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Walking the green schools talk: Communities in action

July 7, 2017
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All around the United States, USGBC communities are putting the mission of green schools into action, and staff and volunteers at the Center for Green Schools have been showcasing this commitment through our work with schools all year long.

Here are a few examples of what’s going on around the country:

North and South Carolina

In February, volunteers with the USGBC South Carolina Low Country Branch participated in the fourth annual Charleston STEM Fest 2017, an outdoor celebration of science, technology, engineering and math. UNC Charlotte and UNC Wilmington hosted two sustainability career panels in April, engaging USGBC partners and experts from the field in preparing students as they consider careers in sustainability and green building.

USGBC North Carolina has partnered with the Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington to support the Kids Architectural Summer Camp in July, teaching them green building lessons as part of the camp’s focus on history, architecture, restoration and preservation. Finally, during this year's annual Green Gala in September, three college students whose applications are chosen will receive scholarships to attend Greenbuild 2017 in Boston.


Community staff and volunteers in USGBC Georgia are getting a head start on Green Apple Day of Service, and the Georgia community will showcase the projects of 30 schools that sign up early, as examples for others. In addition, schools will participate in a training in early September for teachers and students to work with a mentor on a long-term project with Georgia’s Green YOUR School program, where they will brainstorm potential projects with peers. 


The USGBC Colorado community is gearing up for their annual Green Schools Summit in October 2017. They’re also using the opportunity to celebrate a top-notch school that just achieved LEED Gold in March. Organizers of the summit are planning a tour of the Fort Logan Northgate 3–8 School in Sheridan, which also earned a 2015 Learning by Design award for “Outstanding School.” 


Gardens were planted this spring as part of Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Planting Week, and USGBC Minnesota celebrated in the new outdoor classroom at Washburn Elementary School. USGBC staff, volunteers and school employees will work on Phase Two of the project, along with community partners NACUBO and Hands On Twin Cities. As a Green Apple Day of Service kick-off project in July, they’ll build a shade structure, modular benches, birdhouses and a Little Free Library.

North Dakota

Alongside the winter’s Fargo Frostival, USGBC North Dakota held the Green Applympics at Kids Winter Boot Camp. Kids played games, built windmills, participated in recycling races, and competed in quizzes. Volunteers also took hosted a LEED scavenger hunt at the Red River Zoo on Earth Day. Visitors learned about sustainable aspects of the zoo and how they could bring those concepts home. This fall, USGBC North Dakota will partner with schools in Fargo as part of Green Apple Day of Service.


In June, USGBC Wisconsin met with representatives from the Milwaukee Public School District’s Starms Early Childhood Center to conduct an ADVANCE KickStart session. USGBC staff, an industry volunteer, and a Milwaukee Area Technical College student in the Automated Building Systems degree program assisted. The session identified opportunities for improvement, including leveraging the further stages of ADVANCE to support their vision.

Kansas and Missouri

Sara Dykman, a 32-year-old field biologist from Kansas, talked to students at two Shawnee Mission Elementary Schools in Overland Park as part of the USGBC Central Plains Green Apple Day of Service. Dykman is in the middle of a 10,000-mile bicycle ride to observe and study monarch butterfly migration. Along the way, she is speaking at schools to support environmental education.


Lincoln Public Schools and its district sustainability coordinator, Brittney Albin, are leading the way in green as part of our Arc + Schools initiative. Albin was one of five USGBC School District Sustainability Scholarship recipients in the 2016–2017 school year. As one of the nine districts participating, Lincoln Public Schools will provide feedback to USGBC directly about the value Arc can provide specifically to schools.

New Mexico

In May, the U.S. Department of Education announced this year’s Green Ribbon Schools award recipients. New Mexico had special reason to celebrate, as one of this year’s honorees, the LEED Silver Sandia Vista Elementary from Rio Rancho Public Schools, is only the second school in the state to ever earn an ED-Green Ribbon Schools designation. The team will be recognized in July at the annual reception in Washington, D.C., in honor of the Green Ribbon awardees.

Get a project going in your community with Green Apple Day of Service

Register for Greenbuild India or Greenbuild China 2017

July 6, 2017
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Registration is now open for both Greenbuild India and Greenbuild China. For the first time, the world's largest green building conference will be held in Mumbai and Shanghai, in addition to Boston.

Greenbuild India: November 2–5, 2017. Register for Greenbuild India.
Greenbuild China: October 17–18, 2017. Register for Greenbuild China.

What do the events offer?

Delivering sustainability solutions, Greenbuild is the ideal space to learn about innovative green building strategies, products and services. It’s also a great opportunity for LEED professionals to earn continuing education (CE) credits.

Both events will feature:

  • Inspiring speakers
  • Invaluable networking opportunities
  • Industry showcases
  • LEED workshops with global industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals

Learn the latest about LEED v4 and its ability to impact energy, water and human health. Get introduced to LEED for Cities, the new Arc digital performance platform, the EDGE green building certification system for new residential and commercial buildings in emerging markets, the SITES rating system for sustainable landscape design and Parksmart for parking structures.

Greenbuild is unique in its ability to showcase the globally recognized LEED rating system for sustainable design, construction, and operations and maintenance. Today LEED, a product of the global green building industry, is found in more than 160 countries and territories.

See the full program of Greenbuild India sessions, and view the Greenbuild China agenda.

Who attends Greenbuild?

Network with hundreds of global building professionals focused on the global green building market: architects, builders and contractors, building owners, developers, educators, engineers, green building thought leaders, government planners and regulators, interior designers, real estate investors, sustainability officers, and utility executives.

Register for Greenbuild today

Registration Now Open for Greenbuild India 2017

July 6, 2017
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Award-winning green building conference and expo headed to Mumbai, November 2–5

Mumbai, India—(July 6, 2017)—Today, USGBC, the creators of the LEED green building rating system, announced that registration is now open for Greenbuild India. The event is presented by USGBC in partnership with ABEC Exhibitions & Conferences Pvt. Ltd.

Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held annually in the United States since 2002, is the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Greenbuild India will build on this by bringing together Indian and global industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building, making Greenbuild the ideal space to learn about groundbreaking green building products, services and technologies in the region.

Read the full press release

SITES v2 Gold projects automatically earn LEED v4 points

July 6, 2017
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The LEED v4 and SITES v2 rating systems can easily be used in tandem. Last fall, in an effort to simplify the process for projects interested in benefiting from pursuing both SITES and LEED, we published our SITES and LEED Synergies document, which outlined a list of substitutions between LEED and SITES. 

Now, GBCI has taken this even further. Any LEED v4 project can now automatically earn all of the points in the Sustainable Sites credit category in LEED when they achieve SITES v2 Gold certification or higher. As part of this, projects would not need to separately document their LEED Sustainable SITES credits after achieving SITES certification.* This is designed to recognize the projects that are going above and beyond by attempting both rating systems, and to reward them for their efforts. 

If you are interested in pursuing both SITES and LEED in tandem on a project, contact us to get started. GBCI is currently offering discounts on registrations for projects that choose to pursue both rating systems for a limited amount of time, so take advantage of this promotion.

Even though SITES v2 and LEED v4 were released 18 months apart, many of the concepts, credits and processes between the two rating systems align. A project that achieves both SITES and LEED certification is one that has shown true leadership in sustainability and provides numerous benefits to the people that visit the certified space. Pursuing both rating systems allows projects to ensure that they are performing at the highest levels possible.

Contact SITES to get started

* Please note that this option is only available to LEED v4 projects at this time. LEED 2009 projects can still use the SITES and LEED synergies document to earn credits across both rating systems.

USGBC New York Upstate partners with Southern Tier Solar Works

July 6, 2017
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An alliance has formed between USGBC New York Upstate and Southern Tier Solar Works (STSW). This partnership will help to highlight the Solarize Southern Tier Campaign, which allows businesses, nonprofits and institutions within Broome, Tioga Chenango, Delaware and Otsego Counties to benefit from below-market-rate pricing for solar installations. Southern Tier Solar Works is an education and outreach program under the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition.

This will be STSW's fourth solarize campaign, and in 2017, the organization is offering commercial/industrial-scale solar. It also offers, in Broome County, a new financing tool for businesses and nonprofits called Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE). 

Solarize campaigns are short-term programs approved by New York State Energy Research Development Authority, where organizations or municipalities put out an RFP to solar installers for bulk rate pricing and conduct a time-limited education and marketing campaign to sign up interested residents for a free solar site assessment. Typically, solarize campaigns are able to secure installation pricing for prospective customers at 20–40 percent below average market pricing.

USGBC New York Upstate is excited to share the benefits of this solarize campaign and how it complements rating systems and tools such as LEEDWELL, and Arc that make buildings healthier and more energy efficient. In an effort to bolster the campaign's reach, USGBC New York Upstate will cross-promote webinars introducing the solarize campaign and explaining  how CPACE financing works. Watch for networking and learning opportunities to explore opportunities for your building or portfolio. 

Making the solarize campaign even more attractive, Broome County commercial and multifamily building owners—both for-profit and nonprofit—can take advantage of special financing that provides longer terms and low interest rates, so that energy savings from solar makes your business cash flow positive. CPACE is a unique financing option that allows business owners to finance energy efficiency improvements on their tax bill. The loan stays with the property, doesn’t get added to a business’s balance sheet and does not rely on credit scores to be approved.

The Solarize Southern Tier Campaign will be accepting inquiries from commercial customers until October 31. For more information, contact Tracie Hall.

Get started with the solarize campaign

Changemaker Shawn Hunter: Life cycle assessment

July 6, 2017
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In the built environment, we tend to focus on the end result of the work we do—the building, the space or the community. But what about the impact from what happens before the building is constructed, or after it is no longer in use? This more holistic thinking is becoming the norm, and it’s called life-cycle assessment, or LCA.

For this edition of Changemakers, USGBC talks with Dr. Shawn Hunter, the Global Product Sustainability Leader for the Dow Chemical Company. In this role, he oversees product stewardship and sustainability efforts for building and construction. Not only does Hunter have a deep understanding of life cycle assessment, but he puts it into practice every day. 

Listen to the podcast.

Takeaways for changemakers

Hunter strives to use the power of business and technology to transition all of us to a prosperous society that lives within the means of the planet.

Things you can do right now:

  • Want to learn how LCA thinking has affected LEED v4, the latest version of LEED? Take a look at the credits and options that address LCA at the building and product level.
  • Check out the LEED v4 User’s Guide to learn more about how the materials section has evolved from LEED 2009 to LEED v4.
  • For tips on how to live more sustainably at home, visit Green Home Guide.
  • Review courses on the Education@USGBC platform to learn more about materials, environmental product declarations and life cycle assessment.
  • You can also get free CE hours by taking our quiz based on the conversation you just heard and reading this article.

Now we want to hear from you. What was your favorite part of today’s episode? What were your takeaways? Use #ChangemakersUSGBC to share your thoughts on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn. We’d love to know what you think.

Listen to the podcast

USGBC Central Pennsylvania helps green a Habitat for Humanity home

July 5, 2017
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In March of 2016, USGBC Central Pennsylvania identified an opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity of Harrisburg on a rewarding project: a duplex that was going to be given to a military veteran’s family, which had suffered from a fire. The goal of the project was to provide a low-cost and healthy home that operated sustainably to keep day-to-day costs for the family very affordable.    

USGBC Central Pennsylvania worked with Habitat for Humanity by providing technical consultation and identifying potential suppliers to offer discounted materials and services. Several USGBC Central Pennsylvania board members conducted site visits and provided architectural, energy-related and green-building recommendations, including:

  • Insulation types and installation methods
  • Low-usage plumbing fixtures
  • Paints with less than 50 grams per liter of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Asbestos testing

USGBC Central Pennsylvania Habitat for Humanity project

With new roofing and windows, and a complete remodel of the interior by Habitat for Humanity volunteers, the property will soon be a beautiful home to a happy family. The space has energy-efficient windows donated by Plygem, upcycled cabinets and countertops from the Habitat ReStore and bamboo and cork flooring donated by Calibamboo.  

USGBC Central Pennsylvania is looking forward to more projects in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity in the coming years.  We are also glad to support other community-focused organizations that are interested in sustainability. Please email Heidi Kunka, the community's director, or phone 202.706.0836, if you have a project in mind.

LEED certification update: Second quarter 2017

July 5, 2017
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We have revitalized this recurring feature to make it more dynamic and easier to read! From now on you will be able to check in quarterly on LEED certification activity, broken out by achievement level, rating system and location. We will remind you of this feature and the new numbers in the first week of every quarter through a USGBC article.

Additionally, be sure to check out the suite of market briefs for your state and country, as well as our state-by-state LEED for Homes rating system brief. For project-specific information, head to the LEED project directory for a closer look at LEED projects in your area.


ICP Expands Investor-Ready Energy Efficiency Certification to Industry, District Energy and Street Lighting

July 5, 2017
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London—(July 3, 2017)—Investor Confidence Project Europe, a global underwriting standard for developing and measuring energy efficiency retrofits, announced its Investor Ready Energy Efficiency™ (IREE) certification is now being applied to energy efficiency projects across industry, street lighting and district energy. The certification was previously only available to the building sector. The expansion is made possible through funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program.

Read the full press release

3 lessons on nature for K–12 students

June 30, 2017
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You want the best K–12 curriculum, and we've got it. In this first installment of “3 lessons on…”, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC is featuring lessons that will support educators in strengthening their students’ knowledge of and relationship to nature, as well as help align to learning standards and green schools initiatives.

Check out this month's selection of three lessons, and envision how to incorporate them into your curriculum:

All these lessons are available as part of the Learning Lab subscription, which is available for purchase for $40—less for bulk purchases.

Explore Learning Lab


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