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Mayors continue to play vital role leading into COP


Published on 23 Oct 2015Written by Grant Olear Posted in Advocacy and policy

For two weeks in December, the world will gather in Paris for COP21, or the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, to negotiate a global agreement on climate change.

Through the Compact of Mayors, cities around the world have committed to substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Cities participating in the compact have adopted a common measurement system and a public reporting process to ensure accountability.

Cities are heavily invested in the outcomes of the negotiations at COP21, as urban areas are home to over half of the global population. The majority of future population growth is also expected to occur in cities. It’s estimated that by 2050, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas.

They were able to share some of the innovations that we are working on, and learn about the impressive efforts being done in cities around the world. Global cities are the source of brilliant ideas that are creating jobs, saving citizens’ money, and helping the planet heal all at the same time. Here in DC, we shared our stories of climate action and adaption planning and green building policies and programs, and took the exchange participants on a tour of some of the cutting-edge work that DC is doing around green infrastructure.

A group of U.S. mayors also took part in the sessions, including Boulder Mayor Matt Appelbaum. A long-standing advocate of climate action, Mayor Appelbaum is also a member of the Local Climate Leaders Circle, a Resilient Cities for America (RC4A) initiative. Led by RC4A’s steering committee (ICLEI USANLCWWF and USGBC), the initiative will bring 12 U.S. mayors and local elected officials to Paris for COP21 to show their support for a strong global agreement on climate change.

 Grant Olear

Green Building Policy Associate U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff



Earth Month 2016: The Elements of Forests

March 31st, 2016 by American Forests

By Austa Somvichian-ClausenCommunications Intern

There are four elements believed by many cultures to be fundamental to life: earth, air, fire and water. Though these four fundamental elements have not changed — they are constantly evolving, building and shaping the environment around us, including our world’s forests. Without a sufficient supply of water, our forests wouldn’t have the sustenance to grow. Without clean air, our forests can’t breathe. Without nutritious earth, our forests would never be able to take root. And, even without fire, many of our forests don’t have a chance at rebirth.

But, this Earth Month (the best month of the year), American Forests will not only be looking at what the elements do for our forests and the wildlife that call them home, but also what forest ecosystems contribute to the elements, to our earth and to our individual health via the elements. Without forests, millions of people wouldn’t have access to palatable drinking water. Without forests, Earth’s largest carbon sink, our air wouldn’t be nearly as clean. Without forests, the earth would erode. And, without the plant matter from forests, fire can’t contribute to the nutrition of the soil.

Another way to get involved this Earth Month is by plant trees. Each year, we lose between 46,000 and 58,000 square miles of forest — which is equivalent to about 48 football fields every minute. Forests can use all the help they can get, and you can do your part restore ecosystems!

 Austa Somvichian-ClausenCommunications Intern

USGBC North Carolina: Students help install LED lights at zoo

Published on 19 Feb 2016Written by Rachel Quetti Posted in Community

It’s not all that often that students have the chance to participate in the actual installation of new technology, but that is exactly what happened at the North Carolina Zoo this past fall.

LED innovator Cree, Inc., partnered with USGBC to provide an opportunity for the students of Asheboro High School to work with Cree and local officials to upgrade the North Carolina Zoo’s multipurpose room through the installation of LED lights.

The project honored the Center for Green Schools Green Apple Day of Service, an international day of service meant to raise awareness about the importance of creating healthy, safe and productive learning environments for students. The day gives parents, teachers, students, companies and local organizations the opportunity to transform all schools into optimal learning environments through local service projects.

“Installing new Cree LED lighting is a way to teach students, teachers and administrators the importance of sustainable classrooms and how these features benefit the learning environment,” said Emily Scofield, Director, Community, USGBC North Carolina, in an email response.

 Meeting a need

USGBC and Cree, Inc. became aware of the zoo’s need for a lighting upgrade in its multipurpose room when John Casadonte, vertical marketing manager for lighting at Cree, Inc., visited the zoo, to learn how the company could assist the zoo’s educational program.

According to Casadonte, the multipurpose room was in great need of a lighting upgrade. The room was lit using a technology called metal halide, a unique light that is not typically found indoors.

 Learning about energy efficiency

Cree offered new LED fixtures to be installed in the multipurpose room by onsite electricians, and students who were interested in the discussion of energy efficiency and sustainable operations and maintenance were invited to see a demonstration of the installation.

The actual installation went extremely smoothly, where installers only ran into the minor challenge of having to work around air conditioning ducts.

Installing LED light in the zoo’s multipurpose room not only gave students a great learning experience on the Green Apple Day of Service, it will continue to provide them with an optimal learning experience every time they use the room. In comparison to the traditional lighting found in educational environments, LED lighting can help students stay focused longer.

Once the installation was complete, the zoo held an event to show off the new LED lighting. As part of the presentation, the zoo only lit half of the multipurpose room, and the audience was essentially viewing the beginning of the presentation in the dark. As part of the live demonstration, the zoo turned on the other half of the room with the new LED lights.

“Half of the room was still outfitted with the metal halide and the other half with LEDS. That’s when the kids instantly got it. How do you get that through to a teenager in high school? How do you make that impactful? The whole idea of seeing it first hand was really impactful for them,” said Casadonte. “It was so surprising, the change in the room. I don’t think anybody who was sitting there wouldn’t recognize that.”

Rachel Quetti Posted in Community

USGBC Minnesota: Check out the Energy Star Challenge

Published on 26 Feb 2016Written by Sheri Brezinka Posted in Community

It’s no secret that buildings are responsible for a large portion of energy use in the United States. What many people are not aware of is how easy it can be to increase energy efficiency at little to no cost, by making simple changes. This notion led to the implementation of the Minnesota Energy Star Challenge, a statewide project organized by USGBC Minnesota, the Great Plains Institute and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Energy Smart program. The Challenge is supported by a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and in-kind contributions from several utilities.

The Challenge seeks to lessen environmental impacts that result from excessive energy use in our built environment. Nearly 20 percent of the nation’s total CO2 emissions come from commercial buildings. On average, buildings that are Energy Star-certified use 35 percent less energy than comparable buildings, reducing air emissions as well as operating costs. USGBC supports use of the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager as an effective tool for benchmarking. Energy Star Portfolio Manager compiles building stats and energy consumption data to produce an Energy Star Score, central to the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance rating system.

“Minnesota building owners are embracing energy efficiency and the cost savings that result, but there’s so much more to do,” said Great Plains Institute President and CEO Rolf Nordstrom, noting that more than 600 commercial buildings in Minnesota are currently Energy Star-certified. “In many cases, building energy efficiency investments can be made—and paid for with energy savings achieved—in a relatively short period of time, making those investments a ‘win’ for the environment and a ‘win’ for business owners’ pocketbooks. You don’t have to look further than the Science Museum of Minnesota’s recent retrofits to see how large those savings can be!”

USGBC Minnesota is proud to be a part of a program committed to assisting local building owners in lowering their carbon footprint. They believe the efforts will not only promote economic vitality, but also create a healthier, more sustainable Minnesota. The Challenge is open to all owners and property managers of existing buildings in Minnesota with eligible properties.

Sheri Brezinka

Executive Director USGBC – Minnesota Chapter

Member employees


Green homes yield major resale premiums in Washington, D.C.

Published on 5 Feb 2016Written by Nick Brousse Posted in Advocacy and policy

High-performing homes (HPHs) with green features—both single- and multi-family—in the District sell for nearly 3.5 percent more than those without green features, according to a recently released report, “What Is Green Worth? Unveiling High-Performance Home Premiums in Washington, D.C.,” by real estate appraiser and author Sandra K. Adomatis and the Institute for Market Transformation.

The market is taking notice. Building on the growing trend of green construction in the residential sector, a recent report from Dodge Data & Analytics, a leading provider of data and analytics serving the North American construction industry, found that among 249 builders, remodelers and multifamily firms surveyed, 51 percent expect that more than 60 percent of the homes that they build will be green by 2020.

The widely used definition of HPHs applied in the report cites six elements of green building that are found in most third-party certifying organizations’ rating systems. These environmentally responsible and resource-efficient green building elements include site, water, energy, indoor air quality, materials and operations and maintenance.

As Kenneth Harney reported in his Washington Post article, the report calculated how much buyers were willing to pay for green features and found that they ranged from just over $10,000 to over $50,000, generating premiums as high as 7.7 percent.  When renewable energy-generating technologies such as solar were incorporated into the home, that resale premium climbed even higher.

The study examined final sales prices for HPHs and non-HPHs with similar variables such as location, amenities, square footage and parking between February 2013 and June 2015. Of the HPHs examined, 75 percent were LEED-certified and marketed their unique green features in the real estate Multiple Listing Service (MLS). USGBC has been helping to drive MLSs to give homebuyers more information on green features and certifications, and this study is further proof of the value proposition for green certification and marketing those features.

Similar studies have found comparable market premiums for green, high-performing homes. For example, “The Value of Green Labels in the California Housing Market” found that green home labels added a 9 percent price premium in that state.

Green buildings perform better—they net higher rents, higher occupancy rates and higher prices when sold—and buyers know the long-term investment is well worth the premium.

Nick Brousse

Advocacy & Policy Project Manager


In Oregon, a sustainable path out of an affordable housing crisis

Published on 26 Feb 2016Written by Christina Kuo Posted in Advocacy and policy

USGBC is currently engaged in Oregon’s efforts to expand the availability of affordable housing—specifically, advocating for such housing to be green and energy-efficient. USGBC’s commitment to green buildings for all in a generation is reflected in every aspect of the work they do. Currently, over 40 percent of the almost 200,000 LEED-certified homes in the United States are affordable housing units.

Housing affordability is not just about being able to pay the rent or mortgage. It is also about being able to afford the utilities as well. That is why emphasis on energy and water efficiencies, as well as third-party verification, gives affordable housing developers, community development agencies and the government an excellent tool for providing affordable homes to vulnerable families.

Oregon, like many areas of the United States, is facing a housing affordability crisis. In response to this crisis, the state government and leading local government in 2015 passed a series of appropriations to holistically address the problems of lack of affordable housing and homelessness. One of the programs the Oregon legislature and Governor Kate Brown have funded is $40 million in bonds to build affordable housing, focused on rural communities, communities of color and families with young children served by DHS (Oregon Department of Human Services).

During the 2016 short legislative session, the Oregon legislature and the governor’s office are working to outline the program goals and priorities necessary to implement the $40 million bonding program.

The Earth Advantage Institute, local elected officials, local business members and a lobbying firm are working together to ensure that the bonding includes five green building policy principles:

  1. A focus on affordability and total value;
  2. Accountability throughout the building process and beyond;
  3. Green building standards and rewards for developers;
  4. Public participation in the planning process; and
  5. Education for residents to promote environmental stewardship.

Testimony before the Housing Stability Council gave recommendations to improve the outcome of the LIFT program. The recommendations were well received and allowed USGBC to open a dialogue with the council, legislators and the governor’s office about the need for green building standards as they move forward in addressing their housing affordability and homelessness crisis.

Having a positive impact on Oregon’s program will be a long process, with ample opportunities for the green building community to engage on addressing this important issue.

Christina Kuo

State and Local Campaign Manager


Hotels worldwide are going green with LEED

Published on 26 Feb 2016Written by Emily Neagle Posted in Industry

The pace of green building in the hospitality sector is on the rise, and it doesn’t require making any sacrifice in the luxury of your stay away from home!

It’s no secret that with operations running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, hotels consume natural resources at a high rate. Representing more than 5 billion square feet of space in the United States alone, there is an enormous opportunity for the industry—and guests—to positively affect the built environment.

For years, USGBC has diligently made progress toward greening the hospitality sector. Among these efforts was the establishment of the LEED User Group for Hospitality and Venues, which engages in multifaceted dialogue and peer-to-peer collaboration to identify best practices, lessons learned and ongoing challenges for sustainability in the sector.

Across the world, demand for green hotels is rising. Today, LEED-certified hotels of all sizes are found in more than 40 U.S. states, 31 countries and five continents. It’s a movement sparked in part by guest preferences. According to a recent TripAdvisor survey, nearly two-thirds of travelers reported plans to make more environmentally friendly choices over the next year. And while on vacation, 88 percent of travelers turned off lights when not in their hotel room, 78 percent participated in the hotel’s linen and towel reuse program and 58 percent used recycling in the hotel.

In response to this shift, companies such as Starwood’s Elements brand, Richard Branson’s Virgin Hotel

Group and Hyatt Hotels include LEED mandates and policies in their design and construction specs. ITC Hotels in India requires not just LEED certification, but also top performance.

 Project spotlights: 

 Hotels Complex (Hyatt Place, Fairfield Inn and Suites and Aloft Hotel)

Chicago, Illinois, United States
LEED Silver

 ITC Windsor

Bengaluru, India
LEED Platinum

 Tambo Del Inka Hotel, A Luxury Collection Resort and Spa

Urubamba, Peru
LEED Certified

 Emily Neagle

Account Manager U.S. Green Building Council


2016 Building Energy Summit: Creating “smart” green buildings

Published on 18 Feb 2016 Written by Darlene Pope, Sr. Vice President, JLL Posted in Industry

It’s all about the data. Green buildings are being transformed into high-performance “smart buildings” equipped with new technologies, integrated systems, custom user apps and lots of data. Smart buildings take green to a whole new level.

Why is data important for buildings?

Data give us information on how buildings are actually being used, and it allows the building to perform based on the needs of the occupants. Having information on usage is critical to operating the building in the most efficient and sustainable manner. Not only can we obtain real-time occupancy information for the building, but we can tell exactly where those occupants are and how they are using the space.

This means that the building only conditions space that is actually being used, and it conditions the space based on the needs and preferences of the occupants. Lighting levels can be determined based on individual settings and can be adjusted based on different tasks, instead of being limited to “on” or “off.” Elevators respond to real-time needs and can even “predict” need based on other operational information (i.e., that someone just parked on the third level of the parking garage).

Real estate has entered the digital age in the way buildings are operated—but more important, in the way they are experienced. By adding a high level of intelligence through operational data and analytics, coupled with the ability to give end users more control over their environment, smart buildings are enhancing the occupant experience and creating an overall better workplace. In addition to energy and sustainability benefits, employees are also benefiting from enhanced health, wellness and worker productivity.

Darlene Pope, Sr. Vice President, JLL Posted in Industry


Lexington Court Receives FGBC Green Certification

Lexington Court Receives FGBC Green Certification
Offers Affordable, Healthy Living for Lower Income Families

Lexington Court, a 106-unit affordable housing project in downtown Orlando recently earned the Florida Green High-Rise Residential Building designation by the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) after it successfully met the sustainability standards established in the FGBC Florida Green High-Rise Residential Building certification program.

The designation represents achievements in a number of categories, such as energy efficiency, water conservation, site preservation, indoor air quality, materials, and durability, including disaster mitigation.

FGBC-certified projects complete a technically rigorous building assessment and construction process to promote design and construction practices that reduce the negative environmental impacts of the building, improve occupant health and well-being, and reduce operating costs for the owner.

Centrally located in downtown Orlando, Lexington Court provides quick access to Interstate 4, public transportation, shopping, employers in the Orlando business district, and medical facilities. It offers safe and walkable access to many other basic services such as schools, banks, restaurants, pharmacies, and recreation.

Energy performance of Lexington Court Apartments is 38 percent better than required by the Florida Energy Code. Green approaches that helped achieve the improved energy performance included installation of Energy Star appliances, energy-efficient exterior lighting, and advanced testing of the HVAC system to ensure proper installation for optimal performance and leak-free ducts. A high-efficiency air filtration system using MERV-8 air filters improves indoor air quality.

For water conservation, low- and ultra-low plumbing fixtures such as faucets, showerheads, and toilets were installed. But the biggest impact was achieved by selection of drought tolerant landscaping, less than 10% of the landscaped area was sodded with turf, and drip irrigation was used to service the installed landscape.

To reduce noise pollution, increased sound-absorbing insulation was used between individual units, common areas, and the exterior walls. Another strategy used to improve the indoor environmental quality of the building and protect the health of occupants requires green cleaning practices from service providers.

Florida Green Building Coalition.


USGBC Georgia: High Performance Healthy Schools Recognition Day in Georgia

Published on 12 Feb 2016Written by Suzanne Haerther Posted in Community

On February 3, USGBC Georgia celebrated the work of Georgia schools that are creating healthy and efficient learning environments for our students. The Third Annual High Performance Healthy Schools Recognition Day at the Georgia Capitol hosted 200 guests representing 62 schools and districts, as well as 12 community partners who are making a difference in Georgia.

 Projects of all sizes 

School activities ranged from one-day projects to long-term school engagement with national recognition through Green Ribbon Schools, the Princeton Review of Colleges and LEED certification. The 10 institutes of higher education and three K–12 schools that received LEED certification in 2015 joined the group of buildings that have committed to a higher standard. This group includes 161 LEED higher education buildings and 79 LEED K–12 buildings in Georgia alone.

Special guests included Rep. Rahn Mayo (84), Rep. Margaret Kaiser (59), Rep. Beth Beskin (54) and Sen. Nan Orrock (36). Sam Culbreath attended on behalf of Rep. Michael Smith (41). From USGBC, Judith Webb, Executive Vice President, and Cecilia Shutters, Policy and Data Communications Specialist, joined the festivities. A House resolution, sponsored by Rep. Mayo (who also volunteers his time with the High Performance Healthy Schools program), and longtime supporter Rep. Kaiser, was presented, along with a Senate resolution sponsored by Sen. Orrock recognizing February 3, 2016 as High Performance Healthy Schools Day. Additionally, a proclamation from the Governor’s office was presented.

The guests were inspired by the accomplishments of the schools, both K–12 and higher education. One presentation that made a strong impact on the luncheon attendees was given by Leon Grant and his students from Marietta High School. The students designed a self-sustaining community center that will be constructed in Haiti from recycled shipping containers. The community center will include solar energy, composting toilets and rainwater harvesting systems. To ensure that all of the systems work as designed and to give the students hands-on experience, a smaller-scale project will be installed at Marietta High School.

 A more sustainable future for schools

The High Performance Healthy Schools program strives to ensure that better buildings are our legacy. We believe in better buildings. Structures must complement our environment and enhance our communities. Students deserve better, brighter, healthier spaces to live, learn, work and play. The program will continue to work with the schools throughout the year providing resources and mentors to schools to help them achieve their goals. We look forward to joining together next year to celebrate even greater accomplishments in Georgia’s healthy, high-performing schools.

Suzanne Haerther

Program Manager, Community, Georgia U.S. Green Building Council

Chapter members



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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.