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Partnership for LEED and ASHRAE codes platform is taking shape

May 11, 2017
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In press releases issued last week, the sponsoring organizations of the 2018 International Green Construction Code (2018-IgCC) provided an update on the development and publication plans for the model green code.

In addition to providing a summary of the process thus far to integrate ASHRAE Standard 189.1 and the IgCC into one document, the partners in this effort also announced plans to co-promote the 2018-IgCC to seek widespread adoption. USGBC’s efforts to promote the model code will begin in the fall of this year, likely coinciding with events at Greenbuild 2017 in Boston.

The ongoing development of the next versions of the IgCC is a major step in the process toward creating a unified model green code for commercial buildings. USGBC also has high hopes for the alignment of LEED and codes. To this end, the press releases from last week also indicate the process that USGBC plans to undertake to compare and recognize specific code measures in the 2018-IgCC that are substantially aligned with LEED credits and prerequisites. These measures will be targeted for streamlining in LEED and will be available for jurisdictions that adopt the green code beginning next year.

By taking the necessary steps to create a model green code that has direct connections to LEED, the partner organizations of the 2018-IgCC are developing the building blocks for a harmonized “codes and LEED” framework that can be leveraged by jurisdictions throughout North America. 

Learn more about green codes and LEED

USGBC South Carolina partners with Delos and Legacy Early College to host WELL panel

May 10, 2017
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On May 31, USGBC South Carolina will join Delos and Legacy Early College in hosting a WELL Standard Panel Discussion and Legacy Early College Fundraiser. The event includes a networking breakfast. Rick Fedrizzi, chairman and CEO of the International WELL Building Institute, and Carlie Bullock-Jones, founder and principal at Ecoworks Studio, will be the keynote speakers.

Schools across the country deal with the challenges of limited resources, deteriorating buildings, rapid advancements in technology and an aging workforce. USGBC, Delos and Legacy Early College Charter School are coming together to educate and initiate a community discussion to improve the health and wellness of building occupants through better design, construction and operations practices through the WELL Building Standard. This event will be a launching pad for WELL’s K–12 certification case study for schools across the country. 

Attendees will learn about how to lead the community by participating in an assessment of the benefits of the WELL Standard in the architecture, engineering, construction, ownership and operations (AECOO) of buildings.

Learn more and register for the event

Registration rates for the breakfast and panel discussion:

  • Early bird: $30
  • USGBC member: $35
  • Nonmember: $40


  • 8:00–8:30: Networking breakfast ​
  • 8:30–9:10: Welcome, WELL Standard overview (Carlie Bullock-Jones) and keynote (Rick Fedrizzi)
  • 9:10–9:40: Panelists’ position statements on the WELL Standard as it relates to their market sectors
  • 9:40–10:20: Breakout session (small group participatory discussions with panelists and attendees)
  • 10:20–10:30: Break
  • 10:30–11:05: Early adopters panel discussion
  • 11:05–11:40: Late adopters panel discussion
  • 11:40–12:00: Next steps, WELL, ADVANCE project, capital expenses fundraising campaign
  • 12:00–12:30: Tour of Legacy Charter School  


Organizations are asked to support the WELL certification process for one or more Legacy facilities. Sponsorship includes you as an author in the case study pursuit of Legacy Early College (Greenville, South Carolina) to be one of the first WELL-certified K–12 facilities in the country. All donations submitted will provide for Legacy’s participation in a USGBC ADVANCE project to assess the logistics of applying the WELL Building Standard to existing Legacy facilities.

Funds will engage Delos and the IWBI to assess the logistics of applying the WELL Building Standard to new Legacy Charter School facilities that are in design and/or under construction. Upon completion, Legacy Charter School will be the first case study subject for a public WELL building for educational building architects, builders, suppliers, educators and policymakers. Sponsorships range from $500–$10,000. Learn more at

Case study

It is important that schools are conducive to focus, creativity, critical thinking and socializing. Schools represent more than just centers for teaching the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic; they are places that ultimately teach us how to interact with others as thriving, social beings who are independent and responsible members of society.

In order to empower students to realize their potential, schools must accommodate a number of different types of functions and contexts while keeping students, teachers, staff, and administrators safe, healthy and happy. The WELL Standard presents evidence-based design, construction and operations guidelines to help realize these goals. In an effort to education and model how projects can incorporate the WELL Standards, the team will track their progress and host the first case study at

Legacy Early College

Legacy Early College’s innovative and inspirational model of education is redefining what is possible in education despite challenging conditions. Legacy is a K–12 public school within the Greenville County public school system. Legacy reflects both the West End renewal and a community tradition of pride and excellence. Our elementary, middle and high schools feature a progressive curriculum delivered via a nationally recognized system for teaching and learning. Legacy is the only public school in South Carolina that provides physical education every day for every student. Legacy Charter School is committed to providing school environments that promote and protect children’s health, well-being and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity.

NeoCon 2017 brings together commercial design professionals

May 10, 2017
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NeoCon®, one of the most important events of the year for the commercial design industry, is taking place at The Mart in Chicago, June 12–14. The three-day event attracts 50,000 design professionals and showcases hundreds of cutting-edge exhibitors spread across nearly 1 million square feet of exhibition space. NeoCon serves as a launching pad for thousands of new products and covers a spectrum of vertical markets, including workplace, healthcare, hospitality, retail, education, public space and government.

From game-changing products and services to inspiring keynote presenters and educational programming, not to mention networking events, the 49th edition of NeoCon offers a rich and multidimensional opportunity for the international design community.

Keynote presenters

  • Kicking off the show on Monday is Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post and founder and CEO of Thrive Global. Huffington will take the stage to discuss Thrive Global, her new venture that aims to end the epidemic of stress and burnout by offering companies and individuals sustainable, science-based solutions to enhance both well-being and performance. 
  • Tuesday’s keynote will feature Jessica Green, a world-renowned scientist inspiring people to see how the microbial blueprint of our bodies, homes, cities and forests impacts our our future. As co-founder and CTO of Phylagen, a DNA data harvesting and analytics company, Green envisions a future for urban design that promotes sustainability, human health, and well-being.
  • The founding principal of Chicago-based John Ronan Architects, John Ronan FAIA, will round out the keynote programming on the final day of the show. Ronan serves as lead designer on all projects and is known for his abstract yet sensuous work that explores materiality and atmosphere. 

NeoCon will also deliver multidisciplinary programming, addressing a wide range of today’s most important design topics, featuring nearly 100 accredited seminars. New this year is "Icons at NeoCon," a special set of icon-led seminars. Online registration to attend NeoCon is free and available through June 9.

For real-time updates, follow NeoCon on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #NeoCon2017.

Learn more about NeoCon and register

How your LEED v4 project can achieve Parksmart certification

May 9, 2017
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Does your LEED v4 O+M or BD+C project include a parking structure? If so, you may already be well on your way to also achieving Parksmart certification. GBCI’s recently released Synergies Between Parksmart and LEED guidance document highlights the LEED credits that are applicable to, and demonstrate achievement toward, Parksmart certification.  

When a project achieves LEED certification, it is recognized as a global sustainability leader. Often, these projects also include a garage that has embraced sustainability. Although parking structures are very different from occupied buildings, they have similarities and complementary uses. The guidance document recognizes this relationship, showing how parking structures that fall within a LEED v4 O+M or BD+C project can achieve Parksmart points for specific LEED credits.

Using this new guidance helps your garage gain recognition for sustainability achievements already demonstrated and allows you the opportunity to broaden your project’s sustainability goals.

Parksmart guides project teams to leverage an array of emerging mobility options and innovative parking technologies that provide users more efficient and less impactful access to a project site. Embracing Parksmart further expands your project’s sustainability footprint to how customers, employees and tenants arrive at your project.

Parksmart certification distinguishes projects that enable a customer-friendly, efficient and sustainable journey for their building users. Review the guidance to see how close your existing or future LEED v4 O+M or BD+C project is to gaining Parksmart certification.

Download the guidance document

LEED Link: LEED v4 education playlist

May 9, 2017
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In case you missed our recent announcement, we want to make sure you know about the new, targeted playlists we've developed for Education @USGBC. We've curated some of our favorite courses into groupings that meet your specific interests and needs. One of these new playlists is LEED v4 Updates.

Here, you can find courses on LEED v4 rating systems and how LEED v4 applies to materials credits, integrative process, retail and health care, to name just a few. With an Education @USGBC subscription, all these courses are free; otherwise, they are $45 each. To start out with the playlist, try our free webinar "Introduction to LEED v4."

In addition, there are playlists for courses to help you maintain your LEED credential, such as the CMP: LEED Green Associate and CMP: LEED AP: BD+C playlists.

Check out our LEED v4 Updates playlist

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day from the Center for Green Schools

May 9, 2017
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Happy Teacher Appreciation Day! When we talk about green schools, the conversation in the building industry is often focused on environmental impact and healthy design and construction. However, educators are the central players in the third “pillar” of green schools, in support of environmental literacy.

Students who learn to think across subject areas, connecting their learning to real-world problems and solutions, are more likely to understand and care for the complex web of life that supports them and sustains their communities. Schools and educators that integrate environmental and sustainability education are able to address complex issues, while giving deeper meaning to curriculum.

In the spirit of the day, the Center for Green Schools reflects on some of our favorite educators, the ways they supported us, and the lasting impact they have had on our careers in green schools.

Mrs. Gieringer, Our Lady of Holy Souls School, 7th and 8th Grade Math

When I entered junior high, I really hated math; when I left, I not only loved it, but I also thought that I might want to be an architect. Mrs. Gieringer was tenacious, and she quite literally changed the course of my life through her use of real-world, hands-on classroom projects. We managed fake stock accounts, balanced a checkbook for our expenses, built house models and more. She wanted each student to feel challenged, to be their best self, and to love the things that math could do. When we talk about educating for sustainability through project-based education, this is what I think about: inspiring students to love knowledge because of what it allows them to do in the world. —Anisa Heming, Director, Center for Green Schools

David Orr, Oberlin College

My passion for sustainable development and green buildings was most certainly developed at Oberlin College, where I had the pleasure of learning in a state-of-the-art environmental studies center, and under David Orr, Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics. David strongly believed in the capacity of students as change agents, and he pushed us to take on projects that fostered deep learning and to pursue leadership roles at the campus and community level that exposed us to the way the world truly worked. David taught me that buildings can be incredible teaching tools and that we must start educating students in the classroom if we are to foster more sustainable behaviors. I’ve carried these lessons with me as I've followed my career path in the green schools movement.  —Phoebe Beierle, Green Schools Fellowship Manager

Mr. David Ely, Champlain Valley Union High School (Hinesburg, Vermont), 12th Grade

Mr. Ely solidified my interest in the life sciences in my final year of high school. He was my AP Biology teacher, and his class was both the most challenging and rewarding academic experience of my high school career. He taught with a level of passion and expertise I have rarely seen since. Perhaps most importantly, he treated his students like the young adults we were and set high expectations for accountability, personal responsibility and achievement. —Ali Peterson, Communications Manager 

Deb Merriam, Parker School (Devens, Massachusetts), High School Arts and Humanities

Deb Merriam, one of my favorite high school humanities teachers, was committed to showing her students the unsung heroes in every history lesson and how every great moment has a lot of hard work behind it. I try to remember those lessons as USGBC works hard to be inclusive in carrying out its mission and in bringing the benefits of green building to all communities. Deb also taught me how to diagram a sentence—making me a lifetime advocate of good grammar! —Emily Riordan, Community Advancement

Ms. Ahern, Melrose Middle School (Melrose, Massachusetts), 6th Grade

Ms. Ahern, my 6th grade math teacher, taught me some very valuable lessons about the power of confidence—and fostered my longstanding love of word problems. It was this love of problem solving that led me to my first position managing data here at the Center for Green Schools and that helps me everyday in my work developing comprehensive green schools measures that schools can use to track their progress towards sustainability. —Emma Arnold, Information Management Associate

Leslie Kearney, Little Rock Central High School (Little Rock, Arkansas), 10th to 12th Grades

Frau Kearney was my German teacher throughout high school; and as chaperone to several regional Oktoberfests and a post-graduation tour through Europe, she brought learning to life. As the only teacher I had every semester of high school, “Frau” was a welcome, constant source of light during turbulent adolescent times. I learned from her that the foundation for a happy life is humor, compassion, kindness and giving back to your community through service. And I retained just enough German language to impress friends. —Jenny Wiedower, K–12 Education Manager

Mr. Francis, Idaho Falls High School, AP U.S. History, World History and Interdisciplinary English

Mr. Francis taught me about the power of context and why previous events shape future ones. He also taught me about the value of study and preparation. I still take notes in column form because of Mr. Francis. —Bryan Howard, Legislative Director

Ms. Olinda Jara, Nuestra Senora de la Merced High School (Peru), 7th Grade

Ms. Olinda was my history teacher when I was 12 years old. Although history classes might be a boring course for some students, Ms. Olinda had the power to make the classes interesting and hold our attention—she was like a storyteller. What I most like about her was her availability to hear our doubts, give good advice and inspire confidence. —Yngrid Chayacani, Research Intern

To all the educators out there, thank you for all that you do to inspire, enlighten and cultivate the next generation of leaders. Your work is fundamental to advancing our mission of green schools for all.

Learn more about how teachers can educate on sustainability

Rebuilding and resiliency with LEED in Greensburg, Kansas

May 8, 2017
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Ten years after a two-mile-wide tornado devastated the town of Greensburg, Kansas, the rebuilt community is a model for what green building can do. More than just an environmentally sound choice, building green can also mean building for self-sufficiency and resiliency, qualities always embodied by residents of the plains states.

On May 4, 2007, an EF-5 tornado flattened over 1,300 homes in Greensburg and caused nine deaths. As the town sought to recover from the destruction, Mayor Bob Dixson focused on sustainable construction and renewable energy as a way to build the community even stronger than before.

Building stronger with LEED

Dixson's plan for Greensburg included constructing all future city-owned buildings over 4,000 square feet to LEED Platinum standards; when it passed, it was the first resolution of its kind in the United States. Now, in 2017, the LEED-certified structures in Greensburg include such diverse projects as the city hall, arts center, John Deere dealership, county hospital and K–12 school.

In addition to green buildings, Greensburg now boasts a walkable downtown, a net metering policy and investment in wind turbines. The town's Sustainable Comprehensive Master Plan addresses residential density, park space, renewable energy and dozens of other aspects of sustainable city design. 

In 2013, Dixson was honored with USGBC’s Mayor Richard M. Daley Legacy Award for Global Leadership in Creating Sustainable Cities. At a resiliency workshop USGBC attended in 2012, Dixson commented, "We’re building back in a way that will ensure that this can never happen again."

Greensburg City Hall. Photo copyright Assassi, courtesy BNIM.

A community achievement

An early partner in Dixson's efforts to rebuild was architectural firm BNIM of Kansas City, Missouri. Having to recreate the town's design from scratch provided an unexpected opportunity for more inclusivity and community direction in transforming what Greensburg would look like.

Bob Berkebile, the project principal, commented in a BNIM article five years later, "If not for the outspoken input of the youth, the school would be an ordinary regional school located 10 miles from town on a site the school board purchased within a week of the storm. But because the next generation saw a need for change and had the desire to stand up for it, the school is now an anchor for the community sited along Main Street, both transforming education and adding vitality to the community.”

Two years earlier, Berkebile had helped USGBC navigate its response to Katrina by participating in the charrette that ultimately led to The New Orleans Principles, a guidance document for addressing post-disaster reconstruction.

Greensburg school. Photo copyright Assassi, courtesy BNIM.

Greensburg has gotten creative in planning for storm resistance. Projects like the Silo house and homes and apartments using insulated concrete forms and straw bales in the walls may have a greater chance of withstanding future tornadoes, in addition to incorporating green features.

Visiting the town's official website today, you can find its "5 Year Building Performance Report," with details on the energy savings of its LEED buildings as compared to typical buildings, including 72 percent savings for the school and 59 percent for the hospital. According to this report, the LEED Platinum initiative "served as a major driving force in the effort to rebuild Greensburg as a model of sustainability."

Greensburg downtown. Photo copyright Assassi, courtesy BNIM.

Resources from USGBC on resiliency

LEED works for rural communities as effectively as it does for large cities, and Greensburg is the perfect example. For more on the town's transformation, watch the Climate Reality Project's video on "The Greening of Greensburg."

New research supports the business case for LEED

May 8, 2017
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Several new studies have been released that bolster the evidence supporting the business case for LEED. In each study, researchers did a deep dive into energy-related and economic outcomes for LEED and Energy Star-labeled buildings in comparison to non-labeled. The results: Both are reliable indicators of high-performing buildings, and the market continues to value these labels in financial terms. 

In "The effectiveness of U.S. energy efficiency building labels," researchers from UCLA and Georgia Tech analyzed monthly energy consumption data from over 175,000 commercial buildings in the city of Los Angeles for the period 2005–2012. Focusing on the buildings involved in three programs: LEED, Energy Star, and the Better Buildings Challenge, the researchers used matching strategies to compare performance of participating buildings to similar non-participating buildings.

Researchers found “high magnitude” energy savings for all the programs, ranging from 18–19 percent (Better Buildings and Energy Star) to 30 percent (LEED). These savings represent a reduction of 210 million kilowatt-hours, or 145 kilotons of CO2-equivalent emissions per year. The study also reinforces the need for additional policy interventions to support energy saving activity in smaller and Class C buildings, which were less likely to participate in the building label programs.

The second study comes from Nils Kok, longtime researcher of market valuation for green buildings and other indicators of sustainability, and Rogier Holtermans, of the University of Southern California. "On the Value of Environmental Certification in the Commercial Real Estate Marketfocuses on office buildings in the 30 largest U.S. commercial real estate markets, finding that nearly 40 percent of spaces hold some kind of environmental certification in 2014, as compared to less than 5 percent in 2005.

Tracking some 26,000 office buildings, they measured the performance of real estate in 2013. Environmentally certified office buildings, on average, continue to have higher rental, occupancy and pricing levels, corroborating the results of earlier work. For the single metric of rental growth over time, they found no statistical difference. The authors conclude that, as a policy approach, credible energy and sustainability labels such as LEED provide a relatively low-cost strategy for differentiation in the commercial building stock, leading to increased energy efficiency.

For more on the benefits of green building and LEED, check our press kit.

To learn about current efforts to preserve the Energy Star budget, read our advocacy alert.

Learn more about the business case for LEED

The U.S. must lead by staying in the Paris Agreement

May 5, 2017
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As the possibility looms that our current administration may retreat from the commitment that the United States made to the Paris Agreement, USGBC lends its voice to the array of private and public sector leaders who publicly ask the administration to remain in this global agreement.

The Paris Agreement, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), establishes voluntary actions to address greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change mitigation and adaptation—and 194 countries around the world are signatories.

Many Fortune 500 companies support the agreement,> as well as 75 U.S. governors and mayors.

Even if focused solely on the U.S. perspective, there are myriad reasons to stay in the Paris Agreement. But one that may be overlooked is the potential negative impact of withdrawal on our economy here in the United States.

U.S. companies are already working to address business risks from climate and to capitalize on opportunities through the Paris Agreement, including wisely investing in low-carbon fuels and technologies to stay on the cutting edge of the global economy.

Job growth

In fact, the U.S. track record on reducing carbon pollution while growing jobs and our economies provides proof that we should not sacrifice this opportunity for action; rather we should continue to lead. Goods and services touching on clean energy, energy efficiency, resilience and increasingly, IT and data, are a growing area of the U.S. economy. These sectors provide an already impressive number of jobs for U.S. citizens, including many high-quality manufacturing and construction jobs.

For example, high-performing green buildings are projected to account for 3.9 million jobs from 2015–2018. The solar energy industry provides 260,000 jobs with a 25 percent growth rate in 2016, and wind energy another 100,000 in 2016, projected to grow to 600,000 by 2050. Energy efficiency jobs—which are local and cannot be transferred overseas—are also a growth area currently estimated at 1.9.8 million in 2016 with an impressive 13 percent growth rate.

Increased global demand

The Paris Agreement stands to increase global demand for U.S. goods and services in these sectors—if we remain a viable partner. With several regional trade deals on the table for negotiation or renegotiations, it is critical that the U.S. enter in a position of strength and with strategic allies, to preserve and expand access to foreign markets. Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement will at best weaken our bargaining ability, as virtually all other trading partners continue to engage with each other at the table, and at worst lead to targeted rollbacks in trade with the U.S. as retribution. We believe the U.S. economic growth trajectory will only improve with Paris Agreement engagement to keep us in the regular engagement framework and implementation discussions.

In fact, looking at sustainable, energy-efficient buildings as one example, the U.S. Department of Commerce projects that the export market for this sector’s goods and services will reach $39 billion in 2018, with the global demand for sustainable construction a major driver. China is number three in importing American building products. This strong export market for products such as wood products, windows and doors, insulation, HVAC, insulation, plumbing and glass all increase good jobs here in the U.S.

And because it’s a multilateral accord, other countries will capitalize on the economic benefits of renewable technology if the U.S. leaves, leaving us behind. The U.S. is poised to maintain its global climate leadership through national policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean energy—or we risk being left behind to China, India and other countries. It would be a lost opportunity, putting the U.S. at a competitive disadvantage and potentially locking us into technologies and economic pathways that are increasingly obsolete while also losing the benefits of low-carbon leadership.

Given the importance of the clean energy, efficiency and sustainable buildings sectors to our future economic strength, USGBC urges the administration to stay in the Paris Agreement and advance the U.S. export position.

Tucson leads in green building with Emerging 2030 District (USGBC Arizona)

May 5, 2017
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USGBC Arizona feted the public launch of the Tucson Emerging 2030 District at the historic Hotel Congress on April 20 with a sold-out tour and networking reception. The dynamic partnership between USGBC Arizona and the emerging district began in 2015 with the support of USGBC volunteers using USGBC’s ADVANCE framework.

This work catalyzed the rapid development of an impressive district in downtown Tucson in just over a year. The April 20 Case Studies and Cocktails event celebrated this success and engaged local building owners, managers and developers. An energized task force led by Michael Peel, Ray Clamons, and Peter Dobrovolny, one of the founders of the first 2030 District in Seattle, guided the event’s development. 

Meeting the national 2030 Challenge on a local level

The Tucson Emerging 2030 District is the first of its kind in Arizona, and part of the national Architecture 2030 Challenge. This member-based organization consists of real estate owners, managers, developers, industry professionals and community stakeholders who work toward substantially reducing the environmental impact of building construction and operations. This, in turn, contributes to Tucson's resurgent economy.

The 2030 District's public-private partnership brings property owners and managers together with local governments, businesses and community stakeholders to provide a business model for urban sustainability through collaboration, leveraged financing and shared resources, improving the health and welfare of Tucson and its citizens.

Recognizing a need to support education and subject matter expertise for building owners and managers in the district, USGBC Arizona connects volunteer subject matter experts with district participants to benchmark their properties using Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager. With this data, teams develop and implement creative strategies, best practices and verification methods for measuring progress toward a common goal: the Architecture 2030 Challenge targets of 50 percent reduction in energy use, water use and transportation emissions by the year 2030.

Celebrating at the Hotel Congress

With over 100 people in attendance, the tour and reception on April 20 highlighted this work, as well as the impressive green features of the Hotel Congress, one of the early Tucson Emerging 2030 District participants. The networking reception featured local sustainability and community leaders, including Gina Murphy Darling of Mrs. Green’s World as the event emcee.

Hotel Congress was named "Arizona's Greenest Workplace 2016" in Arizona's Greenest Workplace Challenge and is now a Gold Level Green Leader on TripAdvisor. Their green initiatives include:

  • Sourcing local/sustainable ingredients for their restaurant
  • Using Refresh Glass upcycled from wine bottles
  • Eliminating as many straws as possible as a part of the One Less Straw campaign with One More Generation
  • Switching to 100 percent recycled paper coasters that are compostable
  • Converting to compostable drink cups
  • Providing guests with solar-heated water
  • Installing energy-efficient cooling systems in hotel rooms.

USGBC Arizona looks forward to a continued partnership with the Tucson Emerging 2030 District and to realizing the outcomes of a healthier, more energy-efficient Tucson. 

See upcoming USGBC Arizona events


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