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Posts Tagged ‘Energy Performance’

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.


Supporting Milwaukee’s Better Buildings Challenge with workforce development (USGBC Wisconsin)

Published on 1 Sep 2016 Written by Theodore Wilinski Posted in Sponsored

Milwaukee Area Technical College is proud to contribute to Milwaukee’s Better Buildings Challenge efforts.

The current evolution of the City of Milwaukee’s Better Building’s Challenge includes a holistic approach that eliminates potential barriers to achieving energy efficiency goals within our built environment. One key component to success is having a highly skilled workforce capable of maintaining and operating high-performance buildings.

Milwaukee Area Technical College’s (MATC) nationally recognized Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM) technology center is home to a multitude of educational and training opportunities and features state-of-the-art learning laboratories.  MATC contributes to the long-term success of the Better Building Challenge by producing graduates with specialized technical training and practical field experience that supports great-paying jobs in the energy efficiency sector.

Demand for skilled workers in the energy sector continues to grow, thanks to savvy building owners seeking ways to reduce operational expenses and to programs like the Better Buildings Challenge. In response to this demand, MATC developed a new one-year diploma degree: Automated Building Systems. The Automated Building Systems program prepares students for entry-level careers as technicians and specialists in building automation and controls. This industry encompasses a broad range of current and emerging technologies that control building electrical and mechanical systems efficiently, thereby optimizing energy usage.

Graduates of the new program will be well equipped to provide energy analysis services within our market, due to the carefully crafted class coursework and field experience provided by local firms. Area employers interested in partnering with MATC and the Automated Building Systems program are encouraged to reach out to Ted Wilinski at 414-571-4570.

MATC is proud to be one of several partners contributing to the success of the Better Buildings Challenge and the City of Milwaukee’s larger efforts to become a world-class eco-city.

Written by Theodore Wilinski

Going green in the black (USGBC Northern California)

Published on 16 May 2016Written by Peter Rumsey Posted in Community

In California, solar panels can supply electricity to a building at a rate equal to or below, sometimes significantly below, what the utility charges for electricity. But why would a developer invest in putting photovoltaic (PV) on a building when it’s the tenants who pay for the energy? This “split incentive” arrangement installing solar panels helps reduce the tenant’s operating costs but gives no benefit to the owner has hindered the development of solar buildings, net-zero and near-net-zero office buildings.

A few exceptional developers have discovered creative ways of recovering the costs of installing solar. Real estate developer Jim Gaither realized potential tenants within the Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto value a green building, and he made a strategic decision early on to pursue solar on the development of a 90,000-square-foot office he began in 2013. He looked at a variety of creative options for financing solar and decided that rather than purchase PV, he would lease it from a solar provider. He then arranged for his tenant to pay for electricity at a set rate as part of the lease agreement. This is a success story for solar—the developer made a small profit, and the tenants got renewable energy at the same cost as utility energy.

There are many additional options for recovering the cost of PV. The PV-generated energy can be included in the rent as part of a full-service lease. We have also seen developers charge a fixed monthly per-square-foot energy cost that is slightly lower than typical tenant monthly energy bills.  These arrangements are not without their legal complexities. But tenants are eager to use renewable generated energy that is priced close to what they would have otherwise paid.

Peter Rumsey

Founder and CEO, Point Energy Innovations Point Energy Innovations

Member employees


USGBC Minnesota: Check out the Energy Star Challenge

Published on 26 Feb 2016Written by Sheri Brezinka Posted in Community

It’s no secret that buildings are responsible for a large portion of energy use in the United States. What many people are not aware of is how easy it can be to increase energy efficiency at little to no cost, by making simple changes. This notion led to the implementation of the Minnesota Energy Star Challenge, a statewide project organized by USGBC Minnesota, the Great Plains Institute and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Energy Smart program. The Challenge is supported by a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and in-kind contributions from several utilities.

The Challenge seeks to lessen environmental impacts that result from excessive energy use in our built environment. Nearly 20 percent of the nation’s total CO2 emissions come from commercial buildings. On average, buildings that are Energy Star-certified use 35 percent less energy than comparable buildings, reducing air emissions as well as operating costs. USGBC supports use of the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager as an effective tool for benchmarking. Energy Star Portfolio Manager compiles building stats and energy consumption data to produce an Energy Star Score, central to the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance rating system.

“Minnesota building owners are embracing energy efficiency and the cost savings that result, but there’s so much more to do,” said Great Plains Institute President and CEO Rolf Nordstrom, noting that more than 600 commercial buildings in Minnesota are currently Energy Star-certified. “In many cases, building energy efficiency investments can be made—and paid for with energy savings achieved—in a relatively short period of time, making those investments a ‘win’ for the environment and a ‘win’ for business owners’ pocketbooks. You don’t have to look further than the Science Museum of Minnesota’s recent retrofits to see how large those savings can be!”

USGBC Minnesota is proud to be a part of a program committed to assisting local building owners in lowering their carbon footprint. They believe the efforts will not only promote economic vitality, but also create a healthier, more sustainable Minnesota. The Challenge is open to all owners and property managers of existing buildings in Minnesota with eligible properties.

Sheri Brezinka

Executive Director USGBC – Minnesota Chapter

Member employees


Benchmarking in Montgomery County, Maryland

Published on 18 Sep 2015Written by Grant Olear Posted in Advocacy and policy

In May 2014, the Montgomery County Council adopted Bill 2-14Environmental Sustainability—Buildings—Benchmarking, requiring the county and building owners to benchmark energy use in certain nonresidential buildings of 50,000 square feet or greater with the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool.

The county elected to “lead by example” by being the first to report building energy use, with a deadline of June 1, 2015, and 23 Montgomery County-owned facilities are subject to the benchmarking requirements.

Under the legislation, many private, nonresidential buildings will be required to benchmark in phases over the next couple of years. Projects having a gross floor area of 250,000 square feet or more will be first, and are required to report their energy use data by December 1, 2016. Affected nonresidential structures with a minimum of 50,000 square feet of gross floor area and a maximum of 250,000 square feet will be required to report benchmarking results no later than December 1, 2017. Other facilities such as warehouses, industrial complexes and utility buildings are not subject to the legislation. The county has assembled a working group on the law’s implementation for private-sector buildings.

The legislation also created a work group that includes representatives from the county, real estate sector, industry trade associations, nonprofit entities and utility companies. The group was charged with developing a report that provided recommendations on the implementation of building energy benchmarking in the county, including any proposed amendments to the legislation. In the report, sent to the County Council on June 10, 2015, the group advised the county that the intent behind the regulation should be made clear within the text itself so that affected building owners and managers could understand the value of benchmarking their facilities. Additionally, the group recommended the reporting deadline for private developments subject to the legislation be moved up to June 1 to coincide with public sector benchmarking reporting, as well as recommendations on guidelines for the law’s verification requirement.

In an effort to spur voluntary benchmarking activity in the private sector, prior to mandatory reporting periods or for buildings not bound by the legislation, Montgomery County DEP developed the Early Bird Benchmarking Program to recognize and support building owners who began benchmarking before their respective reporting dates.

USGBC applauds Montgomery County and the rest of the jurisdictions across the country implementing building energy benchmarking policies.

Grant Olear

Green Building Policy Associate U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff



USGBC National Capital Region: Calvary Women’s Services ADVANCE Project

Published on 27 Jan 2016Written by Suzi Warren Posted in Community

USGBC National Capital Region (NCR) Emerging Professionals are working with Calvary Women’s Services, an organization that provides housing, health, education and employment programs to homeless women in Washington, D.C., to make their facility and operations more sustainable, healthy and cost-effective.

The Emerging Professionals began this project over the summer, after selecting Calvary as the recipient of the services provided through the ADVANCE platform. Over two site visits, the EPs collected data, surveyed the grounds and interviewed staff about the operations of the facility. From there, they compiled a list of potential facility improvement measures and presented them to the USGBC National Capital Region Market Advisory Leadership Board for input and approval.

Once the EPs received the green light, they sent their findings to Calvary to read through and prioritize based on the individual needs of the women, the facility and the mission. Calvary came back with the following improvements, ranked in order of importance:

  • Freshly painted and stained exterior retaining walls
  • Timers or photocells on exterior lights
  • Lighting controls and rewiring to allow lights to be turned off at night
  • Utility price optimization analysis
  • Thermally improve historic storefront
  • Rainwater harvesting via rain barrel and rain garden
  • A low/zero-maintenance green wall
  • Professional energy audit
  • Blower door + infrared test
  • Professional air quality assessment
  • Green roof on garage building
  • Solar thermal and/or PV system
  • Mural on exterior walls

As of January 2016, the Emerging Professionals have started soliciting donations and services to complete these improvements

Suzi Warren


Energy Conservation and Student Performance Top Reasons for Improving U.S. Public Schools

Published on 18 Nov 2015Written by Marisa Long Posted in Media

New poll from U.S. Green Building Council shows that more than 90 percent of Americans agree that greater investments should be put toward upgrading U.S. public school buildings

(Washington, D.C.) – Nov. 18, 2015 – Energy conservation and improved student performance top the list of reasons why Americans believe the country’s public school buildings should be upgraded, according to a recent independent poll, commissioned by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and sponsored by Excel Dryer, Inc. Results also show an increase in support for green schools, finding that eight out of 10 Americans support schools that create a healthy environment conducive to learning, while also saving energy, resources and money.

The results from the nationwide survey, which investigates attitudes toward quality of U.S. public school infrastructure and investments in modernization, were announced at the 2015 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo in Washington, DC.

This is the first time energy conservation has topped the list since the survey was initially conducted in 2011 – its last iteration was in 2013. This year, saving energy was on par with improved student performance as the two biggest motives for change, followed closely by improved student and faculty health. Additional considerations included reducing environmental impacts, creating jobs and saving tax dollars.

The findings of the poll point to a growing awareness of the need for better school buildings. Ninety-two percent of Americans across party lines agree that the quality of public school buildings should be improved, and nearly two-thirds of Americans feel it is very important to improve public school buildings.

“Excel Dryer is committed to improving the learning environment for our nation’s children,” said Excel Dryer’s Vice President of Marketing, William Gagnon. “The results from the survey this year show a significant increase in awareness about the importance of conserving energy. We are thrilled to be working with the Center for Green Schools to increase the adoption of energy saving solutions that reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment and also teach our children about the importance of protecting the environment.”

The independent survey of 500 U.S. residents was conducted via telephone from Nov. 3-8, 2015 and administered by David Binder Research, a public opinion research organization that specializes in qualitative research.

Marisa Long

Public Relations & Communications Director U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff


Programmable thermostats


Written by Hannah Wilber Posted in Community

If you’re looking for ways to take the greenness of your residence to the next level. Enter the programmable thermostat, a staple in sustainable spaces everywhere.

What is a programmable thermostat, exactly? Simply put, it’s a device that regulates your home’s temperature based on different settings you’ve specified for particular times of day (rather than maintaining a constant temperature 24/7).

Heating and cooling a home requires a major chunk of its energy consumption—and its occupants’ utility bills—accounting for nearly half of the total energy used. That’s more than the amount required by any other component of a home’s operations, meaning it’s also the biggest contributor of environmentally damaging emissions.

Programmable thermostats help minimize energy consumption by making sure your home’s heating and cooling system is working hard only when it absolutely needs to. Sure, no one wants to be sitting in the living room sweating like they’re in a sauna, or to have to wear hats and mittens at the dinner table, but there are definitely times when we can get away with scaling back temperature moderation without negatively affecting our comfort levels.

The total energy savings gleaned from programmable thermostats are ultimately up to the user. On average, you can save around 10% a year on the costs associated with regulating your home’s temperature just by dialing your thermostat back from its normal setting by 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day. Given that the typical U.S. family spends roughly $2,200 a year on home utilities, that’s a pretty impressive rate of return on investment (the necessary equipment has an average price of about $50).

For those who opt for one of the higher end models with internet connectivity, this super smart technology can even communicate with Demand Response (DR) programs offered by local utility providers. DR strategies encourage consumers to reduce their energy consumption during these peak demand times, allowing utility providers to optimize their supply-side energy generation and delivery methods. Luckily, correct use of a programmable thermostat can help you save some serious green, while making your home greener too.

Hannah Wilber

Marketing and Communications Special  Assistant U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff


Senate Energy Committee approves comprehensive energy legislation

Published on 4 Aug 2015Written by Bryan Howard Posted in Advocacy and policy

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced a comprehensive energy package by a wide bipartisan margin. The Energy Policy Modernization Act, which includes provisions on efficiency, infrastructure, supply and accountability, was approved on an 18-4 vote in the committee.

The bill reflects input from multiple hearings this year and picks up on a number of energy proposals advanced in previous congresses. It also contains provisions that are important to the efficiency of residential and public buildings in the United States.

The efficiency title of the legislation also includes some needed improvements for affordable housing. For example, the bill improves the federal weatherization program by including a new grant initiative in areas including multifamily homes. The bill also includes a demonstration program to improve energy and water efficiency in up to 20,000 units of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) owned or subsidized properties.

In regards to the federal government, the package expands the length of time the federal government can enter into utility savings performance contacts from 10 to 25 years. This longer payback period can assist in doing a more comprehensive upgrade of government buildings. The bill also codifies the administration’s goals of reducing energy use in government buildings by 2.5 percent annually from 2016-2025.

The consideration of the amendments brought about some less than desirable outcomes. Senator Rob Portman (OH) offered an amendment that would have included a program to modernize the mortgage and appraisal standards to incorporate efficiency in the underwriting process (many refer to as the SAVE Act). The amendment was unable to advance on procedural grounds. The process also brought about a provision to study the building programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) for possible elimination or consolidation.

Timing of floor consideration isn’t certain, but USGBC is reviewing the bill and will continue to work with Congress and private sector partners to improve efficiency programs in the Energy Policy Modernization Act and in other legislation, which may be considered later this year.

Bryan Howard

Legislative Director

USGBC staff

The Westminster Schools wins international award for facilities management and sustainability

Published on 2 Jul 2015Written by Nora Knox Posted in Education

The Westminster Schools of Atlanta, Ga., recently won the Gold Award of Excellence in FM from Global FM, the worldwide alliance of facilities management organizations. The award, given on behalf of the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA), was bestowed as part of the 2015 World FM Day, an international celebration of facilities management, which was held on June 10, 2015, in London, England.

The Global FM awards focus on promoting the strategic value and progression of facilities management, and assess innovation, advancement of facilities management, corporate outcomes, contribution to Global FM’s mission, and leadership in facilities management operations. Specifically, Westminster was honored for its efforts to improve the sustainability of its campus.

During the 2007-08 fiscal year, the Facilities Department at The Westminster Schools recognized the rising cost of water and other utilities. Since then, the School has initiated a series of campus improvement projects, including the development of a campus retention pond and ongoing sustainability audits, at a cost of approximately $383,000. The energy audit and all subsequent improvement projects over the last seven years have resulted in approximately $1.1 million of total savings.

“It is an honor for Westminster to be recognized as an industry leader in facilities management and sustainability,” said William Broome, Director of Facilities at The Westminster Schools. “We are immensely grateful for the support and guidance from Global FM, and we look forward to continuing to enhance the sustainability of our campus and our School.”

“The Global FM Excellence in FM Awards are a high-level international competition recognizing the best of the best in facilities management, highlighting how they support businesses across the globe,” said Duncan Waddell, Chairman of Global FM.

Nora Knox

Digital Marketing Manager U.S. Green Building Council

Member employees, USGBC staff


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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.