a tour organized by the USGBC community's Montgomery County Committee. The school is also currently seeking LEED Platinum certification under LEED for Schools.

Introductions to the project

  • Ally Dzelilovic, and Bala Srini, of the Montgomery County Committee of USGBC National Capital Region, welcomed attendees.
  • The Director of Construction for Howard County Public Schools, Scott Washington, gave a brief overview of the school’s planning and construction process.
  • Anne Swartz, Principal of WLMS, shared her experience in acclimating to the net zero energy school. She explained that her staff is developing a new curriculum related to energy and sustainability.  
  • The project’s architect, Robyn Toth, Principal, TCA Architects, spoke about the prototype middle school design developed in 1994, which HCPS wanted to build. The prototype design had to be taken to the next level due to the Maryland Energy Administration’s (MEA) Net Zero Energy Grant. The MEA NZE Grant required a net zero energy performance and that the building be designed to an Energy Usage Index (EUI) of less than 25 kBtu per SF. Toth defined net zero building for the audience, and discussed seven fundamental design strategies for achieving net zero.

Aspects of a net zero school

The attendees were then split into two groups for the tour. One was led by Robyn Toth and Patrick Morgan, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Electrical Project Manager, James Posey Associates. The other group was led by Scott Washington and Mike Sherren, PE, LEED AP, Vice President, James Posey Associates. The tour covered a classroom, geothermal room, gymnasium, cafeteria, kitchen, mechanical room, electrical room, outdoor classroom, science lab and the roof-level solar panels.

During the tour, the design team answered questions and gave insights in the design process that took the building to net zero. They showed participants enhanced controls and mechanical equipment and explained strategies that maximized the amount of PV panels on the roof. The tour ended near the entrance of the school, at the interactive energy kiosk with its environmental dashboard.

After the tour, Toth compared the EUIs of the existing school, the LEED baseline, the prototype middle school LEED Silver design and the net zero school. She elaborated upon the process to achieve net zero in all its categories. Then, Mike Sherren discussed the electrical and mechanical side of achieving a net zero transformation. The design team explained the life cycle cost analysis of the finishes and renewable energy system, and Toth concluded by discussing the educational aspects of the school and how it can help inspire the students to become stewards of the environment. Mark Bryan, director of USGBC National Capital Region, gave concluding remarks.

USGBC recognizes two new California state leaders with Green Hard Hats

July 11, 2017
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Feature image: Brenden McEneaney, Commissioner McAllister, Senator Wiener, Senator Skinner, Wes Sullens and Jeremy Sigmon. Photo courtesy of California Energy Commission.

We recently recognized the achievements of two of California’s state leaders who are driving forward California's vision of healthy, efficient and high-performing buildings at USGBC's annual Green Hard Hat Awards event in Sacramento. 2012 awardee Senator Nancy Skinner kicked off the event with enthusiastic remarks about the two new awardees and about USGBC.

State Senator Scott Wiener and Commissioner Andrew McAllister of the California Energy Commission were awarded the USGBC Green Hard Hat in recognition of their transformational leadership in creating a more sustainable California.

“We’re immensely proud to be working with such influential and passionate people, especially Senator Wiener and Commissioner McAllister,” said Brenden McEneaney, Pacific regional director at USGBC. “California has led the charge at the state level when it comes to green building initiatives, and we’ll continue working with these leaders to deliver sustainable, healthy communities for all Californians.”

Senator Wiener served as county supervisor in San Francisco before being elected to the state senate in 2016, but has taken up the mantle with full force, authoring several bills that promote more efficient use of water and energy in buildings, as well as making way for more affordable housing. USGBC is thankful for the senator’s outstanding leadership on these issues on behalf of his district, covering the city and county of San Francisco (a global leader in green building policy and planning).

Senator Wiener addresses USGBC members at LEED Platinum, net zero energy Golden1 Center while USGBC's Brenden McEneaney and Wes Sullens look on.

Senator Wiener addresses USGBC members at the Golden1 Center while USGBC's Brenden McEneaney and Wes Sullens look on.

Commissioner McAllister has been leading many of the energy efficiency and clean energy efforts at the California Energy Commission since 2012. He administered two of California’s signature renewable energy programs and has overseen important research and state programs to unlock the potential of energy efficiency. McAllister carefully pursues the climate nexus of the energy programs and research he oversees, including recognizing the important potential of green buildings as a key part of the solution. (For more, see the foreword of USGBC's 2015 report on CALGreen implementation).

This year’s awards ceremony was held at the Golden1 Center, the LEED Platinum, net zero energy arena that is one of the greenest such venues in the world and home to the Sacramento Kings.  After the awards ceremony, USGBC members, partners and guests took a guided tour of the arena.

Next, USGBC members will convene for more sustainability education and celebration at the annual GreenerBuilder conference, held in 2017 at the Zero Net Energy Center in San Leandro.

See more recent news about California

Green Homes in Texas Add $25,000 Resale Value, Study Finds

July 11, 2017
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New homes built to LEED commanding 8 percent premium

Washington, D.C.—(July 11, 2017)—A new study from The University of Texas at Austin and USGBC finds that new homes in Texas built to meet green building standards such as LEED, the world’s most widely used green building rating system, are worth an average of $25,000 more in resale value than conventional homes.

The study, “The Value of LEED Homes in the Texas Real Estate Market: A Statistical Analysis of Resale Premiums for Green Certification,” found that homes built to LEED standards between 2008 and 2016 showed an 8 percent boost in value, while homes built to a wider range of green standards saw a 6 percent increase in value.

Read the full press release

Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly: June 2017

July 10, 2017
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The June issue of the Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, released by the Green Schools National Network, is rich with information about the current state of affairs for green schools around the country. In its inaugural three issues, the Catalyst is tackling stories of the past, present and future of green schools. This issue encourages the reader to take stock of where we’ve arrived—and also how far we need to go.

Here is a brief look at what you’ll find in the journal this month:

  • Lisa Kensler and Cynthia Uline explain the recent updates to the Interstate School Leadership Licensure Consortium standards that influence how school leaders around the U.S. approach their work. They have evolved to directly align with the goals of sustainability, allowing future school leaders to explore topics related to green schools.
  • Anisa Heming pulls the curtain back on the Center for Green Schools’ Measuring Our Impact project, which has been exploring the frameworks and questions used by green schools organizations to assess our movement’s success. See the conclusions of the Center’s analysis and learn the steps needed to create consensus on the measures of a green school.
  • Jim Elder provides detailed case studies about the winding path of each of the most successful state-level environmental literacy policies. Sharing how and why policies were passed in Maryland, California and Oregon, he educates the reader about how we can make the same happen in our own states.

We are proud to be a distribution partner for Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly. Access this exceptional content for free, and learn more about how our collective work is shaping schools.

Read the latest issue

Advancements in product category rule development

July 7, 2017
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In 2013, USGBC and UL Environment began working to bring more consistency, credibility, and transparency to building and construction environmental product declarations (EPDs).

Since then, a group of experts—the Technical Advisory Panel (TAP), along with UL Environment and USGBC staff—have developed guidance for creating product category rules (PCR) that address industry-wide EPD creation to better enable a pathway to comparative benchmarking against company-specific EPDs.

There are two parts to the guidance, the Part A and B framework, and associated documents can be used by any EPD program operator to develop PCRs and EPDs in alignment with the USGBC’s market transformation goals.

Part A, Life Cycle Assessment Calculation Rules and Report Requirements (available for free download), outlines the core methodology that must be used when conducting and reporting an LCA and certain core information in an EPD.

Part B, PCR Committee Process and Resources, was developed to be used in tandem with Part A. It provides a template outlining the process for the PCR committee and key questions/topics that must be addressed throughout the product-specific PCR creation process. The Part A and B approach provides the core consistency in methodology across all PCRs (Part A) while including sector-specific reporting flexibility across the building products industry (Part B).

Additional guidance is also included for companies wishing to benchmark internally against their own EPD and/or an industry-wide EPD. The guidance layers additional benchmarking requirements over the limited language in international standards EN 15804 and ISO 21930.

This framework is important and timely to help move the PCR and EPD industries toward greater consistency in reporting and increase the functionality of EPDs for the design community. While existing standards set a strong foundation, there is still considerable room for interpretation, confusion, and obfuscation within the PCR and EPD development process.

LEED v4 options

The LEED v4 EPD credit has two options. The first option rewards companies that disclose life cycle impacts of their products through environmental product declarations, and the second rewards manufacturers who can demonstrate improvement in those impacts relative either to themselves or industry benchmarks.

EPDs conforming to this guidance can contribute to both option 1 and option 2 (optimization) of the LEED v4 EPD credit. EPDs published under this guidance are intended to support increased supply chain transparency and provide a mechanism to document product optimization. They can be easily used by project teams designing, building and operating buildings.

What’s next?

In a constantly evolving space, the world of PCR creation is technical and complex. In order to create clear, functional and aligned guidance, phase II of this framework will be informed by industry and program operator feedback, as well as a diverse group of technical experts comprising current TAP members and representatives from the Program Operator Consortium. 

Green building tech club in Boston to attend Greenbuild

July 7, 2017
Authored by: 
Jen Cole
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This excerpt is from "Madison Park High School Green Building Tech Club," by Jen Cole, published on June 6 on the USGBC Massachusetts website.

As part of the Road to Greenbuild, USGBC Massachusetts has begun a legacy project at Madison Park High School called the Green Building Tech Club. The after-school program, starting in September, will run from 3 to 5 p.m. once a week and introduce and prepare the underrepresented community at the vocational high school to "green economy" careers in facilities management.

Students involved will be engaged with presentations from various local professionals, a trip to the Expo Hall at Greenbuild 2017, tours of high-performance green buildings in our area and mentorship from Wentworth Institute of Technology Environmental Collaborative.

Read the full article

Attend a LEED Platinum building tour and workshop in Mexico City

July 7, 2017
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Spend a morning exploring the LEED Platinum CENTRO University building in Mexico City, and gain inspiration and insight as you learn about strategies the project managers employed and the certification process.

Hosted by USGBC Education Partner SUMe, the tour will be led by Alfredo L. Mariscal, LEED Project Manager for AKF. He will walk through tactics the project employed when tackling specific LEED credits and overcoming challenges to ultimately achieve LEED Platinum certification.

When: Thurs., July 13, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Where: Universidad Centro, Avenida Constituyentes 455, CDMX, Mexico

Find more events like this in your region.

Learn more and register


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