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Archive for May, 2016

Good luck in the Year of the Monkey: Best wishes to green building leaders in China

Published on 3 Feb 2016Written by Mahesh Ramanujam Posted in International

Over the past five years, we have witnessed firsthand the evolution of the green building movement in China. 2015 was an exciting year. China continues to show tremendous leadership; it is the third largest market for LEED outside of the United States, with 732 LEED projects covering 26.7 million GSM of certified space. You have continued to build capacity and implement green building in projects all over the country, and green building is now expanding to inland region areas, such as Sichuan Province and Chongqing City. Recently, USGBC announced the 2015 Top 10 provinces and municipalities in mainland China participating in LEED.

In 2015, China also made commitments to drive sustainability at a global scale. President Xi participated in the COP 21 agreement in Paris and promised to contribute to climate change by focusing on green building and transportation sectors. China also participated in the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and numerous world gatherings concerning global climate change. USGBC sends a sincere “thank you” to China’s business leaders and policymakers who are leading the way.

Leaders across the globe understand that LEED is a powerful market tool. Leaders across China continued to commit to building healthier, more sustainable communities in 2015. Leaders such as Shanghai Tower, the second tallest building in the world, which achieved both LEED and Three Star certification, and leaders such as Dalian Wanda Group, Hongqiao CBDShougangJiaming Investment and many others, have continued to place LEED at the core of their plans for the built environment.

USGBC pays tribute to the incredible contribution by green building leaders in China. You are raising the bar for the global market.

Mahesh Ramanujam

Chief Operating Officer U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff


The complex world of school cafeteria food donation

Published on 3 May 2016Written by Nancy Deming, Oakland Unified School District Sustainability Manager Posted in Center for Green Schools

Cafeteria food going unused

Anyone who spends time in K–12 school cafeterias with high participation in the federal meal program witnesses the volume of edible food that goes to waste. It goes well beyond the fruit peelings, the pizza or sandwich crust, or even the half-drunk milk that students toss. Food waste in cafeterias includes whole untouched fruit, bags of baby carrots, unopened packaged entrees, and cartons and cartons of unopened milk. For schools that are able to do scratch cooking, there are inevitably fruits and milk that go to waste. But the waste is greatest in cafeterias that are dependent on providing packaged items.

Witnessing this tossing of good food on a daily basis is overwhelming, pushing well-meaning people in schools to do something about it, such as a coach at one middle school in Los Angeles County. He collected the fruit that students did not want during lunch and gave it out to hungry students later in the day. News reports say he was fired for this and that it violated legal and public health rules. Yes, he was in the wrong for collecting and distributing food surplus in this manner. However, the piece that these initial news reports missed was how schools might legally be able to keep this surplus food from going to the landfill or compost.

What’s involved in donation?

The Good Samaritan Act and the USDA Lunch Act allow and encourage schools to donate surplus food. Great, so let’s donate! Sounds relatively easy, and how difficult can it be, especially since we have complained about it for so long? Unfortunately, since the regulations are new, uncharted territory, the details are not fully formulated yet. There are different perspectives on the what and how of implementation, not to mention many different entities lending their opinions. The USDA provides the general framework for food donation. Then, the state education departments and counties’ public health departments make their final statements about what they determine to be legal. And, finally, school districts must then compile and understand all the details for themselves.

Luckily, we have some passionate and driven folks that are working to make it easier to donate school food on local and national levels. Our model state right now is Indiana, thanks to the tireless work of Food Rescue, where they have passed state legislation detailing how to donate and what is allowed to be donated.

Next steps

In the case of the coach from Los Angeles County who was trying to donate food to students, the details are not public. But his experience in his school’s cafeteria, witnessing with frustration good food was being wasted, is common and relatable. All of us—and our schools, school districts, counties, states and federal governments—have the responsibility to develop solutions so that good, edible food fills bellies and not the landfill. The effort is worth the end results, so take the time to become familiar with the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and the National School Lunch Act.

Check to see what your county environmental health department and state have documented on school food donation.


DOT metrics rule could help reduce carbon pollution

Published on 28 Apr 2016Written by Alysson BlackwelderPosted in Advocacy and policy

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) published a notice seeking public comment on a proposed rulemaking concerning performance metrics for states and regional organizations that receive federal funding. As our friends at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) capably explained, the proposed rule is one of several aimed at improving the performance of our nation’s transportation infrastructure. USGBC appreciates that DOT has raised the possibility that states and regional organizations measure how projects such as roads and public transit systems would contribute to carbon pollution—and will be urging the agency to follow through with this concept in the final rule.

DOT is seeking comment on whether planners in the transportation sector should take into account carbon pollution to set standards to implement the 2012 transportation law “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century,” or MAP-21. The law requires transportation planners to consider and use performance-based measures that track and reduce carbon pollution, minimize fuel consumption and protect and enhance the natural environment.

Such a requirement would contribute to more informed transportation decisions, and would be a key step on the road to more sustainable transportation infrastructure. The green building community understands that location matters, affecting both occupant behavior and environmental performance. Indeed, LEED v4 elevates the importance of site selection with the new Location and Transportation (LT) category, dedicated to encouraging thoughtful decisions about building location, including alternative transportation and connection with amenities—features which act to reduce the total life cycle environmental impact of occupant transportation.

Several cities and states have already adopted requirements to take into account carbon emissions when developing transportation plans, including ChicagoSeattlethe Twin CitiesCaliforniaMassachusetts, and Oregon. Over a third of carbon emissions in the United States come from the transportation sector, so this comment period is a great opportunity for interested parties to weigh in with their support. The notice was published in the Federal Register on Earth Day, April 22. Stay tuned for additional information on how to comment.

Alysson Blackwelder

Project Manager, Advocacy and PolicyU.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

Announcing the 2016 Education Ministerial for Sustainability

Published on 22 Apr 2016 Written by Rachel Gutter Posted in Center for Green Schools

The mission to put every child in a green school within this generation is one that drives the Center for Green Schools team and a dedicated network of tens of thousands of advocates around the globe to work hard on a daily basis. In many ways, Earth Day is just another day for all of us—as it should be. For the broader community, it’s a time of year when people take notice of the environment with renewed spirit and commitment. Six years ago on Earth Day, the U.S. Department of Education announced their plans to create a voluntary recognition award called ED–Green Ribbon Schools (ED–GRS).

The Center for Green Schools is working with support from The Rockefeller Foundation to host the first-ever Education Ministerial for Sustainability, a peer-to-peer convening for ministers of education to establish national green schools initiatives around the world based on common criteria. This October, they will gather at The Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center on Lake Como, Italy, to help the green schools movement take a giant leap forward. This will be the first time that education ministers from around the world will come together to discuss sustainability and green schools.

Already, the three pillars of a green school—minimizing environmental impact, improving occupant health and teaching effective environmental education—have been adopted by organizations in over 30 countries as their criteria for a green school. In the United States, this framework is the backbone of the transformative ED-GRS Award.

Over the last five years, ED-GRS has united the NGO community, provided a clear connection point for federal programs and initiatives relating to green schools and contributed to a massive outpouring of support for school sustainability

What’s most exciting about ED-GRS is not the award itself, but rather the inclusive definition the U.S. Department of Education utilizes for its criteria. We’ve seen how schools of all descriptions—rural, urban, wealthy and disadvantaged, from the United States to Kenya to Hong Kong to Canada—have embraced the three pillars as a means to improve the places where our children learn. Solidifying global measures for green schools through an outcome-based framework will enable investors to monetize consistent metrics of impact at scale, transforming school infrastructure, student health and the direction of global education.

Rachel Gutter

Senior Vice President, Knowledge U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff



Celebrating collaboration at the heart of Space to Grow

Published on 26 Apr 2016Written by Rochelle Davis and Jerry Adelmann Posted in Center for Green Schools

The 2016 Best of Green Schools Awards, presented at the Green Schools Conference and Expo, recognized the people, schools, campuses and organizations that create healthy, sustainable and efficient learning environments and inspiring educational experiences.

The Best of Green Schools Award for Collaboration is one of the most meaningful awards we could hope for Space to Grow to achieve, because collaboration has been such a powerful factor in its success. Space to Grow transforms Chicago schoolyards into green spaces that provide students and their families and neighbors with a place to play, learn, garden and enjoy being outside.

Space to Grow is made possible through a collaboration between the Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands and with the financial support and expertise of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the Chicago Department of Water Management and Chicago Public Schools.

Since its launch in 2014, Space to Grow’s three public agency partners have committed $51 million to transform 34 Chicago schoolyards by 2019; so far, six have been built and are open to students and their communities, and many more are under way. Just as important, Space to Grow is beginning to redefine the way we think about the potential of the schoolyards in our city.

Each schoolyard is designed with several goals in mind, which reflect the diverse aims of the collaborators:

 Boosting physical activity and wellness. Schoolyards provide healthy, engaging places for students to be physically active before, during and after school.

Improving stormwater management and reducing neighborhood flooding. Special materials, surfaces and techniques—from rain gardens to permeable play surfaces—capture significant amounts of rain during the heaviest of storms.

 Supporting learning. Outdoor classrooms, native trees and plants, vegetable gardens and even the stormwater capture techniques support opportunities for learning and exploration.

Engaging communities with local schools. The schoolyard transformation process engages students, parents and community members in developing the design and later in celebrations, gardening and more. Plus, schoolyards are open to the public and provide a welcoming space for physical activity and connection with nature.

A report was released, based on the findings of the 2015 National Green Schoolyards Summit. This report documents the journeys and lessons of green schoolyard programs across the country, including Space to Grow.  We are confident that these schoolyards and the innovative partnerships and new ideas that are a hallmark of all these models will significantly benefit our children, communities and environment.


Leaders across China are creating a more sustainable future for millions

Published on 14 Apr 2016Written by Mahesh Ramanujam Posted in LEED

Sustainability is not new to China. China is now the second largest market for LEED outside of the United States—and in mainland China, there are over 2,430 projects participating in LEED, comprising over 134.2 million gross square meters of space.

China has an excellent opportunity to drive sustainability at a global scale, creating a more sustainable future, securing the health and well-being of millions and further accelerating its position as a global leader. Green development is also a major agenda item for President Xi Jinping. At last year’s COP21 agreement in Paris, President Xi made a strong commitment, promising that China will contribute to climate change by focusing on green building and transportation.

At USGBC, we say that every story about a LEED building is a story about leaders. Leaders across the globe understand that LEED is a powerful market tool that works and enhances a company’s triple bottom line. China is no exception: leaders across China are committing to building healthier, more sustainable communities where buildings perform at a higher level and human health is prioritized and enhanced.

  • Beijing United Shanxi Merchants and Shanghai K2 Real Estate: Both companies are pursuing LEED certification for their buildings and will play an incredibly important role in Beijing’s and Shanghai’s rapidly evolving sustainable future.
  • Duke Kunshan University: Recently, five buildings on the campus achieved LEED certification. The campus showcases cutting-edge strategies such as 675 square meters of solar thermal collectors. Duke is deeply to committed to creating an environmentally friendly, resource-efficient, comfortable and healthy university campus.
  • Hongkun Forest and Lifein Beijing: This was the first residential building in Asia Pacific to receive LEED Platinum certification for new construction. Sustainability measures in place at the project include innovative green technologies to reduce energy consumption and a water purification system that reaches U.S. EPA drinking water standards.
  • Raycom Real Estatein Beijing: The company’s Info Tech Park Tower recently achieved LEED Platinum. The project purchased renewable energy for 35 percent of its annual total electricity usage and adopted 100 percent low-emitting materials to reduce harmful indoor air contaminants.
  • TEDA MSDin Tianjing: A green roof, solar photovoltaic power generation and a high-efficiency and energy-saving building envelope helped the project receive LEED Gold certification.

Leaders like these all over China are making sustainability happen on a global scale.  USGBC is so proud of the accomplishments they have made in green building.

Mahesh Ramanujam

Chief Operating Officer U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff

The greening of Pittsburgh: Next up, schools

Published on 1 Apr 2016Written by Rick FedrizziPosted in Center for Green Schools

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a USGBC metric that measures the sustainability of a building’s design, construction, operations and maintenance in terms of energy, water and resource use; waste and emissions reduction; indoor environmental quality; and innovative approaches to the development process.

Pittsburgh has proved it’s ready to take on the challenge of environmental responsibility and climate change in meaningful, long-lasting ways. It has transformed the buildings that we rely on every day to use energy and water in smart, ecologically sensible ways.

Our nation’s schools are in terrible shape. Across all 50 states—Pennsylvania included—students are going to schools that are in dire need of repair and are failing to create healthy and safe environments for our kids and the teachers and administrators who support them.

The dichotomy of Pittsburgh—green public buildings but deteriorating schools—is emblematic of the challenge facing the nation. And it’s why the U.S. Green Building Council held its Green Schools Conference there.

The council’s 2016 “State of Our Schools” report, an in-depth state-by-state analysis of our country’s investment in school infrastructure, has found our funding structure inherently and persistently inequitable. Millions of students around the country are learning in dilapidated, obsolete and unhealthy facilities that are obstacles to their learning and well-being.

Pennsylvania state government contributes only 15 percent of school districts’ total spending on school construction and facility upkeep. Every school district is expected to make up the difference for their students—and not every district has the same amount of money to spend

With the school-district budgets so overstretched, it’s understandable that things slip through the cracks. But our schools are too important to put on the back burner. Making schools healthier isn’t just a matter of supporting Pittsburgh’s admirable legacy of sustainable building. It’s about providing a healthy, safe environment for our children and ensuring that they are the recipients of a 21st century education.

Pittsburgh’s story is built on the idea of coming together in the classroom. The Green Schools Conference is a chance to learn from each other and build a better future for our kids, one that’s healthy, safe and sustainable.

Rick Fedrizzi

CEO & Founding Chairman U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff, USGBC board


Nairobi schools continue to grow from Green Apple Day of Service

Published on 13 Apr 2016Written by ANN WAHINYA Posted in Center for Green Schools

For the past three years, Global Communities’ Kenya office has supported better learning environments in support of the Global Coalition for the Center for Green Schools’ Green Apple Day of Service (GADOS). GADOS is a global movement promoting sustainable schools that practice, teach and support environmentally responsible choices. In October 2015, Global Communities supported three nonformal primary schools in Majengo, one of the oldest and most marginalized informal settlements in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi. Nearly three months later, the schools continue to harvest the benefits of the event.

 Fixing critical needs

Child Survival’s floors were potholed, making seating arrangements difficult, and there was only one functional toilet for its 260 students. At Undugu, which has 200 students, the classroom partitions were broken and walls were unpainted, making the rooms loud and dark.

Through Global Communities’ teamwork, Child Survival Primary School now has 12 functional toilets, which has helped improve female students’ confidence and reduce absenteeism. The floors in three lower primary classrooms were also leveled, promoting

better seating arrangements and hygiene.

At Undugu Community School, the team painted the classroom walls. The local government administrative unit for Majengo was inspired by the effort and joined in to paint the outer walls, toilets and an additional classroom. In addition, both Undugu and St. John’s schools received recycling bins, which are helping children learn to sort different types of waste.

 Celebrating teamwork

The event culminated in a ceremony at St. John’s, bringing together over 500 students, teachers, community volunteers, Global Communities staff, partner organizations and representatives from the Ministry of Education, as well as sub-county and local government.

Students, teachers and volunteers planted trees to provide more shade in the schoolyard and participated in demonstrations on waste management. Students and community youth groups also provided entertainment, which delivered messages on waste management and environmental safety..

GADOS 2015 proved that small initiatives have a huge impact. In making small but significant changes to the schools, Global Communities highlighted the challenges facing nonformal schools and their infrastructure needs.


Global Communities

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.