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Archive for October, 2015

LEED for Homes spotlight: The Dinerstein Companies

Published on 21 Aug 2015Written by Fleming Roberts Posted in Community

USGBC honored seven outstanding home builders, developers and projects that have demonstrated outstanding leadership and innovation in residential green building by awarding them with prestigious LEED for Homes awards. USGBC tells more about one of those shining examples of green building mastery and environmental stewardship.

 Award Category: Outstanding Multifamily Builder

Winner: The Dinerstein Companies (TDC)

The Dinerstein Companies is no stranger to green building accolades. Beyond achieving LEED certification for 5,100 apartment units and counting, this leading full-service real estate and development company has won multiple awards for their commitment to sustainability. For over 60 years TDC has been building and managing unique and innovative properties that have an eye to the future, reflecting one of their core values: “To think, plan and build for the long term.” They see it as their responsibility.

In 2007, TDC decided to make a strong commitment to green building in order to meet the industry’s need for energy efficient design and sustainable construction. TDC pledged to design and construct 100 percent of their projects to achieve LEED certification. By 2011, they accomplished this goal, with all new developments achieving LEED Silver. Since then they have taken their goal a step further, and have completed several LEED Gold projects and one LEED Platinum project.

The Millennium Apartments is a suite of TDC’s premier green achievements. Located in Houston, Texas, this series of sustainable luxury apartment buildings all share some spectacular features that are emblematic of TDC’s high-end-with-a-conscience style. They are walkable properties with that combine luxury with integrity, like fitness centers and energy-saving utility management systems; resort-style pools and drought-tolerant landscaping; or dog parks and electric car-charging stations.

The Dinerstein Companies long-standing commitment to green building has demonstrated that doing well by doing good can result in some truly gorgeous places to call home.

 Fleming Roberts

External Relations Specialist

USGBC staff


The greenest roof at Harvard

Published on 8 Sep 2015Written by Aline Peterson Posted in Center for Green Schools

Green roofs are all the rage these days. Some merely pay lip service to the concept while others, like the green roof atop Batten Hall at Harvard University, are dreamscapes of beautiful design and functionality.

In a recent article on Harvard’s sustainability blog, Colin Durrant, the school’s sustainability communications director, described the unique features of the rooftop. .

Harvard’s Greenest Roof

Standing among the flowers and plants on the roof of Batten Hall on a recent August day is reminiscent of standing in a country meadow on a late summer afternoon. Petals flutter slightly in the wind and bees buzz from flower to flower seeking nectar. Many of the bees come from two beehives recently installed on the opposite corner of the roof. Just a floor above us, 436 solar panels are converting the intense summer sun into electricity that will be used to provide power to the Harvard Innovation Lab and modular, learning spaces (AKA “Hives”) clustered inside.

 Welcome to what may be Harvard’s greenest roof—there are other buildings with larger solar installations, other green roofs, and additional beehives on several dorms and academic buildings but we know of no other rooftop at the University that is home to all three.

Aline Peterson

Media & Communications SpecialistU.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff


LEED for Homes Awards Spotlight: Paseo Verde

Published on 28 Aug 2015Written by Fleming RobertsPosted in LEED

USGBC honored seven outstanding home builders, developers and projects that have demonstrated outstanding leadership and innovation in residential green building by awarding them with prestigious LEED for Homes awards.

Award Category: Project of the Year

Winner: Paseo Verde, Jonathan Rose Companies / APM

This year’s project of the year is truly a modern marvel and represents a real focus on transportation access as a strategy in sustainable building and design. Paseo Verde, a LEED Platinum mixed-use, mixed-income development, is situated directly adjacent to Philly’s SEPTA Regional Rail Line at the Temple University Station, which is the fourth busiest stop in the city and is a five-minute ride from the city center.

Paseo Verde was designed by Wallace Roberts & Todd and developed by Jonathan Rose Companies and Asociacíon Puertorriqueños en Marcha. MaGrann Associates were the LEED providers and energy modelers on the project. Urban Engineers provided site development engineering services. Other members of the Paseo Verde team include CSA group, David Chou & Associates Inc., Pennoni Associates, and Domus, Inc. Together, they created the healthy living environment that some are calling “the most important green building development in Philadelphia.

Paseo Verde was constructed on a vacant lot that was nearly the size of a city block. The five-story building totals 200,000 square feet and has 120 affordable and market-rate apartments as well as 30,000 square feet of retail space that houses a community technology center. The building, which is the first LEED Platinum ND development in the western hemisphere, is surrounded by three LEED for Homes and one LEED for Homes Midrise Platinum buildings.

Paseo Verde, which translates to “green walk,” provides a healthy living environment for residents through sustainable practices, as well as energy efficiency cost savings. While any project of the year must be more than covering the bases on energy, water, waste, etc.—this building goes well beyond. The blue roof feature can hold up to 20,000 gallons of rainwater, which is slowly released through a drainage system. The building features solar panels, efficient mechanical systems, ENERGY STAR-rated appliances and fixtures, low- or no-VOC paints and primers, and formaldehyde-free materials to enhance indoor air quality. The building also has a fitness center, a business center, a community garden, and ground-floor retail.

One of the most important features, though, is the 52 affordable units available for those who earn less than $68,000 per year, and can pay as low as $300 in rent.

Major snaps for those involved in this smart and savvy development for revitalizing real estate in a community that needs it, and providing a comfortable and efficient home for many who may not be able to afford it otherwise.

 Fleming Roberts

External Relations Specialist

USGBC staff

Reinventing America’s post-industrial cities through green building

Published on 26 Aug 2015Written by Christopher Gray Posted in Advocacy and policy

Over the course of two decades, Catherine Tumber has had a distinguished career as a researcher, journalist and university lecturer. She has a Ph.D. in U.S. social and cultural history, and has been a research associate for the MIT School of Architecture and Planning’s Community Innovator’s Lab prior to assuming her current role as a senior research associate for Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy. Along the way she has also served as an editor for the Boston Phoenix and the Boston Review, and has written for The NationDemocracy: A Journal of Ideas, Architectural Record, the Washington Post and Commonwealth Magazine.

Catherine’s focus has been squarely situated on the many crises facing America’s small and mid-size cities in recent years—the major theme behind her recent book Small, Gritty, and Green: The Promise of America’s Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World (MIT Press, 2012).

LEED has been able to establish itself as a major force of market transformation in America’s most rapidly growing metropolitan areas, and it currently sets that market rate in cities such as New York, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, but market uptake in America’s many smaller, post-industrial communities such as Scranton, Pa. and Holyoke, Mass. has been far slower.

As USGBC looks for new ways to achieve its objective of bringing green buildings to all within this generation, we are looking for ways to help develop this market as the next frontier for a truly transformational industry. As we wean ourselves from fossil fuels and realize the environmental costs of suburban sprawl, we will see that small cities offer many assets for sustainable living not shared by their big city or small town counterparts, including population density and nearby, fertile farmland available for new environmentally friendly uses.

Christopher Gray

Media & Communications Specialist



Korea’s Songdo International Business District

Published on 29 Jul 2015Written by Hyunjin Koo Posted in International

Korea’s Songdo International Business District (IBD) has reached another green building milestone and now totals 19.5 million square feet of LEED-certified space. Songdo IBD, an exciting new 1,500-acre city being built on reclaimed land on the coast of Incheon, South Korea, continues to bolster its position as one of the world’s most ambitious LEED developments.

The numbers tell the story: The 19.5 million square foot (1.8 million square meter) figure represents 12 projects comprising an impressive 106 buildings (71 residential, 27 retail and eight commercial), and the project is still only 65 percent complete. The most recent Songdo project to gain certification is the 68-story Northeast Asia Trade Tower (NEATT), which achieved LEED Silver. The landmark NEATT at 305 meters (1,001 feet) is the tallest building in Korea.

Who is building Songdo? Songdo IBD is a joint venture between New York developer Gale International and Korean construction firm POSCO E&C, under the governance of the Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority.  Gale and POSCO are true pioneers of LEED in Korea. Songdo’s many “firsts” in green building include:

The First LEED-certified Exhibit Hall in Asia (Convensia Convention Center)

The First LEED-certified Residential Tower in Korea (Central Park I)

The First LEED-certified Hotel in Korea (Sheraton Incheon)

The First LEED-certified School in Korea (Chadwick International School)

Songdo IBD is globally recognized as the world’s foremost smart, sustainable city-scale development. In 2012, the newly established Green Climate Fund (GCF) selected Songdo as the home for its Secretariat.

Songdo IBD is comprised of 40% green space and is a pedestrian city while also featuring a first-rate system of public transportation.

The $35 billion Songdo International Business District (IBD) is often called the largest private real estate venture in history. When complete in 2020, it will include one hundred million square feet of office, residential, retail, hotel and public space, and be home to 65,000 residents and 300,000 people will commute in daily. It has partnered with Cisco to provide TelePresence immersive videoconferencing in homes, offices and schools, among other digital initiatives.

Connected to Incheon International Airport via a stunning 7.4-mile bridge, Songdo IBD is situated at the crossroads of Northeast Asia and is a 90-minute flight to Shanghai and to Tokyo, and a three-hour flight to Hong Kong. Songdo IBD is just 35 miles southwest of Seoul, and a proposed GTX train will reduce the trip between the two to 25 minutes.

Written by Hyunjin Koo Posted in International


Statewide Green Building Award Winners

Award Winners Announced By the Florida Green Building Coalition

TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) has recently announced winners of its annual Green Achievement Awards. The competitive awards, based on green certification scores, recognize residential, commercial, high-rise residential, and land development projects, as well as, local governments for exceptional sustainability achievements in a number of categories, such as energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor air quality, site preservation, resource (materials) efficiency, and durability.

The local government program criteria evaluates energy and water usage, air quality, health issues, land use, recycling and waste disposal, maintenance policies, educational programs, purchasing practices, and regulatory policies. It is designed to help protect and conserve the community’s natural resources, enhance the efficiency of government, thus reducing the cost to taxpayers, and raise public awareness about the benefits of environmental stewardship.

This year’s FGBC Green Achievement Award winners are:

 Highest Scoring Land Development
Abacoa in Palm Beach County
Score  207
Developer:  Cypress Realty of Florida
Owner: Abacoa Property Owners Assembly

 Highest Scoring Green High-Rise Residential Building
Gables 4585 Ponce, Coral Gables
Score: 52
Builder: Gables Residential

 Highest Scoring Green Home
Big Bend Habitat for Humanity – Tallahassee
For: 1621 Harris Street in Tallahassee

Score: 212, Platinum Level

 Green Builder of the Year  (for most homes certified):

Single-Family Category
Neal Communities, Bradenton – 257 Homes Certified

Multi-Family Category
McIntyre Elwell and Strammer General Contractors, Sarasota – 68 units


Starbucks takes the lead in social responsibility at home

By Judith Nemes

Starbucks is often touted as one of the more enlightened corporations in the U.S. that’s working hard at shrinking its carbon footprint and pursuing global social responsibility initiatives. Those goals are achieved through innovative green building programs, sustainable operating practices, and sourcing fair trade coffees to improve the lives of coffee growers (and their workers) around the world.

 Starbucks’ leaders recently expanded their efforts in social responsibility—only this time a lot closer to home. The Seattle-based company established a college education program in a unique partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) that encourages its own employees to finish college. The carrot for that nudge to go back to school is tuition reimbursement so individuals who start out at Starbucks can aspire to even greater opportunities and achieve improvements in their quality of life.

U.S.-based Starbucks employees who work 20 hours per week or more can sign up to earn a bachelor’s degree in one of 40 undergraduate degree disciplines offered by ASU’s prestigious online program.

Employees who are already in route to acquiring a bachelor’s degree and enroll as juniors or seniors will get full tuition reimbursement from Starbucks for every semester of fully completed courses, the company says. Freshmen and sophomores who enroll at ASU online through the program can receive partial tuition payback and need-based financial aid, according to Starbucks.

        No strings attached

Perhaps most surprisingly, Starbucks employees who graduate aren’t obligated to continue working for the company once they’ve received their bachelor’s diploma.  The motivation for initiating the College Achievement Plan, or CAP, was to encourage more individuals to finish college who couldn’t otherwise afford to do so.

      Two-tiered reimbursement, extra support

The program has two levels of reimbursement. Starbucks is offering maximum incentive to individuals who are closer to completing their degrees, but also gives partial reimbursement to freshmen and sophomores as a motivator to get on the path to higher education. Students receive a small scholarship from Starbucks when they first enroll, which never has to be repaid. Participating employees pay upfront for the rest of their tuition and other fees, but then are reimbursed by Starbucks every time they complete 21 credits (the estimated equivalent of a full semester of classes).

In addition to the 40 existing majors available at ASU online, Starbucks and the university created a new Retail Management Degree that’s geared toward employees who are interested in expanding their skill set for a retail environment and staying with the company after acquiring their degree, says Dayna Eberhardt, Starbuck’s vice president of Global Learning.

Launching the Starbucks’ CAP program has naturally boosted enrollment for ASU, but Michael M. Crow, the university’s president, says the incentive for collaborating with Starbucks was not about numbers. It was more about fulfilling the university’s mission to widen diversity among its student base and encouraging more individuals who don’t have the luxury of attending college full-time to find ways to obtain their degree, he asserts.

Chattanooga’s gone green: Three take-aways

Published on 18 Aug 2015Written by Julie TaylorPosted in Advocacy and policy

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and green|spaces released a regional sustainability website highlighting best practices in the region. It includes an action-packed timeline that tells the green side of the fabled revival story of this Southeastern Tennessee city. As you probably know, there hasn’t always been a lot of green to boast about.

Between the golden ages of the Chattanooga Choo-Choo and the crowning of Outdoor Magazine’s Best Town Ever, there was a time when Chattanooga was solely known to the majority of the nation as the Dirtiest City in America (thank you, Mr. Cronkite). But what can we take away from such progress? Looking back 40 years to the beginning of the city’s Cinderella story, what are the key factors that enabled such a transformation and—more importantly—that maintain the sustainability momentum?

Chattanooga in the 1960’s (Courtesy of Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau)

  1. Successful urban development prioritizes conservation.

Chattanooga’s urban redevelopment, like that of many other American cities, required careful management of sometimes opposing forces—balancing growth with density and conservation with development. A city-sponsored, volunteer-driven effort in the 80’s named Venture Chattanooga became the vehicle that channeled this thinking into the development of the downtown revitalization plan, named Vision 2000. Throughout a series of public meetings in 1983, 1,700 Chattanoogans met over a 20-week period to come up with projects for the city to undertake.

  1. Green building leadership opens doors for new industry opportunity.

Chattanooga is home to Tennessee’s first LEED Platinum certification, which came on Main Street in November of 2009. The building hosts green|spaces, a program of the Lyndhurst Foundation designed to provide both technical and financial assistance to projects in their pursuit of green building practices.  Green building offered a more holistic view of city design that created space for creativity in how the city might reimagine its built environment.

An initial goal of the green|spaces program was to certify 20 projects in the area. Today, 41 LEED-certified buildings stand proud throughout the Chattanooga

  1. Watts don’t slash themselves. Empower neighbors and leaders for best results.

With some of the lowest electrical rates in the country, the economics for efficiency in Chattanooga may not be as strong as they are in other places. But there’s more to the value proposition for sustainability than electricity savings alone.

And it’s not just residents that are saving energy. The city is doing it at scale through its municipal utility’s commitment to PEER an adaptive rating process designed to measure and improve sustainable power system performance. Since the city has begun applying PEER methodologies, power reliability in the Chattanooga area has improved by 50-65% in a given year (according to David Wade from the utility).

Julie Taylor

Green Building Policy Intern

The first LEED Platinum warehouse in China: Nike’s Logistics Center

Published on 19 Aug 2015Written by Nathan Wilson Posted in LEED

Valued at $19 billion, the world’s largest provider of athletic attire, equipment, and footwear, owns and operates factories and logistics centers worldwide. From an environmental standpoint, Nike has invested heavily in sustainable technology and business practice. In 2012, Nike opened NIKE Materials Sustainability Index for public use, to track the environmental impact of procuring, utilizing, and marketing its raw materials and products.

In 2011, the company achieved LEED Platinum certification for their China Logistics Center located in Taicang, China, the company’s largest distribution center in Asia. The 200,000 square meter facility handles the logistics of all domestic shipping of Nike products to provide them to Chinese consumers. It is the first LEED Platinum warehouse in China, and is expected to create 1,500 permanent jobs in Taicang. It is also Nike’s 7th major distribution center.

The space embodies the spirit of financial growth and environmental sustainability. China is the second largest consumer of Nike products, and the logistics center hopes to meet the growing demand.

Sustainability was central to the construction of the facility. The majority of materials were sourced within 800 km of the project. The general contractor recycled 97% of waste product during construction, and 50% of the wood products used were FCS-certified. Raw materials from the plant that would normally be converted to waste by-product are shipped to a nearby paper plant 10 km away to be reused and recycled. The facilities also use water efficiently and are designed to reduce annual water consumption by 80% over baseline. On site there are three man-made ponds to accumulate runoff and rain water, which are reused for irrigation of plants on the premises as well as the emergency sprinkler in case of fire emergency.

Nike’s Taicang Logistics Center represents a model for other companies to follow. It is testimony to a new age of corporate branding through sustainability. With this logistics center, Nike continues to represent itself as a company that remains both profitable and sustainability active. According to Craig Cheek, vice president and general manager of Greater China for Nike, Inc., “The new China Logistics Center represents Nike China’s commitment to doing business in the Greater China geography with environmentally-conscious practices.

Nathan Wilson

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.