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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.

USGBC Northern California community members learn about managing WELL projects

Published on 7 Jun 2017 Written by Mara Baum Posted in Community

Demystifying the WELL Building Standard

The WELL Building Standard, which builds on the success of and complements the LEED rating system, is playing an increasing role in green building design. WELL is a holistic, evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being. These goals are closely aligned with the USGBC Northern California community’s longtime focus on human health, dating back to its Building Health Initiative that began in 2013.

In April, USGBC Northern California hosted a panel discussion on WELL project management featuring leaders from HOK, Cushman & Wakefield and Perkins+Will and facilitated by the community’s director, Brenden McEneaney. The speakers demystified the rating system for a sold-out audience, highlighting lessons learned from current and recent projects. I shared stories from the design of HOK’s WELL Gold certified TD Office in Toronto, and we all discussed ongoing projects implementing the three WELL systems: Core and Shell, New and Existing Buildings and New and Existing Interiors.

How LEED and WELL work together

LEED and WELL have many similarities, and both certifications are managed by GBCI. However, differences in the certification processes need to be considered by even the most seasoned LEED team managing a WELL project. When a project is registered, the team is assigned a WELL Assessor, who is available to answer technical questions throughout the process. After construction, the WELL Assessor visits the project for on-site performance verification. He or she tests air quality, water quality, acoustics and light, and conducts visual spot checks of other WELL features. This ensures that the building or space fully achieves the WELL criteria. It also cuts down on the amount of documentation paperwork by the team.

Going for both LEED and WELL? Teams can use the new WELL Crosswalks resources, which describe where LEED credits and WELL features overlap. In some cases, achieving a prerequisite or credit in LEED will automatically qualify a project to achieve part or all of a WELL requirement.

To identify potential problems before they happen and limit surprises during performance verification, some teams retain private testing companies to conduct pre-tests. The panelists debated the pros and cons of this strategy, which adds a slight cost to a project.

Cities share strategies for energy innovation at Better Buildings Summit

Published on 12 Jun 2017 Written by Alysson Blackwelder Posted in Advocacy and policy

At this year’s Better Buildings Summit, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy from May 15–17 in Washington, D.C., public and private stakeholders seized the opportunity to share their challenges and successes in reaching greater energy performance. Among those making strides to improve their energy efficiency were our nation’s cities, and USGBC was there to celebrate their latest achievements.

Here are a few examples from cities we’re proud to count as USGBC members, cities we hope will inspire others to innovate on local energy policy:

  • With the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, Seattlehas amassed a vehicle fleet that will help drive the city in the right direction. Andrea Pratt, Green Fleet Program Manager, shared that of its total fleet of 4,000, Seattle now has 99 battery electric vehicles and 47 plug-in hybrid vehicles. To help sustain this fleet, the city has successfully retrofitted an existing parking garage to include two floors of EV infrastructure.
  • Calling itself “The Green Port,” Long Beach, California, is home to the second busiest port in the U.S. Its Green Port Policy directs the port to incorporate sustainabilityin its development and operations. Richard Cameron, the port’s Managing Director of Planning and Environmental Affairs, spoke on its efforts to quantify and address greenhouse gas emissions. Its Middle Harbor is currently being redeveloped, and once completed in 2018, will reduce air pollution from port-related operations by 50 percent or more at the terminals. The terminal uses zero-emission automated guided vehicles, as well as solar panels, shore-side electrical power for ships and expanded on-dock rail for moving cargo via rail instead of trucks.
  • Travis Sheehan, Senior Infrastructure Advisor at the Boston Planning and Development Agency, discussed Boston’s efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change. The city has taken steps to strengthen its energy resilience to avoid disruptions for its residents. For Boston, a key to making progress in this area is developing public and private partnerships across different industries.

These latest actions are just a snapshot of city leadership in energy performance. These cities have a long history of efforts to address building energy efficiency, with LEED being a part of their toolbox.

Indeed, Seattle, the Port of Long Beach, and Boston each have LEED building policies in place, ensuring that at least some of their buildings meet this standard. In addition, Boston and Seattle are ranked first and third in this year’s ACEEE City Scorecard (Long Beach is not ranked, due to size).

 

Five ways data is driving green performance

Published on 13 Jun 2017 Written by Scot Horst Posted in Industry

 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 is 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 improve 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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’sPortfolio Manager and other industry tools to drive even greater results.
  5. 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 is 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 performance of buildings,  neighborhoods, districts, cities and more.

By connecting actions, data is redefining our built environment. The more projects harness the power of their data, the more connections are made, the more actions are taken, the more real our work and the better our quality of life.

 

U.S. Department of Education announces 2017 Green Ribbon Schools honorees

Published on 4 May 2017 Written by Anisa Heming Posted in Center for Green Schools

The recipients of the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools share a deep commitment to sustainable practices.

The U.S. Department of Education announced the recipients of the 2017 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (ED-GRS), an awards program that acknowledges a deep commitment to sustainable practices among the nation’s leading schools, districts and institutions of higher education.

A total of 63 honorees—including 45 schools, nine post-secondary institutions and nine school districts—received the prestigious award for their demonstrated leadership across three pillars: 1) reduced environmental impact and costs, 2) improved health and wellness and 3) effective environmental and sustainability education. Now in its sixth year, the program has honored 340 schools, 56 districts and 34 postsecondary institutions.

As part of this significant recognition program within the green schools movement, recipients of this year’s award model best practices for educating and inspiring the next generation of 21st century citizens. Showing the breadth of the green schools movement, 44 percent of this year’s awardees serve under-resourced communities, and 14 percent are located in rural areas. Charter, non-public and magnet schools are included, as well as career, technical and community colleges.

Each participating state in this voluntary program is allowed to nominate up to four schools and one district that demonstrate a comprehensive approach to sustainability. This year’s pool of candidates were nominated and reviewed by 29 state education authority implementation teams, including 28 states and the Department of Defense Education Activity.

The green schools movement has grown broader and deeper since 2011, when key advocates, including USGBC’s Center for Green Schools, steered some 80 national and state-based nonprofits to request that the U.S. Department of Education honor schools for their sustainability efforts and contributions. During the development of ED-GRS, USGBC advocated to ensure that the criteria provided an accessible pathway for all schools to strive toward the three pillars, so that large urban schools, small rural schools and every school population in between could have a fair chance at recognition.

Honorees both past and present prove that any school, district or post-secondary institution can take steps to improve the sustainability, health and safety of school facilities; ensure nutrition and fitness practices for a lifetime of wellness and productivity; and engage students in authentic, real-world learning that prepares them to lead a sustainable future.

USGBC commends the winning schools for their success, as well as the U.S. Department of Education for its innovative program that, without spending any new taxpayer money, has continued to provide a crucial focal point in the movement for healthy, high-performing schools.

 

Tucson leads in green building with Emerging 2030 District (USGBC Arizona)

Published on 5 May 2017 Written by Michael Peel Posted in Community

USGBC Arizona feted the public launch of the Tucson Emerging 2030 District at the historic Hotel Congress on April 20 with a sold-out tour and networking reception. The dynamic partnership between USGBC Arizona and the emerging district began in 2015 with the support of USGBC volunteers using USGBC’s ADVANCE framework.

This work catalyzed the rapid development of an impressive district in downtown Tucson in just over a year. The April 20 event celebrated this success and engaged local building owners, managers and developers.

Meeting the national 2030 Challenge on a local level

The Tucson Emerging 2030 District is the first of its kind in Arizona, and part of the national Architecture 2030 Challenge. This member-based organization consists of real estate owners, managers, developers, industry professionals and community stakeholders who work toward substantially reducing the environmental impact of building construction and operations. This, in turn, contributes to Tucson’s resurgent economy.

The 2030 District’s public-private partnership brings property owners and managers together with local governments, businesses and community stakeholders to provide a business model for urban sustainability through collaboration, leveraged financing and shared resources, improving the health and welfare of Tucson and its citizens.

Recognizing a need to support education and subject matter expertise for building owners and managers in the district, USGBC Arizona connects volunteer subject matter experts with district participants to benchmark their properties using Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager. With this data, teams develop and implement creative strategies, best practices and verification methods for measuring progress toward a common goal: the Architecture 2030 Challenge targets of 50 percent reduction in energy use, water use and transportation emissions by the year 2030.

Celebrating at the Hotel Congress

The tour and reception on April 20 highlighted this work, as well as the impressive green features of the Hotel Congress, one of the early Tucson Emerging 2030 District participants. Hotel Congress was named “Arizona’s Greenest Workplace 2016” in Arizona’s Greenest Workplace Challenge and is now a Gold Level Green Leader on TripAdvisor.

Their green initiatives include:

Sourcing local/sustainable ingredients for their restaurant

Using Refresh Glass upcycled from wine bottles

Eliminating as many straws as possible as a part of the One Less Straw campaign with One More Generation

Switching to 100 percent recycled paper coasters that are compostable

Converting to compostable drink cups

Providing guests with solar-heated water

2017 AWT ANNUAL CONVENTION and EXPOSITION

September 13-16, 2017

Devos Place and Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Five Reasons You Should Attend

AWT’s Annual Convention and Exposition continues to grow each year, yet it still remains the perfect size for professionals in our industry. With over 1,200 attendees, the meeting provides you with plenty of opportunities to increase your business connections and resources, while it maintains its exclusive focus on industrial water treatment.

Here are a few other reasons why you should attend the 2017 Annual Convention and Exposition being held in Grand Rapids, Michigan:

  1. 98% of past attendees say they return to the office with practical knowledge they can implement immediately.
  2. 93% of past attendees say the convention increases their industry knowledge.
  3. Since 2010, attendance has grown by more than 21%—exposing you to more individuals with whom you can network.
  4. Attendees are viewed as one of the biggest assets of the convention. The convention’s noncompetitive atmosphere allows you to share your experiences, challenges, and concerns.
  5. It’s the only convention where you’ll find exhibitors whose sole focus is industrial water treatment.

ASSOCIATION OF WATER TECHNOLOGIES

Sea View community in New York City ties sustainability to human health

Published on 28 Mar 2017  Written by Meghan Hazer  Posted in Industry

Sea View Healthy Communities builds health into the design of the neighborhood.

Sustainable design, once unconventional, has become the norm for many developments. Health-promoting design is emerging as a new trend, due in part to the realization that how we build matters—not just in terms of environmental sustainability, but also in terms of human health. Pioneering projects are now engaging in a new type of health-focused design.

One of those pioneers, Sea View Healthy Communities, is the subject of a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) recently released by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Initially developed as a tuberculosis facility, the hundred-year narrative of Sea View’s history in the context of its future vision reflects the public health community’s shift in focus from infectious to chronic disease. This shift was discussed by NYCEDC’s Munro Johnson in a recent blog published through our colleagues at the Build Healthy Places Network.

When asked by the Staten Island borough president to create a “health and wellness campus,” NYCEDC initially envisioned state-of-the-art health care facilities and residential communities for the disabled. This is not surprising, as health care facilities often come to mind when discussing health in the context of real estate development. However, the RFEI for Sea View takes a different approach by striving to develop Sea View instead as a healthy community, with explicit requirements to promote health through both design and operations.

It’s a unique ask, especially at the neighborhood scale. Munro Johnson, Vice President of NYCEDC, and Tommy Boston, Project Manager at NYCEDC for the Sea View Project, describe how they got there.

From health care to health promotion

The new focus on developing a “healthy community” was informed by data collection and cross-sector collaboration. According to Johnson, NYCEDC began with a medical services demand analysis and was surprised to find very low demand for additional medical facilities. In spite of having several highly ranked health care facilities, NYEDC discovered, the Staten Island borough has the highest mortality rate in New York City, specifically due to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Johnson explains that this “paradox led us to the doorstep of healthy communities research and healthy communities design, and the current vision that we are working with for the project.” Johnson continues,“the original underlying policy objective [is] better health. Based on the numbers and the data, the best way to achieve that turned out not to be building a bunch of gleaming new health care facilities, but rather by building health into the design of a neighborhood.”

Health and sustainability side by side

In addition to health, the RFEI also includes sustainability goals. The NYCEDC team explained that requiring a focus on sustainability performance is viewed as a nonnegotiable, standard feature in procurement. For Sea View, Johnson referred to health and sustainability as “a natural match,” stating that “part of the nature of sustainable design is to surface what is happening in the environment in order to be better stewards of it—and living with a better relationship to nature is intrinsically healthy in most cases.” Boston added, “I think that the physical sustainability of the built environment in Sea View will comingle with the individual sustainability of its residents and inhabitants.”

This inclusion of health alongside sustainability in the “ask” for Sea View makes a bold statement, challenging the development community to consider what’s next for health and sustainability, and how we will define high-performing sites in the future.

 

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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.