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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.

USGBC

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

The greening of Pittsburgh: Next up, schools

Published on 1 Apr 2016Written by Rick FedrizziPosted in Center for Green Schools

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a USGBC metric that measures the sustainability of a building’s design, construction, operations and maintenance in terms of energy, water and resource use; waste and emissions reduction; indoor environmental quality; and innovative approaches to the development process.

Pittsburgh has proved it’s ready to take on the challenge of environmental responsibility and climate change in meaningful, long-lasting ways. It has transformed the buildings that we rely on every day to use energy and water in smart, ecologically sensible ways.

Our nation’s schools are in terrible shape. Across all 50 states—Pennsylvania included—students are going to schools that are in dire need of repair and are failing to create healthy and safe environments for our kids and the teachers and administrators who support them.

The dichotomy of Pittsburgh—green public buildings but deteriorating schools—is emblematic of the challenge facing the nation. And it’s why the U.S. Green Building Council held its Green Schools Conference there.

The council’s 2016 “State of Our Schools” report, an in-depth state-by-state analysis of our country’s investment in school infrastructure, has found our funding structure inherently and persistently inequitable. Millions of students around the country are learning in dilapidated, obsolete and unhealthy facilities that are obstacles to their learning and well-being.

Pennsylvania state government contributes only 15 percent of school districts’ total spending on school construction and facility upkeep. Every school district is expected to make up the difference for their students—and not every district has the same amount of money to spend

With the school-district budgets so overstretched, it’s understandable that things slip through the cracks. But our schools are too important to put on the back burner. Making schools healthier isn’t just a matter of supporting Pittsburgh’s admirable legacy of sustainable building. It’s about providing a healthy, safe environment for our children and ensuring that they are the recipients of a 21st century education.

Pittsburgh’s story is built on the idea of coming together in the classroom. The Green Schools Conference is a chance to learn from each other and build a better future for our kids, one that’s healthy, safe and sustainable.

Rick Fedrizzi

CEO & Founding Chairman U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff, USGBC board

 

Nairobi schools continue to grow from Green Apple Day of Service

Published on 13 Apr 2016Written by ANN WAHINYA Posted in Center for Green Schools

For the past three years, Global Communities’ Kenya office has supported better learning environments in support of the Global Coalition for the Center for Green Schools’ Green Apple Day of Service (GADOS). GADOS is a global movement promoting sustainable schools that practice, teach and support environmentally responsible choices. In October 2015, Global Communities supported three nonformal primary schools in Majengo, one of the oldest and most marginalized informal settlements in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. Nearly three months later, the schools continue to harvest the benefits of the event.

 Fixing critical needs

Child Survival’s floors were potholed, making seating arrangements difficult, and there was only one functional toilet for its 260 students. At Undugu, which has 200 students, the classroom partitions were broken and walls were unpainted, making the rooms loud and dark.

Through Global Communities’ teamwork, Child Survival Primary School now has 12 functional toilets, which has helped improve female students’ confidence and reduce absenteeism. The floors in three lower primary classrooms were also leveled, promoting

better seating arrangements and hygiene.

At Undugu Community School, the team painted the classroom walls. The local government administrative unit for Majengo was inspired by the effort and joined in to paint the outer walls, toilets and an additional classroom. In addition, both Undugu and St. John’s schools received recycling bins, which are helping children learn to sort different types of waste.

 Celebrating teamwork

The event culminated in a ceremony at St. John’s, bringing together over 500 students, teachers, community volunteers, Global Communities staff, partner organizations and representatives from the Ministry of Education, as well as sub-county and local government.

Students, teachers and volunteers planted trees to provide more shade in the schoolyard and participated in demonstrations on waste management. Students and community youth groups also provided entertainment, which delivered messages on waste management and environmental safety..

GADOS 2015 proved that small initiatives have a huge impact. In making small but significant changes to the schools, Global Communities highlighted the challenges facing nonformal schools and their infrastructure needs.

ANN WAHINYA

Global Communities

Green schools: The food connection

Published on 3 Mar 2016Written by Karen Dittrich Posted in Center for Green Schools

Karen Dittrich specializes in marketing strategies that engage school communities through food at Creatif Leaf Marketing.

Food not only nourishes the body and mind, but it can also be used as a catalyst to create sustainable school communities where students gain knowledge about healthy sustainable living throughout the school grounds, which they can bring into their homes and community.

K–12 school food environments nationwide providing educational opportunities and healthy food choices throughout schools can greatly support the pathway to establishing sustainable school communities. By engaging students, their families, and school staff to participate in food, nutrition, and sustainability education together, it can lead to everyone making better choices for healthier lifestyles and a cleaner environment.

Marketing approaches are changing and engagement marketing has become more prevalent recently for good reason. Approaches are shifting from talking at people to engaging with people to build strong, long-term, and personalized relationships with customers. Unlike traditional marketing approaches where prospects are targeted with direct response deals, engagement marketing allows potential customers to interact and decide how they would like to proceed with a brand or program. Engagement marketing begins when a person is interested in a product or initiative and then decides to take action and engage. After providing relevant information, it is the consumers’ choice on how to proceed, making this approach much more readily accepted by members of Gen Z (today’s students) and their families. 

Karen Dittrich Posted in Center for Green Schools

 

The greening of Pittsburgh: Schools

Published on 1 Apr 2016Written by Rick Fedrizzi Posted in Center for Green Schools

Pittsburgh has the only LEED Platinum convention center in the world. The first LEED Gold sports venue in the nation. The largest LEED Silver museum in the country.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a USGBC metric that measures the sustainability of a building’s design, construction, operations and maintenance in terms of energy, water and resource use; waste and emissions reduction; indoor environmental quality; and innovative approaches to the development process. And by that benchmark, Pittsburgh is an impressively green city, a leader for the rest of the country in so many ways.

Pittsburgh has proved it’s ready to take on the challenge of environmental responsibility and climate change in meaningful, long-lasting ways. It has transformed the buildings that we rely on every day to use energy and water in smart, ecologically sensible ways that will help us preserve the planet for generations. But there’s one type of building that Pittsburgh has yet to make green, and it’s an important one: schools.

Our nation’s schools are in terrible shape. Across all 50 states—Pennsylvania included—students are going to schools that are in dire need of repair and are failing to create healthy and safe environments for our kids and the teachers and administrators who support them.

The conference will focus on the national conversation we need to have about the way we fund school construction and maintenance. The council’s 2016 “State of Our Schools” report, an in-depth state-by-state analysis of our country’s investment in school infrastructure, has found our funding structure inherently and persistently inequitable. Millions of students around the country are learning in dilapidated, obsolete and unhealthy facilities that are obstacles to their learning and well-being.

Making schools healthier isn’t just a matter of supporting Pittsburgh’s admirable legacy of sustainable building. It’s about providing a healthy, safe environment for our children and ensuring that they are the recipients of a 21st century education.

This is why USGBC is bringing to Pittsburgh leaders and champions of green schools, including educators, school administrators, nonprofit and corporate partners and elected officials, to advance their shared vision of healthy spaces and efficient schools for all children within this generation

Pittsburgh’s story is built on the idea of coming together, like the three great rivers that converge there. But everyone has to come to the table—or, in this case, the classroom. The Green Schools Conference is a chance for everyone to learn from each other and build a better future for our kids, one that’s healthy, safe and sustainable.

 Rick Fedrizzi

CEO & Founding Chairman U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff, USGBC board

 

World green building trends in 2016: Motivators and obstacles

Published on 24 Mar 2016Written by Heather BenjaminPosted in Industry

Motivators for green building

New data reveals that client demand is the top trigger for green building activity, having grown from 35 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2015. This shows that building owners recognize the benefits of green, and this recognition is a major driver of green market growth globally. In addition, environmental regulations also grew in importance from the previous data set, driven by a high response from a few regions, including India, Singapore and the U.K.

Another interesting finding is that overall, the importance of “doing the right thing” as a motivator for green building has declined over time. The same is true of the similar factors of branding/public relations and internal corporate commitment. This may suggest that as the green building market has matured and become more visible and standard in many locations, market-driven factors have supplanted the early-adopter vision as a trigger for choosing to build green.

 Obstacles to green building

As with the top triggers, the obstacles to green building vary by part of the world. Higher perceived initial cost was listed as one of the top three challenges in 11 of the 13 countries featured in the study—and was a particular problem for respondents in the United States and Colombia.

Top obstacles in developing markets included lack of public awareness and lack of political support, as noted by Brazil, Colombia, India and Poland.

In more established markets such as Australia and the U.K., proponents also have to fight the perception that green building is for only high-end projects.

Heather Benjamin

Content Marketing Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

Rhode Island leads by example in green building policy

Published on 8 Mar 2016Written by Alysson Blackwelder Posted in Advocacy and policy

Late last year, Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo signed an executive order mandating that state agencies reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions throughout their facilities.

Motivated by the state’s commitment to address climate change and by the Resilient Rhode Island Act, the executive order (EO) is broad in its reach in promoting renewable energy and working to reduce energy consumption. Notably, the directive mandates that state agencies achieve high performance green building standards in existing buildings, thereby going beyond current requirements for new construction.

Making energy goals specific

The EO directs the Rhode Island Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM) to “achieve a high standard of green building operations and maintenance at all state facilities such as may be accomplished through the International Green Construction Code, USGBC’s LEED certification, or an equivalent high performance green building standard.”

Specifically, the EO directs Rhode Island State agencies to

Procure 100 percent of government electricity consumption from renewable sources by the year 2025.

Reach a 10 percent reduction of energy consumption by the year 2019.

Ensure that 25 percent of new vehicles added to the state fleet will be zero-emissions vehicles by the year 2025.

Encourage state employees to commute by public transit, by bike or on foot.

Coordinate with the Energy Efficiency and Resource Management Council, National Grid and the Green

Building Advisory Committee to establish a voluntary aspirational or stretch building code based on the

International Green Construction Code or “equivalent” by the year 2017.

According to the governor’s office, the EO is expected to add around 1,600 additional jobs to the clean energy sector, which currently employs nearly 10,000 Rhode Islanders.

Alysson Blackwelder

 Project Manager, Advocacy and Policy U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

 

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

 

 

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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.