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2016 Greenbuild scholarship recipients from around the globe: Part III

April 11, 2017
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Every year, USGBC offers scholarships to make Greenbuild accessible to people who would otherwise not be able to attend. 88 individuals received a scholarship to attend Greenbuild 2016 in Los Angeles. Scholarship recipients represent a diverse group of people from around the world who share a passion for USGBC’s vision. Each one has a story to tell and a role to play in making green buildings and sustainable communities a reality for all.

As we lead up to Greenbuild 2017 in Boston, we will highlight a handful of the awesome individuals who joined us in Los Angeles for Greenbuild. We welcome these folks to the USGBC community!

Marone Abraham

Hails from: Dallas, Texas

Sustainability background: I come from an immigrant family, and feel I understand the perspective of how people live outside the United States. Not everyone has the luxury of running water or frequent use of electricity. My parents are from Eritrea, in east Africa, a young nation that is only 25 years old. I plan to go there one day and contribute to the nation's development. But to do that, I must understand what is important to developing cities. Currently, I am studying architecture at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am also minoring in environmental sustainability, to help me understand sustainable design and help make buildings more energy-efficient and resilient. I will one day become an architect that will help design environmentally friendly buildings and cities.

Most inspiring part of Greenbuild: The amount of people motivated to help the environment and homes we live in.

Next steps: I plan to be more involved with USGBC here in Dallas, and across the United States. Also, I plan on getting a LEED credential when I become a professional designer. As I am in school now, I will be learning as much as I can about the environment and what I can do to help make our Earth a better and safer place to live in.

Hager Abdelwahid 

Hails from: Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Sustainability background: I am an architect, teaching assistant and postgraduate student at Alexandria University in Egypt. I have three years of experience in the field of sustainable design and green architecture. I am currently pursuing a master's of science degree in architecture to address the consequences of climate change on the densely populated areas in my country. In addition, I contributed to designing various projects, such as a resilient school in Manila, in the Philippines, for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and a sustainable neighborhood for refugees and Austrian families in Vienna. I was able to work in multidisciplinary and international teams of architects, economists and civil engineers. Moreover, I have been working on the context of upgrading informal settlements while being a volunteer in NGOs to improve the infrastructure of these settlements.

Most inspiring part of Greenbuild: The speakers’ performances and their ability to express enthusiasm and exchange ideas with professionals from different backgrounds..

Next steps: As a teaching assistant, I am looking forward to conducting several seminars to transfer the knowledge I have acquired while attending Greenbuild to my students. Furthermore, I am planning to learn more about LEED and take the LEED AP Homes exam.

Carlos Rodriguez

Hails from: Chicago, Illinois

Sustainability background: I majored in construction management at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. I graduated in December 2016; the Greenbuild conference was my graduation trip! Currently, I work as a project engineer for a general contractor in Indianapolis. My hope is to expand my knowledge of green building to a point where I will be able to give advice to other builders, subcontractors and others on how the process works.

Most inspiring part of Greenbuild: Seeing the amount of people who really care about about many different issues the conference brings up.

Next steps: My goal for 2017 is to become a LEED Green Associate and to get involved with my local USGBC community. Earning my LEED AP BD+C is also a goal of mine, which I hope to achieve in late 2017.


Learn more about Greenbuild scholarships 

Nominate your school for a 2017 Climate Leadership Award

April 11, 2017
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USGBC, in partnership with Second Nature, recognizes higher education institutions every year for their leadership in sustainability and climate change mitigation, on campus and in their community. Applications to the 2017 Climate Leadership Awards will be considered based on the nominated institution’s commitment to climate neutrality, curriculum integration, partnerships and innovative leadership.

The deadline to apply is May 26, 2017 by 11:59 p.m. PT.

To be eligible, institutions must be a signatory of Second Nature’s Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitments and in fulfillment of those requirements. If you are unsure about your institution's status, contact Second Nature.

Award winners will be recognized as part of the 2017 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, which offers a global stage for honorees to share their efforts with other local, regional and national leaders, decision makers and communities that share their mission to secure a sustainable future for generations to come.

Tips for a successful application

  • Focus on innovation. Is there anything about your institution’s practices, strategy or partnerships that can be seen as a model for the rest of the Climate Leadership Network? Key aspects to focus on: cross-functionality, student engagement and emission and consumption reduction.
  • Be specific, and answer each question appropriately. Each of the three essay questions is weighted equally, so consider your responses carefully and develop tailored answers. It is not advisable to repeat information.
  • Use the 250-word count to your advantage, but don't exceed it. Although it isn’t necessary to fill the text field, you don’t want to run the risk of shortchanging your chances by providing too little information for the judges. Try to provide a holistic picture of your institution’s climate work, rather than focusing on one aspect or program.

Frequently asked questions

When will I know if I am a finalist/honorable mention/winner?

Finalists will be announced by early July, and winners and honorable mentions will be announced in October. Winners will be formally recognized during the Greenbuild Leadership Awards Luncheon, held on November 9 in Boston.

What should I do if I am selected as a finalist?

If you are selected as a finalist, begin gathering photos and videos that highlight your climate work on campus. If ultimately selected as an honorable mention or winner, USGBC will be reaching out to your designated point of contact to gather these materials for our awards promotion campaign. It may also be a good idea to identify the best representative in your team to attend the Greenbuild Leadership Awards Luncheon, should your institution win. Attendance at the luncheon is required in order to receive your award.

See more tips, recommendations and FAQs

Nominate your college or university for the Climate Leadership Awards

LEED Link: Talking points on LEED

April 11, 2017
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If you're involved in the green building industry, or you're just passionate about sustainable communities, you probably know about LEED. But what about when your friends or colleagues ask about LEED? Have you ever wished you had some facts to share off the top of your head, or a quick link to send them to pique their interest?

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world, with 2.2 million square feet of construction space certifying every day and 164 countries and territories participating. LEED certification verifies a building or neighborhood’s green features, promoting resource-efficient buildings with benefits to human health. It's essentially the triple bottom line in action—benefiting people, planet and profit—and LEED-certified buildings are on track to contribute $190.3 billion in labor earnings by 2018.

Visit our About LEED page for bullet points on what LEED is, the benefits of building to LEED standards and the enhancements in LEED v4, as well as short videos.

See the LEED talking points

Take part in our new USGBC Audience Language Survey

April 10, 2017
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LEED is a global rating system, and every day, USGBC is working to ensure that our tools and resources support all project teams—no matter the time zone or language.

Please help us by spending a few minutes taking our brief survey. Your responses will be confidential.

Since LEED’s debut in 2000, it has become the international standard for environmentally and socially responsible buildings, with more than 89,600 projects participating across 164 countries and territories, as of January 2017.

As LEED and our LEED professional credentialing program continue to grow, we're looking to determine how we can better support our international partners who are helping advance smart, green building in their own corners of the world.

Take our survey

Visit USGBC at #AIACon17

April 7, 2017
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The American Institute of Architects 2017 Conference on Architecture is rapidly approaching. Here are all the best ways you can connect with USGBC and SITES in Orlando, Florida, from April 27 to 29: 

  1. If you're in town early, register for our LEED v4 half-day workshop. Taking place on April 26, the workshop will feature USGBC subject matter experts who will walk attendees through the strategies, credit requirements and support tools that make up the newest version of the LEED rating system. Attendees will earn four GBCI CE hours (LEED-specific for BD+C, O+M and ID+C).

  2. Come visit our booth. USGBC is in booth #1533 and will have staff ready and willing to answer all your LEED questions. Learn more about LEED v4, LEED professional credentials and all the latest products and resources USGBC has to offer. Don’t forget to grab a copy of our award-winning publication USGBC+. An espresso bar will be set up Fri., April 28 from 12–4 p.m., and Ian Canterbury will be on hand to answer any questions you have about credentialing. Also, scanning your badge at the booth puts you in the running for a free registration pass for Greenbuild 2017.

  3. Visit the SITES booth. Stop by booth #1537 to get the lowdown on the latest and greatest news about sustainable landscapes. Scanning your badge at the SITES booth makes you eligible for another giveaway: one SITES AP exam and reference guide package, and two individual reference guides.

  4. Attend sessions featuring USGBC staff:
    a.) Wes Sullens, USGBC’s Director of Codes Technical Development, will be speaking on the panel “Integrative Design for Materials Efficiency” on April 26 from 8 a.m.–12 p.m. (WE106).
    b.) Kelly Worden, Project Manager for Research, will be presenting during the workshop “Healthy Communities and Housing: Lessons from the Field,” on April 26 from 1– 5 p.m. (WE306). 

This conference is sure to be one for the books—they just announced that former First Lady Michelle Obama will be a speaker. What are you excited for at #AIACon17? Let us know in the comments, or take to Twitter to share your thoughts. 

Register today

LEED can help improve human health in China

April 6, 2017
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China is seeing incredible growth and industrialization. With that industrialization and the rise of manufacturing, though, comes an impact on the environment and on air quality. The Chinese government has dramatically increased efforts to address the nation’s air quality, but there is still more to be done, especially in the country’s large urban population centers. According to the New York Times, global climate change is further impacting China’s air quality. Changing weather patterns, linked to rising temperatures, are no longer effectively pushing contaminated air out of China’s densely packed cities. 

However, meaningful actions can be taken. One enormous area of opportunity involves the built environment and the structures where we live, learn, work and play.

Millions of people from China’s countryside are migrating to the cities. This dramatic population shift is creating great demand for new buildings, and the government of China is working to meet this demand not simply through cutting-edge building designs, but also through sustainable construction techniques and building operations. 

Green buildings reduce energy, water and resource waste,  create a healthier indoor environment and save money on reduced utility bills. They also have been reported to have a higher resale value and to spend less time on the market.

USGBC's LEED rating system is a globally recognized framework for sustainable building design, operations and maintenance. For nearly 20 years, LEED, which was developed and is maintained through members of the international building community, has helped builders on all types of projects, and under all climatic and geographic conditions to design, construct and operate more efficient, less wasteful buildings. These buildings also contribute to the improved health and well-being of their occupants.

With LEED, builders gain a much broader working perspective than with more restrictive green building platforms, which tend to limit considerations to energy, water, waste and site management. Although LEED guidelines effectively address those core green building concerns, they also address human health considerations such as occupant comfort, worker productivity and a building’s overall connection to nature.

Within these important human health areas, builders are free to place greater emphasis on attributes such as on-site green space, natural daylighting, enhanced air filtration, improved ventilation, greater use of interior landscaping and ample views of the outdoors. Each of these areas benefits both the physical and mental human health of occupants. 

LEED also encourages biophilic design principles, which promote instinctive links between humans and other forms of life and have been shown to positively impact building occupants by mitigating stress, increasing happiness, reducing fatigue and improving productivity.

This year, China became the world’s largest market for LEED outside the U.S. More recently, the country also celebrated reaching 1,000 LEED-certified buildings. These represent incredible milestones in regards to China’s commitment to seeking sustainable building solutions for all of its citizens. We are proud to partner with the builders, the building owners, the architects, the engineers, the government, the people of China and everyone else who is working toward a more sustainable future. It represents a great hope for us all.

USGBC has released a one-page primer that reviews some of the LEED credits that have direct impact on human health. USGBC is committed to working with China to solve issues related to urbanization, building, development and human health. Steadfast in our support, we look forward to continuing conversations about how LEED can help China build a healthier, stronger future for all of its citizens.

Find the course for you with our new playlists on Education @USGBC

April 6, 2017
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Education @USGBC is your source for high-quality green building and sustainability education. With more than 500 courses to choose from, our new playlists take the guesswork out of finding the right course for you.

Using your feedback, we’ve handpicked the best courses, curating them into playlists that meet your specific interests and needs.

Maintaining a LEED credential? Check out these ready-made credential maintenance program (CMP) playlists, designed to meet all of your CMP needs:

Want to learn more about rating systems? These playlists are all about the latest rating systems, including real-life project examples: 

Have ideas for playlists you'd like to see? Let us know—new curated content will launch regularly.

Subscribe to Education @USGBC

LEED Platinum Parkview Green first project in China to engage with Arc

April 5, 2017
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Parkview Green in Beijing became mainland China’s first mixed-use LEED Platinum building in 2009. Platinum is the highest level of LEED certification possible, yet the team behind Parkview Green was soon considering what should come next. It's now the first project in China engaging with the Performance Score through Arc, a new performance platform launched by GBCI in 2016.

Using Arc to meet high standards

Arc uses real-time data to measure sustainability performance in order to facilitate meaningful change and create greener, healthier spaces. Arc’s data-centric approach connects actions and benchmarks performance against itself and projects around it. The Parkview Green team has been using the platform to monitor the project's performance. They were among the first adopters of the recently launched platform and have been keeping their LEED Platinum status up to date through Arc's rigorous operational efficiencies.

Over the years, Parkview Green has deployed a bevy of innovative design ideas to maintain their LEED Platinum status, such as a stable internal micro-circulation system combined with chilled water systems and intelligent building management.

The Arc platform has been helping the Parkview Green team visualize the ongoing sustainability impacts as a performance score. The score is reflected on a scale of 1–100, and higher scores indicate better performance. This simplicity drives effective communications between engineers, consultants, managers and occupants of the building. Tracking a score of 80+ on an ongoing basis, Parkview Green continues to maintain the high standards set for themselves and demonstrate the value of data, technology and management to projects around the world.

Solving problems sustainably

In development for over a decade, Parkview Green has a long history of meeting sustainability goals. The building, situated between Beijing’s embassy and central business district, had a key challenge to overcome in its design: Beijing law stipulates that every neighboring building window have at least one hour of direct, natural light each day.

Parkview Green was faced with “Goldilocks Syndrome": The building could be neither too tall, nor too short—it had to be just right, while still reducing energy consumption. The solution was a pyramid structure. The theory was that if you allowed the building to control the air coming in from the lower level, it would eventually release from the top. The pyramid would serve as a “solar chimney,” pulling air out of the building while driving natural ventilation and minimizing annual heating and cooling demands.

Such examples of regional and local solutions are a solution to global challenges of climate change.

Key strategies for a high Performance Score

  • Energy efficiency measures resulting in low energy-related carbon emissions
  • Water conservation best practices, resulting in low potable water consumption
  • Low waste generation and high waste diversion from recycling and composting
  • Carbon-sensitive commuting options, resulting in lower emissions from transportation
  • Enhanced interior experience from improved air quality and high occupant satisfaction

Learn more about Arc

Attend a LEED v4 workshop in Orlando

April 5, 2017
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Join us in Orlando, Florida, on April 26 for a half-day workshop on LEED v4. During this event, USGBC subject matter experts will walk attendees through the strategies, credit requirements and support tools that make up the newest version of the LEED rating system. Attendees will earn 4 GBCI CE hours (LEED-specific for BD+C, O+M and ID+C).

On November 1, LEED v4 became the only version of the rating system available to newly registering LEED projects. This session will support attendees as the market makes the transition from LEED 2009. Speakers will focus primarily on Building Design and Construction (BD+C), but will also highlight important aspects of other rating systems, like Operations and Maintenance (O+M) and Interior Design and Construction (ID+C). 

Attending the AIA Conference on Architecture? Visit our USGBC booth #1533.

LEED v4: A Deep Dive into the Rating System

When: April 26, 2017, 1–5 p.m.
Where: Orange County Convention Center, North Concourse, Room N230A, 9400 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida 32819
Price: $150 for USGBC members  | $175 for nonmembers

Learn more and register

Top four benefits of installing solar panels on your home

April 5, 2017
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Here in the Northeast, we've been warming up into spring following the unexpected March storm, Stella. Summer will be here before we know it—and with the rising temperatures, we’ll see rising energy bills.

Solar panels are a great way to offset energy costs, reduce the environmental impact of your home and provide a host of other benefits, such as supporting local businesses and contributing to energy independence.

Looking to install panels on your home? I have solar panels, and wanted to share the top four benefits as I see them:

1. Reduce or eliminate energy bills.

This one is pretty amazing. We live in Washington, D.C., which has an average amount of sun, but it’s enough to power our house of three kids and two adults at net zero energy consumption. On warm spring days, we generate a lot more than we consume, and then we trade that with the utility. On hot summer days, when we run the air conditioning, or on cloudy days, we draw from the grid.

Even if you live somewhere cloudy, such locations typically receive more than two hours of sunlight per day, while sunny locations receive an average of 5.5 hours of sunlight per day.

Although sunny days will produce more solar energy, solar panels will continue to draw energy even when the weather is cloudy. Indirect, or diffused, sunlight will still help to power your home. Cloudy days usually produce around 10 to 20 percent of the power generated on sunny days.

2. Earn tax credits and rebates.

I didn’t realize how big of a benefit this one would be, but our solar panels are actually paying us. To start, you will get 30 percent of total system costs back from equipment and installation as a federal income tax credit when you file your taxes. This means you would save $7,500 on a solar system worth $25,000.

Combine this with state and local rebates and Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), and total costs can be cut in half. The SRECs are generated throughout the year, and you can sell them to utility companies, which generates a very impressive return on the initial investment.

Our D.C. Mayor, Muriel Bowser, signed the Renewable Portfolio Standard Expansion Act of 2016 in summer 2016. This Act, B21-0560, raises the renewable portfolio and solar requirements to 50 percent and 5 percent, respectively, by the year 2032. In addition, the bill establishes a program within the Department of Energy and the Environment to assist low-income homeowners with installing solar systems on their homes.

The idea behind the act is to incentivize the continued growth of D.C.’s solar industry, which has grown by 170 percent over the last year. 

The investment has a payback period of only 3.5 years, while the solar panels have a warranty of 10 years and useful life of 25 years—which means you generate free electricity and extra credits for 20+ years. It's hard to beat. It's both socially responsible and economically profitable.

Many installers also offer a no-cost installation, where they front all of the money for the panels and installation and charge for electricity at a reduced rate. They are basically “leasing” your roof space and giving you a discount on the electricity in return. This is a good option for homeowners who do not want to make the initial investment or would prefer a no-money-down option. The installer collects all the proceeds from the SRECs in this case.

No matter where you live, you most likely have some amazing tax credits for solar. Take advantage of them while you still can.

3. Start saving from day one.

Annual energy costs can be in the thousands. In fact, the average annual energy expenditure per person is $3,052, including transportation and residential energy. Solar power can reduce or eliminate these costs as soon as they are installed. They also offer long-term savings, because it’s basically free to capture the power of the sun.

Solar panels significantly improve your resale value. Most home buyers understand what a home with solar panels means—especially because the system is already in place and they didn’t have to make the initial investment and installation. According to research, most homeowners see a $5,911 resale value increase per installed kilowatt. That means if you install a 3.1 kilowatt system, you could improve your home’s resale value by nearly $18,000.

Solar panels also extend the life of a roof, because they protect from the elements, such as rain, snow and debris. They make the house more energy-efficient in the summer because the hot sun is not beating down on the roof directly—it is instead being absorbed by the panels, keeping the house temperature lower.

4. Help the environment and help us all.

Solar power systems derive clean, pure energy from the sun. Installing solar panels on your home helps combat greenhouse gas emissions and reduces our collective dependence on fossil fuel. Traditional electricity is sourced from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. When fossil fuels are burned to produce electricity, they emit harmful gases that are the primary cause of air pollution and global climate change. Not only are fossil fuels bad for the environment, but they are also a finite resource. Because of this, the price is constantly fluctuating and can increase in a short period of time.

Renewable energy also improves public health. Coal and natural gas plants produce air and water pollution that is harmful to human health. But replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources, such as solar power, can reduce premature mortality as well as overall health care costs.

Although fossil fuel production requires significant water resources and causes water pollution, solar energy requires little to no water to operate. So, not only does solar power not pollute water resources, it also doesn’t put a strain on the world’s water supply.

Solar power also works during a drought or heat wave. Coal, natural gas and nuclear power use large amounts of water for cooling. During heat waves or severe droughts, as we’ve experienced in recent years, electricity generation is at risk. But solar power systems do not require water to generate electricity.

In addition, solar power creates jobs in clean energy. The U.S. has been leading the world in clean energy. Hopefully this trend will continue, in the face of government budget cuts to EPA and DOE, as innovative and forward-thinking companies continue to embrace the changing landscape of energy production and move to renewables.

Last, there are several LEED credits related to solar energy that you can investigate if you are building a green home: solar orientation, building orientation for passive solar and renewable energy.

View the LEED credit library


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