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Residential Research Quarterly: September 2017

September 28, 2017
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USGBC’s third quarterly roundup of the top research and news on residential green building offers a look at a multifamily benchmarking effort by the U.S. Department of Energy, some advice on marketing green features when selling your home, a study on the cost of multifamily affordable housing, a preview of the DOE Solar Decathlon and a study on the potential effects of building materials on residents’ health.

Following YoDa to Utility Benchmarking Glory: HUD’s Year of Data Reaches Benchmarking Goals | Better Buildings, U.S. Department of Energy

Launched in summer 2016, the Year of Data (or YoDa) provided technical assistance for multifamily Better Buildings Challenge partners to increase their use of portfolio-wide, building-level data. YoDa was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and this effort enabled partners to track their energy consumption and expenses. The free tools and templates are available for any multifamily property to track and benchmark energy use.

3 Key Tips for Selling an Eco-Friendly Home | Redfin

On the heels of a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that found that adding solar panels to your home increases overall value by an average of $20,000, Redfin gives advice to homeowners in marketing their green features to potential homebuyers. Redfin finds that educated homebuyers interested in green homes will search for recognizable labels, such as LEED.

Multifamily Affordable Housing that is Healthy, Efficient, Cost Effective, and LEED Platinum | Journal of Green Building

This study by Sharon Patterson Grant examines 10 LEED Platinum multifamily affordable housing projects (as well as two projects still in the certification process). Grant, the LEED consultant on these projects, catalogues benefits such as reduced asthma attacks and energy savings, and she aims to debunk assumptions that costs involved with increasing energy efficiency and enhancing a building's health impacts are prohibitive.

12 Solar-Powered Houses You’ll See at Solar Decathlon 2017 | Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, DOE

Looking ahead to the Solar Decathlon in October, this article gives a preview of what awaits visitors to the event in Denver. Held from October 5 to 15, this competition challenges university student teams to design and build full-size, solar-powered houses. The 2017 competition has embraced new contests to emphasize market potential, innovation, water use and reuse strategies and smart energy use.

Chemical exposures in recently renovated low-income housing: Influence of building materials and occupant activities | Environment International

This newly released study, a collaboration by researchers from Silent Spring Institute, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Battelle Memorial Institute and Southwest Research Institute, examines indoor air contaminants in renovated housing, pre- and post-renovation. Data showed that sources of a particular contaminant may be primarily from what residents bring into their homes, the materials used in construction, or both. Lead author Robin Dodson concluded that indoor air quality testing and voluntary standards should be broadened to include additional contaminants.

If you have suggestions for future studies we could share, please contact Alysson Blackwelder.

Attend upcoming courses on energy efficiency (USGBC Wisconsin)

September 27, 2017
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Seventhwave, USGBC member, education partner and USGBC Wisconsin local community sponsor, has several upcoming opportunities for local green building professionals. As a nonprofit focused on advancing energy efficiency, Seventhwave's mission advances through research, consulting, program administration and education.

Improve your technical know-how and join your fellow green building professionals at these courses:

Optimizing building control systems

October 24 in Appleton, Wisconsin
October 25 in Brookfield, Wisconsin
8:30 a.m.–4 p.m. | $199

On-location course hosted by We Energies and WPS, in partnership with Seventhwave.

Discuss how you can get the most out of your building control system now and prepare for what’s next. Opportunities and challenges of various building automation systems will be explored, as well as how to navigate the murky waters between whole-building and equipment-level control systems. We’ll explain the importance of continuous commissioning, introduce resources to test data accuracy and review our predictions of what lies ahead. Learn more and register.

ASHE's Health Facility Commissioning® Program

October 26 in La Crosse, Wisconsin
November 1 in Madison, Wisconsin
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. | $225

On-location course hosted by Alliant Energy and Xcel Energy, in partnership with Seventhwave.

Better understand why and how commissioning and retrocommissioning make good business sense for health care facilities. We’ll show you how to develop a business plan that speaks to executive leadership—highlighting the value and demonstrating the return on investment of commissioning. A model for change management and successful implementation will be shared with a focus on rapid and simple payback associated with retrocommissioning.

Large and small project investment case studies will demonstrate how both scenarios can pay off. Collaboration among healthcare organization representatives, design team, constructors and the commissioning agent will be emphasized, and we’ll show you how commissioning can be scaled to various project scopes after executive confidence is built.

Learn more and register

3 lessons on nutrition for K–12 students

September 27, 2017
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Autumn is a time of harvest, feasting and foraging for Halloween treats. Help your students develop healthy relationships to food by learning about the systems that support nutrition at an individual, local and global level.

Learning Lab has more than 80 lessons across grades K–12, and multiple subjects in English and Spanish, to support teaching about food. Check out this month's selection and envision how to incorporate them into your classroom plans this fall:

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

Attend a wellness and sustainability summit in October (USGBC Indiana)

September 26, 2017
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Join the USGBC Indiana Central Branch at our full-day educational event, "Is Your Building Healthy?". This wellness and sustainability summit covers many topics, from LEED v4 and Arc to project tours.

When: Wed., October 11, 2017, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Where: Butler University, Indianapolis

Eligible for seven GBCI continuing education hours (including four LEED-specific) and seven AIA LU/HSW continuing education credits.

Session topics:

  • LEED v4: Overview and project discussion
  • Arc: Introduction to the platform designed to help you collect, manage and benchmark your data
  • WELL building: Introduction to improving health and well-being through the built environment
  • Healthy interiors: Understanding the unintended consequences and healthier choices related to chemicals in furniture and finishes
  • Eskenazi Hospital: Health care, campus, community—a review of the LEED process, challenges and lessons learned
  • Design with intent for the future: Learn about how LEED v4 criteria such as EPD, C2C, HPD, and Declare help make a positive impact on the specifications of your building
  • Hinkle Fieldhouse tour: Walk through the building with the LEED project team as they showcase how it earned LEED Gold certification

Early bird registration is open through September 27. USGBC Indiana and AIA Indiana member cost is $65 for a full day or $55 for a half day. See more prices.

Lunch and snacks will be provided for all ticket options. Discounted parking is available during registration.

USGBC Indiana thanks its sponsors, IDO Incorporated, Guidon Design and Patcraft. For more information about the event or to join our sponsors, please contact us.

Register for the event

Find the funds to complete your Green Apple Day of Service project

September 26, 2017
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Green Apple Day of Service is off and running in states and countries around the globe. Many project ideas can be implemented with volunteer service and donated materials; others require a financial investment. If you need funding for your project, here are some opportunities and resources to help.

Our Green Apple Project Checklist covers each step of making your project happen, from getting it off the ground and enlisting volunteers to executing the event. ”Part Two: Putting the Pieces Together” provides tips for creating a budget and raising funds.

Because these service projects unite parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations to transform our schools into healthy and sustainable learning environments, they are often attractive to prospective funders, such as companies, foundations or individual donors.

For first-time fundraisers, it’s good to familiarize yourself with your options. You’ll want to know the difference between sponsorship and donations, according to the IRS:

  • In a sponsorship, the business or persons giving money receives a benefit from the donation. That money will only be tax-deductible if the donation given exceeds the market value of the benefit the sponsor is given.
  • A donation is given without any benefit for the donor and is tax-deductible. Grants are a great way to receive funding for your projects.

Organizations willing to fund projects require an application and have deadlines for applying. Here’s a few we think are tailor-made for funding Green Apple Day of Service projects. Read closely to ensure you meet grant requirements and deadlines:

  • Miron, a construction company, is offering $1,000 to the winner of its “Be Green in ‘17” contest. To apply, create a one-minute video explaining how your school would use the money to go green and upload it to your school's Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram page. The contest runs through October 20, with the winner announced on November 3. Visit Miron's video contest page for details.
  • The Nature Conservancy is donating 60 individual $2,000 grants to schools where students are creating solutions to environmental challenges in their community. Check out The Nature Conservancy's info page for more information. The deadline to apply is November 3, and winners will be announced November 30.
  • Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation awards grants from $2,000 to $100,000 to projects that upgrade their school’s technology, renovate the school and improve safety or provide tools for STEM programs. The applications close September 29. Visit the Lowe's grant page to learn more.
  • Home Depot grants up to $5,000 to schools looking to repair, refurbish or modify the school building or weatherize or improve its energy efficiency. As a school, you would fill out the "government" application on Home Depot’s grant information page.
  • Staples gives grants of up to $25,000. Through its 2 Million and Change program, Staples creates a chance for local employees to nominate projects for a grant. Visit 2 Million and Change for more information.
  • Walmart provides $250 to $2,500 through its foundation. To qualify, you just need to submit an application. The application deadline for this year is December 31. Visit the Walmart Foundations grant page to apply.

Visit the Green Apple project guide

How to precertify your LEED 2009 BD+C project

September 26, 2017
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In December 2016, GBCI announced that LEED precertification would be available to all LEED v4 Building Design and Construction (BD+C) and Operations and Maintenance (O+M) projects pursuing the performance path to certification. The same LEED precertification is now available to all LEED 2009 BD+C projects as well.

Precertification is granted to projects after successfully completion of a GBCI review of early design stage documentation. This documentation, which reflects a studied and realistic set of project goals and intentions, forms the basis for an award of precertification at the project’s anticipated LEED certification level. It helps owners to ensure that their projects are on the right path to achieve certification, to demonstrate their commitment to LEED certification and to market the unique and valuable green features of the proposed project to future tenants and financiers.

Steps to precertification for LEED 2009 BD+C projects

(For details on precertification for LEED v4 projects, read our initial announcement.)

  1. Let us know that you will be pursuing precertification by choosing the precertification review option in your certification timeline.
  2. Map out your pathway to LEED certification by downloading and completing the precertification worksheet for LEED 2009. The precertification worksheet allows you to decide your compliance path for each required prerequisite and each credit that you will be pursuing. In the worksheet, you’ll also describe your strategy for meeting the requirements of that credit and the pathway that you’ve chosen. You will also complete your preliminary scorecard in LEED Online to demonstrate which and how many points you will be pursuing.
  3. Submit your project for review to GBCI. GBCI will review your intended compliance path for each prerequisite and credit, along with your strategy for meeting the requirements, and will provide you with formal feedback. Similar to the review for full certification, you’ll have two rounds of review.

Once the compliance pathway and strategy for all prerequisites and pursued credits (must be enough to achieve certification) has been approved by GBCI, the project will achieve LEED precertification.

Review the precertification section in the Guide to LEED Certification

Track, perform and excel with LEED

September 26, 2017
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At USGBC, we often talk about the fact that you can’t manage what you can’t measure. There are many factors that can impact the performance of a building, and knowing your energy and water usage is the first step in spotting and addressing any issues as soon as they crop up. This is also why GBCI requires LEED projects to provide energy and water data on an ongoing basis.

Meet energy and water data sharing requirements

  • All LEED 2009 projects are required to share whole building energy and water data, as stated in Minimum Program Requirement 6: Must commit to sharing whole-building energy and water usage data.
  • In LEED v4, the MPR was shifted to a set of prerequisites: EA prerequisite Building-Level Energy Metering and WE prerequisite Building-Level Water Metering.

All projects that are up to date in sharing data will receive recognition in the LEED project directory.

Historically, performance tracing tools have been limited by location or local standards. GBCI has understood these various barriers to reporting and the associated costs, and has been mindful of implementing this requirement. With the introduction of Arc, the new performance platform from GBCI that allows you to collect and measure data, GBCI is providing LEED projects with a mechanism to report performance data, regardless of where they are in the world, that has been fully tested across a number of projects and project types. All LEED projects have access to Arc.

LEED is holistic system, though, so why stop at energy and water? We encourage project teams to share data on other categories—transportation, human experience and waste metrics—as it will help them validate and track how they are performing against their LEED certification. No other platform available today does this.

Tracking data across these categories generates a score for the project and enables you to understand how your building performs compared to similar buildings in your local area and across the globe.

Evaluate performance

You’ve done all of the hard work of implementing green building best practices, whether in design, construction or operations, and now is the time to see how your work has paid off.

If you have any questions regarding data-sharing requirements specific to your project, please contact us. See what Arc can do for your project, and if you haven’t already, link it to your projects in LEED Online.

Explore Arc

Conserving water and energy with Green Apple Day of Service

September 25, 2017
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Did you know that a significant amount of a school's budget is dedicated to energy and water costs? Behind salaries, energy is the biggest expense for schools. Additionally, 25 percent of the energy a typical school uses is wasted, according to the EPA. Through their Green Apple Day of Service project in 2016, students at Boston Arts Academy learned about water and energy conservation. Additionally, the school wanted to explore the types of sustainable features they might include in their new building, which was in the design phase.

Boston Arts Academy Green Apple Day of Service project

The Boston Arts Academy audited their school’s water and energy usage with the help of the architects for the new building, HMFH Architects. A group of environmental science students calculated their school’s water usage from everyday activities, such as flushing the toilet or washing their hands. Then, they conducted an energy audit to calculate the amount of energy wasted throughout the school, specifically when the appliances were off, and compared different light sources’ efficiency.

Boston Arts Academy Green Apple Day of Service project

After gathering the data, the students decided to convert the school's energy usage into pounds of coal. They calculated that it takes 1,300 pounds of coal to power the lights in one classroom for 180 days. The students were surprised to discover how much water and energy is wasted every year in the school, and made commitments to be more thoughtful in their water and electricity usage.

The students’ eagerness to create change within their school was carried over into the design for the school’s new building. Along with HMFH Architects, Boston Arts Academy is working to make their new building as energy- and water-efficient as possible.

Want to find out if your school could improve its water and energy usage? Check out our specific tips and resources for projects to Reduce Water Use and Reduce Energy Use.

Create a Green Apple project

What not to miss at Greenbuild: TRUE and zero waste

September 25, 2017
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Recently GBCI announced the official launch of TRUE (Total Resource Use and Efficiency), the new brand identity for its zero waste rating system. The TRUE Zero Waste Rating System helps organizations and facilities to achieve their zero waste goals through project certification and professional credentialing.

With TRUE, you can demonstrate to the world what you’re doing to minimize your waste output. A TRUE project’s goal is to divert all solid waste from the landfill, incineration (waste-to-energy) and the environment. The certification program provides a better approach to resource use and facility operations. Unlike some environmental programs, which can require big financial investments, TRUE implementation can be as simple as transforming trash bins into recycling bins and fostering a zero waste culture.

Ready to get started on your zero waste journey? TRUE and zero waste strategies will be featured throughout this year’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Boston.

To help you plan your days, we’ve listed some of the offerings focused on TRUE and zero waste.

Visit the Zero Waste zone on the expo floor. Vendors will be showcasing the newest tools to expedite your zero waste journey. Also, don’t forget to stop by the GBCI booth and Certification Work Zone on the expo floor. Subject matter experts will be on hand for technical help. You can get your questions about TRUE and the TRUE Advisor professional certificate answered, or get help with registering a project.

  • Striving for Zero Waste at Colleges and Universities (Mon., November 6, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.): This pre-conference workshop will highlight industry best practices from different institutions across the U.S. Following the workshop, attendees will be treated to a walking tour of zero waste practices at Harvard University.
  • TRUE Advisor Zero Waste Certificate Program (Tues., November 8, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.): Attend this training to be recognized as a verified expert on zero waste certification and earn your TRUE Advisor professional certificate. TRUE Advisors help projects participating in TRUE Zero Waste certification.
  • Zero Waste Planning for Universities and Business (Thurs. November 9, 1–2:30 p.m.): Learn how universities and businesses are achieving zero waste. Explore different approaches taken in zero waste planning and how you can implement TRUE Zero Waste to evaluate your current operations and certify your facility.

Also check out:

Register for Greenbuild

Affordable green neighborhoods for all

September 22, 2017
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This spring, USGBC wrapped up the fourth and final round of the Affordable Green Neighborhoods (AGN) grant program, supported by generous funding from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. This offers an opportunity to look back at the 36 projects awarded an AGN grant since the program’s launch in 2010.

Making homes affordable and sustainable

Eleven have achieved certification since the inception of the program, representing over 400 acres, 7,800 dwelling units and 11.3 million gross square feet of new construction or major renovations that meet the global standard for sustainable neighborhood planning, design and construction. One more project is currently under review, several are anticipated to submit within the next few months and the remainder are all in some phase of the planning, design and development process.

The program was conceived in 2010 with the Bank of American Charitable Foundation as a way to support the growing interest in applying LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) to the redevelopment of affordable housing. As a large number of older, well-located affordable housing developments reach the end of their expected lives and are in need of reinvestment, LEED ND has proven to be a useful tool in helping to shape the inclusion of best practices in sustainable urbanism.

Providing education and support

The rating system incorporates all the best practices espoused by modern practitioners and policy experts in affordable housing construction, including a focus on mixed-use, mixed-income development with access to transit, walkable designs and efficient construction that saves money and improves occupant health and well-being. LEED ND is so well aligned with HUD’s priorities that their Choice Neighborhoods Initiative awards preference points in the application process for projects that have achieved LEED ND certification.

USGBC found that many developers of affordable housing were lacking the experience with LEED and the funding to support their pursuit of certification. The AGN grant program supported these projects both financially and with capacity-building educational and staff support to help developers incorporate sustainability into their redevelopment projects and achieve LEED ND s quickly and easily as possible. After all, no one needs improved access to transportation options, healthy living conditions and lower utility bills more than the residents of affordable housing.

A list of all AGN grantees is included below.


  • 9th and Berks TOD (Paseo Verde) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    LEED ND (Stage 2 Platinum)
  • Church Lane Gardens in East St. Louis, Illinois
  • Jordan Downs in Los Angeles, California
    LEED ND (Stage 2 Silver)
  • Lamar Station TOD in Lakewood, Colorado
    LEED ND (Stage 2 Silver)
  • Old Colony Redevelopment in South Boston, Massachusetts
    LEED ND (Stage 2 Gold)
  • Sunnydale Hope SF in San Francisco, California
    LEED ND (Stage 1 Gold)
  • The Village at Market Creek in San Diego, California
    LEED ND (Stage 1 Silver)
  • Veterans Place at The Lancaster Corridor in Dallas, Texas
  • Wyandanch Rising in Wyandanch, New York

Paseo Verde

Paseo Verde in Philadelphia.


  • Brightwalk at Historic Double Oaks in Charlotte, North Carolina
    LEED ND (Stage 2 Certified)
  • East Market Street District in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Mariposa Redevelopment in Denver, Colorado
    LEED ND (Stage 2 Gold)
  • Mapleton Fall Creek 20/21 Project in Indianapolis, Indiana
    LEED ND (Stage 1 Silver)
  • Paradise Creek Affordable Housing in National City, California
  • Renaissance in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Westlawn Gardens in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    LEED ND (Stage 3 Silver)

Westlawn Gardens

Westlawn Gardens in Milwaukee.


  • Bartlett Place in Roxbury, Massachusetts
  • Butler Street Y Lofts in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Essex Crossing in New York, New York
  • Faubourg Lafitte in New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Northwest Gardens in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
  • Rebuild Potrero in San Francisco, California
    LEED ND (Stage 1 Gold)
  • Sheppard Square HOPE VI Revitalization in Louisville, Kentucky
  • TNT Eco-Innovation District in Dorchester, Massachusetts
  • Villages at Cabrillo in Long Beach, California
  • Westview Village in Ventura, California


  • Beecher Terrace in Louisville, Kentucky
  • Edison-Eastlake Choice Neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona
  • Indigo Block in Dorchester, Massachusetts
  • Lathrop Homes in Chicago, Illinois
  • Sun Valley EcoDistrict in Denver, Colorado

Learn more about LEED for Neighborhood Development


U.S. Green Building Council - Long Island Chapter
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Hauppauge, NY 11788