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Residential Research Quarterly: June 2017

June 26, 2017
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USGBC's second quarterly roundup of the top research and news on residential green building offers a new green and energy-efficient home appraisal tool, a lively primer on the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, a Department of Energy profile on hurricane-resilient housing and research into the impact of climate change and rising sea levels on American homeowners. 

Appraisal Institute Improves Tool to Aid Valuation of "Green" Home Features | Appraisal Institute

This recently released tool for appraisers will allow realtors and lenders to better analyze, report and understand data for green and energy-efficient homes. The updated Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum will help standardize appraisals for high-performance features and residential properties, including properties with a green certification such as LEED.

Low-Income Housing Tax Credits: Why They Matter, How They Work and How They Could Change | Zillow

Alexander Casey of Zillow has an excellent primer on Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), a federal tax credit program for rental housing for lower-income households. Created by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the program has contributed to the acquisition, rehab or construction of nearly 3 million housing units. Learn what’s working, what’s not, and what’s next, given our current political landscape.

In a related story, Pennsylvania added LEED certification to its LIHTC selection criteria, a strong move in prioritizing funding for projects that provide energy-efficient and healthy housing.

Can this House Survive a Hurricane? It SURE Can! | Department of Energy

With hurricane season in full gust, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy published a timely profile of the SURE House, winner of the DOE Solar Decathlon 2015. Designed by the Stevens Institute with residents hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in mind, the SURE House is a resilient, solar-powered modular home ready for life on the coast.

Climate Change and Housing: Will a Rising Tide Sink All Homes? | Zillow

As the White House announced its intent to withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Zillow’s Krishna Rao examines the impact global warming and rising sea levels could have on American homeowners. Her research, based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Zillow data, gives “underwater homes” a whole new meaning. If sea levels rise by six feet by the year 2100, nearly 1.9 million homes—worth a combined $882 billion—are at risk of being submerged.

Labels, Certifications, and Scores, Oh My! Following the Road to Green Real Estate | 2017 Better Buildings Summit

At the 2017 Better Buildings Summit, a national meeting showcasing solutions to cut building portfolio energy intensity, the Appraisal Institute, Elevate Energy and the Real Estate Standards Organization presented a multitude of tools available for greening residential real estate. From The Home Energy Score to green financing products and tools to better capture green features in real estate appraisals, this slide deck outlines new resources available in the growing green residential sector.

If you have suggestions for future studies we could share, please contact Nick Brousse.

Sign up for USGBC emails on advocacy and research topics

Top four reasons to sponsor A Midsummer Night's Green (USGBC National Capital Region)

June 23, 2017
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USGBC National Capital Region’s event A Midsummer Night’s Green will return to the Arena Stage on July 20. You’re invited to play an important role in this popular annual event and to demonstrate your leadership in the local green building movement by signing on as a sponsor. Here are the top four reasons to sponsor A Midsummer Night’s Green:

1) Be part of the premier summer social event for the Washington, D.C., area green building community.

For the past 16 years and counting, the most informed and influential individuals in local sustainability have come together each summer to connect and celebrate at A Midsummer Night’s Green. Beginning in 2008, the event was expanded to include USGBC National Capital Region’s Community Leader Awards (formerly called our Awards of Excellence). These prestigious awards recognize the most innovative high-performance projects in the D.C. area, as well as the people and organizations making the greatest impact by driving local market transformation and bringing green buildings to all. 

2) Receive special perks when you attend as a VIP.

This year, we’ve added an exclusive VIP pre-reception on the rooftop terrace of the Arena Stage at the Mead Center. Guests will enjoy incredible views of the Southeast Waterfront and the Washington Monument while networking with fellow industry leaders and USGBC executives. All sponsors receive complimentary tickets to this VIP pre-reception along with tickets to the main event. Some sponsor levels also have reserved seating during the Community Leader Awards Ceremony. 

3) Enjoy great marketing and branding opportunities.

Our 2016 event boasted over 300 attendees from 135 companies, including architects, developers, building owners, engineers, general contractors, government workers, consultants and manufacturers. We expect 2017 to match or surpass this number. All sponsors are acknowledged at the event through signage and at the award ceremony.

Each sponsor level comes with unique branding opportunities, such logos on photo booth souvenirs, napkins or cocktail tabletops, and/or opportunities to speak at the Awards Ceremony or VIP pre-reception. Promotions for the event, including sponsor branding and acknowledgement, run in USGBC National Capital Region’s weekly e-newsletter, which has a subscriber list of nearly 7,000, and on the USGBC website, which has 160,000 unique web visitors monthly. 

4) Show that you care about green building.

A Midsummer Night’s Green is USGBC National Capital Region’s biggest fundraiser. Proceeds fund our education, advocacy and volunteer activities, and enable us to pursue our mission of creating a greener, healthier, more resilient and more equitable National Capital Region for all.

Just a few examples: In 2016, A Midsummer Night’s Green helped to support our groundbreaking We are WELL GreenLearn Series, which explorated the connection between human health and the built environment. It also supported our Emerging Professionals in creating a sustainability plan for Calvary Women’s Services, a nonprofit in Southeast D.C. serving women who are homeless, and our Green Apple Day of Service Project, revitalizing a 9/11 Memorial Garden honoring students and teachers of Leckie Elementary.

To learn more, view our sponsorship prospectus, and contact Mark Bryan with questions. Sponsorship opportunities are limited, and signing on early allows you to get the most promotional "airtime" leading up to the event, so don’t wait to reach out! We’re looking forward to making this year’s A Midsummer Night’s Green the best yet, and we hope to have your organization be a part of this success.

Learn more about sponsorship

Life as a LEED volunteer: The Indoor Environmental Quality Technical Advisory Group

June 23, 2017
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The application period for new LEED committee members is open through August 31, 2017. In honor of that, USGBC will be bringing you stories and perspectives from members of the various LEED committees.

Amy Costello is a sustainability manager for Armstrong Flooring, Inc. and Gabriela Crespo is the leader of the Energy Department for Revitaliza Consultores. Both are members of the Indoor Environmental Quality Technical Advisory Group (EQ TAG).

What does your Technical Advisory Group do?

AC: The EQ TAG evaluates criteria for improving and ensuring the best possible indoor environmental quality, which includes air quality as well as acoustics and access to daylight and views that enhance the indoor environment. This work is important—especially given the amount of time people spend in indoor spaces and buildings.

GC: Focusing on the EQ category, we also review questions that might be sent over from LEED certification and provide feedback, case by case, on implementation challenges that we might have, based on our experience. We also identify opportunities to help market transformation. 

On average, how much time do you dedicate to LEED Committee work per week or month?

AC: About 3–4 hours a month on average. It varies depending on what I am working on. Right now, I am leading a work group on Sustainable Communities, so I have been spending a little more time than usual on the committee.

GC:  No more than 5 hours a month, including the monthly calls. 

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a LEED Committee volunteer?

AC: Knowing that I am making a difference. I really enjoy my time serving on various LEED committees, because it gives me the opportunity to interact with others who share my same values and commitments to sustainable and green building. It is invigorating, exciting and really encouraging that we are making a difference.

GC: I feel like I’m part of building where LEED goes next, and getting the inside scoop of what we’re thinking about, as well as setting a pace so that all countries can keep up. 

What has been your most meaningful achievement as a LEED Committee volunteer?

AC: Increasing awareness. I feel like many people think USGBC focuses on architecture, but they also help industry professionals like manufacturers and producers raise awareness on the importance of working together toward the same goals.

GC: Participating in the development of pilot credits for natural lighting and discussing new ways to achieve different credits has been my biggest achievement on the EQ TAG. 

How does your service on a LEED Committee enhance your professional work?

AC: As the sustainability manager for Armstrong Flooring, being on a LEED Committee helps me better understand the LEED rating systems.  I share this knowledge with our product development, marketing and sales teams who are able to use this information to design products that contribute to achieving LEED criteria, to develop LEED product documentation to support project teams and to educate customers about the LEED contributions of our products.

In addition, I have developed several GBCI-approved CEUs related to LEED, which I have trained our sales team to deliver and which I present to architects and designers. This interaction with the community provides customer feedback that I can bring back to the IEQ TAG. Finally, my committee service was invaluable when I served on the LEED project team that certified the Armstrong Flooring Corporate Headquarters Building as LEED Platinum in 2007 and 2014.

GC: It is directly related, as I work in a LEED consulting firm, and I bring what I have learned in other projects to the TAG. 

What is your favorite LEED credit, and why?

AC: I’d have to say the Extended Producers Responsibility criteria in Option 2 of the Materials and Resources credit Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Sourcing of Raw Materials. It encourages manufacturers to think differently and design products so that they can be taken back at the end of their life cycle. I like credits that are push-and-pull.

GC: Definitely Commissioning—I have found that it really adds value to projects and is a crucial component to achieving energy efficiency and maintaining systems throughout the life of the building. If I had to choose from my TAG category, EQ, I’d say Interior Lighting, as I am very passionate about lighting design. 

What advice would you give to a new LEED Committee volunteer?

AC: Participate! I’ve been on some calls that are very quiet. Be prepared for meetings. Read the memos and recommendations. Do your homework. It makes it difficult to progress without full committee participation. 

GC: Take it all in. You will be surrounded by experts who are shaping LEED’s future. And know that what you bring to the table is important.

Interested in becoming a LEED Committee volunteer? Start by taking a look at the current volunteer opportunities and learn more about LEED Committees.

Apply to be a Committee Volunteer

What's new with Green Apple Day of Service?

June 23, 2017
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Green Apple Day of Service is a unique moment to join schools across the world in celebrating the central role that schools play in preparing the next generation of leaders in sustainability.

Over the past five years, we’ve seen participation from almost one million volunteers in 73 countries, and our actions have impacted the learning environments of over seven million students. This year, we’ve taken a close look at what’s worked and what hasn’t over our short history, and we’re rolling out some exciting new features for this year:

  1. The most notable change is that, starting this year, you’ll register your project at the beginning of the school year and name your own date. The projects themselves can happen at any time from August 2017 through May 2018. However, the projects can only receive official support with funding, volunteers and other resources if they sign up on the website during September and October. We encourage schools to think about the right time for a day of action for them, and we’ll communicate with project leaders based on the chosen date.
  2. We have a new website that's been redesigned to provide with more of what you need to create a successful project. Resources and information are available now at, and project registration will open in September. Sign up on to receive updates leading up to the official registration period (check off "Green Apple Day of Service" on your subscription options).
  3. The new focus is on incentivizing school staff and teachers to lead action at their schools. They know what’s most needed at their schools, and they’re the ones who will keep sustainability values strong after the day of action is over. We’re making it worthwhile for them to join in: matching funds are available for supplies through our corporate partners on, volunteer assistance is available through our community teams around the country, and fun downloads and planning resources are given to those who sign up. You'll find out more about all of these offerings when you register a project.

Green Apple Day of Service projects create measurable change on one or more of the three pillars of a green school: environmental impact, health and wellness and environmental and sustainability literacy. Each project directly and positively affects the students at a particular school.

Is your school’s Earth Day celebration a Green Apple Day of Service? It can be, if it includes service activities that impact sustainability at the school. Is the annual school service day a Green Apple Day of Service? It might be, if it focuses the service activities on sustainability. The Day of Service is unique because it brings together school service and sustainability on one focused day of action.

Visit our website to learn more

Tour Nashville's LEED Platinum fire station on June 28 (USGBC Tennessee)

June 22, 2017
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In 2016, Nashville’s Fire Station 19 received LEED Platinum certification. Then, in June 2017, it was awarded the 2017 Governor's Environmental Stewardship Award (GESA) in the “Building Green” category. This facility that houses the city’s first responders 24/7 has several innovative features and has set the bar for future Nashville city buildings.

If you are interested in exploring Fire Station 19 firsthand, join USGBC Tennessee for a free, behind-the-scenes tour on Wed., June 28 at noon. Please send an email for details and to reserve your spot.

LEED Platinum through triple bottom line achievement

For Fire Station 19 to obtain the 80 points required by LEED for Platinum certification, seven different credit categories were met within the LEED BD+C: New Construction rating system—view the project’s LEED Scorecard.

Many of the building’s features provide not only environmental benefits, but economic and health ones as well, which emphasizes the USGBC’s commitment to the triple bottom line concept. This idea shines light on the importance of considering people (social capital), planet (natural capital), and profit (economic capital) during the completion of a truly sustainable project. 


The station has low-emitting materials for all adhesives, paints, carpet systems and composite wood materials to make it a healthier environment for the city's first responders. The HVAC system provides a constant flow of adequate ventilation to occupied spaces, leading to improved indoor air quality. In the words of Captain Derek Hogan, “I can breathe in this one. I’ve got allergies real bad, and at the old station, I got a lot of flare-ups. [Since working at Fire Station 19,] I’ve missed fewer days at work because of being sick.”


Fire Station 19’s innovative design also protects the planet. With the energy demand offset provided by the solar photovoltaic system, total annual greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 28.9 metric tons. Fire Station 19 contains 31 percent local and 16 percent recycled content in building materials. Furthermore, over 60 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfill, saving 158,000 pounds of construction waste from burial.


Optimizing efficiencies in lighting systems, mechanical heating and cooling systems, use of renewable energy, and plumbing fixtures that reduce both water consumption and the electricity needed to heat water created an overall annual energy cost reduction of 44 percent compared to a baseline building. This amounted to $11,000 saved in 2016 alone. A key contributor to this success is the station’s 33kW photovoltaic panel system, which provides 15 percent of the building’s electricity use. This is Metro Nashville’s first solar installation in which power produced is used onsite, directly by the building, first.

Metro’s Department of General Services (DGS) manages nearly 100 city buildings. Since 2010, DGS has designed and constructed 12 LEED Silver and eight LEED Gold facilities, as well as one LEED Platinum. The Department’s Socket, Unplug Nashville program elevates its efforts, educating Metro employees and the public about how to live and work more sustainably. Metro’s DGS is helping to make Mayor Barry’s goal “for Nashville to be the greenest city in the Southeast” a reality.

Sign up for the tour

Register for solar training (USGBC National Capital Region)

June 22, 2017
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USGBC National Capital Region would like to alert its members to a training opportunity for architects and engineers in the Northeast. Developed by the Building Codes Assistance Project and the Center for Sustainable Energy, in partnership with AIA and ASHRAE, the solar training for design professionals course will be offered in 22 cities across the United States.

On June 27, the first training session will take place in Washington, D.C. Four others will be located in the Northeast region, including Pittsburgh (July 20), New Haven (September 27) and Boston (TBD), along with a summer 2017 webinar.

STEP into the Sun: Solar Training for Design Professionals
When: 9 am–4 pm, June 27, 2017
Where: District Architecture Center, 421 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

What it will cover:

  • How to incorporate solar photovoltaics (PV) into your design plans
  • How to differentiate yourself in the marketplace by offering solar PV to your clients
  • How to speak with clients about the benefits of solar PV
  • Where to find information on the financial incentives available for solar PV

Architects and engineers are the brains and force behind every design project, and are well poised to tap into the Northeast’s $67.5 billion solar investment potential and to influence a client’s wish list to include solar energy on both new and remodeled buildings. The addition of solar on buildings is an opportunity for designers who want to lead the market with cutting-edge designs.

Learn more and register

Apply for the 2017–2018 School District Sustainability Scholarship

June 22, 2017
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The Center for Green Schools at USGBC has a vision that every school can be an inspiring, healthy, green place where teachers and students thrive and where every student has the chance to succeed. One way we realize this vision is through our annual School District Scholarship, which provides professional development, targeted education and technical support for staff members who are currently undertaking sustainability work across their district.

The 2017–2018 School District Scholarship application is open through August 4, 2017.

Scholarship benefits

  • Travel, lodging and attendance for the scholar and one colleague at the 2018 Green Schools Conference
  • Travel, lodging and attendance for the scholar at the annual summit for School Sustainability Leaders (hosted in conjunction with the Green Schools Conference)
  • Travel, lodging and attendance for the scholar at the 2017 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo
  • Ongoing training through personal and small group coaching
  • Limited complimentary year-long access to several school resources from USGBC, including Learning Lab, the Green Classroom Professional Certificate, and LEED Coach for school projects

Minimum requirements

The School District Scholarship is available to school systems of all sizes, but to qualify, school districts must have a current staff person who spends a minimum of 50 percent of their time on sustainability-related efforts. To determine if staff time is currently dedicated to sustainability, follow the definition of green schools described in the “three pillars”: reduced environmental impact, positive impact on student and teacher health and improved environmental literacy.

The application includes a required signed letter from school district leadership that includes 1) support for specific sustainability activities at the school district; 2) support for a named staff person to spend at least 50 percent of their time on sustainability-related initiatives during the scholarship year; and 3) support for the professional development time during which this staff person will be participating with the Center for Green Schools for the scholarship year.

Up to five districts will be selected for the 2017–2018 cohort.

Learn more and apply

You can learn more about the School District Scholarship by reading about two of our past scholarship recipients from Albemarle County Public Schools and Detroit Public Schools. If you find this opportunity a good fit for your district, use our one-page overview to talk with your district leadership about the program. Please complete the application by Fri., August 4, 2017.

We look forward to working with the next cohort of scholars to accomplish your sustainability goals, connect you to new resources and opportunities and share your stories with others across the country.

Apply for the School District Scholarship

Learn about zero waste at a June 26 workshop (USGBC Orange County)

June 21, 2017
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Join USGBC Orange County on June 26 to learn how you can get started with zero waste certification. The workshop will cover the importance of measuring what is wasted and tracking reuse, recycling and composting programs. Attendees will also learn how to plan for more waste diversion and how businesses have decreased waste bills dramatically by diverting over 90 percent from landfills, incineration and the environment.

Zero Waste 101 Workshop: Going Beyond Recycling to Certification—USGBC Orange County

When: Mon., June 26, 1–4 pm PDT
Where: LPA, 5161 California Avenue, Irvine, California
Cost: $45 USGBC members, $60 nonmembers
Register now 

This introductory workshop is appropriate for both small and large businesses and provides the basics for businesses that are just starting their recycling program and want to take it to the next level.

At his workshop, you will learn how to

  • Cut trash costs and generate more recycling revenues.
  • Go zero waste without breaking the bank.
  • Kick-start your zero waste program.
  • Become a zero waste-certified business.
  • Understand and exceed new state mandates (AB341, AB1826).

Learn more about the zero waste certification program.

Register for the workshop

Submit a proposal for the 2018 Green Schools Conference and Expo

June 21, 2017
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The Green Schools Conference and Expo (GSCE) is the only national event to bring together all of the players involved in making green schools a reality: people who lead, operate, build, and teach in U.S. schools.

Every year, GSCE brings together the growing community of green school champions for two days of learning, connecting and collaborating to support our shared mission of advancing healthy, high-performing green schools where students learn how to sustain and improve the world around them.

Attendees engage in hands-on learning, participate in in-depth discussions and problem solving, and get inspired by speakers at the forefront of connecting sustainability, social justice and education. Two days of programming offers the opportunity for attendees to share ideas and successful strategies; learn about potential partnerships; and discover tools, services and products to help them succeed in creating schools that teach students about global sustainability—all in an environment that’s healthy for them, for their communities and for the Earth.

Green Schools Conference and Expo 2018
When: May 3–4
Where: Hyatt Regency Denver, Denver, Colorado

Call for proposals

GSCE is now accepting proposals from industry experts including educators, nonprofits, governmental agencies and corporate entities who are eager to share their knowledge, experience and efforts to create green, healthy, sustainable teaching and learning environments.

Submit to tell your story of students getting engaged in learning at schools that are better for their health and better for the environment. View the Call for Proposals document, Submittal Guide and Program Policies to learn more.

The deadline for submissions is Fri., August 11 at 5 p.m. ET.

Submit a proposal

Call for reviewers

GSCE is also accepting applications for peer reviewers to evaluate proposals for educational sessions at the 2018 conference. Peer reviewers help maintain the outstanding reputation of GSCE by identifying exceptional and timely presentations. Engaging, highly qualified reviewers with expertise in the conference’s content areas is essential to the ongoing success of the GSCE education program. 

Review the Call for Reviewers document to learn more. The online application must be complete by August 11 at 5 p.m. ET. Complete the application.

California Policy Corner: Green Hard Hat Awards and advancing legislation

June 20, 2017
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Budget and green legislation

After clearing a series of legislative deadlines in April and May, seven of the eight green building bills USGBC is supporting are charging forward, although California’s bold new attempt at a cap-and-trade bill did not advance. All the while, Gov. Brown has put state leadership on the global stage by striking new climate deals with China.

The deadline for the Governor to pass the budget put pressure on the legislature to figure out how to align state funds with state priorities. The newly adopted 2017–2018 budget is lengthy, and will not be truly complete without a few key trailer bills that address cap and trade and water conservation. These issues are still in negotiation, and are likely to be resolved at the end of June.

The budget includes

  • $2.8 billion towards fixing roads, strengthening overpasses and bridges and building mass transit.
  • More than $11,000 per pupil on K–12 schools.
  • $546 million toward health care access and family planning.

Seven of the eight bills USGBC supports are moving forward in the legislature. Check out the widget below for up-to-date information on the eight bills we’ve been supporting.

Green Hard Hat Awards

On June 21, USGBC will celebrate two state leaders who are helping take California forward on climate, energy and water issues through green buildings at the 2017 Green Hard Hat Awards. Sen. Scott Wiener and Commissioner Andrew McAllister of the California Energy Commission will earn this badge of honor as champions for our cause.

Register for the event at the LEED Platinum Golden 1 Center.

Under debate

Achieving the state’s aggressive energy and climate goals will require efforts on many fronts, including building codes, appliance standards, improved compliance, education and training and market demand. Green buildings and communities play an important role in driving investment and actions that deliver direct and indirect climate benefits.

An upgraded cap-and-trade program for California would be much-needed rocket fuel to propel market forces behind the effort. However, no legislative vehicle appears to remain for cap-and-trade extension this session. This year’s ambitious cap-and-trade extension and improvement measure, AB 378, failed to advance. Key players representing labor, environmental, environmental justice, and business groups must reconcile their disagreements in order to move forward.

Looking ahead

After this month’s Green Hard Hat Awards, we’ll be focusing on supporting state agencies in their implementation of key policies and programs that are driving green building forward:

  • Statewide building benchmarking implementation via AB 802
  • Green building requirements in Title 24 via CALGreen
  • The AB32/SB32 scoping plan and how green buildings can be a key part of the solution to meeting the state’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.

Other bills to watch are SB 100, a push toward a 100 percent renewables portfolio standard, which recently passed the Senate, and SB 1, a major transportation measure that seeks to raise revenue for infrastructure investments.

Water conservation continues to take center stage in the state legislature. AB 1667 and AB 1668 passed the assembly. These measures would be instrumental “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life,” an extension of Governor Brown’s 2016 Executive Order B-37-16.

USGBC will continue to support all relevant legislative measures in the House and Senate. Meanwhile, we hope you'll join us for the Green Hard Hat Awards.

Register for the Green Hard Hat Awards and tour


U.S. Green Building Council - Long Island Chapter
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