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LEED v4 stories: NOI Techpark Suedtirol

October 9, 2017
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The LEED v4 stories article series features the people the behind diverse LEED v4 projects. Project team members and project owners tell of their experiences—both the wins and the challenges.

For more perspectives on LEED v4 Neighborhood Development, check out our interviews with team members from Brooklyn Basin and Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City. To dive deeper into LEED v4 Neighborhood Development, take a look at “Getting to know LEED: Neighborhood Development.”

NOI Techpark Suedtirol achieved LEED Gold under LEED ND: Plan in February 2017. Originally home to an aluminum factory in Northern Italy, this site is being transformed into a hub for innovative sustainable technologies through a partnership between the City of Bozen, Business Location Südtirol (BLS), and private developers.

NOI Techpark Suedtirol

The project has been designed to revive the surrounding area through a combination of private and public amenities, including four large parks. ​To ensure the project’s high design standards are implemented, strict guidelines are provided to developers for the design and construction of all new buildings.​

I spoke to Alexander Alber, engineer at BLS, about their project and their experience implementing LEED ND.

What drew you to pursue LEED for Neighborhood Development for the project?

NOI Techpark is a regional development project with a long-term perspective. Over 1 million cubic meters of construction volume are going to be developed for public and private businesses. The goal: a new and innovative, thus sustainable, district that responds to excellent quality standards. From a single building, up to a large scale area. To achieve this objective, it was necessary to define and find a standard that emphasizes holistic and well-established practices that benefit all parties involved. LEED perfectly responds to that demand.

NOI Techpark Suedtirol

Another positive effect, needless to say, is the international reputation LEED has gained. Using the LEED standard has helped NOI Techpark create the foundations for authentic communication and marketing. It is one of the largest infrastructure projects of the region of Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy. Considering that NOI Techpark aims to attract young talent and create an innovative working environment, LEED is a tool to foster innovation and the competitive landscape of the region.

Having these two aspects in mind, the planning team decided to apply for LEED ND: Plan certification, which would not only help promote the project internationally, but also identify the project’s main characteristics regarding sustainable development. Our Gold-level certification represents a huge step forward, and we hope it can foster the development of more sustainable projects within the region.

What is the coolest credit in LEED ND?

The credits on Access to Quality Transit and Bicycle Facilities, within the Smart Location and Linkage section. The topic of green mobility has been under special attention worldwide in recent years. We know that climate change is real, and reducing emissions is an important step to tackle it. The LEED credits regarding access to public transit and connection to cycling infrastructure are important tools to foster the implementation of sustainable initiatives in the mobility sector of new planned areas.

NOI Techpark is happy to surround itself with more than 20 bus stops, a train station within a 400-meter reach, and a well-established bike lane network that connects our location with the city center in approximately 15 minutes. Combined, these strategies made a significant contribution to our total points.

NOI Techpark Suedtirol

Was there a cost difference between this and other projects you’ve done?

NOI Techpark is the first project of this type carried out by BLS. Since the project was based on sustainability claims right from the beginning, acquiring LEED ND certification did not interfere much with the project´s budget composition.

What were the biggest lessons learned in pursuing LEED v4?

One of the most important lessons learned in this process is that considering and implementing sustainability guidelines during the project planning phase can be done easily without increasing the project´s costs, but massively improving the overall project quality on a long-term scale.

How are you preparing for LEED ND: Built certification?

Currently we are focusing on the implementation of our sustainability objectives, which were defined in the planning phase. In this context, it is necessary to find the right detailed solutions in the now given framework. NOI Techpark will grow in multiple expansion stages. Once the appropriate development grade is obtained, we will apply for certification as a Built Project.

Learn more about LEED ND pathways to certification

How LEED saves energy

October 9, 2017
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The current worldwide mix of energy resources is weighted heavily toward oil, coal and natural gas. However, In addition to emitting greenhouse gases, these resources are also nonrenewable: Their quantities are limited, or they cannot be replaced as fast as they are consumed. When it comes to energy use, buildings play a very large role—approximately 40 percent of the total energy used in the United States.

Starting with a focus on reducing energy demand through guidance related to energy usage and efficiency, and then also rewarding renewables, LEED v4 raises the bar on energy and offers new solutions for achieving goals.

LEED saves energy

Within the Energy and Atmosphere section, teams will find:

  • With 30 percent of all points allocated to building energy efficiency, LEED has an increased emphasis on energy and the associated impacts.
  • Emphasis on enhanced building commissioning for greater energy and operational performance.
  • Benefits of smart grid thinking through an option that rewards projects for participating in demand response programs.

The LEED Building Design and Construction energy credits and prerequisites include:

  • Prerequisite: Fundamental commissioning and verification
  • Prerequisite: Minimum energy performance
  • Prerequisite: Building-level energy metering
  • Prerequisite: Fundamental refrigerant management
  • Credit (up to 6 points): Enhanced commissioning
  • Credit (up to 18 points): Optimize energy performance
  • Credit (1 point): Advanced energy metering
  • Credit (2 points): Demand response
  • Credit (up to 3 points): Renewable energy production
  • Credit (1 point): Enhanced refrigerant management
  • Credit (up to 2 points): Green power and carbon offsets

The LEED Operations and Maintenance materials credits and prerequisites include:

  • Prerequisite: Energy efficiency best management practices
  • Prerequisite: Minimum energy performance
  • Prerequisite: Building-level energy metering
  • Prerequisite: Fundamental refrigerant management
  • Credit (2 points): Existing building commissioning—analysis
  • Credit (2 points): Existing building commissioning—implementation
  • Credit (3 points): Ongoing commissioning
  • Credit (up to 20 points): Optimize energy performance
  • Credit (2 points): Advanced energy metering
  • Credit (up to 3 points): Demand response
  • Credit (up to 5 points): Renewable energy and carbon offsets
  • Credit (1 points): Enhanced refrigerant management

Join USGBC at Greenbuild 2017 in Boston, India and China, to learn more about LEED and energy. In addition to education sessions, Greenbuild in Boston and India will feature expo halls where attendees can interact with the newest and most innovative products the market has to offer.

The Boston Greenbuild event will also include a special session on LEED v4 and how it addresses energy:

Course: Energy in LEED Today and Tomorrow

Thurs., November 9 from 9–10 a.m.

Discussions about the water-energy nexus have reignited conversations about energy impacts and consumption. During this session, we will delve into how LEED addresses energy today through LEED v4 and through pilot credits. Presenters will use real-world examples to show how unique building and space types have successfully implemented and documented their energy impacts and performance.

Register for Greenbuild Boston

LEED credits to green your schools

October 9, 2017
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USGBC has specific LEED credits for schools that can help deliver safe, healthy and sustainable learning environments for all children. As volunteers in 70-plus participate in Green Apple Day of Service events, USGBC’s Center for Green Schools is excited to share a movement of parents, teachers, companies and organizations working to transform schools around the world.

Through the #TheresACreditForThat campaign, we showcase the LEED v4 credits that are most effective, particularly for the places where we learn. Here are a few of our favorite credits to can help make green schools a reality everywhere.

Green Vehicles—BD+C, 1 point

The Green Vehicles credit aims to reduce pollution by promoting alternatives to conventionally fueled automobiles and can be applied to schools in the form of alternatively fueled school busses. Making this switch will have positive impacts on both the environment and public health, as diesel exhaust from idling buses releases fine particulates, such as soot, which are particularly harmful to children.

You can bring this credit to your school through various projects.

  • Register your school for National Walk and Bike to School Day in October. This action will reduce air pollution from vehicles, create a healthier environment for the school and bring students and families together to build a stronger community.
  • Raise awareness of the associated risks of idling cars with the anti-idling Turn it Off campaign. Since elevated levels of toxins have been found during pickup times at schools, this campaign challenges parents and guardians to pledge to turn off their cars if they will be idling for over 10 seconds.
  • Start a Flag Program at your school to alert students and staff to how clean or polluted the local air is that day. Every day, your school will raise a flag that responds to the air quality, changing from green to purple flag if the air is unhealthy. This allows staff to adjust outdoor activities depending on the air quality of a given day.

Daylight—BD+C, 1 to 3 points

The Daylight credit helps connect building occupants with the outdoors, reinforce circadian rhythms and reduce electricity use by introducing natural light into the space. Increasing daylight in school buildings can have positive effects on the health and behavior of students and staff. It’s also been shown to improve student performance and increase workplace productivity, as well as conserve resources.

Schools can introduce the benefits of daylighting into their communities in a multitude of ways.

  • Improve lighting in classrooms by taking simple steps, such as removing children’s artwork from the windows or opening blinds to let sunshine in.
  • Connect environmental learning with your curriculum. USGBC’s Learning Lab offers a lesson on “Investigating Lightbulbs,” which allows students to conduct experiments on light bulbs and consider the pros and cons of different light sources. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory also offers STEM programs to engage students and teachers in energy efficiency learning.
  • Work with your school administration to host classes outdoors or in areas of the school with better daylighting. The National Education Association offers a great list of tips for taking your class outside.

Low Emitting Materials—BD+C, 1 to 3 points

The Low Emitting Materials credit intends to reduce concentrations of chemical contaminants that can damage air quality, human health productivity and the environment. Schools can incorporate this credit into their buildings by ensuring that interior building materials are low-VOC, as prolonged exposure to VOCs has been linked to chronic health issues.

There are various projects that you can adopt to bring the benefits of this credit to your school.

  • Perform an indoor air quality (IAQ) walk-through of your school to inform what kind of strategies you should pursue to improve. Check out the U.S. EPA's IAQTools for Schools Action Kit for guidance.
  • Implement a Green Cleaning Program by training your facilities staff and custodial team on the importance of green cleaning in reducing environmental hazards and protecting community health. Refer to the Healthy Schools Campaign’s Green Clean Schools Program for a list of steps.
  • Incorporate student learning into your indoor air assessment. USGBC’s Learning Lab offers a four lesson module called “Air Eco-Audit,” which guides students in leading their own indoor air audit. This can help the school maintain healthy air quality while engaging students in environmental learning.

These three credits highlight different ways you can incorporate learning about energy efficiency into your school. Adopt these projects and join the movement to make schools across the world healthier and more sustainable for future generations.

Follow the conversation using #TheresACreditForThat on Twitter and Instagram.

Green codes and 2018-IgCC at Greenbuild

October 6, 2017
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Green building professionals and advocates for green codes will find at Greenbuild Boston the industry updates they need.

Earlier this year, the collaborating organizations of USGBC, AIA, ASHRAE, ICC and IES announced updated plans for promoting a unified green building code that could become the foundation for LEED certification. The next version of the International Green Construction Code (2018-IgCC) will be published and ready for use early next year. This iteration will be the first version to integrate ASHRAE Standard 189.1 and the IgCC into a single model code (dubbed "the IgCC powered by 189.1").

Attend the Green Codes Breakfast Summit at Greenbuild with representatives from the organizations working to scale up green codes. Hear updates on upcoming connections in LEED to the IgCC, learn about new tools that help simplify the search for green products and engage in a lively discussion about how we accelerate the transformation of our built environment.

Green Codes Breakfast Summit

When: Wed., November 8, 7–9 a.m.
Where: Room 102B, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

Sign up by October 20 to attend. For more information on the event, contact Wes Sullens at USGBC.

Greenbuild education opportunities

Greenbuild education sessions, workshops and tours will also examine issues related to building codes and sustainable cities. Here are just a few:

Explore Greenbuild tours.

Register for Greenbuild Boston

Greenwatch Latin America: Growing and innovating with Arc

October 6, 2017
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Since 2007, Brazil has been certifying buildings to LEED standards, and the country currently ranks fourth globally for gross square meters of LEED-certified space, with over 1,230 projects. The growth of LEED in the region started in the private, high-end office market and has now spread all throughout the construction Industry. We see churches, hotels, warehouses, schools, mixed-use developments, hospitals, institutional buildings and neighborhoods being certified.

Growth and innovation in Brazil

2016 showed the second best growth rate for Brazil, behind only 2012, when the nation experienced an economic and construction boom. In 2016, 192 new projects were registered and 80 were certified. In only 10 years, we’ve seen LEED projects grow from 48 in 2007 to 1,250 in 2017.

Although this expansion can be partly attributed to the increasing demand for LEED certification by certain sectors of the real estate market, it is also partly due to the natural resources crisis the country has been facing for the past few years. One of the most severe droughts the country has ever faced affected an estimated 80 million people in the southern part of Brazil. In response, ingenious technologies and solutions emerged, from recycling of greywater to new businesses that focus on water or energy efficiency.

Going further with Arc

The people of Brazil are increasingly aware of new technologies and strategies to make homes, offices and other spaces better for the environment. The new Arc platform from GBCI is a state-of-the-art platform that allows buildings and spaces to compare performance metrics across the globe and connect them to green building strategies.

LEED-certified buildings can use Arc to improve and benchmark with their peers, as well as verify LEED performance on an annual basis to keep their certification up to date. Projects that are not yet certified can also use Arc to make sustainability improvements over time, to eventually achieve LEED certification.

This platform collects data on five categories: energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience and calculates a performance score out of 100, based on a global data set and action-oriented strategies.

Learn more

Learn more about Arc

LEED addenda update: October 2017

October 6, 2017
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The October 2017 quarterly LEED rating system and reference guide addenda is now available.

To view the changes:


Three new interpretations were published (LI 10466–10468).

  • LEED interpretation 10466 provides clarifications for the applicability of structural engineered wood products in the LEED v4 IEQ Low-emitting Materials credit.
  • LEED interpretation 10467 provides guidance on what qualifies as a surface that is “designed to be illuminated.”
  • LEED interpretation 10468 provides guidance for net zero or off-grid projects attempting to achieve points under the LEED v4 EA credit Demand Response.


  • The LEED v4 for Homes Design and Construction Rating System was updated to remove language regarding “qualified energy raters” and “verification team.”
  • The LEED v4 for Homes Design and Construction reference guide was updated to include guidance regarding the Extended Producer Responsibility.
  • The LEED v4 for Neighborhood Development Reference guide was updated to replace guidance on ISO/IEC Guide 65 or 17065 requirements for non-LEED rating systems.

To see all corrections, download the reference guide tables.

Calculator updates

Local leaders build sustainable communities [USGBC+ September/October 2017]

October 5, 2017
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The September/October 2017 issue of USGBC+ shares projects and practices through which the green building movement engages new audiences and empowers advocates to build stronger local economies that support sustainability.

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

  • Retraining American Workers for Green Energy Jobs: In coal country and elsewhere across the U.S., workers are learning necessary skills for emerging jobs in solar and wind, ushering in new opportunities to diversify local economies.
  • Taking Flight: Liberty Wildlife Rehabilitation Center advances wildlife conservation, rehabilitation and education efforts by leveraging its LEED Platinum headquarters.
  • From Steel to Silver and Gold: The world’s first LEED-certified steel production mill brought 500 full-time, high-paying jobs to eastern Arkansas.
  • Engage and Empower: U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy shares how local and state leadership can make a difference in the ways communities experience sustainability, pointing to his own home of Burlington, Vermont, as a prime example.

To receive 1 hour of GBCI CE credit, read the magazine online and then take the quiz in Education @USGBC. Learn more.

Read more articles in USGBC+

Vote for the 2017 Malcolm Lewis IMPACT! Award

October 5, 2017
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Thanks in part to the dedicated volunteers who contribute to the green building movement each year, USGBC continues to advance a healthier, more sustainable and more prosperous built environment in communities across the globe. The USGBC Malcolm Lewis Volunteer IMPACT! Award recognizes a high-impact, volunteer-driven project or initiative.

The award honors Malcolm Lewis, Ph.D., the founder of Constructive Technologies Group, who served on USGBC’s board and chaired its Technical and Scientific Advisory Committee. Drawn to high-performance buildings in the early 1970s, Malcolm spent the next 30 years making an impact in the green building movement.

Please vote for the winner by visiting our USGBC Facebook page and “liking” the project that you feel best captures the spirit of USGBC. The project receiving the most likes by 5 p.m. EST on Fri., October 13 will be formally recognized at the Greenbuild 2017 Leadership Awards Luncheon.

Please contact Heather Goetsch with any questions.

The IMPACT! Award nominees

Beloved Community Village—Tiny Home Village for the Homeless

Denver, Colorado, is in an affordable and supportive housing crisis. For the unhoused community, it is especially difficult to find housing to get back on their feet. The Beloved Community Village will provide 11 tiny homes, meeting space and bathing facilities for the homeless community. Each home will act purely as transitional housing, but providing someone with a home—no matter how small—allows them to lock their doors and leave personal belongings behind, making it easier to apply for housing, receive health care and seek employment.

Beloved Community Village

Volunteers Build Environmental Learning Classroom

Over 100 volunteers, including 80 college and university business officers, corporate representatives, school teachers and staff, community officials and representatives of USGBC, came together over a six-month period to create an outdoor environmental learning classroom at Washburn Elementary School in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Washburn Elementary School Environmental Learning Classroom


Re_Purposeful was started by a group of designers tired of throwing away discontinued or unnecessary design materials such as carpet squares, tile and wood samples and fabric. They joined forces—and materials—and began spreading the word. In the first four years, they've collected 120,000 pounds of materials, with a 98 percent diversion rate, and given them away for free to teachers, nonprofits, day care centers, crafters and homeowners. This year, the program has added drop-off locations and incorporated an open house at the expo center in Waukesha, Wisconsin. The program's materials have been reused by over 1,100 community members to improve their efforts in other programs, making a difference for many more.


Parkwood Tech Centre

The Parkwood Technology Centre (PTC) is a partnership between San Francisco Bay Area sustainable building professionals and the South African education nonprofit Bottomup. Over the past three years, they have created a net-positive energy space for technology access and computer training in the Parkwood community in Cape Town, South Africa. The initial computer lab at Parkwood Primary School was too small and structurally dangerous. A team of all-women engineer volunteers collaborated with Bottomup to design a green building based on LEED principles, including a 15kW grid-tied solar array. The array powers almost all of the larger school's electricity needs. Today, the PTC serves over 1,000 learners, 500 parents, and 100 teachers in Bottomup’s education programs, and will soon open up for wider community use.

Parkwood Tech Centre

Green Schools Quest: Creating a Sustainable Future, One Project at a Time

USGBC Missouri Gateway Chapter’s Green Schools Quest challenges K–12 schools in Missouri and Southern Illinois to devise, with the help of volunteer Green Mentors, no- or low-cost sustainable practices for their schools. Participating schools measure and document their work, submitting their projects’ process and impact at the conclusion of the GSQ for judging. Since its launch four years ago, more than 100 schools and 118 mentors have participated, and student-driven projects have impacted nearly 100,000 students, teachers and community members. This program strengthens relationships between schools and their communities while creating awareness of the importance of green buildings and the environment.

Green Schools Quest

Vote for your favorite project

USGBC releases case study on New Mexico’s green building tax credit

October 5, 2017
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A new USGBC policy case study recounts a decade of green building policy leadership in New Mexico, a state that is probably better known for its green, red and “Christmas” chili sauces. But that reputation should change, because this state of barely 2 million people has been punching well above its weight class in the fight to improve the economy and the environment through cost-effective, energy- and water-saving green buildings.

Like other states in the early 2000s, New Mexico began exploring how building green could improve building quality and reduce associated costs and impacts. Albuquerque Public Schools and, separately, the City of Albuquerque, were early adopters of LEED as an instrument to help them achieve these goals. These actions by local governments and school boards paved the way for the statewide Sustainable Building Tax Credit (SBTC), first adopted in 2007, and most recently renewed in 2015.

The SBTC supports the greening of many building types in New Mexico, including schools, and has yielded fantastic results. There are now more than 300 LEED-certified nonresidential buildings in the state. In addition, there are nearly 3,000 LEED-certified residential units—nearly two-thirds of which have earned LEED Platinum certification.

View all state fact sheets for residential and nonresidential buildings.

The USGBC case study tells of this remarkable policy, its contexts and achievements.

Early adopters like these jurisdictions, businesses and professionals in New Mexico have been essential to advancing the frontier of green building policy and practice. Central to the work has been USGBC New Mexico, its past and present leaders and its partners across the public and private sectors. Individually and collectively, they have sought to invest in a greener future while also reaping returns in the form of better classrooms, energy and water savings and higher-quality housing.

Many have learned from these early efforts and have continued to demand or reward building quality and sustainability in design, construction and operations. At USGBC, LEED v4 was launched to offer a better, more outcomes-oriented rating system that is both easier to use and is calibrated to today’s higher expectations for green building performance.

In addition, the Arc platform was launched as a sustainability performance measurement platform that is helping all buildings monitor green building outcomes during building operations and help them track toward LEED certification (or recertification).

First released on September 30 during the Albuquerque sustainable schools tour co-hosted by USGBC New Mexico (see a video about the event on KRQE news), the USGBC case study features a section on green schools. This was a fitting kick-off for this year’s Green Apple Day of Service initiative, spearheaded by the Center for Green Schools at USGBC. Today, there are 39 LEED-certified K–12 schools in Albuquerque and 53 statewide. These are a small part of the more than 13 million square feet of LEED-certified commercial buildings space in New Mexico and the thousands of LEED-certified, mostly affordable housing units across the state.

View the case study

Take the LEED AP exam from your own location

October 4, 2017
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Achieving your LEED AP credential demonstrates your expertise in green building to the world, and the GBCI-administered exams to qualify for the credential are delivered at Prometric testing centers in 160 countries.

Now, however, for regions where traveling to a testing center presents a challenge, or for large groups wishes to schedule their exams together, GBCI offers a still more convenient option: the Alternative Exam Delivery (AED) program.

AED events allow candidates to sit for any GBCI credentialing exam alongside their peers in the familiar surroundings of their classroom, conference room or computer lab. GBCI partners with Prometric and the hosting facility to make sure the candidate testing experience is identical to that of a traditional Prometric testing center.

This is a good option for employers and educators who prefer to test as a group without requiring that participants travel. For groups who prefer the traditional test center experience, GBCI also offers the option to reserve seats at a preferred Prometric testing center so your group can test at the same place and time.

To get started, take a look at the AED guidelines and fill out the application form. GBCI will work with your organization to schedule an AED event that fits your schedule and location.


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