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Join the Greenbuild Mexico Program Working Group

December 15, 2017
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Greenbuild Mexico, taking place in Mexico City from June 19 to 21, 2018, is seeking inventive, knowledgeable professionals in the design, construction and operations of sustainable buildings and communities to serve on the Greenbuild Mexico Program Working Group.

The Greenbuild Mexico Program Working Group plays an active role in the development and delivery of educational programming intended to meet the needs of attendees at the Greenbuild Mexico International Conference. Submit an interest form to get started.

It's an exciting time to get involved—be a part of the inaugural Greenbuild Mexico and expand upon your professional background, while networking with other leaders in the green building industry.

Apply by Monday, January 8, 2018 at 5 p.m. EST. All committee terms begin in January 2018.

Please contact us with any questions.

Submit an expression of interest

Clarkson University students hold LEED Green Associate exam workshop (USGBC New York Upstate)

December 15, 2017
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If you're wondering whether students at your local college or university are interested in sustainability, USGBC New York Upstate can vouch for their motivation. Clarkson University students are on fire to become leaders in the area of sustainability.

All on their own, two seniors, Robert Cameron and Krissy Govertsen, hosted a LEED Green Associate Exam Review Day on October 28, 2017, to help prepare their peers for sustainability careers.

Over 25 students from Clarkson University and SUNY Canton participated in this eight-hour workshop. The course followed the two-week study plan and the LEED Green Associate Handbook, which Govertsen herself used to prepare to take the LEED Green Associate exam this past spring.

“I learned so much through the process of gaining my LEED Green Associate accreditation that I wanted my peers to know how to get themselves prepared,” said Govertsen.

Clarkson University also offers a semester course that prepares students for the exam, taught by the New York Upstate Market Leadership Advisory Board member and Professor at Clarkson, Erik Backus, but the enthusiasm for building green at Clarkson outpaces this course offering.

“We’re seeing a real passion for what it means to be good stewards of our environment, especially amongst our engineering students at Clarkson,” offered Backus, “and students like Krissy and Rob are shining examples of the next generation of engineers and green professionals.”

The workshop was hosted under the auspices of the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and all proceeds benefited the father of a current Clarkson student, who is facing a medical crisis.

The high number of participants in the one-day workshop encouraged ASCE at Clarkson University to plan to hold at least one LEED Green Associate exam workshop each semester. Between the formal course offering and these workshops, Clarkson and its chapter of ASCE hopes to continue to fan the flames of passion for green building well into the future.

See test prep resources for the LEED Green Associate exam

Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly: December 2017

December 13, 2017
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The Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly, published by Green Schools National Network, serves as a record of the green schools movement, showing our past successes and challenges as well as our current progress. This quarter’s content focuses on policy levers to effect change, including policy at the school district, state and regional levels:

  • Jeremy Sigmon, from USGBC’s advocacy team, outlines recent progress and future opportunities in state legislation to support green schools. He highlights nine recently passed policies that illustrate the current interests of state policymakers.
  • Amy Cortese, from New Buildings Institute, dives into the results of California’s Proposition 39, which was passed by voters in 2012 and allocates funding to school districts for energy efficiency. To illustrate the impact of the legislation, she profiles three school districts of varying sizes and the lessons learned from each district’s experience.
  • Ghita Carroll, sustainability coordinator at Boulder Valley School District and 2016 School District Scholarship recipient, tells the story of her school district’s effort to embed sustainability in its management and policy frameworks. Over the past eight years, the district has moved from an initial sustainability management system to deep curricular integration and energy efficiency targets.

The Center for Green Schools at USGBC is proud to be a distribution partner for Green Schools Catalyst Quarterly. Access this exceptional content for free, and learn more about how our collective work is shaping schools.

Read the full issue

Quiz: What's the right Education @USGBC course for you?

December 13, 2017
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The Education @USGBC platform offers more than 650 courses on all aspects of LEED, green building and sustainability. From introductions to green building to curated playlists for professionals in the field who need to maintain their credentials, Education @USGBC has the training you need, in the format you need it.

Curious about the best course for you? Take our short quiz and get a customized recommendation:

Green Apple Day of Service Spotlight (USGBC National Capital Region)

December 12, 2017
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Feature image: National Capital Region volunteers rehabilitated a set of planter boxes that had fallen into disrepair, so students could again grow plants on school property.

On October 28, 30 members of the USGBC National Capital Region community performed a Green Apple Day of Service project, gathering at John Hayden Johnson Middle School in Southeast Washington, D.C. Organized by Braden Reid of HKS and Craighton Ellingsworth of GreenWall Source, volunteers from across the region went to work cleaning and transforming a seldom-used courtyard. The space is now a clean, vibrant common area where students can congregate and plant a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers.

View our full photo album of the event.

National Capital Region Green Apple project

The courtyard’s benches were cleaned, sanded and repainted, allowing students to once again congregate in the outdoor area.

Our community service events rely on the generosity of our volunteers and donors, and we can’t thank them enough for their time and energy. If you’re interested in hosting a Green Apple Day of Service in your community, check out the wide variety of sample projects on to inspire your efforts to give back to your local school. Once you begin planning your event let us know so that we can come document your amazing work.

National Capital Region Green Apple project

Community volunteers also refurbished and sealed a sign built by students, ensuring their creation will withstand the elements for years to come.

Special thanks are due to the companies that provided product donations in support of the project, including Benjamin Moore, Ernest Maier, Inc., Home Depot and Chipotle. We also thank Lavanya Poteau of Johnson Middle School for coordinating with us and donating her Saturday morning to our project.

Start your own Green Apple project

Be an effective advocate through relationship-building skills

December 12, 2017
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These tips follow up on the Greenbuild Boston session "How You Can Be an Effective Advocate" on November 8, 2017, about specific ways to influence public policy related to green building.

The ability to build relationships is at the core of effective advocacy.

First, to have an impact on matters we care about, it is essential to identify the established leaders on those issues. Strive to get to know them and support their work if it is in line with your values and priorities.

Once trust is built and we get past any existing skepticism, we are more likely to be viewed as credible contributors.

Building relationships

Connecting with established leaders is not enough though. In many cases, there are people who have an interest in an issue, but who have not yet participated in the public dialogue on the issue, and so are not shaping decisions. How do we make sure that, as we are organizing and advocating, we are taking into account a variety of perspectives, experiences and needs? In order to create a process and achieve results that resonate with various demographics in our community, we need to strive to be welcoming and open.

If we genuinely want to get to know people and explore opportunities for collaboration, we must not expect them to always come to us. We need to offer to go to them. Typically, the further away the person is, the more the effort is appreciated! Instead of a meeting in someone’s office, how about suggesting a tour of the area or a visit to their favorite local coffee shop? They will value the opportunity to show off their community, and the interaction could help break down barriers and reveal commonalities.

If you have the opportunity to meet friends or colleagues of the host while you are there, that can be an effective way to get to know your host and their community better. This type of casual, authentic visit instills a sense of bonding.

Sometimes, when we are trying to advocate for a cause we care about, we think it is best to educate people with data. We might dive right into the substance of the policy proposal, and start hurling numbers at our audience. However, when we take this course, we often skip important relationship-building opportunities and end up with impersonal meetings that fail to leave a lasting, positive impression.

Instead, start by getting to know each other by having a conversation that addresses questions like, “What brought you to the work you are doing? What kinds of things are you working on? Is there an area in which you’d like to become more involved?” This sort of interaction supports an exchange of information, ideas and contacts. You might bring up a particular issue you are involved in, answer questions about it, pitch a way to lend support and ask for input on who might be interested.

What to avoid

As people who care deeply about creating a more just, sustainable world, it is easy to get frustrated when progress seems too slow. However, frustration can get in the way and cause us to lose sight of the steps we need to take to achieve progress. Frustration may even cause us to act in a way that is counterproductive to the cause.

How do we avoid this common pitfall? Focus on building relationships—and not just with elected officials whom we are trying to influence, but also with fellow community members and other potential allies, such as those with funding capability.

Whenever possible, we should work to build relationships with our opponents, too. Just because we do not agree on one issue does not mean we could not be allies on another. It is also important to know when to step back. If our frustration reaches a certain level, it can be best to encourage someone else to take over who might have a fresh perspective and higher level of positive energy.

Nurture your relationships

Positive relationships involve mutual respect and support. Like plants that need sun and water, relationships require nourishment. So, once you plant the seeds, be sure to tend to the garden.

Join us at Greenbuild next year in Chicago from November 14 to 16, 2018, for more opportunities to learn about green building and advocacy strategies.

Submit a proposal for Greenbuild 2018

Number of LEED-certified schools hits 2,000

December 12, 2017
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For years, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC has kept a close eye on the way that K–12 schools interact with or purchase the resources and products that USGBC provides. It’s one way to tell how well the benefits of green building are reaching schools and school districts, and it also tells USGBC when we need to do some research to improve the solutions we’re offering.

Just recently, we reached a major milestone: 2,000 LEED-certified K–12 schools.

True to our LEED standards, our 2,000th school, the Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, operates with high levels of sustainability. With on-site renewable energy, the use of low-emitting materials and reduction in water use, among other features, the Rio Grande High School earned LEED Gold certification.

With thousands of schools becoming certified, there’s a wealth of sustainability trends to observe. Here are some we've been noting:

  • Public schools are leading. These 2,000 projects represent well over $30 billion in investment. They also cover a total of 160 million square feet of education space, approximately 2 percent of the total square footage of all U.S. public schools. Public schools make up the vast majority of LEED certification commitments, driven by either state laws or by the desire of school districts to show good stewardship of tax dollars.
  • Large districts make large-scale commitments. Typically, when we take a look at LEED-certified projects by large/medium public school district size, we see large districts with big capital campaigns at the top. Over the last couple of years, Houston Independent School District and Washington, D.C., Public Schools have risen in numbers quickly as they dive fully into their bond projects. They’ve overtaken Albuquerque Public Schools, whose recent capital campaign is winding down, and Chicago Public Schools. 

    Looking at the numbers another way, within the large/medium public school district group, we see that Cincinnati Public Schools and South-Western City Schools, both in Ohio, have huge percentages of schools that have achieved certification. In both cases, nearly 40 percent of all schools in the district are certified, constituting a major commitment and commendable effort.
  • Some states distribute funding to assist smaller districts. The state-level data tells another angle of the national story because it highlights the state of Ohio’s commitment to LEED certification for all of its schools. Just over 300 schools have been certified in Ohio, more than double the number certified in the second-place state, California. The certified schools in Ohio are distributed around the state, reflective of the state’s commitment to assist smaller, less-wealthy school districts with needed capital construction funds.
  • The places using LEED are geographically diverse. The list of top states for LEED-certified schools emphasizes the broad appeal of green schools and green building practices. The top six states for LEED in schools are Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Maryland and Florida. Schools are seeing the value of the third-party verification that LEED provides—whether rural, urban, suburban on the coast or inland.

Read our fact sheet on LEED in schools

Realizing a vision for green and healthy schools

December 11, 2017
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Feature image copyright: Stan's Daughter Studios LLC.

The Center for Green Schools at USGBC was founded in 2010 with a vision to put every child in a green school within this generation. The very week of its founding, I moved to Washington, D.C., to bring to a national scale the work I’d been doing with the Recovery School District in New Orleans.

Through my work in that district, I had learned that healthy and safe learning environments cannot be taken for granted. I had also grown to understand that, every time a community builds a school, it has the chance to tell its children that they are valued. Over the nine years I’ve worked with USGBC, I have been privileged to be able to help many communities make good choices for their students’ futures.

The energy and leadership that USGBC has invested in the green schools movement has paid off, and our commitment remains strong. We believe the mission we’ve set forth is about lifting people up and making our world not just more environmentally friendly, but more equitable. Everyone, from the kindergartener to the Ph.D. student, deserves to attend schools that sustain the world they live in, enhance their health and well-being and prepare them for 21st century careers as global sustainability citizens. Our mission is about building a green future for all, regardless of one’s social or economic background.

“As part of our vision for 2020, USGBC has committed to investing in the future by developing the full potential of the diverse, committed and passionate people who power our movement,” says Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of USGBC and GBCI. “And we know that one crucial way to achieve that is through empowering our movement’s future leaders. By ensuring that children all over the world have the opportunity to learn in a green school, we will lay this foundation. So let’s keep striving to build a better world for our children, their children and generations yet to come! That’s how we’ll achieve the world we’ve imagined.”

Anisa Heming in New Orleans

Anisa Heming while working in New Orleans schools. Photo credit Kai Keane.

Where we learn matters

My experience with schools and school districts in nearly all 50 states and several countries outside of the United States has given me a litany of reasons why green schools matter. It’s an easy question to answer when you have been in both the worst schools imaginable and the most inspiring learning environments in the world. By the numbers, schools have an enormous impact on people and the environment. Globally, 1 in 8 individuals set foot in a school each day. There are over 130,000 schools in the U.S., occupying square footage equivalent to half that of the commercial building sector. It is clear that where we learn matters, and better schools have the potential to improve the lives of millions around the world.

A school’s curriculum, pedagogy, operations, culture and learning environment are all connected. Green schools serve as hands-on educational tools for students to learn about green building and sustainability. The real-world, project-based learning that sustainability education provides prepares students to discover new solutions for our global challenges, and we can best educate students for a sustainable world by modeling it for them at their own school.

We also know that green school buildings are critical for student and teacher health. The importance of facilities to student health, wellness and performance is well established, and research also tells us that responsible investment in school buildings can lead to thriving local communities. Green schools support community health by reducing harmful emissions, minimizing environmental impact, saving energy and water while reducing utility costs, reducing waste going to landfill and lessening the burden of extraction of new natural resources for construction and operations.

Nothing beats results

Since 2010, the Center for Green Schools has sustained volunteer action in every U.S. state and educated thousands at our annual Green Schools Conference and Expo. We have inspired acts of service to benefit over 7 million students during Green Apple Day of Service with almost one million volunteers across 73 countries. We launched Learning Lab, a platform for K–12 sustainability curriculum content, which now hosts over 500 high-quality lessons in English and Spanish. LEED Lab, a course to teach the LEED rating system to college and university students by giving them hands-on certification experience, is now offered in 25 institutions in nine countries around the world. As of October 2017, we have more than 12,100 certified and registered LEED K–12 and higher education schools projects.

We have reinforced our belief that healthy learning environments lead to thriving communities with the publication of original research and policy analysis, and we have increased the introduction of green schools legislation in U.S. states fivefold. Our staff and volunteers have worked to establish the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools award program in dozens of states, strengthening the program’s “three pillars” of a green school as unifying criteria for the movement. This criteria is now used by organizations in 25 countries through our Global Coalition for Green Schools.

Anisa Heming at Green Schools Conference

Anisa Heming at the Green Schools Conference and Expo. Photo credit:

Finally, we have been the primary voice for a new job class, the K–12 sustainability director, providing professional development to a growing network of 120 school district staff who collectively serve over 7.5 million students. We have established Green Schools Fellowships and school district scholarships to successfully institutionalize sustainability positions in school districts.

What’s next for the Center

The Center sits at the forefront of USGBC’s drive to broaden our message about the impacts and benefits of green buildings. As the Center for Green Schools’ Director, I approach the work with the knowledge that schools are central to our communities and our future. Our children’s schools are of interest to the public in a way that few other buildings are. Additionally, schools have the potential to prepare students to care for and sustain the world in which they live, taking on their future careers with a mindset rooted in sustainability.

I am excited that, with USGBC’s tools and the new Arc platform, schools and school stakeholders can benchmark their performance, access important educational resources, find inspiring examples of success, and connect with and learn from each other. High-quality tools enable passionate people to do transformational work, and these tools will help the green schools movement go further.

Building on this foundation, the priorities of the Center for Green Schools over the next three years are to

  • Prepare students for a sustainable future by influencing the value of sustainability within mainstream education and serving sustainability education online.
  • Engage communities for impact by driving engagement in sustainability at school and leading and educating green school champions.
  • Guide policy and investment by advocating for school facility equity, encouraging investment in green school facilities globally and influencing school system practices and policies.

We will leverage USGBC’s considerable strengths to maximize the work of the Center for Green Schools and bring the green schools movement into its next phase. Through all of this work together, we will grow the audience for green schools and provide a launching pad for schools around the world to do great things for their students’ futures—because where we learn matters.

What’s new in the Greenbuild 2018 Call for Proposals?

December 11, 2017
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As the chair of the 2017 Greenbuild Education Events Committee, I feel invigorated and excited about the work the green building community is doing to create a more sustainable future for all. After Greenbuild Boston, I can’t help but to wonder about what’s next.

For 2018, the Greenbuild Education Events Committee and staff have worked to add two exciting new educational formats to the 2018 Call for Proposals that build on the education offerings that have had such an impact at past Greenbuild conferences: the Special Sets program, Applied Learning Areas on the expo floor and the Braindates platform.

New Greenbuild session formats

  1. Expert-level sessions: These sessions are for experts in green building, for those who have already demonstrated a mastery of their craft and want to dive deep into technical, advanced topics and be actively engaged in the subject matter throughout the session. Attendee engagement in these sessions should allow these experts not only to learn from and interact with the instructor, but also with one another.
  2. Immersive and experiential learning: This format encourages outside-the-box methods of delivering education content and fully immerses the attendee in the learning experience through methods such as play-based learning, learning by doing and experimentation in an environment that encourages attendees to try new ideas without fear.

These new content-delivery formats are meant to provide a framework for session submitters to work with and adapt to the content they plan to present. The session styles were adapted and included in the 2018 Call for Proposals with the goal to continue elevating the Greenbuild education program and give attendees actionable information that will inspire.

You can access the submittal site to submit your proposal until Fri., January 5, 2018 at 5 p.m. ET. Review the Submittal Guide, the Call for Proposals, and the Program Policies before submitting.

Greenbuild is also seeking peer reviewers to evaluate education session proposals for Greenbuild Chicago. You can earn up to three of your continuing education hours to help maintain your professional credential by serving as a peer reviewer. Please see the Call for Reviewers, and apply to be a Greenbuild peer reviewer.

Submit a session proposal

Massachusetts green growth by the numbers

December 8, 2017
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The USGBC Massachusetts Chapter community has been busy—and they have some great achievements to show for it. The state of Massachusetts is the current top state for LEED, with a total of 136 LEED-certified projects, representing 3.73 square feet of certified space per capita. The state is also committed to leading by example, with 70 of those LEED-certified projects being state buildings.

Massachusetts’ sustainability commitments and leadership is especially strong in energy. Energy efficiency is a focus of the state and has been yielding exceptional recognition in 2017. Not only is the Massachusetts the leader in implementing energy-efficient policies and programs, demonstrated by being ranked number 1 on the Energy Efficiency Scorecard by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), the city of Boston was also ranked number 1 by ACEEE as the most energy-efficient city in the country.

All this great work was recently showcased as the USGBC and Massachusetts community presented Greenbuild in Boston the week of November 9. More than 24,000 attendees and 700 exhibitors gathered in one of the greenest cities, in one of the greenest states, for the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Even Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker participated, opening the Expo Hall.

USGBC released a handout summarizing the work of the USGBC Massachusetts community at Greenbuild, including stats like "1,028 LEED-certified commercial projects" and "13,000 LEED-certified residential units."

Gain inspiration for your own community action, based on the work of Massachusetts:

  • Preparing for sea level change: This Huffington Post article details how Boston confronts the problem of development in areas projected to be flooded by around 2070.
  • The "E+ Green Building" program: In a continuation of efforts to reduce carbon emissions, transform building practices and bring innovative energy-positive LEED Platinum green homes to Boston neighborhoods, the city has released the next round of E+ Green Building requests for proposals.
  • Massachusetts Leading By Example program: This initiative encourages state agencies and public colleges and universities to adopt new practices to become more energy-efficient and sustainable by providing tools, guidance, grants and awards to recognize outstanding efforts.

Learn more about the Massachusetts green building community


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