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Virginia will improve energy efficiency to cut carbon emissions

Published on 30 Jun 2016Written by Nick Brousse Posted in Advocacy and policy

Virginia’s Executive Order 57 aims to reduce carbon pollution from state power plants.

On June 28, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed Executive Order 57, a major step forward in combating climate change by reducing carbon pollution from the state’s power plants. The order directs Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward to convene a workgroup that will recommend steps to build upon existing efforts to improve energy efficiency and expand the state’s clean energy portfolio.

In a nod to the power of energy efficiency to reduce carbon emissions and utility bills, Gov. McAuliffe said, “We all understand that the cheapest kilowatt of energy is the one we do not consume.” The state has more than 1,000 LEED-certified projects encompassing nearly 135 million square feet of commercial, residential, manufacturing, educational, health care and other facility space. Virginia residents recognize the benefits of LEED and the positive impact green construction has on the triple bottom line—people, planet and profit. 

“Energy efficiency creates jobs, saves families and businesses money, and helps reduce pollution and carbon emissions—all benefits that the Commonwealth deserves from economic, energy and environmental initiatives like Executive Order 57,” the Governor continued.

The 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study found that the green building sector in the U.S. is outpacing conventional construction growth and will account for more than 2.3 million American jobs this year. According to the report, LEED-certified construction in the Commonwealth alone is projected to account for 107,000 jobs and to contribute $9.39 billion in gross domestic product between 2015 and 2018.

Nick Brousse

Advocacy & Policy Project Manager


Green Apple Day of Service 2016

Published on 11 Jul 2016Written by Amanda Sawit Posted in Center for Green Schools

This year’s Green Apple Day is Sept. 24. Help us make an impact on schools worldwide!

Join us on Sept. 24 for the 2016 Green Apple Day of Service, and help make an impact on schools worldwide.

All over the world, communities are coming together to improve local schools, making an impact on the environment, supporting health and wellness and advancing environmental and sustainability literacy. School may have just gotten out for the summer, but the time is right to start a Green Apple Day event near you.

Getting involved is easy.

Visit for ideas and resources, and sign up to host an event in your community. 

We make a difference together.

Since 2012, an astounding 12,660 projects have taken place under the Green Apple Day of Service banner. More than 750,000 volunteers have affected the learning environments of 7 million students in all 50 U.S. states, as well as 73 countries.

Have a story about your involvement? We want to hear it!

This year, we’re keeping the momentum going strong and spotlighting the amazing commitments made between now and Sept. 24. Follow the Center for Green Schools on FacebookTwitter and Instagramto share your stories, or email the Center. We’ll be sharing stories and photos in the weeks to come.

We know that the school environment has a direct impact on students, teachers and staff, but unfortunately, many schools today face obstacles to promoting health and wellness in their facilities. According to the recent State of Our Schools: America’s K–12 Facilities report, the U.S. faces a projected annual shortfall of $46 billion in school funding to adequately maintain or build new schools that are healthy and efficient. The Green Apple Day of Service is your opportunity to directly address these challenges.

Together, we can transform our schools into healthy, vibrant places to learn, work and play while teaching valuable lessons about the environment and cultivating the world’s next generation of sustainability leaders.

Amanda Sawit

Content Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

Salt Lake City partners with utilities

Published on 13 Jun 2016 Written by Whitney Ward Posted in Community

USGBC Utah partner Salt Lake City was recognized by the White House for its work to improve energy efficiency.

Over the past two years, USGBC Utah has been partnering with Salt Lake City to promote Project Skyline, a city initiative to expand building energy tracking and benchmarking using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager program. Our community hosted an event to raise awareness for the program and provide education on the benefits of both benchmarking and financial incentives for energy improvement projects. We are so pleased to be a part of this program and to have it recognized at a national level.

Salt Lake City has recently been recognized by the White House and U.S. Department of Energy for ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency through building benchmarking and energy transparency. According to an article on the city’s website,

Since 2013, Salt Lake City has partnered with both Rocky Mountain Power and Questar to provide whole-building energy data access to building owners through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager Tool. The effort, which is on track for completion in 2017, will ensure effortless energy data management for building owners, providing a complete picture as to building energy use and enabling them to employ more responsive strategies.

“Salt Lake City, Rocky Mountain Power and Questar are working together to help building owners understand how their building is operating and to identify opportunities to improve energy management,” says Vicki Bennett, Sustainability Director for Salt Lake City. “By automating and streamlining the process, more Salt Lake City building owners will be able to improve energy efficiency—ultimately saving energy, money and emissions.”

Salt Lake City is committed to improving air quality, and buildings play an important role in emissions. The most recent data from the Utah Division of Air Quality show that 39 percent of existing air pollution comes from area sources (i.e., homes and businesses). This percentage is expected to increase significantly over the next 20 years as vehicles become more efficient, making building energy efficiency efforts more and more important.

Last week, Mayor Jackie Biskupski extended an invitation to leading industry experts to share their ideas and best practices for energy efficiency in buildings, as part of the Elevate Buildings process.

“There is nothing more important than the air we breathe, and working to clear our skies is a top priority of my administration,” says Mayor Biskupksi. “By collaborating with industry experts, we will help improve air quality through increased energy efficiency [in] our city’s largest buildings.”

You can learn more about Salt Lake City’s efforts to reduce our collective carbon footprint through energy benchmarking and efficiency improvements in commercial buildings at Skyline.


Whitney Ward

Sustainability Manager VCBO Architecture

Member employees, Chapter members


LEED Earth Project Pioneers: The Dominican Republic’s greenest mall

Published on 14 Jun 2016Written by Amanda Sawit Posted in International

Ágora Mall is the first LEED-certified building in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.

USGBC’s mission is to bring the environmental and human health benefits of green buildings to all, and it is committed to accelerating the adoption of LEED in new and existing markets.

The LEED Earth Project Pioneers series spotlights those who have set a new standard of green building leadership in their countries, sharing both the successes achieved and challenges navigated.

Ágora Mall

Large retail spaces are notorious for being huge energy consumers, and this was not lost on the project team behind Ágora Mall, Santo Domingo’s first LEED-certified building. Minimizing its environmental impact through energy- and water-saving strategies was a key priority for this project.

Ágora Mall was awarded LEED Silver under the Building Design and Construction (BD+C) rating system for Core and Shell. While the mall doesn’t control the entire design of the tenants, the achievement highlights the complexity of systems that converge within the building. Its domed roof is a 2,000-square-meter structure made of steel and pneumatic ETFE pillows supported by a lightweight structure. The pillows are filled with low-pressure air for insulation and resistance to wind loads. This helps the building save energy by maximizing sunlight while maintaining thermal control over the space; it also creates a more natural indoor environment, which can directly increase employee productivity and boost visitor moods.

“This certification has a direct impact that goes beyond complying with the requirements of efficient design and construction,” said Dariela Linares of the Landmark Realty Corporation, the owner of Ágora Mall. “Our commitment goes beyond the technical operation of the building.” The mall’s status as a green building also inspires change in people’s lifestyles to raise public awareness about the need to save energy and water and how individual behavior influences our ecological footprint, she added.

The project team also implemented a recycling and waste management plan, which has become an environmental management program with key sustainability indicators that include the treatment, reuse and disposal of potable and wastewater; energy savings; and the correct handling and disposal of hazardous materials.

LEED around the world

Currently, there are 160 countries and territories using LEED. LEED Earth has helped catalyze green building in markets where sustainable building practices are not as prevalent, and is an important first step in steering communities toward a more resilient, healthy and sustainable future.

 Amanda Sawit

Content Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff


Financing energy efficiency in retail

Published on 13 Jun 2016Written by Monica Kanojia Posted in Industry

Learn how the Energy Efficiency Finance Calculator can aid retail professionals in projects and planning.

Driving the reduction of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions through efficiency projects in the retail sector can be difficult, particularly when many energy managers lack awareness of financing mechanisms available to them to fund their projects. To address this market barrier, the Retail Industry Leaders Association and the Institute for Market Transformation have partnered to create an Energy Efficiency Finance Calculator with support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The finance calculator is designed to help retail professionals understand how to leverage external financing to fund energy or sustainability projects within their portfolios, as well as basic finance metrics for specific projects. Project managers enter project specifications into the calculator, including:

Number of facilities the project will cover

Total projected cost across all facilities

Whether facilities will be leased or owned

Typical hold period for a single facility

Whether the company values the ability to pass upgrades on to the next occupant in the event of sale/move-out

Preferred timeline for financing

Management plan for installation

Whether third-party assistance with ongoing operations and energy management is preferred

Ability of the company to take on addition debt on balance sheet

The tool identifies what external finance mechanisms are best suited for the project, based on user inputs. Each finance mechanism is explained, and associated benefits and challenges described. Suggested finance options are highlighted in green, but those that may not be well suited are also included for reference, in the event they are applicable in combination with other options, or for future projects.

Project managers must often make the case for funding of energy efficiency projects by addressing various finance metrics, which internal leadership must determine to be of a great enough value to justify the initial investment. Although each company has its own process to determine metrics for a given project, the finance calculator gives the option to calculate estimates of internal rate of return, annual return on investment, net present value, and the simple payback period, based on three basic questions. The estimates are to be used as guidance, and it is highly recommended that each company employ more complex modeling efforts to determine more accurate numbers.

Detailed research and calculations were conducted on each featured external financing mechanism included in the finance calculator. The expectation is that this tool will simplify the often arduous process involved in selecting a financing vehicle for clean energy projects and catalyze more energy efficiency projects in the retail sector.

 Monica Kanojia

Consultant U.S. Department of Energy


The Glumac Shanghai Office aims high

Published on 31 May 2016Written by Amanda Sawit Posted in International

Glumac Shanghai Office TI

Glumac Shanghai Office TI holds the distinction of being the first LEED v4 Platinum building in China, a country with nearly 1,670 registered projects and 787 LEED-certified projects. It is also the very first LEED v4 Platinum project in East Asia, a region boasting more than 48,198,000 gross square meters of certified space.

Located in the heart of Shanghai, the 6,450-square-foot office space is a retrofit of a 100-year-old Rockefeller mansion. The project team worked to overcome many challenges specific to the project’s location: poor air quality, fractured regulatory landscape, unregulated building materials, different time zones and cultural communication.

The space, which was certified under the Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) rating system for Commercial Interiors (CI), is net-positive for energy, water and carbon. It also is designed to deliver exceptional indoor air quality, with air filtered to reduce the particle count to less than one-tenth of outdoor conditions.

“Glumac takes pride in our leadership in sustainability,” said Steven Straus, president of Glumac. “We appreciate our staff in Shanghai and believe that our great space, with excellent indoor air quality, contributes to their health and improves productivity of our office.”

Glumac, a USGBC member at the Silver Level, is an engineering firm that specializes in energy-efficient and sustainable building technologies. The new office supports Glumac’s local presence in China and showcases advanced measures of sustainability in the built environment.

LEED around the world

Currently, there are 160 countries and territories using LEED. LEED Earth has helped catalyze green building in markets where sustainable building practices are not as prevalent, and it is an important first step in steering communities toward a more resilient, healthy and sustainable future.

Amanda Sawit

Content Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

Tanzania’s first LEED building a torchbearer for change

LEED Earth Project Pioneers: 

Published on 8 Jun 2016Written by Amanda Sawit Posted in International

Under the LEED Earth Project, the Luminary office building was certified as the first LEED Gold structure in Tanzania.

USGBC’s mission is to bring the environmental and human health benefits of green buildings to all, and it is committed to accelerating the adoption of LEED in new and existing markets.

The Luminary

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, boasts the distinction of being home to the only LEED-certified building in the country. The Luminary, a privately held office building, was certified LEED Gold in February 2016, marking a turning point for Tanzania’s building and design industry.

This 66,106-square-foot space is located on Haile Selassie Road in the peninsula region of Dar Es Salaam, the fastest-growing city in Africa. The architectural team and ESTIM Construction set their sights on achieving LEED early on, and their strong focus on pursuing the targeted LEED score “guided project participants to think beyond conventional and has imparted lifelong learnings,” said Ashutosh Gupta, senior project manager at EDS Global, New Delhi, and project consultant. “Being first in Tanzania, the project has inspired many in the construction fraternity to think sustainably.”

The Luminary was certified under the Building Design and Construction (BD+C) rating system for Core and Shell, and it’s expected that the building will cut electricity bills annually by 10 percent. It’s designed to block different angles of the sun at different times of the day, which helps cool the space while still maximizing daylighting and quality views for occupants.

The project received full points for regional priority credits, and it sits on a previously developed site that’s well connected to the city’s public transportation system and within walking distance of many community features. Seventy-five percent of construction and demolition debris were diverted during the project’s development.

The Luminary has become a torchbearer for all upcoming buildings in the country, steering professionals toward a greener way of contemporary building design, construction and operations for the future.

Amanda Sawit

Content SpecialistU.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff



Registration Now Open for Greenbuild 2016

Published on 2 Jun 2016Written by Ashley Katz Posted in Industry

The world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building and design is headed to Los Angeles this Oct. 5–7. With 600 exhibiting companies, 200+ educational sessions, nearly 20,000 colleagues and endless networking opportunities, Greenbuild is shaping up to be iconic.


Greenbuild International Conference and Expo
Expo: Oct. 5–6, Conference: Oct. 5–7
Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles, CA

Like iconic screen roles and the Hollywood sign, buildings withstand the test of time. When we think of icons, we conjure up images of people, places and things that withstand the test of time, symbolizing our beliefs, culture and community.

Greenbuild features three groundbreaking days of inspiring speakers, invaluable networking opportunitiesindustry showcasesworkshops and tours of the host city’s green buildings. Join thousands of others who agree that green building is a good idea and good for business.

USGBC members can take advantage of exclusive and discounted registration. Become a member today.

Plan ahead and save. Register before the early bird deadline on August 1.

Ashley Katz

Director of Corporate Communications & Marketing U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff


Going green in the black (USGBC Northern California)

Published on 16 May 2016Written by Peter Rumsey Posted in Community

In California, solar panels can supply electricity to a building at a rate equal to or below, sometimes significantly below, what the utility charges for electricity. But why would a developer invest in putting photovoltaic (PV) on a building when it’s the tenants who pay for the energy? This “split incentive” arrangement installing solar panels helps reduce the tenant’s operating costs but gives no benefit to the owner has hindered the development of solar buildings, net-zero and near-net-zero office buildings.

A few exceptional developers have discovered creative ways of recovering the costs of installing solar. Real estate developer Jim Gaither realized potential tenants within the Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto value a green building, and he made a strategic decision early on to pursue solar on the development of a 90,000-square-foot office he began in 2013. He looked at a variety of creative options for financing solar and decided that rather than purchase PV, he would lease it from a solar provider. He then arranged for his tenant to pay for electricity at a set rate as part of the lease agreement. This is a success story for solar—the developer made a small profit, and the tenants got renewable energy at the same cost as utility energy.

There are many additional options for recovering the cost of PV. The PV-generated energy can be included in the rent as part of a full-service lease. We have also seen developers charge a fixed monthly per-square-foot energy cost that is slightly lower than typical tenant monthly energy bills.  These arrangements are not without their legal complexities. But tenants are eager to use renewable generated energy that is priced close to what they would have otherwise paid.

Peter Rumsey

Founder and CEO, Point Energy Innovations Point Energy Innovations

Member employees


A look inside a green home’s clockwork

Published on 2 Dec 2015Written by Christina Huynh Posted in Education

The home is the most important space in our lives. At USGBC they believe all buildings should be designed and developed with human health and the environment at the forefront—but especially homes.

Environmentally responsible homes cost less to operate, use water and energy efficiently, and minimize exposure to harmful toxins and pollutants for residents. Here’s a list of key green features in a sustainable residence that are better for you, your wallet and the environment.

From the inside out: materials

A benchmark of green homes is the widespread use of nontoxic, low- to zero-VOC and recyclable materials, in everything from the furnishings to the flooring.

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, can cause headaches; nausea; and irritation to the respiratory system, skin and eyes, among other ailments. Healthy homes use paints, sealants and other materials that have low or zero VOC content.

Rapidly renewable resources, such as bamboo or cork, are great, eco-friendly materials for flooring, while natural fibers made of wool or containing a high proportion of recycled synthetics are excellent selections for carpets.

 Lighting the way to a healthier home

Green homes are brightened more with sunlight and less with artificial light, thanks to thoughtful positioning of skylights, clerestories, light shelves and other windows. More than half of the home should be illuminated with daylight.

Filling the home with natural lighting is significant in helping to reduce utility costs, but blocking the sun is equally important, too. Staples of green homes that regulate indoor temperature are shading devices such as sunshades, canopies and—the best option of all—deciduous trees in the yard.

 Reduce energy and water use, reduce costs 

A home that’s energy-efficient will have insulation inside its walls and roof, which means less heavy lifting for its heating and cooling systems, plus lower electricity bills. Insulation derived from recyclable materials and with a high R-value, or thermal resistance, are recommended.

Green homes also use dual-glaze windows, which help reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss during the winter. Their roofs should be light-colored and reflect heat or feature landscaping to help reduce heat absorption.

Additionally, water-efficient kitchen and bathroom fixtures are a regular element in green homes. If the house is located in a drier region where water is scarce, then it’s likely it will have some type of rainwater collection and storage system.

The great outdoors: functional and regenerative landscapes 

The development and design of a home’s landscaping can have an adverse impact on local ecosystems. A green home will have drought-tolerant vegetation that requires less water and pesticides. Its landscaping will work to protect native plant and animal species while also contributing to the health of surrounding wildlife habitats.

 Location matters

Green homes aren’t built on sites such as prime farmland, wetlands and wildlife habitats. Instead, the greenest development sites are “in-fill” properties, such as former parking lots, rail yards, shopping malls and factories. They should also be within easy walking distance of public transportation, stores, schools and parks.

Healthier homes lead to healthier lives.

Christina Huynh

Web Content Associate

USGBC staff



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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.