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Staying committed after the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

June 1, 2017
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As many know, 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. The United States government has an opportunity to lead on this, and in so doing, to strengthen global partnerships, yet it has chosen to walk away. We are deeply disappointed to learn of the administration’s decision to withdraw from the historic Paris Agreement today.

We are facing an important crossroads, and America must keep building. We need to keep building bridges and bonds and breaking barriers in the push for a sustainable future for all. Although the pullout of the U.S. government from the Paris Agreement will be felt across the world, the surge of climate commitments and actions by the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, governments, cities and states will only serve to strengthen the green building movement and keep pushing us forward.

For 24 years, USGBC has led the green building movement with a strong vision—that buildings, communities and cities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within this generation. Today, our efforts continue unabated and with commitment and hope that's stronger than ever.   

Yes, hope. We are hopeful for the future because we know that our movement is a community of 13 million strong, and it's growing. We are encouraged by the continued commitment of this community to build a sustainable future for all.

U.S. companies, including many USGBC members, are already working to address business risks from climate change and to adapt their businesses to domestic and global opportunities created around climate-mitigation needs. Businesses and local governments are wisely seeking and investing in low-carbon fuels and technologies to stay on the cutting edge of the global economy. And with platforms like Arc, more and more companies and government entities are tracking their carbon emissions, committing to reduction targets and taking action.

Right now, "business as usual" is no longer an option. With the work of our organization, our members, our volunteers and many others, we have reached the point where the transition to a low-carbon economy is inevitable, but making the transition remains urgent.

All around us, we see that new leaders who are ready to rise, inspired by the promise of a brighter future for our children and for generations to come. They are the big corporations and small business owners, educators and innovators, scientists and activists, nonprofit employees and policymakers, advocates and more who are working every day to change our world, definitively, for the better. To these leaders, green building is the key solution to pushing our built environment to be supportive and restorative of all life.

At USGBC, we implore you to stay strong and focused and to keep building. And remember: we stand with you, and we are all in. Let’s continue to LEED on.

WorldGBC report underscores how data can make net zero real

June 1, 2017
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Data and scoring speak volumes. Data provides facts and information. Scoring based on data can tell us where we’re starting from, how we’re improving and what we can achieve. When it comes to transforming buildings, campuses, communities and cities, data and scoring can help us know whether our work toward a net zero future is real. 

According to a new report by the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), less than 1 percent of all buildings worldwide are currently net zero carbon. In the green building industry, we believe that buildings can be positive contributors to our environment. We know that we can only do this if we focus on the results. That means measuring the outcomes and knowing for sure that the work we’re doing is reducing the release of carbon into the atmosphere, and it requires a collaborative effort by businesses, governments and nongovernmental organizations. USGBC, GBCI and Arc are passionate about achieving net zero.

USGBC uses Arc, its online scoring platform, to measure net zero carbon and water in buildings, communities and cities. Arc measures net zero carbon emissions using real-time data from LEED-certified projects and others around the world to benchmark, track and score performance.

Arc gives us the first global score for the whole building, for energy, for water, for waste, for transportation and for human experience. Arc scores performance from 0–100. For energy, transportation and water, a perfect score equals net zero:

  • A score of 100 in energy means net zero carbon for operations.
  • A score of 100 in transportation means net zero carbon for transportation. 
  • A score of 100 in water means net zero water for the entire building.

As a partner in the Advancing Net Zero program, USGBC is developing a formal recognition for projects that achieve net zero carbon emissions in Arc. This approach uses actual performance data and encourages engagement and ongoing attention to building and community systems. In this way, net zero carbon complements LEED and its goals, including ecosystem and human health at all levels.  

Download the WorldGBC report.

Register your project in Arc

Become a LEED committee volunteer

June 1, 2017
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LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world, with projects in 165 countries and territories, and we need your expertise and commitment to grow LEED even more. 

LEED committee volunteers are architects, planners, engineers, manufacturers, developers, educators, scientists and policy professionals. They share a common goal of advancing sustainable market transformation, and they play a critical role in ensuring that LEED remains rigorous and market-relevant.

Now is the time to make your mark—join a LEED committee. 

What do committee members do?

Each volunteer position will be for a one-year term beginning January 1, 2018. After this first appointment, volunteers are eligible to serve a maximum of three additional consecutive years on a given committee.

Working closely with USGBC and GBCI staff, our volunteers strive to craft technical solutions for LEED that consider the diverse geographic, climactic, economic and social conditions of project teams located around the world. Volunteers research and collaborate with industry professionals and subject matter experts to help develop, implement and revise the LEED rating systems.

Ideal candidates will 

  • Be familiar with the LEED rating system and have one or more of the specific areas of expertise sought by a particular committee.
  • Be an employee of a USGBC member organization.
  • Commit to regular calls (average two hours per month), offline reviews and comments on technical rating system language (average two to three hours per call) and at least one in-person meeting per year.

Committees accepting applications

  • LEED Advisory Committee (LAC)
  • LEED Technical Committee
  • Energy and Atmosphere Technical Advisory Group (EA TAG)
  • Indoor Environmental Quality Technical Advisory Group (EQ TAG)
  • Location and Planning Technical Advisory Group (LP TAG)
  • Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group (MR TAG)
  • Sustainable Sites Technical Advisory Group (SS TAG)
  • Water Efficiency Technical Advisory Group (WE TAG)

Dates to remember

  • June 1: Application period opens
  • August 31: Application period closes
  • September–October: Application review period
  • November: Results sent to applicants
  • December: New member orientation and training
  • January 1, 2018December 31, 2018:  First term for new committee volunteers

2017 LEED committees organizational chart

 

Ready to begin? Start by taking a look at the current volunteer opportunities or learn more about LEED committees.

Apply to be a committee volunteer

 

Top LEED-certified coastal destinations for the summer

June 1, 2017
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When the weather turns warm and the days get longer, there’s no better place to be than by the water.

Cities around the country have embraced LEED to ensure the vibrancy of their communities will last for generations to come, for the benefit of both visitors and residents. We’ve collected some of our favorite LEED-certified destinations in the interactive Green Going Out Guide below, making it easy to go out and #FindYourLEED this summer.

If you planned on heading out to these summertime spots, make sure to check out some of these things to do, places to stay and eateries along the way.

Houston, Texas

Houston is home to 2.2 million residents, and its eclectic mix of international flavor and Southern charm have made it an ever-more appealing destination—it welcomed 17.5 million visitors in 2015, according to the most recent data available. The Houston metro area (inclusive of the Woodlands and Sugar Land) boasts 934 LEED-certified projects.

The city of Houston boasts hundreds of LEED-certified projects.

What to do: Catch a game at the Houston Dynamo Stadium; visit the African American Library; hit the ground running at the Memorial Park Running Trails Center; or take in the free sounds, tastes, sights and activities at Discovery Green.

Where to stay: Stay close to the action at The Element Houston Vintage Park or at the Embassy Suites Houston–Downtown.

Where to eat: True Food Kitchen, catering to nearly every food preference with a variety of gluten-free, naturally organic, vegetarian and vegan offerings, or Ruggles Green, offering healthy and delicious food that incorporates local and seasonally grown selections.

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles, home to more than 4 million residents and last year's Greenbuild, has always been one of the most influential cities in the world. The city recently announced that Los Angeles County hosted 47.3 million visitors in 2016, a 4 percent increase over the previous year. California, which boasts the most LEED-certified gross square footage in the country, sets the bar high for sustainable building. The Los Angeles metro area (inclusive of Long Beach and Anaheim) is no exception, with more than 2,200 certified projects representing more than 237.8 million GSF.

The LEED-certified Los Angeles Convention Center hosted Greenbuild 2016.

What to do: Check out events happening at the Los AngelesAnaheim and Pasadena convention centers; visit museums (including The Board and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust); step outside at the Audubon Center at Debs Park or the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach; sample world-class shopping including Hermès and Burberry in Beverly Hills, or explore the shops at Santa Monica Place or Villa Marina Marketplace Mall.

Where to stay: JW Marriott at L.A. Live, the W HollywoodMontage Beverly Hills (and it’s restaurant Scarpetta Los Angeles) are all located in close proximity to the major city hubs. Further out, the Ambrose Hotel in Santa Monica, Hyatt Place in El Segundo and Miyako Hybrid Hotel in Torrance are all solid options.

Where to eat: Saladang Garden, in Pasadena, is a family-owned Thai restaurant that features an intricately designed dining courtyard surrounded by laser cut metal screens. Also worth stopping by is the Hard Rock Café Los Angeles, next to the world-famous Dolby Theater and steps away from the TCL Chinese Theater and Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. 

Miami, Florida

Miami is one of the world’s most popular vacation spots, offering a multitude of enticements for all ages. In 2016 alone, the area saw 15.8 million visitors. It’s also a hub of sustainable design and green building. The Miami metro area (inclusive of Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach) is home to 541 LEED-certified projects.

The University of Miami Patricia Frost Music Studios (North and South) each achieved LEED Platinum certification. Copyright 2015 Miami In Focus, Inc. All rights reserved.

What to do: Besides the beach, take in a game or concert at American Airlines Arena; play a round at International Links Melreese Country Club and grab lunch at the restaurant; and shop to your heart’s desire or visit museums in the Miami Design District, a LEED ND Plan.

Where to stay: In Miami, both Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton are close to downtown. If you prefer an ocean view, there are plenty of options in Miami Beach: Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach/OceanfrontThe Miami Beach EDITION1 Hotel South BeachThe Clifton South Beach Hotel and Room Mate Waldorf Towers Hotel are all green hotels.

Where to eat: Among the shops in the Miami Design District, there are also a number of eateries to satisfy any craving, including MC Kitchen, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink and Ella and Harry’s Pizzeria. If you’re staying at the 1 Hotel South Beach, check out its many restaurants, including offerings from celebrity chef Tom Colicchio.

Explore the Going Out Guide

Canada Green Building Council and GBCI announce partnership to accelerate the mission of green building

June 1, 2017
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New joint venture will deliver enhanced services and support a broad range of green business tools and programs throughout Canada

Vancouver, B.C., and Washington, D.C—May 31, 2017—The Canada Green Building Council and GBCI have signed an agreement in principle to form a Canadian joint venture called Green Business Certification Inc. Canada (GBCI Canada), with final terms anticipated to be agreed upon this summer. 

Beginning in early 2018, GBCI Canada will deliver all of the current and future GBCI offerings in Canada, including certification and professional credentialing services for LEED v4WELLSITESPEERParksmart, Zero Waste and GRESB. The new organization is being established to more effectively support the Canadian market. 

Read the full press release

Nine more countries join LEED Earth campaign

May 31, 2017
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Nine new countries have certified their first LEED project or their first LEED v4 Platinum building, as represented in USGBC’s ongoing LEED Earth campaign, designed to accelerate the uptake of green building and LEED throughout the world.

LEED Earth is a campaign that offers certification at no cost to the first project to earn LEED in the countries where the rating system is still emerging. In addition, the campaign offers free certification for the first LEED Platinum project in any country to certify using LEED v4. Currently, there are a total of 32 countries recognized by the LEED Earth campaign. 

U.S. Embassy Office Annex in Abuja, Nigeria.

Countries that have recently gained their first LEED certifications as part of the LEED Earth program include Armenia, Trinidad and Tobago, French Polynesia, Nigeria, Oman, Morocco, Montenegro and Cambodia. Costa Rica achieved its first LEED v4 Platinum buildings as part of the program.

Bring LEED Earth to your emerging market

USGBC Minnesota celebrates Planting Week with Green Apple projects

May 30, 2017
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May in Minnesota is a bit unpredictable—it could be snowing, it could be 85 degrees, it could be raining for days on end. After a bit of a it all this May, the weather shifted and delivered mostly sunshine and warmth during the week of May 22, just in time for USGBC Minnesota to take part in the second annual Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Planting Week.

Nearly 100 people, including Bloomington Public Schools Superintendent Les Fujitake and City of Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead, gathered in the newly built outdoor classroom at Washburn Elementary School to help plant their gardens and celebrate those who make outdoor learning possible.

Teachers organized a schoolwide contest to select students from each grade to attend, and parents and community members were invited. The outdoor classroom will serve as a learning and reflection space for the students and as a gathering space for the community, who are welcome to come and learn about sustainable sites that incorporate things like vegetable gardens, native plants and water management measures.

It is an excellent example of how communities can support their schools, schools can support their students and students can pitch into an outstanding project that will inspire environmental stewards for years to come. After a brief program, including a student rendition of "America the Beautiful," another student talking about what schoolyard gardening has meant to him, Superintendent Fujitake reading the garden proclamation, and Mayor Winstead sharing a few thoughts, students and community members (literally) dug in and planted eight vegetable planting boxes, some native grasses and pollinator-friendly plants.

It was exciting to share with the students that their efforts were connected to schools across the state planting their gardens during Schoolyard Garden Planting Week. As part of planting week, we track each project under the banner of Green Apple Day of Service to better understand need and impact. Over 1,500 people registered as part of the planting project benefiting students in Minnesota, and we were able to help distribute free resources such as compost from The Mulch Store, organic fertilizer from JavaCycle, tool sharing, volunteer time and several shout-outs on social media for amazing jobs well done!

Minnesota students are enjoying hands-on environmental education thanks to the committed teachers who create unique learning opportunities in the garden and beyond, and USGBC Minnesota is honored to support them. 

See all the schools that participated

LEED Link: Take the LEED AP exam

May 30, 2017
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Are you a professional with LEED project experience? LEED AP with specialty credentials show that you're a leader in the green building field. Having "LEED AP" next to your name demonstrates your advanced knowledge of one of USGBC's LEED rating systems, as well as your value to LEED project teams and sustainability-focused organizations.

The LEED AP exam is taken as a second step after the LEED Green Associate exam. If you already possess your LEED Green Associate credential, you can move right on to taking the LEED AP exam, which by itself is only $250 for USGBC members. The exams are offered throughout the year at Prometric testing centers.

Learn more about the exam and check out our four-week study plan. To sign up for the exam, just visit your usgbc.org profile and select the specialty you want. You can also track your CE credits there, once you've achieved your credential.

Register for the exam

San Francisco Airport aims to achieve zero net energy (USGBC Northern California)

May 26, 2017
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In April, San Francisco Airport (SFO) co-hosted an event with USGBC Northern California to welcome guests as passengers on the airport’s journey to become the first “triple zero” airport campus in the world. This bold charge of our five-year strategic plan to achieve zero net energy, carbon neutrality and zero waste-to-landfill requires new partners to reimagine the way SFO designs, constructs and operates to achieve deep sustainability outcomes and to revolutionize the passenger experience and the industry at large.

Chief Development Officer Geoff Neumayr explained, “We have a 5,000-acre campus with an asset portfolio of over 14.5 million square feet, across nearly 70 buildings that currently consume 440GWh of energy each year. If we can get to zero, what’s stopping others?”

Despite being one of the fastest-growing airports in the United States, serving 53 million passengers each year, SFO curtailed emissions by 33 percent from a 1990 baseline and cut water use by 12 percent and natural gas by 5 percent over the last three years. Conserving these resources saves the airport an estimated $650,000 in annual utility costs. 

To realize its goal of becoming a zero net energy campus, the airport is setting energy use intensity (EUI) targets as contract obligations for all capital projects. These projects report proposed energy conservation measures and renewable energy potential throughout each delivery phase to the airport’s newly formed ZERO (Zero Energy and Resilient Outcomes) Committee, which advises the Project Management Office’s allocation of its $100 million Zero Net Energy Capital Fund. The ZERO Committee also ensures adherence with SFO’s zero net energy guidelines, sustainable planning design and construction guidelines and the LEED Campus Master Site Certification Program, administered by Anthony Bernheim of T1 Partners.

Airport projects meet aggressive EUI targets through innovative design strategies and advanced technologies. While existing airport terminals operate at about 170–180 EUI kBtu/sq. ft./year, the new SFO Terminal 1, led by Project Managers Suzanne Culin and Kristen Allen, is aiming for an operational EUI of 50–60 kBtu/sq. ft./year, using a range of strategies including displacement ventilation, radiant heating and cooling systems, dynamic glazing, regenerative elevators, heat recovery readiness and a high-efficiency baggage handling system.

The project is also creating safe, healthy and comfortable environments for passengers and nearly 40,000 SFO employees, contractors and consultants. Building materials, products and systems are selected based on LEED materials and indoor environmental quality credit requirements and modeled through a triple-bottom line sustainability performance and measurement tool.

The ZERO Committee is also tracking project learning to redeploy on future projects. For example, the airport commissioned a study of its first zero net energy-ready building when its actual energy consumption was higher than predicted through the design phase energy model. Consultant MKThink installed sensors to analyze how occupant behavior, weather, plug loads, building envelope, thermal set points and lighting control systems could be adjusted to yield efficiency outcomes to bring the facility closer to its zero energy target.

To engage with SFO's journey to zero and its broader sustainability work, check out the airport’s first crowd-sourced video contest, “Green Screen,” or email Erin Cooke, SFO’s Sustainability Director.

Learn more with the April 25, 2017 event learning materials:

Attend the Detroit 2030 District Launch Celebration (USGBC Detroit Region)

May 26, 2017
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USGBC Detroit Region is celebrating the launch of the Detroit 2030 District at an upcoming event on Wed., June 7 from 4:30–6:30 p.m. at NextEnergy.

The Detroit 2030 District is a private-public partnership that offers building owners, property managers and developers the tools to reduce a building’s energy use, water use and transportation emissions through collaboration, leveraged financing and shared resources.

First established in Seattle in 2006, 2030 Districts have been launched in 15 U.S. cities. Over 325 million square feet of commercial building space has been entered into the program. 

Hors d'oeuvres and refreshments will be served and are included with your ticket purchase.

Featured speakers:

  • Valerie J.M. Brader, Executive Director, Michigan Agency for Energy
  • John Guardiola, VP Engineering and Construction, Bedrock Real Estate Services
  • Cathy Moretto, Director, Energy and Sustainability, CBRE Global Workplace Solutions

Get tickets for the celebration

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