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Women4Climate

It was my great privilege to be part of the Second Annual Conference of Women4Climate, held last week at the Interactive Museum of Economics. Sponsored by C40, the conference highlighted the significant role and contributions by female leaders around the globe. I represented SUMe, where we strive to educate and encourage our network in achieving climate change mitigation through green building.

Participants in the Women4Climate conference included mayors from cities around the world, such as Rome, Italy; Salt Lake City, Utah; Oslo, Norway; Montreal, Canada; and New Orleans, Louisiana; as well as Mexican women who play an important role today in the care of the environment.

Patricia Espinoza, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Gabriela Warkentin, Director of W Radio, discussed the role of woman in climate change and how we can solve the challenges facing us. Key themes at the event included the importance of empowering the next generation of women leaders in climate change issues and women’s leadership in building inclusive societies.

One topic that resonated with the Mexican women present in this forum was that of resilience after a catastrophic natural event. The Secretary of Environment of Mexico City, Tanya Müller García, highlighted the important role played by nonmotorized, alternative means of transport in bringing help to those who need it the most.

Women4Climate was launched at the C40 Mayors Summit in 2016, aiming to inspire and empower young women, as well as raise awareness of the great impact that climate change has on women of all the world.

For me, this event was extremely inspiring. It’s invaluable to meet and hear from other women involved in climate action, reflect on experiences shared in the forum and recognize solutions. Women who are at the head of an organization and who fight against climate change, and in favor of gender equity, must stay focused and positive. For this very reason, we need to connect with and empower one another.

Green Apple Day of Service

At the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, we believe that all students should have the opportunity to attend schools that sustain the world they live in. As Earth Day approaches, we want to remind communities to look to their local schools as a space to promote a thriving, healthy planet.

Green Apple Day of Service offers a variety of project ideas for school communities to come together and reduce their impact on the environment, support health and wellness in schools and advance environmental and sustainability literacy. These projects also give students and teachers the tools they need to engage in civic participation and leave their communities—and the world—better off for those who come after them.

Here are some examples of projects that can help your school community have a lasting, positive impact on our planet.

Create or tend a school garden

  • Good for the environment: Gardens teach students about the important role of land in our lives, such as providing wildlife refuge and habitat, growing vegetables and fruit for instruction or cafeteria use and providing places to divert water from storm sewers.
  • Good for students: You can use planting a garden with students as an opportunity to teach lessons about plant cycles and the environment, as well as teamwork, responsibility and nutritional values.

Train custodians on green cleaning

  • Good for the environment: Conventional cleaning supplies have been found to pollute indoor air with toxins such as lead, asbestos, chemical fumes, pesticides, and molds. The transition to a green cleaning program can both prevent this air pollution and decrease a school’s carbon emissions footprint by using energy-efficient cleaning equipment.
  • Good for students: This project is an example of intergenerational engagement in sustainability, with faculty, students and custodians alike benefiting from increased productivity in an indoor environment free from environmental pollutants and irritants. Whether it is training new custodial workers, expanding on what they already know, adopting new processes or testing new technologies, success is dependent upon custodians receiving appropriate training.

Emirates Green Building Council

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s strongest advocates of green schools closed out 2017 with the formal launch of the Emirates Coalition for Green Schools. In a roundtable event convened by the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), government representatives, academics, teachers, education and sustainability stakeholders and private sector representatives came together to discuss a national vision for healthy, high-performing schools.

As a founding member of the Global Coalition for Green Schools—which was founded by the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, in partnership with the World Green Building Council—EmiratesGBC has been leading the UAE’s green schools to work since 2013.

Research and recommendations for UAE schools

The first in a series of planned events, the November roundtable was focused on how each distinctive stakeholder group could contribute to the shared goal of greening UAE’s schools. The event culminated in the release of the State of Our Schools white paper, which outlines recommendations for transforming UAE’s schools into more sustainable learning environments. The white paper is supported by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Taqati, and Etihad Energy Services and was developed with the Center for Green Schools.

The roundtable encapsulated a significant challenge in the industry: A very limited number of schools currently meet the agreed-upon definition of a green school in the UAE. For instance, as noted in the white paper, a recent study found that across 16 elementary schools examined, the average total VOC, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate concentration were outside of the recommended ranges for classroom environments. Improvements to indoor air quality in UAE schools have been highlighted as a specific need to address.

Working together for a common goal

In addition, the establishment of the Emirates Coalition shows that the global movement is taking root in other countries, bringing together multidisciplinary actors to develop strategies and resources to address the most pressing issues. Collaboration across different sectors in the UAE is helping green schools and improve the sustainability literacy of local students.

The Emirates Coalition is also considering the potential of green schools more broadly. As the white paper emphasizes, greener schools would contribute to the UAE’s educational targets for 2021, as well as aid in achieving national and municipal energy, water and waste reduction targets.

For a U.S. perspective on these issues, read the Center for Green Schools’ 2016 State of Our Schools report, which analyzes the best available school district data about K–12 public school facilities funding and identifies strategies for addressing the structural deficits in our education infrastructure.

Achieving Zero Energy in Schools

The Department of Energy and a group of nonprofit organizations recently released new guidance to support school stakeholders in their pursuit of net zero energy. The Advanced Energy Design Guide for K–12 School Buildings: Achieving Zero Energy (AEDG) represents an exciting milestone in our understanding of energy efficiency, and it encourages designers and school administration officials to consider that net-zero school buildings are within their reach.

The guide was published by The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in collaboration with USGBC, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES), with support from the Department of Energy (DOE) and analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Providing recommendations on design, construction, and management of a zero energy school, the new guide aims for 100 percent energy efficiency, building on the most recent version of the AEDG before this latest release, which aimed at an already ambitious 50 percent energy savings for K–12 school buildings.

Using up-to-date technologies and strategies, ASHRAE believes, any school can reach their net-zero energy goals. The new AEDG provides strategic recommendations for every step of the building’s design, construction, and maintenance to realize energy efficiency. Several net-zero schools already using the suggested strategies and creating a low-energy-consumption culture are featured throughout (several are also LEED-certified, such as Discovery Elementary in Arlington, Virginia). The AEDG also shares tips on creating building simulations for each climate type in North America, to provide tailored solutions for each school.

There are many incentives for schools to reach net zero energy usage: the budget benefits of lowered energy consumption increased student performance due to a healthier learning environment and accomplishment of a school’s mission to create a responsible, sustainable community. This free resource can help you reach your school’s zero energy goals.

Teach kids to pay it Forward

Good deeds have ripple effects. Give your students this experience firsthand. From simple acts done in a few minutes to in-depth lessons, you can teach how to pay kindness forward in whatever time you have available.

The rewards are mighty. These lessons create more well-rounded students with a broader perspective of the difference they can make in the world. No matter the grade or subject you teach, getting students in on the movement to pay it forward may be among the best ways you can pay it forward as a teacher. Be sure to download these FREE sustainability posters as another way to teach your students to pay it forward.

1. Compliment Cards

Download and cut out compliment cards for students to hide around the school (in library books or lockers) or around their town. On the back of the card, jot down the link with a request for recipients to print their own set of compliment cards to hide so the movement continues.


Source: TheMaven.net

2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Do a kind deed for Mother Earth. This free lesson gets kids focused on the waste produced at their school and developing a way to create less of it through data collection and analysis. Students then bring their findings and ideas to administrators, parents and community members and even perform in public service announcements on behalf of reducing waste at their school and elsewhere in the area. Everyone benefits from a cleaner planet.

Source: LearningLab.usgbc.org

3. Kindness Anchor Chart

Keep it super-simple and just get the idea into the air by making a class list of ways to pay it forward or what it means to be kind. Encourage students to do something kind for another person and share their experience in a writing log.


Source: YoungTeacherLove.com

4. A Classroom Chain

Every time a student in the class does something kind for a classmate, add a paper link to the chain. By the end of the year, hopefully, the chain crisscrosses the room more than a few times to show how much your kids’ kindness grew.


Source: SugarSpiceAndGlitter.com

5. Undercover Kindness

Take a Mission Impossible approach and assign 7 days of secret acts of kindness to your students. This underscores the anonymity of paying it forward—it’s not about the recognition you get for being kind, it’s all about making someone else feel good and hoping they pass that feeling on.


Source: PolkaDottedTeacher.blogspot.ca

6. Foster Empathy

Teach students the significance of empathy and the role it plays in their lives with help from the free short film Wright’s Law, by Zack Conkle. Through classroom discussions and reflective writing, students explore social and emotional learning and positive role models. By the end of the lesson, students have learned the power of caring about others and the positive force they can be in the world.

Source: LearningLab.usgbc.org

7. Decorate the Hall With Kind and Encouraging Words

Pass out Post Its and Sharpies to the class and task students with writing as many kinds and encouraging notes as they can in 10 minutes, then quietly have them quietly sneak into the halls or bathrooms and hang the notes without being noticed.

Source: TheMiddleSchoolCounselor.com

8. Create a Great Public Space

Work with students to identify public spaces in the community or school and describe what makes them great (are they accessible and inviting?) or not so great (are they dirty or dimly lit?). Then find an area inside or outside the school that students can clean up, improve or adapt so that everyone can enjoy it. Get lesson plans to accompany this idea via LearningLab.usgbc.org.


Source: LearningLab.usgbc.org

9. Plant Trees at School or in the Community

Tie paying it forward into science curriculum (the link below takes you to free lesson plans) by teaching about the benefits of and threats to trees, wrapping up the lesson by planting a new tree (or trees) for the school or community to enjoy.

Source: LearningLab.usgbc.org

10. Make It a School-Wide Movement

Designate a week Pay It Forward Week and kick-start it with an assembly. Show a video clip, read a book (try to Drop a Pebble) or put on a skit demonstrating how kindness spreads. Hand out lists of kind acts to complete, and request kindness recipients share their experience on the school website and pass the kindness on. You can even hang up posters to help get everyone involved. Download our free posters here. When you can get the entire school involved, it really promotes overall excitement. If you’re looking for another way to get the entire school involved, check out the project ideas at Green Apple Day of Service.

 

New Report Demonstrates How To Achieve Healthier, More Resilient Cities

Rigorous studies of El Paso, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. demonstrate that smart surface strategies can deliver more resilient, healthier, cooler and more equitable cities

Washington, D.C.—(Feb. 6, 2018)—Today, Delivering Urban Resilience, a new report authored by Capital-E, quantifies the range of costs and benefits for the adoption of citywide smart surface technologies in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and El Paso.

“Cities are increasingly at risk from hurricanes and severe summer heat,” said lead author Greg Kats. “This report shows how citywide adoption of these smart surface technologies would save cities billions of dollars and cut greenhouse gasses while achieving transformative benefits like making cities cooler, more resilient, healthier and more equitable.”

The report documents that an investment in these technologies would result in net present values of $1.8 billion in Washington, D.C., $3.6 billion in Philadelphia and $540 million El Paso over a 40 year period. The work is built on more than two years of data collection and research in collaboration with 15 organizations, including U.S. Green Building Council, American Institute of Architectsthe National League of Cities, the National Housing Trust, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and The JPB Foundation.

Delivering Urban Resilience is so critical because it is the first rigorous analysis of citywide surfacing options to manage sun and water at scale,” according to Mark Chambers, New York City’s Director of Sustainability.

Smart surface technologies include surfaces that help manage sunlight and rain, including solar PV roofs, cool roofs, green roofs, porous and high albedo pavements, trees or a combination of these features. This study demonstrates that these technologies can effectively address the severe cost of worse air quality, higher pollution and excess heat in urban low-income areas.

“The Delivering Urban Resilience report gives the green building movement the momentum needed to widen sustainable building perspectives past walls and into environments and the lives of the people who occupy them,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president, and CEO, USGBC. “Not only do the smart surface technologies in this report provide tangible cost benefits, but they promote the needed equity in quality of life for all city residents.”

This is the beginning of the Smart Surfaces revolution,” says former two-term Austin mayor, Will Wynn. “Delivering Urban Resilience provides an entirely convincing case that city-wide adoption of ‘smart surfaces’ like green and cool roofs and porous pavements are both cost-effective and essential to ensuring that our cities remain livable in a warming world.”

This report was launched at an event today with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at Capitol Crossing, one of the largest developments in the Washington metro area, which is pursuing LEED Platinum certification.

Annual Top 10 States for LEED Green Building

Massachusetts tops the list for the second year; New York, Hawaii and Illinois showcase leadership in geographically diverse locations

Washington, D.C. — (Jan. 31, 2018) — Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released the annual list of the Top 10 States for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the world’s most widely used green building rating system. The list ranks states in terms of certified square feet per resident in 2017. The list draws attention to states throughout America that are making significant strides in sustainable design, construction and transformation at the building level and opens up conversations around the community and city-level accomplishments in sustainable development. LEED-certified spaces use less energy and water, save money for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier environment for occupants and the community at large.

“As the U.S. Green Building Council celebrates 25 years of market leadership and growth, we know how important green building practices and certifications are to ensuring a more sustainable future for all,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president, and CEO, USGBC. “These states showcase exceptional leadership and by using LEED, businesses, property owners, and policymakers in these states are strategically addressing some of the most critical social and environmental concerns of our time. LEED is a proven economic development tool and method of meeting carbon reduction targets, reducing waste, energy and water consumption, and more. By measuring success on a per capita level each year, this list reflects the personal and individual impact of these states’ efforts. We commend the community leaders, businesses and government bodies in all ten of these states for their ongoing efforts and dedication to a better quality of life for everyone.”

Now in its eighth year, the list is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects that were certified throughout 2017. Massachusetts retained its top position for the second year in a row with 130 LEED certifications representing 4.48 square feet of LEED-certified space per resident, the highest since 2010.

The mid-Atlantic continues to show strong regional leadership, with both Maryland and Virginia returning to the list for the seventh year running. Also notable, Washington, D.C., which is not included in the official list of top states due to its status as a federal territory, tops the nation with 39.83 square feet of space per resident certified in 2017.

With Georgia, Hawaii and Minnesota all returning to the list for the first time since 2014, it is clear that market uptake for LEED is strong nationwide and not limited to any particular region or corridor. Illinois and Colorado are the only states to have made the list every year since the inception of the ranking in 2010. This year, Illinois comes in third with 3.38 square feet per capita and Colorado places 10th with 2.27 square feet per capita. The 2017 list has the highest average square footage per resident per state since 2010 (2.9). The full ranking is as follows:

2017 Top 10 States for LEED

Rank

State

Certified Gross Square Footage (GSF)

GSF Per Capita

Number of Projects Certified

1

MA*

29,338,378

4.48

130

2

NY*

65,749,387

3.39

192

3

IL*

43,363,065

3.38

135

4

HI

4,519,757

3.32

16

5

MD*

15,854,679

2.75

105

6

MN

13,018,056

2.45

47

7

GA

23,638,051

2.44

71

8

CA*

89,258,519

2.4

475

9

VA*

18,589,482

2.32

152

10

CO*

11,397,964

2.27

76

**

DC

23,966,817

39.83

139

*Included in 2016 Top 10 States for LEED list

**Washington, D.C. is not ranked as it is a federal district, not a state

USGBC calculates the list using per capita figures to allow for a fair comparison of the level of the green building taking place among states with significant differences in population and number of overall buildings.

In 2017, LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M) was once again the most popular rating system within the Top 10 States, representing more than 50 percent of the total square footage certified. LEED for Building Design and Construction (LEED BD+C) was the second most popular and LEED for Interior Design and Construction (LEED ID+C) was the third most popular rating system. A sample of notable projects that certified in 2017 include:

  • Massachusetts: Boston Public Market, a 28,000 square foot indoor, year-round marketplace with 40 regional food vendors in Boston, achieved LEED Silver;
  • New York: Animal Haven Adoption Center, a 6,700 square foot shelter and adoption center for abandoned animals in New York City, achieved LEED Silver;
  • Illinois: Chicago Children’s Theatre, a 15,300 square foot mixed-use education and performing arts facility in Chicago, achieved LEED Gold;
  • Hawaii: The Moana Surfrider Resort by Westin, a 605,400 square foot resort and spa in Honolulu, achieved LEED Certified;
  • Maryland: MGM National Harbor, a 1.3 million square foot casino resort in Oxon Hill, achieved LEED Gold;
  • Minnesota: U.S. Bank Stadium, a 1.8 million square foot professional sports facility in Minneapolis and host of the 2018 Super Bowl, achieved LEED Gold;
  • Georgia: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a 1.9 million square foot professional sports stadium in Atlanta, achieved LEED Platinum;
  • California: LA Lakers Headquarters, a 96,800 square foot commercial office building in El Segundo, achieved LEED Platinum;
  • Virginia: The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, a 38,500 historic multi-use space in Charlottesville, achieved LEED Silver; and

Collectively, 1,399 commercial and institutional projects achieved LEED certification within the Top 10 States in 2017, representing 314.7 million square feet of real estate. Nationwide, 2,647 commercial and institutional projects achieved LEED certification in 2017, representing 484.6 million square feet of real estate.

More than 40,000 commercial and institutional projects representing more than 6.5 billion square feet of space have been LEED-certified to date worldwide, with another 51,000 projects representing 13 billion square feet in the pipeline for certification. LEED’s newest version, LEED v4, features increased technical rigor; new market sector adaptations for data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential projects; and a simplified submission process supported by a robust and intuitive technology platform. Tracking ongoing building performance is a growing priority and a number of projects in the Top 10 States achieved certification through the Arc online performance platform, which uses data to measure and improve sustainability performance. Arc delivers a performance score based on building data and action-oriented strategies across energy, water, waste, transportation, and human experience.

LEED: A students perspective

 Chris Anderson, LEED Green Associate, is an environmental study major and a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) offers LEED Lab as a yearlong course with an eclectic mixture of undergraduate and graduate students. Every year, students in this class work toward certifying a building on UCSB’s campus according to the requirements of the LEED v4 O+M rating system. Thanks to its year-long course structure, the same students who start the course at the beginning of the academic year, are the ones who achieve the certification at its close.

For the past three years, Brandon Kaysen, a Bren School alumnus and LEED AP, has coached students through the certification process of buildings across UCSB’s campus. After the Student Resource BuildingBren Hall is the second building to achieve a LEED v4 O+M certification thanks to LEED Lab. Near the conclusion of the immersive course, many of the students take an exam to earn their LEED Green Associate credential, a major stepping stone for a career in sustainability.

This year’s chosen building, Bren Hall, is home to UCSB’s prestigious Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and the environmental studies undergraduate department, the first program of its kind to be formed in the United States. In 2002, Bren Hall became the first laboratory facility to be certified LEED Platinum in the U.S. and the first LEED-certified building in the University of California system. In 2009, Bren Hall went a step further, also earning Platinum certification under the LEED for Existing Buildings rating system.

Designing with the environment in mind

To ensure efficient use of energy, Bren Hall was designed to harvest natural light, heating, and cooling. The office wing has no mechanical air conditioning, relying only on passive cooling via operable windows. The roof has its own photovoltaic system, providing about 10 percent of the building’s energy. Inside Bren Hall, the carpets, rubber flooring, wallboard, tiles, and furniture are made with high percentages of post-consumer recycled content. Cleaned and re-dyed carpet tiles saved up to 40 tons of carpet from the landfill, while restroom stall partitions are made from 90 percent recycled plastics. Altogether, Bren Hall is composed of 40 percent recycled materials.

Bren Hall also has a landscape plan that is designed to minimize water use. In Southern California, the unpredictability of water availability is an integral feature of the climate. The landscaping is irrigated with 100 percent recycled water, delivered through an efficient drip system calibrated so that if an area receives precipitation, the system will compensate and reduce water allocation.

LEED Platinum Bren Hall at UCSB

Learning by doing

LEED Lab is a unique, one-of-a-kind course that nurtures undergraduate and graduate students into green building professionals by allowing us an opportunity to work hands-on with a building to achieve LEED certification. Students in our class were assigned to a credit category and focused on achieving one or two individual credits. This established a realistic goal for each student to achieve by the time the project is submitted for review.

In addition, though, students often help one another with their individual and group credits, so that by the end of the class, everyone has an extensive knowledge of each individual credit and category and the LEED reference guide. The information that I garnered was also put to the test when I took and passed the LEED Green Associate exam.

I highly recommended LEED Lab for students who are interested in having a career related either to LEED specifically or sustainability generally. The class introduced me to the complexities of the LEED rating system, highlighted a diverse array of creative green building solutions, and drilled in the importance of documenting information pertaining to sustainable practices. I’m excited to take the information and experience that I obtained in LEED Lab and put it to work as I start a career in the flourishing field of green building.

Green Business Certification Expands into China

Shanghai, China – (18 January 2018) – Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI), the exclusive organization certifying all LEED projects worldwide, announced the opening of a new office in Shanghai today. Through rigorous certification and credentialing standards, GBCI drives adoption of green building and business practices through LEED and other green building rating programs. Andy To has been named managing director of GBCI North Asia.

“China has been a leader of the green building market for a long time and we are continuing to see tremendous interest and support for LEED in the country,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and GBCI. “Market transformation happens one project a time, and China has an opportunity to continue to drive sustainability on a global scale. Over the last decade, China has emerged as a global leader, focusing on responsible growth and economic and environmental development. Andy To is the perfect leader to help establish a local GBCI presence in China and further facilitate the global growth of a sustainable built environment locally and across the globe.”

Andy To comes to GBCI China from CBRE where he was managing director of Asset Services for Greater China. He has more than 20 years of experience in the property and asset management industry with a particular focus on properties and facilities in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, and second-tier cities. He also worked at Kerry Property Management Beijing and Sino Estates Management Limited.

GBCI’s expansion into China will help facilitate the growth and policy around LEED, the world’s most widely used green building rating system, and GBCI’s other sustainability programs in the China region as the country works toward meeting the many sustainable and green development goals in its 13th Five-Year Plan. The new office will also provide local, on-the-ground support to clients in the region and improve access to GBCI’s sustainability programs and resources.

GBCI is the only certification and credentialing body within the green business and sustainability industry to administer project certifications and professional credentials for LEED, EDGE, PEER, WELL, SITES, GRESB, Parksmart, Investor Confidence Project and TRUE Zero Waste. By verifying strong, green business performance and recognizing individual expertise through accreditation, GBCI is driving market transformation that is economical, environmentally and socially responsible.

Since 2008, GBCI has exclusively delivered more than 37,800 LEED certifications to green building and community projects around the world and has established a world-class infrastructure to help advance the mission of the green building movement. Currently, there are more than 3,400 LEED registered and certified projects in China, comprising more than 212 million gross square meters of space, and more than 2,900 LEED professionals. To and his team will be responsible for the market development efforts of GBCI China and will ensure the advancement of LEED and other GBCI sustainability programs in the region.

“GBCI has been successful at driving the global adoption of green business practices which fosters competitiveness while enhancing environmental performance and human health benefits,” said To. “I am delighted to be joining GBCI at this critical time and I look forward to partnering with stakeholders in the region and those involved in the green building movement in China as we all work towards creating a better planet for both people and prosperity.”

According to a newly published report from CBRE and USGBC (English and Chinese versions), as Chinese builders move in accordance with the nation’s 13th Five Year Plan, green building space is expected to reach two billion square meters by 2020, up from current estimates of 600 million square meters of green building space spread across more than 300 cities. Between 2006 and 2016, LEED-certified projects had a compound annual growth rate of 77 percent, making China the global leader for LEED projects outside of the United States

SITES and LEED: Pilot projects

A third of the certified projects that participated in the SITES pilot phase also achieved LEED certification.

LEED is a global movement, with about 92,000 registered and certified projects across 167 countries and territories, with 2.2 million square feet certifying every day. To complement LEED and ensure that the sustainability movement addresses all areas of the built environment, GBCI expanded with several other project certification and credentialing programs, including SITES.

With several rating systems to choose from, how does one know which is the right fit? How can specific goals be met through a variety of approaches? This article is the first part of a series explaining the relationship between the two rating systems and how projects can drive incredible results by using SITES and LEED together.

Integrating natural and built systems

Although every building project has a site, not every site has a building. Originally modeled after LEED, SITES was developed to fill the gap in addressing site sustainability. It can be used as a standalone system, but it was also developed to work with LEED to integrate natural and built systems in a more meaningful and efficient way.

A third of the certified projects that participated in the SITES pilot phase (2010–2014) also achieved LEED certification. These projects were national and local parks, commercial headquarters, botanic gardens, museums, government facilities, residential homes and more. Each helped shape the direction of the SITES program and its relationship to LEED.

Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes

Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes

For Richard Piacentini, Executive Director of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, pursuing SITES certification in addition to LEED was not even a question. As an early adopter of SITES, the Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) achieved the highest certification level in 2013 during the SITES pilot program. CSL was among the 150 projects that field-tested SITES during its pilot phase.

CSL also achieved LEED Platinum, the Living Building Challenge and WELL Platinum certifications. The goal was to apply systems thinking to the center, says Piacentini. “We wanted to know how we could truly integrate the building and landscape.” With the new center, “nature is now not that far away,” he explains. Sustainability is embedded in the organization’s culture and values.

Novus International

Novus International

In 2009, Novus International achieved LEED Platinum for their nine-acre corporate campus. Landscape architect Hunter Beckman recalls meeting the Novus owners soon afterward at a local USGBC event. According to Beckham, “We shared similar passions for sustainability and were fortunate enough to introduce them to what sustainable design means outside of the building, particularly improving both intellectual and physical health for anyone experiencing the property.”

After achieving SITES certification during the pilot program, the campus boasted many sustainable elements, such as a garden terrace linked by a trail and the transformation of a concrete-lined water detention pit into an amenity that not only manages stormwater, but also attracts wildlife and serves as an inviting outdoor space.

“This level of certification represents the company’s commitment to minimizing our impact on the environments in which we operate,” said former Novus President and CEO, Thad Simons, in 2012. “Our successful application of land and development practices proves that companies can achieve a healthy sustainable work environment while reducing operating costs.”

NREL Research Support Facility

National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Research Support Facility

The 30-acre Research Support Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, earned both LEED and SITES certification (also during the pilot phase).

“For buildings, we tend to concentrate on LEED certification, which is great from a structure standpoint,” said Michelle Slovensky, the NREL Senior Sustainability Project Manager at the time. “Not only should your building have a sustainable and efficient design, but so should your infrastructure and your landscape. We felt that if we have the highest-performing buildings, we should look at our campus to find ways it can be used as an example of a sustainable campus and living laboratory.”

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LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Chemline, Inc. is a member of The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and has the potential to provide LEED points.