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Reaching new heights: Dunbar is the highest scoring LEED for Schools-NC project to date

Published on 6 Mar 2015Written by Aline Peterson Posted in Center for Green Schools

Something remarkable has happened in Washington, DC. Beyond the glare of the news cycle, the political positioning and the national debates, Dunbar High School, located a stone’s throw from the U.S. Capitol building, has achieved LEED Platinum certification. Not only has the school reached this milestone, it has become the highest-scoring school in the world certified under the LEED for Schools-New Construction rating system.

Scoring 91 out of 100 possible points, the newly constructed Dunbar came online in 2013 and was designed by USGBC Silver level member Perkins Eastman, an international design and architecture firm. Dunbar has a rich history; it was the first public high school in the nation for African Americans, originally founded in 1870.

Notably, Dunbar reported the highest standardized test scores of any school in the city for 2014, after just a single academic year in the new facility. The relationship between the state-of-the-art physical space and the elevated learning experience is hard to deny. Among other innovative design features, the school’s enhanced acoustics allow students and teachers to hear clearly, facilitating the back-and-forth engagement that is a critical element of a high-performance learning environment.

This masterpiece of a green learning environment encompasses a photovoltaic array that generates enough energy on a sunny summer day to power all classroom lights for eight hours. Additionally, deep below the surface of the school’s athletic fields is Washington, DC’s largest ground-source heat pump, with wells reaching down 460 feet. Two 20,000 gallon cisterns and low-flow systems help to conserve more than 1.4 million gallons of potable water each year.

The outstanding high-tech features at Dunbar are just the beginning of the story. After all, green buildings provide a framework to support new learned behaviors. Even with the very best energy and water-saving technology in place, a green building is only as effective as its occupants make it. With a legacy of leadership and strength of character, Dunbar’s students, teachers and administrators will undoubtedly demonstrate to the world that where we learn matters and that we can rise to untold heights when we are given the tools and environment to support our natural curiosity and inclination to grow.

Aline Peterson

Media & Communications Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff


Top 10 states project profile: University of Mary Washington’s IT Convergence Center

Published on 5 Mar 2015Written by Christopher Gray Posted in LEED

2014’s Top 10 States have shown tremendous leadership in the green building movement by certifying 1,662 commercial and institutional projects representing 251.7 million square feet of real estate. These buildings will have a tremendous social impact over the coming years by providing healthy and environmentally sustainable spaces to produce new breakthroughs in many different fields of science, medicine, education, business, the fine arts and environmental and social justice.

Every state, beginning with Illinois, 2014’s first overall state for LEED green building, will have a different highly impactful project profiled that touches on one of these core areas and demonstrates how business, universities, faith communities and non-profit organizations across the country are using LEED.

Virginia has a demonstrated history of support for green building, and it has made the Top 10 every year since 2011. In 2014, Virginia placed fourth in the nation for LEED (2.33 square-feet of certified space per resident), with 170 projects certifying across the state.  The University of Mary Washington’s new IT Convergence Center is an impressive 77,000 square-foot facility designed to produce innovative opportunities for social collaboration and research

Projects like Mary Washington’s IT Convergence Center demonstrate how LEED is helping grow our economy through providing healthy, high-tech learning spaces where young people can be creative, learn about new technologies and gain the experience necessary to make an impact in the world once they leave school.

It is also worth noting that Virginia has historically been a leader in promoting green learning spaces in its public schools and universities. There were more than 20 different educational projects that certified across the state in 2014.

Christopher Gray

Media & Communications Specialist

Virginia: State of the Commonwealth and green building leader

Published on 4 Mar 2015Written by Jason Hartke Posted in LEED

Last month, USGBC recognized Virginia as the fourth best state for green building in 2014.  Each year, USGBC releases its list of the Top 10 States for LEED, ranking U.S. states based on the amount of LEED certified square feet per person over the past year.

For the last three years, Virginia has been in the top four spots. In 2013, it was first on the list

Over the course of 2014, 150 LEED certified projects were completed in Virginia, representing 18.6 million square feet of real estate. In total, the state currently has 886 LEED certified projects, representing over 110 million square feet. That’s the equivalent to 21 Pentagons. And there are another 1,232 LEED projects in the pipeline as registered projects, representing more than 231 million square feet.

Sadly, as a nation, studies have shown that we are losing roughly $130 billion a year from leaky, inefficient buildings. But in Virginia, and cities like Alexandria, Richmond, Norfolk and counties like Arlington and Fairfax, and my hometown of Reston, are charting a path to cultivate and grow green buildings that save energy, save our businesses and our residents money and create local jobs.

Governor McAuliffe took a bold step to carry on this legacy by signing an historic executive order helping boost energy efficiency and creating the nation’s first ever Chief Energy Efficiency Officer. In addition, the state and 10 local governments have policies in place to promote and accelerate green building. The state government has more than 60 LEED certified and registered projects. And there are over 100 local government projects.

Being on this list also shows how Virginia is embracing a new industry, helping to boost the state economy right now. To date, USGBC has nearly 450 member companies based in Virginia. And these companies and organizations represent more than 7 million employees and are grossing more than $87 billion in annual revenue. These are statistics that are growing year in and year out. That means more jobs, more opportunity and more savings for the people of Virginia. That’s the power of leadership.

Virginia is helping drive a movement to design, operate and construct the buildings of the future – buildings that help protect the environment; buildings that improve our quality of life; and buildings that inspire.

Jason Hartke

Vice President, National Policy and Advocacy U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff


Green building and climate change

Published on 4 Mar 2015Written by Nora Knox Posted in Industry

Although many environmental impacts are associated with buildings and addressed by rating systems such as LEED, climate change deserves special consideration because buildings and land-use are responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions. To be effective, the policies that are emerging at the local, state, and federal levels to regulate greenhouse gas emissions must reflect a clear understanding of the connection between climate change and the built environment. Unfortunately, it is not enough for green building to lessen the effects that humans have on our climate. It must also prepare us for the inevitable consequences of climate change on our homes, communities, and society as a whole. A lower-carbon future will not only have higher-performing buildings but also require higher-performing communities.

The built environment, including buildings and transportation systems, accounts for more than two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions come from many components of the built environment, including building systems and energy use, transportation, water use and treatment, land-cover change, materials, and construction. By improving the efficiency of buildings and communities, we can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon emissions provide a useful metric for many aspects of green buildings and communities, including energy, water, solid waste, materials, and transportation, but green building involves more than reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is important to set goals for other issues as well, such as indoor air quality, human health, and habitat protection. This comprehensive goal-setting process encourages programs and policies that will lead to sustainable communities.

Flexibility and adaptability are increasingly important attributes of green projects. Although the long-term effects of climate change are uncertain, we know that sea levels will be higher, temperatures higher, droughts longer and more widespread, and flooding more intense. How different regions will experience these changes will vary considerably, and building professionals will have to assess the likely threats to their communities and respond accordingly.

Nora Knox

Digital Marketing ManagerU.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff

Learning Gate Community School of Lutz Receives National “Best of Green Schools” Honor from USGBC

   The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council has honored the Learning Gate Community School of Lutz, FL, as a 2014 “Best of Green Schools” recipient. The award recognizes 10 individuals, institutions, projects and events representing the best environmental efforts in schools across the USA this year.

The Learning Gate Community School — which is LEED Platinum Certified — is recognized in the Community Event category. The school’s EcoFest is an annual community event celebrating the businesses, organizations and individuals in the Tampa Bay area dedicated to the principles of sustainability. Ecofest was free to the public and had more than 100 vendors, live music, workshops, demonstrations, informational booths, green-living products and services from local artists, environmental organizations, alternative health practitioners, renewable energy specialists, and organic farms with local produce. The event took place at Lowry Park and drew more than 4,000 attendees.


The 6th Annual EcoFest will be held on Saturday, April 18th at the Lowry Park bandshell area – 7525 N. Boulevard, Tampa, Florida 33604. The event will be open to the public from 10:00 AM until 3:00 PM Admission to the event is free.

There will be live music, workshops, demonstrations, informational booths, green living products and services. Some local artists, green businesses, environmental organizations, alternative health practitioners, renewable energy specialists, organic farms and gardens with produce will be in attendance.

Florida Gulf Coast Chapter USGBC


USGBC Report Estimates More Than 1.2 Million People Experience a LEED-Certified Retail Space Every Day

– Report reveals nearly 8,000 retailers worldwide participate in LEED, China is the fourth largest market in the world for LEED for Retail projects

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced a new report finding that China is the fourth largest market in the world using LEED for Retail. The report details the extensive involvement of the retail industry with LEED and the impact of the globally recognized green building rating system on retail development and the consumer experience.

The report is a part of USGBC’s popular LEED in Motion series designed to equip readers with the insight and knowledge to understand LEED and to make the case for sustainable building practices worldwide. Last year, USGBC released LEED in Motion: Greater China.

“All of us are consumers,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “LEED enables retailers to make sustainable business decisions and empowers consumers to make choices they feel good about. LEED is used by big and small retailers alike, from end-to-end across the global economy.

The LEED in Motion report outlines the many ways LEED certification delivers a superior consumer experience, including the benefits of circulating fresh air, setting a consistently comfortable temperature and utilizing daylight wherever possible. Additionally, the report shows that 100 percent of those retailers participating in LEED reduced the pollution and land development impact of their buildings by meeting LEED’s sustainable site standard.

The report also includes a foreword from Starbucks, which achieved a milestone in 2014 as it opened its 500th LEED-certified store. Profiles of Target, with 143 LEED-certified stores, and Kohl’s, with 434 LEED-certified stores are also included.

In 2007, USGBC launched a pilot program to specifically address the needs of retailers. Subsequently, the LEED for Retail rating system was formally established in 2010. Some of the prominent adopters of LEED for Retail include Bank of America, Starbucks, Target, Wells Fargo, Walgreens, Nike and Yum! Brands.



Efficient buildings help federal energy use get to 40-year low

Published on 17 Feb 2015Written by Bryan Howard Posted in Advocacy and policy

There was a  recent announcement from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) that energy consumption by the federal government is at its lowest point since 1975. This is, as some would say, a big deal and in looking at the contribution of the building sector in achieving this goal, it is in fact a very big deal for green buildings.

While reducing fuel consumption was a meaningful factor in getting to this point, lower energy use in federal buildings was a key aspect in getting to this accomplishment. The analysis from EIA points to the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which set requirements to achieve 30 percent reduction in federal building energy use and 65 percent reduction in fossil fuel consumption of new or renovated federal buildings by 2015, as a reason for the downward trend.

While not named specifically, a large portion of the new and renovating buildings meeting these targets and contributing to these energy reductions are LEED buildings. With more than 150 million square feet of federal buildings LEED-certified, it’s clear that LEED is helping federal agencies and departments lead by example and achieve the many benefits of green building.

This is good news, but not great news. The agencies must continue to do more to reduce consumption through a number of measures including a continued commitment to performance contracting to help address existing buildings and certifying major renovations and new construction through the LEED rating system.

Let’s keep the government’s commitment to green building going.

Bryan Howard

Legislative Director

USGBC staff




First Ever Joint ASHRAE- USGBC Golf tournament!

This event has quickly become the “can’t miss” event organized by your USGBC Central Florida Chapter and now we are joining forces with the Central Florida chapter of ASHRAE to bring you the largest construction industry Golf event in Orlando.

The Central Florida Chapter of ASHRAE has partnered with the USGBC Central Florida Chapter with the common goal to bring a higher level of sustainability to the Coalition for the Homeless’ Women’s Residential Counseling Center in downtown Orlando (WRCC). ASHRAE and USGBC are both committed to partnering with the Coalition for the Homeless to participate in launching a community project focused on education and sustainability improvements.

The WRCC is a 126-person transitional living program for single women and women with children, with an additional 12 beds for emergency situations. In addition to receiving shelter and nutritious meals, homeless women who turn to the Coalition for assistance work with a case manager at the WRCC to build a budget and savings account, and to develop a plan for self-sufficiency. The Coalition’s goal is to help their residents move into stable, affordable housing.

This year’s Golf Tournament will take place on Friday, April 10 at the rolling hills of Sanctuary Ridge golf club, one of the more unique golfing experiences in Florida. Although the property has had many uses over the past years, the lay of the land and topographic feature resemble that of Ireland and Scotland.

USGBC Central Florida Chapter



Legislators announce bipartisan effort to advance school efficiency

Published on 6 Feb 2015Written by Bryan Howard Posted in Advocacy and policy

Members of the U.S. Representatives reaffirmed their commitment to advancing school efficiency policy. Representatives Matt Cartwright (PA), Chris Gibson (NY), and Peter Welch (VT) re-introduced the bipartisan Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act.

This legislation might sound familiar to frequent readers. It was passed out of the House Energy and Committee and the by the House of Representatives last year.

The bill would require the Secretary of Energy to establish a centralized clearinghouse to disseminate information on federal programs, incentives, and technical assistance for financing efficiency retrofits and upgrades at schools. The bill would also direct the Secretary to work with other federal agencies to develop a comprehensive list of these programs and to maximize efforts to publicize them through education and outreach.

Upon the re-introduction of his legislation Rep. Cartwright urged swift action. “Our children deserve to attend school in a safe and comfortable learning environment.  We must also learn to utilize energy in an efficient, responsible, and effective manner if we are to attain energy self-sufficiency.”

Smart policy like this has a great chance of getting enacted this Congress. Stay tuned to see how this legislation progresses and how dovetail with other congressional priorities.

Bryan Howard

Legislative Director

USGBC staff



LEED offers beacons of hope at shelters across the U.S.

Published on 12 Feb 2015Written by Sarah Buente Posted in LEED

From green roofs, to natural light and landscaped courtyards, green building practices are offering our nation’s homeless beacons of hope even in the bleakest of situations. Shelters are turning towards energy-efficiency and sustainability measures as a new solution to improving lives and the communities that surround them.

As of January 2014, over 578,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States—and nearly two-thirds of that number lived in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs. Additionally, nationwide emergency shelter use was close to 100% and transitional housing use was between 83-89%. With the homeless assistance system continuing to deal with such a large population, healthy buildings offer a unique opportunity to help the most disenfranchised members of our society heal and reconnect to the communities around them.

Across the country, shelters are certifying to LEED and implementing sustainable design features. Often housed in outdated buildings, such as old, abandoned warehouses, or buildings that have out-served their original use, green initiatives at these shelters are a welcome departure. In return, the cost-savings these energy-efficient measures allow are vital to the often underfunded homeless assistance system.

 The positive impacts sustainable design can have on communities everywhere: cities have begun to address root causes of issues that undermine its urban fabric. In effect, they have created a safe, sustainable, beautiful environment as a means of creating a more sustainable, safe, and beautiful city. This is the impact that a homeless shelter can have on a city: to literally transform a city both physically and psychologically.”

Sarah Buente

Marketing Project Coordinator


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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.