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Partying for the planet at the Red River Zoo (USGBC North Dakota)

May 19, 2017
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How did you celebrate Earth Day? Here in Fargo, USGBC North Dakota was partying with the Red River Zoo at its annual Party for the PlanetTM event by hosting a Green Apple Day of Service within the event.

Party for the Planet is hosted by members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums throughout the United States and Canada. The event is an opportunity to celebrate Earth’s biodiversity and teach people how they can act to make a difference in their own communities.

The partnership between USGBC North Dakota and the Red River Zoo began in 2016, when USGBC held a board leadership training opportunity in Fargo. Included in the schedule was a visit to the zoo, where our board members learned about the sustainable strategies being implemented there. 

So, when we began reviewing activities to celebrate Earth Day, the Party for the Planet came to the forefront and we asked “How can USGBC help highlight the zoo’s accomplishments and provide education about sustainability and LEED?”

That question led to the idea of the LEED Scavenger Hunt, in which a station associated with each LEED credit category would highlight a strategy used at the Red River Zoo. At Party for the Planet, each station included an informational poster and hints to answer the question on the scavenger hunt list. Once a station was found, the participant then answered a question, most of which related to activities the participant could do at home. The stations included the following:

  1. Location and Transportation: Highlighted carpooling, use of public transportation and cycling. The local public transit system MATbus system also had one of its buses on display.
  2. Sustainable Sites: Highlighted stormwater management. The zoo has a rain garden on site, which has information from Riverkeepers, located in Fargo.
  3. Water Efficiency: Highlighted the use of rainwater collection and storage systems at the zoo and how the collected water is used for gardens and plants.
  4. Energy and Atmosphere: Highlighted the geothermal system at the zoo’s carousel building and the reduced energy consumption from its use.
  5. Materials and Resources: Highlighted the use of salvaged materials for the new opossum exhibit and the reuse of a building materials for a porch at one of the exhibit buildings.
  6. Indoor Environmental Quality: Highlighted the access to views and daylight within buildings—with a great view from the cabin building to the wolf exhibit.
  7. Innovation: Highlighted the gardening and composting program at the zoo. The zoo receives donated produce from a retailer, using what it can for feeding animals with any food waste being used for compost. That compost is then used for gardening programs.
  8. Regional Priority: Highlighted local animals, such as porcupines, prairie dogs and white-tailed deer and their habitats in North Dakota.

The event provided a fun educational opportunity for the younger citizens of North Dakota, and in listening to the conversations between parents and their kids about sustainability, it succeeded in its mission.

Learn more about USGBC North Dakota

Women in Green celebrate achievements in D.C. (USGBC National Capital Region)

May 19, 2017
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Women in the green building industry came together on May 8 with USGBC National Capital Region to celebrate progress and set new goals.

Inside the great ballroom at the University of the District of Columbia's new student center in Washington, D.C., which is seeking LEED Platinum certification, Women in Green came together for a power breakfast to celebrate local leaders in sustainability. The event was an opportunity to share inspiration at this critical time for environmentalism and feminism.

The event featured remarks by Chrissa Pagitsas, USGBC Board Member and Multifamily Green Initiative Director at Fannie Mae, who kicked off the event emphasizing the potential of Women in Green groups in communities as well as at the national level. Lida Lewis, USGBC National Capital Region’s Market Leadership Advisory Board Chair and Director at HKS, also spoke at the breakfast.

The panel discussion and facilitated sessions focused on the complexities of women’s leadership and proven leadership principles as practiced by an inspiring group: Joan Kelsch, Green Building Program Manager for Arlington County; Barbara Deutsch, Executive Director at Landscape Architecture Foundation; and Susan Klump-Williams, Managing Principal at HOK.

Attendees also participated in small-group discussions on the unique qualities that women bring to the sustainability industry, how unconscious bias is addressed, tips on value promotion, how to retain women in leadership roles and the challenges of juggling workplace demands and family life. The audience was also encouraged in a breakout session to discuss what specific plans they will set for their career in the next year and how they will help others grow.

The 170 women and men gathered will reconnected at a USGBC National Capital Region Women in Green Task Force event in the fall of 2017.

The conversations were fueled by delicious locally sourced and organic food from Green Plate Catering, which is Green America Gold certified. We thank our committed sponsors, DPR ConstructionHKS Architects, GHT Limited and HOK for making this event possible.

See more upcoming USGBC National Capital Region events

U.S. Green Building Council and Seoul Metropolitan Government Sign Agreement to Advance Green Building

May 19, 2017
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New collaboration to greatly accelerate green building growth through LEED certification in South Korean capital

Seoul, South Korea (May 18, 2017)—Today, USGBC and the Seoul Metropolitan Government signed an agreement to accelerate LEED, the most widely used green building rating system in the world, in Seoul.

The partnership is an effort to lay the groundwork for further sustainable development and performance in Seoul through LEED certification as a way to help mitigate climate change. South Korea is the fifth largest country outside the U.S. for LEED-certified buildings, with more than 6.5 million gross square meters of certified space. The LEED green building rating system is administered by GBCI, the premier organization for independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally.

Read the full press release

Join USGBC at Sustainable Brands Detroit

May 17, 2017
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Attend the Sustainable Brands conference from May 22–25 in Detroit, Michigan, to learn more about the power of brands that embrace sustainability. 

Purpose-driven brands are transforming the global economy by designing new product and service offerings that meet evolving societal aspirations. An initiative is already under way among business leaders such as Ford, Apple, BLab, BASF, CVS Health, Google and others to support and accelerate new prosperity through brand innovation.

Discover what it means to create a new collective vision of what "the good life" means for a healthy individual, family, community, city, country and planet. This call is to all changemakers who are ready to challenge their brands to succeed in the new economy.

Join over 2,000 global business leaders in a varied program of over 100 sessions, workshops, plenaries, evening events and co-create sessions. Find detail-rich case studies, practical know-how and specific implementation tips to accelerate your business success. Plus, even more important, find the partners and solutions providers who can help you along the way in the Activation Hub.

As a USGBC community member, you can save 20 percent on any pass type by using the discount code "nwUSGBCsb17d" upon registering.

Register for the conference

Learning about nature from a bicycle: A Q&A with Sara Dykman

May 16, 2017
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At the Center for Green Schools, hands-on environmental and sustainability education is an essential part of our mission for our activities in schools and in Learning Lab.

Sara Dykman, a 32-year-old field biologist from Kansas, is a perfect example of someone combining an eco-centric mission with teaching young people about the environment. Dykman is in the middle of a 10,000-mile bicycle ride to observe and study monarch butterfly migration. As millions of the butterflies make their annual journey from their winter home in Mexico to Canada for the warmer months, Dykman is accompanying them on her bike. Learn more about her journey.

Joan Leavens, Coordinator of Sustainability and Community Engagement for the Shawnee Mission School District, caught up with Dykman during a stop at Tomahawk Elementary in Overland Park, Kansas, where she talked to schoolchildren about bike riding, butterflies and the Earth.

What made you decide to follow the butterfly migration on a bicycle journey?

I decided to follow the monarchs by bike because I love bike touring, I wanted to experience the monarch overwintering sites in Mexico, and I wanted to be part of the solution to the decline of the monarch migration. Biking with monarchs also seemed like the perfect "next adventure" for my education-linked adventure project, which started in 2010 with a bike tour to 49 states. I saw the potential of using my trip to add a human scale to the migration and to be one of many monarch resources teachers can use to create real-life learning opportunities for kids.

When you visit schools, what do you focus on teaching about the environment?

For me, my presentation is less about teaching the mechanics of environmental issues, and more about showcasing what lifelong learning and stewardship looks like. I want kids to share in my excitement for exploring new places, discovering diversity and recognizing our role in taking care of the planet. I typically only have an hour, and I want it to be an hour of positive experiences talking about science, stewardship, adventure, and of course, the monarch butterfly.

Dykman does her "monarch happy dance" with students in Kansas City, Missouri. Photo credit: Citizens of the World Kansas City.

What is the best way for kids to learn about keeping our world sustainable?

I think the best way for kids to learn about sustainability is to give them opportunities to have authentic experiences in nature and learn how to connect themselves and their actions to the planet. It has been so inspiring to see teachers creating school gardens for kids to grow plants, get dirty and nurture their curiosity. Sustainability starts with developing a relationship with nature.

How has viewing the migration from a bike changed your perspective?

I have seen, from my bike, the obstacles that monarchs and other wild creatures face. Since I am looking for monarchs and their habitat, I notice how hard it can be to find. I've passed miles and miles of green lawns and parking lots that not long ago were prairies and monarch habitat. All of this leads me to understand just how important education and conservation are, and exactly how many people the monarchs are depending on to survive.

Learning Lab resources on bicycling and alternative transportation

Learning Lab resources on nature

Become a member of USGBC National Capital Region

May 16, 2017
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Why become a member of USGBC National Capital Region? A membership offers the chance to get involved in your community, support local green building efforts and connect with other professionals who value sustainability.

Membership benefits include

  • Discounts. Members always pay less (or sometimes, nothing at all!) for educational and networking events, so membership quickly pays for itself.
  • Networking. Members have valuable opportunities to connect with local green building professionals at social, educational and volunteer events.
  • Speaking Opportunities. Members can share their skills and experience on relevant industry topics at events, workshops, panel sessions, and tours.
  • Leadership. Members can make a difference in the local community and build leadership skills by serving on one of our committees or task forces. 
  • Education. Members can take advantage of frequent learning sessions to stay informed regarding industry trends and keep credentials current. 
  • Community Service. Members have regular opportunities to use their industry expertise to benefit local non-profits and community organizations.

The cost of membership is $75 for employees of USGBC national member firms. Check if your employer is a USGBC national member. For others, it is $100. Emerging professionals (individuals out of school and under 30) receive a $65 discounted price on membership, and full-time students receive a discounted price of $75.

As a member, your annual dues directly support ongoing our programs, volunteer activities and advocacy efforts. Additionally, your financial support allows us to continue our larger vision of green buildings for all within a generation.

Join the USGBC National Capital Region community

USGBC at the Resilient Cities conference: Using LEED, SITES and PEER

May 16, 2017
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Droughts, floods, migration and informal settlements, water quality, climate preparedness, earthquakes...these were just a few of the resiliency challenges discussed by workshop participants at Resilient Cities 2017. Countries as diverse as Jamaica, Vietnam, Palestine, Nigeria, Jordan and the United States came together in Bonn, Germany from May 4–6 for the annual global forum on urban resilience and adaptation.

At the event, USGBC had the privilege to introduce this international group of city officials and advocacy organizations to LEED, SITES and PEER as tools to achieve resilience, and to show how policy levers can be applied to scale implementation of the resilience strategies.


The LEED rating system has a strong nexus with resilience. The climate sensitivity and adaptation opportunities presented by green building strategies were evaluated in a study by the University of Michigan in conjunction with USGBC. For example, in developing rainwater management systems, project teams can consider future climate conditions to ensure future performance. LEED can also help point to opportunities for climate mitigation through both reducing greenhouse gas emissions related to building construction and operation and increasing vegetation to take up carbon.


SITES applies proven green infrastructure approaches to achieve resilience in climate mitigation and adaptation. For example, using rainwater capture effectively with native vegetation can reduce or eliminate need for off-site water resources, and therefore reduce associated carbon emissions from pumping and treating water.

Drawing from research to focus on delivering ecosystem services, SITES incorporates the benefits provided by the natural ecological processes working all around us, such as supporting flood control, maintaining healthy systems during drought and serving as carbon sinks. By applying integrated design and using SITES as a guide, land, park, streetscape and landscape projects can not only achieve resiliency themselves, but can also contribute to resilience well beyond site borders.


The nation’s first comprehensive, outcome-driven system for evaluating power system performance, PEER helps electricity leaders, professionals and operators measure and improve performance. PEER provides a road map to increasing resilience as one of its core objectives.

For example, credits to boost energy reliability include strategies such as using advanced meters, communications and control systems; damage and exposure prevention; and distribution redundancy. By helping systems understand and value these improvement opportunities, PEER can set a path for a power system to support community resilience.

Learn more about LEED and resilience

LEED Link: What is LEED for Cities?

May 16, 2017
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Beyond being a game-changing green building rating system, LEED is now also a way to certify whole cities and communities. Make your city an environmentally friendly place that is healthy for all residents and sets an example for others across the nation.

The LEED for Cities certification pilot allows cities to measure and improve performance, focusing on outcomes from ongoing sustainability efforts. To take part in the pilot, city project teams must register their cities in the Arc platform, complete prerequisites and provide data to receive a performance score in Arc.

LEED for Cities helps you measure and communicate sustainability performance across an array of metrics. No matter what the size of your city, you can start using the technology—you can even begin by focusing on an eco-district, micro-grid or single neighborhood. 

Watch our video on LEED for Cities:

Learn more about LEED for Cities

USGBC Greater Virginia's Connect the Dots for Green Schools awards presented

May 11, 2017
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The USGBC Greater Virginia community held its sixth annual Connect the Dots for Green Schools Challenge Awards on May 4 at The Steward School’s Bryan Innovation Lab in Henrico County, Virginia. 

Five exceptional Virginia K–12 schools were honored for participating in the challenge, each implementing a project or program to promote environmental stewardship, encourage creativity and complement curriculum development. Schools are paired with green building industry professionals who serve as volunteer mentors to help the schools plan and carry out their projects over the course of the school year.  

Honor Award: Agnor-Hurt Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA

School Champions: Adam Mohr, Courtney Wood, Brittany Mullinex, Marci McKenzie, Michael Thornton, Drew Craft

Volunteer Mentor: Tish Tablan

Agnor-Hurt Elementary School demonstrated a comprehensive approach to promoting sustainability. Centering around a community garden, this school not only constructed their own learning gardens, but also used the vegetables and herbs grown in the garden for cooking classes to promote healthy eating. They also organized a Healthy Living Night for the school and community.   

Merit Award: Collegiate Lower School, Richmond, VA

School Champion: Katie Musick

Volunteer Mentors: Anne Rusbuldt, Bo Fairlamb

Collegiate Lower School impressed the judges with the effort they put into developing a food waste composting program in their school. The students here embodied principles of responsible citizenship and advocacy as they presented their proposal to the school’s administration and business office to receive approval for their initiative. 

Endurance Award: Clover Hill Elementary School, Chesterfield County, VA

School Champions: Lorena Cavan, Sadie O’Connor

Volunteer Mentors: Carrie Webster, Robbie Roach

Clover Hill Elementary School continues to benefit from years of collaboration between the PTA Green Committee and the Student Environmental Cabinet that includes recycling education outreach, annual “Love Our Earth Week” activities and an annual Green Apple Day of Service where student, parent and teacher volunteers work to improve outdoor learning spaces.  

Creativity Award: Binford Middle School, Richmond, VA

School Champions: Kendra Charles, Megan Neal

Volunteer Mentors: Allie Jarett, Gwen Davis, Laura Miller, Virginia Firenzuoli

Binford Middle School worked hard during the past year to grow their Garden Club. The school has creatively recycled existing materials at the school, including a geodesic dome structure, and partnered with organizations such as the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Fit 4 Kids to gather support for their project. 

Research Award: J. B. Fisher Elementary School, Richmond, VA

School Champion: Curtis Edwards

Volunteer Mentor: Laura Sokol

Fisher Elementary School engaged their students throughout the process of developing a rain garden project to enhance existing school gardens and address areas where stormwater runoff can be improved. The students have been involved since day one in determining the problem to address, analyzing the site and researching solutions. 

Other participating schools included Cosby High School in Chesterfield County, Echo Lake Elementary School in Henrico County, Glen Allen Elementary School in Henrico County, Monticello High School in Albemarle County, Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts in Richmond City and Swift Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County. 

Cash prizes for the winning schools and for all participating schools were made possible through generous donations from local green building firms, including Secure FuturesVHBDunlap & Partners Engineering, DMWPV Consulting Structural EngineersBCWH Architects and Moseley Architects

Attend a workshop on green materials in Qatar

May 11, 2017
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Are you working on a LEED v4 project in the Middle East? Looking for best practices for specifying and procuring green materials?

Join us for a workshop on May 22 with the Qatar Green Building Council, a USGBC Education Partner. The course will focus on green building certification requirements for selecting and specifying green materials. Attendees will explore materials-related credits, requirements and intents and leave with applicable plans for addressing documentation requirements.

When: Mon., May 22, 8–10 a.m.

Where: QGBC Villa, Doha, Qatar

Find more events like this in your region.

Learn more and register


U.S. Green Building Council - Long Island Chapter
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