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Archive for September, 2015

Global market watch: Mexico—A rising leader in green building and sustainability

Published on 20 Aug 2015Written by Nicolette Mueller Posted in LEED

Mexico City: It’s a place famous for its pre-Colombian civilizations, its cuisine and culture, and as the megacity once ranked as the #1 most polluted city in the world.

Today the city is a rising leader in sustainability and urban innovation, with aggressive work to decrease pollution, promote public health and wellness, and the highest concentration of LEED buildings in Mexico. Of course, the cities of Zapopan, Monterrey, Guadalajara and Queretaro are not far behind in the race to be the national leader in green building, and these cities have helped to make Mexico the largest market for green building in the Spanish-speaking world.

This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the very first LEED certified project in a market that continues to set the pace for Latin America. Mexico’s first LEED AP and first LEED Fellow, Cesar Ulises Trevino, and his company BEA can now claim to be the first LEED v4 project (Platinum certified, no less) for Mexico. Mexico is also setting trends when it comes to health and wellness. The WELL Building Standard, the first building standard to focus on human health and well-being which launched in October 2014, is making inroads in Mexico as the first projects begin pursuing WELL Certification in the region. Going for LEED certification is important for achieving the best possible outcomes for environmental sustainability, and WELL maximizes the potential for supporting human health and wellness.

Privately owned Mexican companies are also ramping up their commitment to LEED and green building.Alejandro Bátiz of CIVITA, another leading green building consulting firm in Mexico, noted that a wide range of companies are expressing interest in owning and operating a LEED building, from small, family owned and operated child care centers to university campuses and family-owned conglomerates.

It’s a trend confirmed by Cushman & Wakefield’s Africa Rubio, whose growing team of sustainability professionals in Mexico City are responding to inquiries from the hospitality and retail sectors. Both sectors are predicted to be major areas of growth for the new construction and retrofit markets, as Mexico becomes the new headquarters for global business.

Thanks to the efforts of public and private sector leaders who are committed to a greener, more sustainable future for their country, Mexico is becoming a world leader in sustainable building.  It’s a global market to watch, and one that will surely continue to raise the bar for LEED and green building in the Americas.

 Nicolette Mueller

Director, Global Market Development – Latin American Region U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff

Citibank brings LEED to Honduras, making it the newest LEED Earth winner

Published on 21 Aug 2015Written by Logan Taylor Posted in LEED

Consistently, Citibank remains a global leader in the realm of sustainable construction with over 200 plus LEED-certified spaces worldwide. In South America alone, Citibank has certified two projects, one in Guatemala, the other in Costa Rica. Now, Citibank has brought the first-ever LEED certified building to Honduras.

Citibank’s new office, Altia Business Park in San Pedro Sula is a LEED Gold building designed to be energy efficient, environmentally conscious and to provide a healthier workplace for its’ employees. The project team focused on energy efficiency, access to transportation, and indoor environmental air quality. The building’s location was ideal due to the amount of public transportation available for its employees.

The largest obstacle for Citi and Ambiente Arquitectura Sostenible, the firm behind the project, was their greatest achievement.

In Honduras there are no local building codes, but LEED provided standards to help navigate the uncharted territory. Citibank really wanted to focus on indoor air quality because it was important for their employees to work in a space that promoted a healthy atmosphere. Citibank also wanted to demonstrate that a high level of indoor air quality is possible for buildings constructed in Honduras. In their previous building, many employees complained of migraines and headaches while in the building, all easily attributed to sick building syndrome, commonly found in older buildings. With the use of LEED indoor air quality standards, managers have noticed happier and healthier employees.

Ambiente’s project manager, Andres Prera—whose firm has worked on more than 60 LEED projects throughout Central America—noted, “The green building momentum began in Central America by raising the right questions and then provided the right solutions and education to those questions. LEED has helped to eliminate skepticism as it provides answers and examples of success as well as education for people. A sustainability vocabulary has now become mainstream.”

LEED promotes the right thinking and is moving not only Honduras but also Central America in the right direction. The standards established by LEED have allowed not only Honduras but all of Central America to plan for more sustainable future, a future in which the buildings of Central America take into account all aspects of efficiency and provide building owners with better performing buildings and happier tenants.

Logan Taylor

Tomorrowland: Brazil is the fourth largest market for LEED

Published on 21 Aug 2015Written by Joseph Crea Posted in International

Brazil is currently ranked fourth for top 10 countries for LEED outside the U.S. It’s substantial and growing market for green building shows that one of the international community’s most important emerging economic powers is actively looking for ways to ensure that its economic growth is sustainable and responsible. Brazil has previously made international headlines last year when it was credited with having the world’s largest drop in greenhouse gas emissions based on its successful efforts to combat deforestation. Brazil’s emergence as a country on the leading edge of the sustainability movement has the potential to trigger growth in the market for LEED in South and Central America due to Brazil’s position as a regional economic and political model to its neighboring countries.

“We are very proud and optimistic for the future of LEED green building in Brazil based on the diversity of projects types that are now certifying across the country,” said Felipe Faria, executive director, Green Building Council Brazil.“ LEED-certification is becoming popular for commercial buildings, industrial plants, data centers, warehouses, shopping centers, retail stores, schools, public buildings, libraries, museums, sport venues, neighborhood projects, residential buildings and existing buildings. These projects represent a diverse group of private and public stakeholders, associations and NGOs that are engaged in a collaborative effort aimed at promoting green building practices, and we believe that this positive atmosphere will exponentially accelerate the transformation that must take place.”

One such project is Museu do Amanhã, anchoring the revitalization of Porto Maravilha. Once a vibrant waterfront, Porto Maravilha was obstructed for years by a freeway. Now, with the removal of Perimetral Highway, the waterfront is being restored to its glory and Museu do Amanhã—slated to open later this year—is a marquee anchor of the port’s renaissance.

LEED Gold is the most widely held certification level in Brazil, with nearly 43 percent of all LEED-certifying projects in the country having reached this threshold for sustainability in the built environment. With the 2016 Olympic Games approaching, and Amanha’s preparing to certify, Brazil is poised for more gold.

Joseph Crea

Director, International Marketing and Communications

Commitment to Quality

Published on 4 Aug 2015Written by Kiley Jacques Posted in Community

Mexico City’s Instituto Thomas Jefferson looks for ways to make its sustainability efforts as impactful as possible.

For 37 years, the Instituto Thomas Jefferson (ITJ) has been a forerunner for social emotional learning, project-based education, and student-powered innovation. Today, its mission is campus-wide sustainability on all fronts—from LEED-certified buildings to Green Apple Day of Service (GADOS) projects to the environmentally focused K-12 curricula.

ITJ—a network of schools based in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Queretaro—is committed to “whole school sustainability,” which is built on a framework that looks at organizational culture, physical place, and educational programming. “ITJ is not a common school,” notes Organizational Culture Leader Monica Bleiberg, whose role it is to connect the ITJ community through initiatives that build a sustainability culture. “We enrich our educational model with innovative projects all the time so our teachers and students are used to new challenges,” she explains. “When we decided to embrace the whole school sustainability framework, Green Apple Day of Service became the perfect way to motivate teachers and students to commit to sustainable initiatives.”

GADOS is a global initiative developed by the USGBC that encourages educators and students to rethink their schools—participants have multiple and varied opportunities to redesign and transform their surroundings to make them more sustainable. Past projects have included removing toxic materials from school grounds, performing sustainability assessments, hosting open houses at green schools, and creating signage to encourage conscientious behavior. ITJ has set the goal of 1,000 GADOS projects this year. Bleiberg admits the figure is a challenging one, but believes it is achievable.

Kiley Jacques

Managing Editor/Freelance Writer


State of California buildings focus on water, energy, environment, performance

Published on 7 Jul 2015Written by Dan Burgoyne Posted in Advocacy and policy

Green building has long been part of California’s approach to a wide array of energy, water, environment, and development priorities. There are more than 3,500 LEED-certified green buildings in the state totaling more than 500 million square feet of real estate.

At the direction of California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., the California Department of General Services (DGS) leads the state green building efforts resulting in nearly 18 million square feet of state-owned or leased floor space certified to LEED across 142 buildings and growing. Over 14 percent of the entire state building portfolio is LEED certified. 14 state buildings have received multiple LEED certifications, and 17 have been certified LEED Platinum. Since the end of 2012, 49 state-owned buildings have been certified to LEED.

For the last 18 months DGS and other state government entities have been acutely focused on slashing the state’s water footprint due to the severe drought. During calendar year 2014 alone, state facilities reduced water use by 23 percent and a moratorium was issued on non-essential landscaping projects at state facilities. In January 2014, DGS released a management memo directing state agencies to establish baseline water use figures at their facilities going back to 2010, and to report annual water use.

While water conservation and energy efficiency have been large focuses, green building and LEED certification helps our state facilities improve our performance (and helps us document that improved performance) in other important areas including indoor environmental quality, responsible materials cycles, reduced transportation impacts, environmentally preferable purchasing, and more—all with the benefit of third-party validation that we’re delivering as promised. DGS recently released a chapter of state policies on sustainable operations and practices for state agencies.

The state is proud of its long term commitment to achieve LEED Silver certification for all new and major renovated state projects 10,000 square feet or larger, and for all existing buildings over 50,000 square feet. This commitment was renewed by Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-18-12. The executive order is implemented using the state’s Green Building Action Plan. Additionally, the plan includes a zero net energy (ZNE) target for all state facilities beginning design after 2025 with an interim target for 50 percent of new facilities beginning design after 2020 to achieve ZNE, as well as a target for 50 percent of all existing state building area to achieve ZNE by 2025.

These targets build upon the state’s carefully curated public green building baseline: the California Green Building Standards Code (CALGreen, or Title 24 part 11) which, among many other relevant codes like the California Energy Code, applies to all new and renovated buildings (residential and non-residential alike) throughout the entire state California codes establish a much stronger baseline for all buildings from which additional greening can be attempted and achieved through leadership programs like LEED. We applaud the recent alignment work between LEED and CALGreen to reduce documentation burden and to make beyond-code green building leadership even more accessible to all building projects in the state.

Dan Burgoyne

Sustainability Manager State of California

Member employees, USGBC board


LEED Earth winner: Mexico’s first LEED v4 platinum building

Published on 14 Jul 2015Written by Cesar Trevino Posted in LEED

Bioconstruccion y Energia Alternativa’ (BEA) is proud to announce that it’s headquarter offices is the most recent winner of USGBC’s LEED Earth campaign.

Aside exuberant biodiversity, lively music and cultural richness, Mexico also plays a key role for the green building movement in Latin America. To date the country accounts for 139 certified and 460 registered LEED endeavors, some of the most innovative and revolutionary buildings in the entire region. From these projects, one stands out writing its own unique history.

Back in 2011, BEA was behind one of the most sustainable offices in Latin America. BEA’s 4,650 sq. ft. office building was recognized as the first new construction building to achieve LEED Platinum certification in the country and the entire Latin American region, placing these premises at the top 1% among all buildings to achieve this level.

The project’s design and construction integrates diverse sustainability strategies and higher performance specifications, well above local regulations. Also, they reached another LEED Platinum level certification, this time under LEED v4.

This accomplishment allows us to ratify our commitment to a better built environment for Mexico and Latin America. Clearly, there is an enormous potential to demonstrate the business case for energy savings and environmental performance in our region, especially amongst existing buildings.

LEED APs Mayela Salazar and Diana Carro (existing building and new construction project leaders respectively) recently recalled a lifetime’s professional satisfaction with these two milestone certifications. “Everyone utilizing or visiting our office perceives and enjoys a superior indoor ambiance,” noted Mayela. “We do acknowledge how the premises invite us to both higher productivity and more responsible user habits,” further elaborated Diana.

Walking through its spaces, these ground-breaking offices are tangibly and positively different from all similar others. This venture illustrates the capacity and quality of Mexican professionals to envision and raise buildings that exceed the highest international green building standards. Unquestionably, LEED projects have been and shall continue to be a determining factor to release new makings for environmentally conscientious architecture, engineering and construction practice in the country.

 Cesar Trevino

Mexico Green Building Council

Member employees



Green Apple Day of Service buzz: Bee hotels in Kansas

Published on 29 Jul 2015Written by Liz Mayes Posted in Center for Green Schools

Green Apple Day of Service project from earlier this year has already gained national attention from the likes of the Washington Post and LA’s National Public Radio for its approach to solving the rapid decline in native bee populations.

Staff at PROSOCO, led by sustainability and environment manager Kay Johnson, partnered with a team of architects at Clark | Huesemann, and researchers from the University of Kansas Biological Survey to combat one of the biggest culprits of native bee loss: loss of habitable space. Unlike honeybees, native bees live in solitude, and normally nest in places like dead logs with beetle holes or hollow plant stems.

A rapid decrease in bee population has garnered recent attention because of the vital role bees play in the food chain. These bees are responsible for pollinating some of our most common fruits and vegetables: apples, peaches, cherries, strawberries, onions, green beans, tomatoes and more. Without native bees, much of the livestock that humans eat would be unable to survive.

For this year’s Green Apple Day of Service, volunteers constructed bee hotels to mimic the naturally occurring tunnels used by bees to lay eggs and nest. Working together with a local Girl Scout troop, they created thousands of tunnels using bamboo, paper, and wood—enough space for a total of about 3,000 bees at a time.

PROSOCO, which produces energy-efficient, minimum-impact products for the construction industry, contributed some of its own building materials to the project. Johnson explained that the bee hotel project was important to the company because of their commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. “We hope to inspire other companies to build their own bee hotels for their local bees,” she said. On how other companies can get involved in the Day of Service, Johnson suggests, “finding what sustainability commitment and corporate responsibility initiative makes the most sense for your company and act on it. Then, tell people about it so they can learn from and be encouraged by your leadership. Every company should have a bee hotel story.”

Bee hotels are not a new idea, but are only recently gaining popularity as an innovative tool to combat the decline in bee population. “Especially in Europe, some of these have been around hundreds of years. So we should have been paying attention,” Johnson points out.

Those who are interested in constructing their own bee hotels can follow an easy set of instructions provided by the National Geographic, or see the group’s bee hotel instructions. Bee hotels are a great way to engage students with the ecosystem that exists right in the schoolyard. Consider this or a whole colony of ideas for Green Apple Day of Service by visiting


New white paper examines the impact of state level school green cleaning laws

Published on 30 Jul 2015Written by Emma Arnold Posted in Center for Green Schools

Since 2006, 10 states and the District of Columbia have implemented laws which address green cleaning in schools. And while there has been an increasing push for schools, school districts, and states to adopt green cleaning practices, little work has been done analyzing the successes of these laws. What has been the real effect of state-level green cleaning policies directed at schools?

For the past several months, the Center for Green Schools has reached out to various stakeholders and officials across these states to learn more about their green cleaning laws. These conversations, alongside policy analysis, research, and data from a national survey informed our most recent white paper, titled “Perspectives on Implementation and Effectiveness of School Green Cleaning Laws.”

Research and interviews suggest that state school green cleaning laws have tremendous potential for raising awareness around and encouraging green cleaning products and practices in schools.

We found that laws perceived as effective tended to include reporting requirements and mandate, rather than encourage, implementation of green cleaning. Lack of adequate staff support at the state level, as well as lack of resources, can pose significant challenges to a law’s effectiveness. The need for school-focused education about the purpose and requirements for green cleaning was also identified as critical, including not just training but broader awareness-building about green cleaning among school boards, administration, faculty, building maintenance staff and the greater school community.

We also found that three states—Iowa, New York, and Connecticut—had quantifiable data on their laws’ successes. Overwhelmingly, this data shows that schools were compliant with the legislation, suggesting that not only are schools interested in adopting green cleaning products and practices, but want to do it well and quickly.

With the commitments of these 10 states and D.C., twenty percent of states have enacted laws addressing green cleaning products and practices in schools. It is undeniable that this is significant progress, but this still means that the majority of public schools are not required by their states to commit to cleaning products that can keep their students and staff healthy and safe.

The paper’s side-by-side comparison of the laws is a valuable way to start thinking about what effective state leadership around green cleaning in schools looks like. Whether or not they consider a law addressing school green cleaning, the remainder of the states now have the opportunity to build on these experiences to find even better, more creative ways to mobilize schools in their use of cleaning materials that will promote and enhance a healthy environment for our children.

Emma Arnold

U.S. Green Building Council

DC proves to be a hub for green roofs

Published on 25 Jun 2015Written by Nora Knox

Put simply a green roof is roofing system with vegetation; a green roof is often also known as a vegetated roof or a living roof.

These roofs can be found on a variety of building types, including both commercial and residential buildings—and the roof may be partially or completely covered with vegetation. The primary requirement is that the roof includes waterproofing and drainage features, which assist in the management of storm water.

Green roofs offer a lot of value to a building, including offering occupants a peaceful escape. USGBC staff recently toured the green roof of the World Wildlife Fund and they were so impressed. There are also major technical and economic benefits of green roofs, and the benefits are even more impactful in cities where there are a large number of buildings and there is so much rooftop surface area.

As such DC recognized these benefits in the early 2000s and began offering financial incentives to building owners to support the development of green roofs in DC.  This support has helped contribute to the creation of more than 240 green roofs across the city, which represent 54 acres and 2,365,480 total square footage (as of January 2015).

There are a wide variety of benefits associated with the installation of a green roof.

Nora Knox

Digital Marketing Manager U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff

Posted in Industry


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.