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Archive for February, 2017

Green infrastructure: Best practices for cities

Published on 10 Jan 2017 Written by Hannah Jane Brown Posted in Advocacy and policy

Next time you take a walk around your city, look around. Is there green infrastructure near you? If not, there might be soon! Green infrastructure is becoming a more widely adopted strategy for addressing city challenges and goals.

In addition to taking root in climate action planning, cities are weaving green infrastructure into sustainability efforts and throughout myriad other initiatives. Recent articles on city climate action planning and fostering equity highlighted trends and best practices.

Some leading U.S. cities have already taken steps to invest in green infrastructure in a way that ensures benefits across the triple bottom line:

 Chicago, Illinois: The city’s climate action plan calls for 500 new green roofs each year, leading up to 2020, to help manage stormwater and the urban heat island. Chicago is well on its way already, with over 500, and it continues to be among the national leaders in green roof development. The city led by example, installing a green roof on its City Hall building in 2000. Since, green infrastructure has been further promoted through city ordinances and programs such as the Green Alley program, the Sustainable Development Policy and a stormwater ordinance.

Baltimore, Maryland: Since 2010, the city has been focused on reversing urban blight using green infrastructure and community spaces through the Vacants to Value program. Since the program launched, 700 new community-managed spaces have been created from previously vacant properties. Complementary city-run initiatives, such as urban agriculture and arts programs, are expanding more equitable access to land and green spaces while harnessing the benefits of a greener city.

Portland, Oregon: The city’s climate action plan prioritizes urban forest development in underserved areas, helping to grow the urban canopy with a more equitable distribution. Unlike most plans, Portland’s sets a minimum canopy coverage target, which prioritizes underserved neighborhoods. Portland’s plan includes an initiative to revisit canopy targets in the future to ensure they better capture resiliency outcomes, equitable distribution, and biodiversity.

 Guiding principles for cities

Data-driven. Cities use GIS mapping, census data and visualization tools to drive planning. This can include mapping current green infrastructure together with demographic information, as well as using models to understand future climate scenarios. Strategies are strongest when they consider cross-disciplinary information, both qualitative and quantitative.

Place-based. Green infrastructure projects are site-specific and community-based. Implementation involves community and stakeholder engagement to ensure the planning process recognizes distinctions within a city across ecological, social and cultural dimensions. Green infrastructure projects are best if they follow the local community’s vision and meet its specific needs.

Integrated with other initiatives.The myriad benefits of green infrastructure make it an excellent tool for addressing a number of challenges. Cities that break down silos and create cross-cutting green infrastructure projects are better able to garner public support, thus improving their attractiveness to diverse sources of funding. Urban farming is an excellent example; urban farms combat food deserts, provide STEM learning opportunities and contribute to ecological health.

Aligned with structural adjustments. Cities can update their policies to align with green infrastructure initiatives. This can include creating new ordinances, rewriting codes, and facilitating green infrastructure through interagency alignment. Cities committed to unpacking the historical and political background of policies will be more prepared to implement projects that deliver equitable results.

When green infrastructure initiatives have these characteristics, they have the potential to create more resilient communities by strengthening climate adaptation and social equity at the same time.

Hannah Jane Brown   Posted in Advocacy and policy

Green infrastructure: Exploring solutions in LEED, SITES and Parksmart

Published on 26 Jan 2017 Written by Hannah Jane Brown

Cities are looking to green infrastructure to align sustainable development efforts and to foster social and economic development. In this article series, we have reviewed green infrastructure’s many benefits, its presence in climate action planning, ways to optimize its impact and strategies for how best to avoid social equity pitfalls.

USGBC and GBCI are well positioned to help cities incorporate these strategies into tangible green infrastructure development with market-leading tools like SITESLEED and Parksmart. These systems provide frameworks that validate best practices and that can be used as useful guides for green infrastructure development. Individually and collectively, these rating systems ensure that best practices are being strategically implemented through an array of initiatives.

These three rating systems can be used independently or in tandem to maximize a project’s green infrastructure development. For example, if you are seeking to further define, improve or demonstrate the site sustainability aspects of a project, you can benefit from pursuing both LEED and SITES certification by taking advantage of the synergies and equivalent credits between LEED and SITES.

 Driving green infrastructure through LEED

Green infrastructure is most prominently rewarded in LEED’s Sustainable Sites and Location and Transportation credit categories. The Sustainable Sites category presents opportunities to incorporate naturally functioning landscapes that increase ecosystem services. Location and Transportation credits reward projects that protect sensitive land and that encourage high-density infill development that reduces impervious surfaces.

In addition, LEED drives project teams to improve energy efficiency by investing in green infrastructure that provides shading and wind protection. For example, green roofs add insulation and extend the lifetime of roof materials, reducing both energy demand and life cycle material costs. Reduced building footprints preserve land for high-performing sites that can use permeable surfaces, catchment systems and water-efficient landscaping to reproduce natural conditions and achieve Water Efficiency credits.

LEED for Neighborhood Development advocates incorporating green infrastructure into buildings, landscapes and the many connecting spaces between. This rating system includes a Green Infrastructure and Buildings category, which accentuates the importance of green infrastructure at different scales throughout cities.

LEED for Neighborhood Development recognizes green infrastructure as a tool for creating complete and livable communities, which limit resource use and automobile dependence. Green infrastructure can support the intended outcomes for a range of credits related to habitat and sensitive land conservation, community space access, brownfield redevelopment, livable streetscapes and local food production.

Written by Hannah Jane Brown     Posted in LEED



Greenwatch Latin America: Greening the digital infrastructure

Published on 27 Jan 2017 Written by Nicolette Mueller Posted in Industry

LEED-certified data centers represent a fast-growing sector of green building in Latin America.

January is the time of year when we ask ourselves what we hope to see in the coming year. For the green building market in Latin America, we expect to see the investments in learning and early adoption of tools such as ArcLEED v4 and EDGE pay off with more green building projects across the region.

What is the one thing that building owners, LEED professionals and investors alike could do to make Latin America a little bit greener in 2017?  Get more data centers to become green buildings. There are nearly 40 data center projects participating in LEED in Latin America, with the majority of LEED-certified centers in Brazil. It’s a major area for growth, providing value to the market and impacting the environment.

Why are green data centers important for Latin America?

  1. They’re a fast-growing segment of buildings and infrastructure.According to industry experts, the number of data centers and demand for high-speed internet will see strong growth in Latin America, and may even represent the strongest growth market globally. One report found that investment in data centersrose by 12 percent in Latin America in 2014, compared to the global average of 8 percent, with investment growing regionally to 20–25%. Markets where we see the highest concentration of LEED projects are also home to a growing number of data centers in major urban and industrial centers, such as Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Bogota and Buenos Aires.
  2. Billions of kilowatt-hours mean a big impact on traditional and renewable energy markets.“The Cloud” is now more like the Pan-American highway, connecting us to one another and to information whenever and wherever we like. But instead of roads and bridges in the landscape, and cars and trucks polluting the air, data centers are the infrastructure and the engines powering our economies. A2014 study found that U.S. data centers consumed 70 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity – about 2 percent of national annual energy consumption. That’s triple the amount of energy consumed in 2000.
  3. It’s a proven way to slow energy demand.2016 reportfound that electricity consumption by data centers increased only 4 percent from 2010 to 2014, demonstrating the industry’s ability to find efficiency measures and implement them to minimize demand. Instead of doubling energy use every five years, the research shows that implementing best practices can make a 620 billion kilowatt-hour difference, the equivalent of $60 billion USD.
  4. Latin America has the resources that data centers need to be green.Companies looking for places to build and invest in data centers need locations with a skilled workforce, a solid and resilient infrastructure and a source of clean and reliable power. Latin America has these things in abundance.

Energy-rich Latin America is betting on a renewable energy future, and so are investors. The region is prepared with a growing supply of renewable energy to meet the demand for energy from data centers.   


Nicolette Mueller Posted in Industry


Making progress in sustainability (USGBC Greater Virginia)

Published on 22 Dec 2016 Written by JOHN BEST Posted in Community

 In 2017, USGBC Greater Virginia will continue to advocate for green building and climate action.

Many green building professionals and advocates are feeling uncertainty about legislative and political accomplishments at the national level, such as the Clean Power Plan and the recently signed Paris Agreement. At USGBC Greater Virginia, we wanted to emphasize that we will continue making progress in sustainability.

Even in the face of past political roadblocks, we have always managed to make great strides in high-performance buildings and sustainable communities. Most of this progress has happened at the local level, not national, and has been led by individuals, businesses, community leaders, schools and organizations like USGBC. Furthermore, the economic arguments in favor of sustainability continue to grow stronger as technology improves and prices decrease with scale.

USGBC Greater Virginia’s commitment to resilient, safe, efficient and green communities is more determined than ever, and we know that your commitment is similarly unwavering as you work tirelessly to promote high-performing buildings and sustainable solutions in Virginia.

 Learn and educate 

Our educational initiatives are going strong this year in Virginia. Upcoming events include topics as diverse as LED lighting technology seminars, LEED v4 training, and tours of high-performance facilities. We will continue to offer education luncheons and seminars to keep you up to speed on new technologies and sustainable initiatives.

 Be an advocate 

USGBC Greater Virginia is actively advocating for programs and legislation that promote green building in the Commonwealth.  We’ll keep you posted on all opportunities to influence local leaders in a smart direction.

 Serve your communities 

USGBC offers lots of ways to directly serve your community. For instance, our Connect the Dots Green Schools Challenge calls on schools across Virginia to develop and implement the most creative, effective, no- or low-cost sustainable practices for their schools and communities. Participation this year is already up significantly from 2015.

 Be collaborative

We recognize that we cannot make real environmental impact alone, and we partner with many organizations. For example, our ADVANCE initiative in Southwest Virginia allows us to partner with local small businesses to identify energy-saving opportunities that also benefit their bottom line. Our community has long been a champion for energy efficiency, climate action and environmental protection throughout the built environment. In 2017, we will be exploring new partnerships and strategies to promote sustainability in our region and continue to further healthy building for all of our Virginia residents.

Written by JOHN BEST

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.