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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



Residential offerings expanded at Greenbuild 2016

Published on 13 May 2016Written by Taryn Holowka Posted in Education

The 2016 Greenbuild Conference and Expo, which will run from Oct 5 to 7 in Los Angeles, Calif., will feature expanded education on the residential green building market.

Homes represent a critical piece of the buildings industry: not only are they the structures in which we spend a majority of our time, they’re also a sizable and valuable segment of the industry as a whole.

Consider some facts:

  1. Home buyers expect newer homes to be greener and more energy-efficient.
  2. Builders expect more than 60 percent of homes built to be green by 2020.
  3. Green homes are healthy homes—83 percent of homebuilders and remodelers believe consumers will pay more for healthier homes.
  4. Home appraisers are recognizing a greater value in green homes.

And this year, Greenbuild has expanded the offerings designed specifically for those in the residential building and construction community:

  1. Residential Track featuring educational sessions on single and multifamily buildings
  2. Residential Day: 12+ residential sessions offered on Thursday, October 6
  3. Dedicated residential product pavilion in the Expo Hall
  4. Concept Home built on show floor by KB Home

Expanded partnerships with leading organizations in the residential building community

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) provides third-party verification of the features and effectiveness of green buildings and was originally created as a green building rating system for commercial projects. Recognizing the market readiness and need for a similar certification program for residential buildings, USGBC launched the LEED for Homes program in 2008. The residential LEED rating system is a specialized program that addresses the specific needs of residential projects built to be efficient and sustainable, because every LEED-certified home is a healthy, resource-efficient and cost-effective place to live.

LEED homes are built to be healthy, providing clean indoor air and incorporating safe building materials to ensure a comfortable home. Using less energy and water means lower utility bills each month.

Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building, features three groundbreaking days of inspiring speakers, invaluable networking opportunities, industry showcases, LEED workshops and tours of the host city’s green buildings. For the last 14 years, the ideals and passion of the green building community have come alive at Greenbuild. Join the thousands in the green building community this October who agree that green building is not only good for the environment but also good for business.

Taryn Holowka

Senior Vice President, Marketing, Communications & Advocacy U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff


Good luck in the Year of the Monkey: Best wishes to green building leaders in China

Published on 3 Feb 2016Written by Mahesh Ramanujam Posted in International

Over the past five years, we have witnessed firsthand the evolution of the green building movement in China. 2015 was an exciting year. China continues to show tremendous leadership; it is the third largest market for LEED outside of the United States, with 732 LEED projects covering 26.7 million GSM of certified space. You have continued to build capacity and implement green building in projects all over the country, and green building is now expanding to inland region areas, such as Sichuan Province and Chongqing City. Recently, USGBC announced the 2015 Top 10 provinces and municipalities in mainland China participating in LEED.

In 2015, China also made commitments to drive sustainability at a global scale. President Xi participated in the COP 21 agreement in Paris and promised to contribute to climate change by focusing on green building and transportation sectors. China also participated in the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and numerous world gatherings concerning global climate change. USGBC sends a sincere “thank you” to China’s business leaders and policymakers who are leading the way.

Leaders across the globe understand that LEED is a powerful market tool. Leaders across China continued to commit to building healthier, more sustainable communities in 2015. Leaders such as Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world, which achieved both LEED and Three Star certification, and leaders such as Dalian Wanda Group, Hongqiao CBDShougangJiaming Investment and many others, have continued to place LEED at the core of their plans for the built environment.

USGBC pays tribute to the incredible contribution by green building leaders in China. You are raising the bar for the global market.

Mahesh Ramanujam

Chief Operating Officer U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff


The complex world of school cafeteria food donation

Published on 3 May 2016Written by Nancy Deming, Oakland Unified School District Sustainability Manager Posted in Center for Green Schools

Cafeteria food going unused

Anyone who spends time in K–12 school cafeterias with high participation in the federal meal program witnesses the volume of edible food that goes to waste. It goes well beyond the fruit peelings, the pizza or sandwich crust, or even the half-drunk milk that students toss. Food waste in cafeterias includes whole untouched fruit, bags of baby carrots, unopened packaged entrees, and cartons and cartons of unopened milk. For schools that are able to do scratch cooking, there are inevitably fruits and milk that go to waste. But the waste is greatest in cafeterias that are dependent on providing packaged items.

Witnessing this tossing of good food on a daily basis is overwhelming, pushing well-meaning people in schools to do something about it, such as a coach at one middle school in Los Angeles County. He collected the fruit that students did not want during lunch and gave it out to hungry students later in the day. News reports say he was fired for this and that it violated legal and public health rules. Yes, he was in the wrong for collecting and distributing food surplus in this manner. However, the piece that these initial news reports missed was how schools might legally be able to keep this surplus food from going to the landfill or compost.

What’s involved in donation?

The Good Samaritan Act and the USDA Lunch Act allow and encourage schools to donate surplus food. Great, so let’s donate! Sounds relatively easy, and how difficult can it be, especially since we have complained about it for so long? Unfortunately, since the regulations are new, uncharted territory, the details are not fully formulated yet. There are different perspectives on the what and how of implementation, not to mention many different entities lending their opinions. The USDA provides the general framework for food donation. Then, the state education departments and counties’ public health departments make their final statements about what they determine to be legal. And, finally, school districts must then compile and understand all the details for themselves.

Luckily, we have some passionate and driven folks that are working to make it easier to donate school food on local and national levels. Our model state right now is Indiana, thanks to the tireless work of Food Rescue, where they have passed state legislation detailing how to donate and what is allowed to be donated.

Next steps

In the case of the coach from Los Angeles County who was trying to donate food to students, the details are not public. But his experience in his school’s cafeteria, witnessing with frustration good food was being wasted, is common and relatable. All of us—and our schools, school districts, counties, states and federal governments—have the responsibility to develop solutions so that good, edible food fills bellies and not the landfill. The effort is worth the end results, so take the time to become familiar with the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and the National School Lunch Act.

Check to see what your county environmental health department and state have documented on school food donation.


DOT metrics rule could help reduce carbon pollution

Published on 28 Apr 2016Written by Alysson BlackwelderPosted in Advocacy and policy

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a notice seeking public comment on a proposed rulemaking concerning performance metrics for states and regional organizations that receive federal funding. As our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) capably explained, the proposed rule is one of several aimed at improving the performance of our nation’s transportation infrastructure. USGBC appreciates that DOT has raised the possibility that states and regional organizations measure how projects such as roads and public transit systems would contribute to carbon pollution—and will be urging the agency to follow through with this concept in the final rule.

DOT is seeking comment on whether planners in the transportation sector should take into account carbon pollution to set standards to implement the 2012 transportation law “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century,” or MAP-21. The law requires transportation planners to consider and use performance-based measures that track and reduce carbon pollution, minimize fuel consumption and protect and enhance the natural environment.

Such a requirement would contribute to more informed transportation decisions, and would be a key step on the road to more sustainable transportation infrastructure. The green building community understands that location matters, affecting both occupant behavior and environmental performance. Indeed, LEED v4 elevates the importance of site selection with the new Location and Transportation (LT) category, dedicated to encouraging thoughtful decisions about building location, including alternative transportation and connection with amenities—features which act to reduce the total life cycle environmental impact of occupant transportation.

Several cities and states have already adopted requirements to take into account carbon emissions when developing transportation plans, including ChicagoSeattlethe Twin CitiesCaliforniaMassachusetts, and Oregon. Over a third of carbon emissions in the United States come from the transportation sector, so this comment period is a great opportunity for interested parties to weigh in with their support. The notice was published in the Federal Register on Earth Day, April 22. Stay tuned for additional information on how to comment.

Alysson Blackwelder

Project Manager, Advocacy and PolicyU.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

Announcing the 2016 Education Ministerial for Sustainability

Published on 22 Apr 2016 Written by Rachel Gutter Posted in Center for Green Schools

The mission to put every child in a green school within this generation is one that drives the Center for Green Schools team and a dedicated network of tens of thousands of advocates around the globe to work hard on a daily basis. In many ways, Earth Day is just another day for all of us—as it should be. For the broader community, it’s a time of year when people take notice of the environment with renewed spirit and commitment. Six years ago on Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Education announced their plans to create a voluntary recognition award called ED–Green Ribbon Schools (ED–GRS).

The Center for Green Schools is working with support from The Rockefeller Foundation to host the first-ever Education Ministerial for Sustainability, a peer-to-peer convening for ministers of education to establish national green schools initiatives around the world based on common criteria. This October, they will gather at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center on Lake Como, Italy, to help the green schools movement take a giant leap forward. This will be the first time that education ministers from around the world will come together to discuss sustainability and green schools.

Already, the three pillars of a green school—minimizing environmental impact, improving occupant health and teaching effective environmental education—have been adopted by organizations in over 30 countries as their criteria for a green school. In the United States, this framework is the backbone of the transformative ED-GRS Award.

Over the last five years, ED-GRS has united the NGO community, provided a clear connection point for federal programs and initiatives relating to green schools and contributed to a massive outpouring of support for school sustainability

What’s most exciting about ED-GRS is not the award itself, but rather the inclusive definition the U.S. Department of Education utilizes for its criteria. We’ve seen how schools of all descriptions—rural, urban, wealthy and disadvantaged, from the United States to Kenya to Hong Kong to Canada—have embraced the three pillars as a means to improve the places where our children learn. Solidifying global measures for green schools through an outcome-based framework will enable investors to monetize consistent metrics of impact at scale, transforming school infrastructure, student health and the direction of global education.

Rachel Gutter

Senior Vice President, Knowledge U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff



Celebrating collaboration at the heart of Space to Grow

Published on 26 Apr 2016Written by Rochelle Davis and Jerry Adelmann Posted in Center for Green Schools

The 2016 Best of Green Schools Awards, presented at the Green Schools Conference and Expo, recognized the people, schools, campuses and organizations that create healthy, sustainable and efficient learning environments and inspiring educational experiences.

The Best of Green Schools Award for Collaboration is one of the most meaningful awards we could hope for Space to Grow to achieve, because collaboration has been such a powerful factor in its success. Space to Grow transforms Chicago schoolyards into green spaces that provide students and their families and neighbors with a place to play, learn, garden and enjoy being outside.

Space to Grow is made possible through a collaboration between the Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands and with the financial support and expertise of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the Chicago Department of Water Management and Chicago Public Schools.

Since its launch in 2014, Space to Grow’s three public agency partners have committed $51 million to transform 34 Chicago schoolyards by 2019; so far, six have been built and are open to students and their communities, and many more are under way. Just as important, Space to Grow is beginning to redefine the way we think about the potential of the schoolyards in our city.

Each schoolyard is designed with several goals in mind, which reflect the diverse aims of the collaborators:

 Boosting physical activity and wellness. Schoolyards provide healthy, engaging places for students to be physically active before, during and after school.

Improving stormwater management and reducing neighborhood flooding. Special materials, surfaces and techniques—from rain gardens to permeable play surfaces—capture significant amounts of rain during the heaviest of storms.

 Supporting learning. Outdoor classrooms, native trees and plants, vegetable gardens and even the stormwater capture techniques support opportunities for learning and exploration.

Engaging communities with local schools. The schoolyard transformation process engages students, parents and community members in developing the design and later in celebrations, gardening and more. Plus, schoolyards are open to the public and provide a welcoming space for physical activity and connection with nature.

A report was released, based on the findings of the 2015 National Green Schoolyards Summit. This report documents the journeys and lessons of green schoolyard programs across the country, including Space to Grow.  We are confident that these schoolyards and the innovative partnerships and new ideas that are a hallmark of all these models will significantly benefit our children, communities and environment.


Leaders across China are creating a more sustainable future for millions

Published on 14 Apr 2016Written by Mahesh Ramanujam Posted in LEED

Sustainability is not new to China. China is now the second largest market for LEED outside of the United States—and in mainland China, there are over 2,430 projects participating in LEED, comprising over 134.2 million gross square meters of space.

China has an excellent opportunity to drive sustainability at a global scale, creating a more sustainable future, securing the health and well-being of millions and further accelerating its position as a global leader. Green development is also a major agenda item for President Xi Jinping. At last year’s COP21 agreement in Paris, President Xi made a strong commitment, promising that China will contribute to climate change by focusing on green building and transportation.

At USGBC, we say that every story about a LEED building is a story about leaders. Leaders across the globe understand that LEED is a powerful market tool that works and enhances a company’s triple bottom line. China is no exception: leaders across China are committing to building healthier, more sustainable communities where buildings perform at a higher level and human health is prioritized and enhanced.

  • Beijing United Shanxi Merchants and Shanghai K2 Real Estate: Both companies are pursuing LEED certification for their buildings and will play an incredibly important role in Beijing’s and Shanghai’s rapidly evolving sustainable future.
  • Duke Kunshan University: Recently, five buildings on the campus achieved LEED certification. The campus showcases cutting-edge strategies such as 675 square meters of solar thermal collectors. Duke is deeply to committed to creating an environmentally friendly, resource-efficient, comfortable and healthy university campus.
  • Hongkun Forest and Lifein Beijing: This was the first residential building in Asia Pacific to receive LEED Platinum certification for new construction. Sustainability measures in place at the project include innovative green technologies to reduce energy consumption and a water purification system that reaches U.S. EPA drinking water standards.
  • Raycom Real Estatein Beijing: The company’s Info Tech Park Tower recently achieved LEED Platinum. The project purchased renewable energy for 35 percent of its annual total electricity usage and adopted 100 percent low-emitting materials to reduce harmful indoor air contaminants.
  • TEDA MSDin Tianjing: A green roof, solar photovoltaic power generation and a high-efficiency and energy-saving building envelope helped the project receive LEED Gold certification.

Leaders like these all over China are making sustainability happen on a global scale.  USGBC is so proud of the accomplishments they have made in green building.

Mahesh Ramanujam

Chief Operating Officer U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, 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.