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USGBC stands with Houston

Mahesh Ramanujam shares thoughts on USGBC’s support of Houston.

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Texas—especially our USGBC staff, volunteers, their families and our members.

As a community of staff, volunteers and members all across the globe, we are all impacted as an organization when something as devastating as Hurricane Harvey takes place. The images of the storm and those affected by it remind us all how vulnerable we are when a natural disaster of this magnitude strikes. Please keep those in the greater Houston region in your thoughts and prayers as they work to repair and reclaim their homes, offices, schools, places of worship, and other critical buildings.

Sadly, Hurricane Harvey once again reminds us our work on resilient cities is at a critical juncture and represents an unprecedented opportunity to scale our work, spread our mission, and provide replicable models of resiliency that can be used in the United States and across the globe.

The road to complete recovery in the greater Houston region will be long, and please know that I am committed to doing everything we can as an organization to support that.

We are all in!

USGBC Announces LEED Homes Award Winners

Annual recognition highlights projects, developers, and builders leading the residential market in sustainable development

Washington, D.C.—(Sept. 12, 2017)—Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced the recipients of its annual LEED Homes Awards, which recognizes projects, architects, developers and homebuilders who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and innovation in the residential green building marketplace.

The LEED Homes Award recipients include multi-family, single-family and affordable housing projects and companies that are trailblazers in the residential sector and have prioritized incorporating sustainability within their projects in 2016.

“Homes provide more than just shelter. As demonstrated by the slate of LEED Homes award recipients, LEED homes improve the health and well-being of the occupants while saving energy, environmental resources, and money,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president, and CEO, USGBC. “This year we praise the innovative and integrative LEED Homes’ honorees for advancing the residential green building movement.”

The awards also recognize the “LEED Homes Power Builders,” which USGBC developed to honor an elite group of developers and builders that have exhibited an outstanding commitment to LEED and the green building movement within the residential sector. In order to be considered as a LEED Homes Power Builder, developers and builders must have LEED-certified 90 percent of their homes/unit count built in 2016. Homes at any LEED certification level—Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum—are eligible for consideration.

LEED Homes Award Recipients:

Project of the Year: Hassalo on Eighth, Portland, Ore.

Developed by American Assets Trust, designed by GBD Architects and constructed by Turner Construction, Hassalo on Eighth is a LEED Platinum mixed-use, dense development that creates a vibrant, 24-hour neighborhood for people to live, work and play. With more than a million square feet of new construction spread across three buildings, this project covers apartments, parking, an outdoor urban plaza and North America’s largest bike hub with space for 900 bicycles. Site-specific strategies include rainwater harvesting and treatment; on-site wastewater treatment and re-use with infiltration; district energy; natural daylighting and access to public transportation.

Outstanding Single-Family Project: Right-Sized Passive Home, Oak Park, Ill.

Designed by Tom Bassett-Dilley Architect, constructed by Evolutionary Home Builders and verified by Eco Achievers, the Right Sized Passive Home is a LEED Platinum home. Nontoxic, no-added formaldehyde, water-borne finishes, and materials were selected carefully for this project helping it become sustainable. This home also has its own energy monitoring system so the owners and designers can track energy use compared to modeled predictions.

Outstanding Single Family Developer: (Tie) John Marshall Custom Homes, Davidson, N.C.and Koral and Gobuty Development Co, LLC., Bradenton, Fla.

John Marshall Custom Homes continue to be a leader in sustainable building. Last year the firm developed a “pocket neighborhood” of 15 homes in Davidson, N.C. Currently, 12 of these homes have achieved LEED Silver certification while the remaining are waiting for certification and construction completion. The walkability of this community is one of its biggest attractions as it sits within a five-minute walk of the elementary school, park, shops and public library.

Koral and Gobuty Development Co, LLC are the developers of Mirabella, an innovatively designed, eco-conscious neighborhood of 160 paired villas created for active adults (55+). As of today, 72 Mirabella homes have achieved LEED Platinum certification – 100% of the community’s building stock. Mirabella currently has an additional 37 homes under construction and 51 lots remaining, with plans to have those 88 properties also earn the same level of LEED certification.

Outstanding Multi-Family Project: Arete, Kirkland, Wash.

Built by Natural & Built Environments and developed by Sustainable Kirkland, LLC, five buildings make up the Arete community that earned LEED Platinum status last year. This is the first micro-apartment project in the city of Kirkland and consists of living, working and art-centered spaces. Energy performance is one of the greatest successes for this community as some buildings surpass 40 percent savings over the LEED baseline. Additional energy features include solar hot water providing 40 percent of annual demand, triple pane windows, blown-in-blanket insulation, advanced air sealing, 100 percent LED lighting, efficient central ventilation, and 96 percent efficient boilers with radiant in-floor heat.

Outstanding Multi-Family Developer: AMLI Residential – Dallas, Texas, Austin, Texas, Sunrise, Fla., Chicago, Ill.

Since 2006 all of AMLI Residential’s new construction buildings have been built at the minimum to LEED Silver standards. In 2016 AMLI’s portfolio grew to contain 25 LEED certified projects, which represents more than one-third of the developer’s properties. AMLI created a habitat for native pollinators and utilized LEED as an opportunity to create regenerative landscaping. AMLI has several other projects currently targeting LEED and wishes to grow their portfolio past 50 percent LEED certified in the coming years.

Outstanding Affordable ProjectProspect Plaza Site One, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Developed by Oceanhill LLC and built by Blue Sea Development, Prospect Plaza Site One is the first site to be completed in a three-block project that will provide 394 units of modern, human-scaled, affordable housing. Site One is LEED Platinum certified and consists of 110 units of sustainable, energy efficient, healthy housing in four attached townhouse style buildings and a mid-rise elevator building. Prospect Plaza received the first national affordable housing Active Design Verified certification from The Partnership for a Healthier America and is the subject of a Mt. Sinai School of Medicine clinical study on long-term health benefits of living in a green building.

Outstanding Affordable Developer Builder / Developer: Habitat for Humanity, Kent County, Mich.

In 2016 Kent County’s Habitat for Humanity chapter built 15 homes earning LEED certification—10 receiving Gold and five Silver. To date, Habitat Kent has built 158 LEED-certified homes. On average, Habitat Kent’s LEED certified homes save homeowner’s $67.12 per month over an average Michigan home. Habitat Kent also partners with Grand Rapids Public School and Grand Rapids Community College to provide professional green construction experience to the next generation workforce.

LEED Homes Power Builders (*Represents a company that also won a LEED Homes Award):

  • AMLI Residential*
  • Blue Sea Development Company, LLC*
  • Frankel Building Group
  • Forest City
  • Gerding Edlen
  • Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte
  • Habitat for Humanity of Kent County*
  • Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse
  • Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services
  • Jamboree Housing Corporation
  • John Marshall Custom Homes*
  • Koral and Gobuty Development Co, LLC*
  • Metro West Housing Solutions
  • MHI-Austin
  • MHI – McGuyer Home Builders- DFW
  • Msheireb Properties
  • National Church Residences
  • Natural & Built Environments, LLC*
  • ROEM Builders
  • Sotramont
  • The Dinerstein Companies
  • The Hudson Companies
  • Uptown Rentals
  • Urban Development Partners

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the world’s most widely used rating system for green buildings. The LEED for Homes rating system was created in 2008 as a way for single-family homes and multi-family buildings to achieve LEED certification. LEED for Homes projects undergoes a technically rigorous process to become certified, including multiple on-site inspections and diagnostic tests. Quality control and quality assurance are built into the process so that builders, architects, and homeowners can rest assured they get what they paid for and specified. More than 1.2 million residential units are currently participating in LEED. USGBC’s 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study found that the residential green construction market is expected to grow from $55 million in 2015 to $100.4 million in 2018, representing a year-over-year growth of 24.5 percent.

To learn more about LEED for Homes, visit https://www.usgbc.org/guide/homes.

Human Performance Measured in Buildings

Aclima’s Scott Andrews talks about designing for IAQ data.

This article is written by Scott Andrews, LEED AP BD+C, Director, Aclima, Inc. In this series, speakers from USGBC Northern California’s GreenerBuilder conference, held July 13, 2017, at the Zero Net Energy Center in San Leandro, share insights from their sessions. Interested in supporting GreenerBuilder 2018 as an event sponsor or exhibitor? Please contact Brenden McEneaney.

USGBC’s Pacific Regional Director, Brenden McEneaney, and the President and CEO of USGBC and GBCI, Mahesh Ramanujam, kicked off GreenerBuilder 2017 with two very important concepts: First, that we must remember that green buildings are always about people, and second, that data is a natural resource in itself. Therefore, it was fitting that the first session of the morning, “Science and Practice of Measuring Human Performance in Buildings,” focused on the collection and application of environmental data to improve our buildings for people, who spend up to 90 percent of their days living, working and learning indoors.

Recent research shows that there is an undeniable correlation between measurable indoor air quality (IAQ) conditions and human cognition. This unleashes an entirely new set of economic considerations in managing commercial property. With new definitions of what constitutes an optimal indoor environment, tenants are beginning to look past aesthetics to the sizeable economic gains that healthier office environments can offer. This session, which included Lane Burt (North America Lead for Buildings Alive), Simon Turner (President and CEO of Healthy Buildings), and moderator Scott Andrews (a director at Aclima), took the audience through the science to the economics and into practice.

And fortunately, just as the deep relationship between IAQ and human health and wellness is becoming more widely understood, so too are our desires and abilities to empower facility managers to gather reliable, hyperlocal data to optimize building environments for health and well-being. The panel explored the question of how we will design, construct and operate buildings in five years. It was proposed that buildings might look more like a computer, with software controlling the building and adjusting to climate, health and other conditions in real time to optimize spaces for our most important resource: our people.

Although the panel agreed that some version of this new era of smart buildings may soon be a reality for many properties, thanks to the democratization of data that companies like Aclima are delivering to the marketplace, it will remain an imperative to train our facility managers. After all, not all aspects of a building can be automated, and this newly available data is only as valuable as the people and systems in place to analyze and apply it. FM, along with their consultants and internal teams, represent the critical last-mile delivery service for applying data analytics to make IAQ improvements and co-optimize the indoor environment and energy performance.

Distributed real-time sensor networks with parameters like CO2, VOCs, and comfort indicators such as temperature and sound levels represent the missing meter to measure how our buildings turn energy and water inputs into desired outputs. This includes a close review of building systems and potential outside factors that could impact IAQ, which can also be measured with on-site outdoor sensing equipment. There is a need to connect good intentions with measured outcomes, and new products and services are making this possible like never before.

State lawmakers plan legislation in support of green schools..

Legislators gathered at a green school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the Center for Green Schools.

Early in August, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators hosted their annual meeting in Boston, where state lawmakers discuss the most pressing issues in environmental policy and make commitments for their coming legislative sessions. Each year at the caucus meeting, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC holds a workshop to review the latest in green schools research and policy and make an action plan.

A dozen legislators from around the country joined us in a morning tour of the beautiful Martin Luther King, Jr. School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was recently built with aspirations of net zero energy and seeks to achieve LEED Platinum. Visitors met with the architects from Perkins Eastman, the former mayor of Cambridge and city energy staff to learn about the policy landscape and motivations behind the green school. They also learned more about the school’s features—including an extensive learning garden, lesson-friendly mechanical room, and an indoor/outdoor gym.

National Caucus of Environmental Legislators tour Boston school

That afternoon, the group was joined by around 30 additional lawmakers for a workshop to review current research and recent legislation on four topics:

  • School infrastructure financing and management: The group discussed recommendations for local, state and federal action from a 60-person working group of national experts on school financing and management, including implications for state-level policy making to give school districts what they need to operate healthy and efficient buildings.
  • Energy efficiency in existing schools: A soon-to-be-released policy overview from the Center for Green Schools was reviewed. The overview covers state laws in eight states that provide funding mechanisms for energy efficiency projects in existing schools.
  • Benchmarking: The group examined current best practices for benchmarking energy, water and other sustainability metrics on the local and state level, including examples of existing state-level and local policies.
  • Green infrastructure: A preview was given to a forthcoming study that builds on the 2016 Achieving Urban Resilience, as well as policy implications for more sustainable land and infrastructure management. New research on the sustainability and health opportunities of so-called “smart surfaces” was also addressed.

Each year, the Center for Green Schools follows up with state legislators to ensure they have the resources they need to advance their priorities on green schools and green buildings. View our menu of options for state legislators, and pick out what you think is most important to take to your elected officials.

After many years of working with legislators, we have learned that your voice, as a constituent, is the one they value most.

Materials strategies in LEED v4

At Greenbuild 2017, get the info you need on materials credits for LEED v4.

The topic of materials is one that spans every phase of a building’s life cycle. It includes considerations of construction waste, specifying materials for the building’s structure in the design and construction phase, making green cleaning choices while the building is in use and determining what happens to the building in the demolition phase.

Quick facts about construction waste:

  • Construction and demolition waste constitutes about 40 percent of the total solid waste stream in the United States and about 25 percent of the total waste stream in the European Union.
  • In aggregate, LEED projects are responsible for diverting more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills, and this volume is expected to grow to 540 million tons by 2030.

Materials decisions are impacted by an array of stakeholders who work with the built environment and those who support it, as well as by those who work, learn, live and play within those buildings.

LEED projects divert more than 80 million tons of waste from landfills

What LEED does with materials

Since its initial launch, LEED has always addressed materials, and the newest version of the rating system is no different. LEED v4 brings a shift that goes beyond materials decisions focusing on single attributes and moves the market toward conversations about optimizing environmental, social and health impacts and gaining a better understanding of the trade-offs.

The LEED Building Design and Construction materials credits and prerequisites include:

  • Prerequisite: Storage and Collection of Recyclables
  • Prerequisite: Construction and Demolition Waste Management Planning
  • Prerequisite: PBT Source Reduction—Mercury
  • Credit (5–6 points): Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction
  • Credit (2 points): Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Environmental Product Declarations
  • Credit (2 points): Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Sourcing of Raw Materials
  • Credit (2 points): Building Product Disclosure and Optimization—Material Ingredients
  • Credit (1 point): PBT Source Reduction—Mercury
  • Credit (2 points): PBT Source Reduction—Lead, Cadmium, and Copper
  • Credit (2 points): Furniture and Medical Furnishings
  • Credit (1 point): Design for Flexibility
  • Credit (2 points): Construction and Demolition Waste Management

The LEED Operations and Maintenance materials credits and prerequisites include:

  • Prerequisite: Ongoing Purchasing and Waste Policy
  • Prerequisite: Facility Maintenance and Renovation Policy
  • Credit (1 point): Purchasing—Ongoing
  • Credit (1 point): Purchasing—Lamps
  • Credit (2 points): Purchasing—Facility Management and Renovation
  • Credit (2 points): Solid Waste Management—Ongoing
  • Credit (2 points): Solid Waste Management—Facility Maintenance and Renovation

Join USGBC at Greenbuild 2017 in BostonIndia, and China, to learn more about LEED and materials. In addition to educations sessions, Greenbuild in Boston and India will feature Expo halls where attendees can interact with the newest and most innovative products the market has to offer.

The Boston Greenbuild event will also include a special session on LEED v4 and its materials and resources section:

Course: LEED v4 and Materials: Interactive Session

Thurs., November 9 from 5–6 p.m.

Planning a more resilient future

The 2017 summit centered on financing resilient infrastructure and building more resilient communities.

This article was co-authored by Katharine Burgess, Director, Urban Resilience at the Urban Land Institute, and Cooper Martin, Program Director, Sustainable Cities Institute, National League of Cities.

Last week, an inspirational group of mayors, senior city officials, and nationally recognized experts gathered in Stowe, Vermont, for the 2017 Resilient Cities Summit, hosted by the National League of Cities (NLC), the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Against the scenic backdrop of Stowe’s mountain views and rustic charm, the group of 60 attendees from across the nation discussed how cities can be more prepared for climate risk and achieve a more resilient future.

After a successful 2016 summit focused on successful environmental planning and solutions for sustainable land use, the 2017 summit centered around how to finance resilient infrastructure and implement actions to build more resilient communities. Summit sessions discussed identifying funding sources, prioritizing equity in resilience planning and motivating support for investing in a more resilient city.

While the challenges that attendees face back at home vary from sea level rise and heat islands to earthquakes and severe storms, it was striking how much city leaders found they had in common in their approaches to community resilience. Here are four key takeaways from this year’s summit:

1) Local leaders must be willing to reimagine their city.

At its core, a resilient city is one that is thriving and evolving, rather than simply surviving. Resilient cities are adaptive, competitive and equitable, and this requires local leaders to position their city to respond to changes. Resilient city leaders should have an outlook for infrastructure and land use that incorporates the next 20, 30 or even 50 years, as opposed to a time frame that only extends through the length of their term. This often requires cities to do something they’ve never done before, whether it’s changing how they finance redevelopment projects or how they use data to inform decision-making.

Resilient Cities conference 2017

Mayors Lily Mei of Fremont, California, Dennis Doyle of Beaverton, Oregon, and Mark Mitchel of Tempe, Arizona, join other mayors, city staff and national experts at the 2017 Resilient Cities Summit.

The status quo might be comfortable, and governments are rightfully risk-averse, but elected leaders also have a responsibility to reach for the future. In today’s world, contexts are constantly in flux, whether they are based on economic, social, climatic or other factors. The city that thinks about tomorrow’s risks and vulnerabilities and acts on that future in a collaborative, equitable fashion will ultimately be more resilient.

How LEED combats climate change

One of the goals that guided the development of LEED v4 was reversing a LEED building’s contribution to global climate change.

The Earth’s climate is changing, and 97 percent of climate scientists agree that it is likely due to human activities. So where does that leave us and the rest of the building industry?

Buildings account for more than one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), according to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. Add in other infrastructure and activities, such as transportation, that is associated with buildings, and that number jumps.

By building green, we can reduce the impact our buildings have on contributing to climate change, while also building resilience into our homes and communities.

LEED vs climate change

One of the goals that guided the development of LEED v4 was reversing a LEED building’s contribution to global climate change. High-performing green buildings, particularly LEED-certified buildings, play a key role in reducing the negative climate impacts of the built environment. For this reason, 35 of the 100 total points in LEED v4 are distributed to reward climate change mitigation strategies.

The LEED process addresses a structure’s planning, design, construction, operations and end of life as well as considering energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, and location. Green buildings reduce landfill waste, enable alternative transportation use and encourage retention and creation of vegetated land areas and roofs.

LEED rewards thoughtful decisions about building location, with credits that encourage compact development and connection with transit and amenities. When a building consumes less water, the energy otherwise required to withdraw, treat and pump that water from the source to the building are avoided. Additionally, less transport of materials to and from the building cuts associated fuel consumption.

Here are some of the ways that LEED weighs the various credits and strategies so that LEED projects can mitigate their contribution to global climate change:

  • GHG Emissions Reduction from Building Operations Energy Use: To target energy use reductions directly associated with building operations. This includes all building systems and operations within the building or associated grounds that rely on electricity or other fuel sources for energy consumption.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from Transportation Energy Use: To target energy use reductions associated with the transportation of building occupants, employees, customers, visitors, business travel, etc.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from the Embodied Energy of Materials and Water Use: To target GHG-emissions reductions associated with the energy use and processes required in the extraction, production, transportation, conveyance, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, use, posttreatment, and disposal of materials, products, and processed water. Any measures that directly reduce the use of potable water, non-potable water, or raw materials (e.g. reduced packaging, building reuse) will indirectly reduce energy as well because of the embodied energy associated with these product life cycles.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from a Cleaner Energy Supply: To target actions and measures that support a cleaner, fewer GHG-emissions intensive energy supply and a greater reliance on renewable sources of energy.
  • Global Warming Potential Reduction from Non-Energy Related Drivers: To address the non-energy related climate change drivers (e.g. albedo, carbon sinks, non-energy related GHG emissions) and identifies actions that reduce these contributions to climate change (e.g. land use changes, heat island reduction, reforestation, refrigerant purchases).

Some of the top credits in LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C, and O+M that are associated with mitigating global climate change:

  • LT Credit: Surrounding Density and Diverse Uses
  • LT Credit: Access to Quality Transit / Alternative Transportation
  • WE Credit: Outdoor Water Use Reduction
  • WE Credit: Indoor Water Use Reduction
  • EA Credit: Optimize Energy Performance
  • EA Credit: Renewable Energy Production / Renewable Energy and Carbon Offsets
  • EA Credit: Enhanced Refrigerant Management
  • EA Credit: Green Power and Carbon Offsets
  • MR Credit: Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction / Interiors Life-Cycle Impact Reduction

How LEED combats climate change

One of the goals that guided the development of LEED v4 was reversing a LEED building’s contribution to global climate change.

The Earth’s climate is changing, and 97 percent of climate scientists agree that it is likely due to human activities. So where does that leave us and the rest of the building industry?

Buildings account for more than one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), according to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. Add in other infrastructure and activities, such as transportation, that is associated with buildings, and that number jumps.

By building green, we can reduce the impact our buildings have on contributing to climate change, while also building resilience into our homes and communities.

LEED vs climate change

One of the goals that guided the development of LEED v4 was reversing a LEED building’s contribution to global climate change. High-performing green buildings, particularly LEED-certified buildings, play a key role in reducing the negative climate impacts of the built environment. For this reason, 35 of the 100 total points in LEED v4 are distributed to reward climate change mitigation strategies.

The LEED process addresses a structure’s planning, design, construction, operations and end of life as well as considering energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, and location. Green buildings reduce landfill waste, enable alternative transportation use and encourage retention and creation of vegetated land areas and roofs.

LEED rewards thoughtful decisions about building location, with credits that encourage compact development and connection with transit and amenities. When a building consumes less water, the energy otherwise required to withdraw, treat and pump that water from the source to the building are avoided. Additionally, less transport of materials to and from the building cuts associated fuel consumption.

Here are some of the ways that LEED weighs the various credits and strategies so that LEED projects can mitigate their contribution to global climate change:

  • GHG Emissions Reduction from Building Operations Energy Use: To target energy use reductions directly associated with building operations. This includes all building systems and operations within the building or associated grounds that rely on electricity or other fuel sources for energy consumption.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from Transportation Energy Use: To target energy use reductions associated with the transportation of building occupants, employees, customers, visitors, business travel, etc.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from the Embodied Energy of Materials and Water Use: To target GHG-emissions reductions associated with the energy use and processes required in the extraction, production, transportation, conveyance, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, use, posttreatment, and disposal of materials, products, and processed water. Any measures that directly reduce the use of potable water, non-potable water, or raw materials (e.g. reduced packaging, building reuse) will indirectly reduce energy as well because of the embodied energy associated with these product life cycles.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from a Cleaner Energy Supply: To target actions and measures that support a cleaner, fewer GHG-emissions intensive energy supply and a greater reliance on renewable sources of energy.
  • Global Warming Potential Reduction from Non-Energy Related Drivers: To address the non-energy related climate change drivers (e.g. albedo, carbon sinks, non-energy related GHG emissions) and identifies actions that reduce these contributions to climate change (e.g. land use changes, heat island reduction, reforestation, refrigerant purchases).

Some of the top credits in LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C, and O+M that are associated with mitigating global climate change:

  • LT Credit: Surrounding Density and Diverse Uses
  • LT Credit: Access to Quality Transit / Alternative Transportation
  • WE Credit: Outdoor Water Use Reduction
  • WE Credit: Indoor Water Use Reduction
  • EA Credit: Optimize Energy Performance
  • EA Credit: Renewable Energy Production / Renewable Energy and Carbon Offsets
  • EA Credit: Enhanced Refrigerant Management
  • EA Credit: Green Power and Carbon Offsets
  • MR Credit: Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction / Interiors Life-Cycle Impact Reduction

To learn more about LEED and how it can help reduce the impact of global climate change, head to Greenbuild in Boston this November 8–10 (or check out our Greenbuild events in China or India). Greenbuild features LEED workshops, hundreds of green building educational sessions and inspiring speakers and events

Five ways data is driving green performance

The CEO of Arc Skoru, Inc., shares his thoughts on how data is driving a new era of green building performance.

When it comes to sustainability, data is ushering in a new era of green performance. Thanks to the digital age, our ability to capture data are virtually limitless, and the information we gather has the ability to drive better decisions—economically, socially and environmentally.

Over the last two decades, USGBC and GBCI have gathered vast amounts of green building data through transformative tools such as LEED. Recognizing the critical role data is playing, GBCI created Arc, a digital platform that is helping buildings, communities, and cities around the world benchmark and improves green performance.

As we continue to prove that financial benefits accrue with environmental benefits, performance data will be at the center of market transformation.

Here are five ways data is driving a new era of green building performance:

Transparency: Data creates a holistic picture of sustainability efforts and impact. Tracking green performance also helps businesses keep pace with industry changes. Arc gives its users a transparent look at performance using real-time data. The approach encourages incremental improvement and uncovers innovative opportunities.

Comparison: Comparing performance leads to better results for everyone. Data is a powerful motivator and allows us all to learn from one another’s successes and shortcomings. Projects on Arc can see how their efforts are working and how they stack up to similar projects locally, regionally and globally.

Benchmarking: When you benchmark against yourself, you improve. Benchmarking against others helps you know how much you can improve. Leadership can occur anywhere, at any point. Benchmarking through Arc provides an immediate entry point, no matter where you are on your sustainability journey. It is a clear starting point and can help you move toward LEED certification.

Collaborative Learning: Projects pursuing multiple sustainability efforts at once—energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience—make better decisions when data is shared across teams. Arc connects actions so that buildings, communities, and cities can ensure they are performing at the highest possible levels. It also integrates with Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager and other industry tools to drive even greater results.

Performance beyond buildings: Data allows us to see results. Results are the core of performance. In Arc, net zero performance in energy and water is shown through a perfect score. Data also allows us to be non-linear. So we don’t have to separate buildings from communities and cities. With Arc, users can look at the performance of buildings, neighborhoods, districts, cities and more.

A goal of USGBC Central Pennsylvania

In March of 2016, USGBC Central Pennsylvania identified an opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity of Harrisburg on a rewarding project: a duplex that was going to be given to a military veteran’s family, which had suffered from a fire. The goal of the project was to provide a low-cost and healthy home that operated sustainably to keep day-to-day costs for the family very affordable.

USGBC Central Pennsylvania worked with Habitat for Humanity by providing technical consultation and identifying potential suppliers to offer discounted materials and services. Several USGBC Central Pennsylvania board members conducted site visits and provided architectural, energy-related and green-building recommendations, including:

  • Insulation types and installation methods
  • Low-usage plumbing fixtures
  • Paints with less than 50 grams per liter of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Asbestos testing
  • With new roofing and windows, and a complete remodel of the interior by Habitat for Humanity volunteers, the property will soon be a beautiful home to a happy family. The space has energy-efficient windows donated by Plygem, upcycled cabinets, and countertops from the Habitat ReStore and bamboo and cork flooring donated by Calibamboo.
  • USGBC Central Pennsylvania is looking forward to more projects in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity in the coming years.  We are also glad to support other community-focused organizations that are interested in sustainability. Please email Heidi Kunka, the community’s director, or phone 202.706.0836, if you have a project in mind.
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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.