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Posts Tagged ‘Green Health’

USGBC Northern California community members learn about managing WELL projects

Published on 7 Jun 2017 Written by Mara Baum Posted in Community

Demystifying the WELL Building Standard

The WELL Building Standard, which builds on the success of and complements the LEED rating system, is playing an increasing role in green building design. WELL is a holistic, evidence-based system for measuring, certifying and monitoring the performance of building features that impact health and well-being. These goals are closely aligned with the USGBC Northern California community’s longtime focus on human health, dating back to its Building Health Initiative that began in 2013.

In April, USGBC Northern California hosted a panel discussion on WELL project management featuring leaders from HOK, Cushman & Wakefield and Perkins+Will and facilitated by the community’s director, Brenden McEneaney. The speakers demystified the rating system for a sold-out audience, highlighting lessons learned from current and recent projects. I shared stories from the design of HOK’s WELL Gold certified TD Office in Toronto, and we all discussed ongoing projects implementing the three WELL systems: Core and Shell, New and Existing Buildings and New and Existing Interiors.

How LEED and WELL work together

LEED and WELL have many similarities, and both certifications are managed by GBCI. However, differences in the certification processes need to be considered by even the most seasoned LEED team managing a WELL project. When a project is registered, the team is assigned a WELL Assessor, who is available to answer technical questions throughout the process. After construction, the WELL Assessor visits the project for on-site performance verification. He or she tests air quality, water quality, acoustics and light, and conducts visual spot checks of other WELL features. This ensures that the building or space fully achieves the WELL criteria. It also cuts down on the amount of documentation paperwork by the team.

Going for both LEED and WELL? Teams can use the new WELL Crosswalks resources, which describe where LEED credits and WELL features overlap. In some cases, achieving a prerequisite or credit in LEED will automatically qualify a project to achieve part or all of a WELL requirement.

To identify potential problems before they happen and limit surprises during performance verification, some teams retain private testing companies to conduct pre-tests. The panelists debated the pros and cons of this strategy, which adds a slight cost to a project.

Green infrastructure: City climate action planning

Published on 2 Sep 2016 Written by Hannah Jane Brown Posted in Industry

We are breaking world records this year. We are on track for the hottest year on record. Already, 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred during the young 21st century, and this year is adding yet another extreme to the list. This mounting challenge drove world leaders to come to a landmark agreement at last winter’s Paris talks.

The emissions reduction targets formalized in Paris tell us what our emission levels should be, but if you’re like me, you might be asking how we are going to get there. Thankfully, we know that green infrastructure boasts many benefits that could be part of the solution.

City climate action plans are steering cities in their implementation of policies and actions providing both tangible local benefits and contributing to global impact.

Cities can generally be doing more. Here’s a summary of findings from my review of climate action plans from 28 U.S. cities. On the whole, 21 of the 28 plans mention green infrastructure at various depths.

Some plans detail robust implementation strategies and specific initiatives, while others mention green infrastructure as a general concept, but lack a developed discussion or implementation strategy.

Most cities appear to be aware of green infrastructure as a possible solution set, but their climate action plans do not demonstrate a current understanding or commitment to put it to maximum use.

Whether or not the term “green infrastructure” is mentioned, most city climate action plans are outlining ways for green infrastructure to help, including:

 Urban forests and urban agriculture: 25 plans include urban forestry initiatives and 26 include urban agriculture programs. Considering only 21 plans mention green infrastructure, it is safe to say cities see the value in green infrastructure practices even if they don’t identify them that way.

Transportation and streetscapes: 20 of the plans refer to green infrastructure in relation to street design and public rights-of-way. These plans encourage permeable surfacesplanted medians and stormwater planters along streets and sidewalks. Green infrastructure is often coupled with initiatives to create safe and inviting street environments that promote walking and alternative transportation.

Green roofs: 16 of the plans discuss green roofs. Some cities require green roofs for new development. It is common for cities to offer direct development incentives such as density bonuses, permit fast-tracking, or floor-area-ratio bonuses for projects with green roofs. Many cities also offer grants to assist building owners with retrofitting their roofs. Stormwater fees further incentivize green roofs by linking savings with reduced runoff.

Bioswales, rain gardens and water catchment systems: Bioswales and rain gardens are mentioned in 11 of the plans, and water catchment devices in 13. City ordinances designed to manage stormwater tend to promote these strategies, and so can codes that guide street design. Cities are taking a more critical look at parking as well and encouraging these practices to reduce runoff and pollution.

It’s clear that the elements of green infrastructure are recognized as effective strategies to address climate action, but more remains to be done to harness the full range of benefits. In addition to meaningful climate action, green infrastructure can move cities closer to achieving myriad other goals, including social equity.

Hannah Jane Brown Posted in Industry

Designing for building health (USGBC Colorado)

Published on 29 Aug 2016 Written by Tracy Backus Posted in Sponsored

The definition of sustainability has made an incredible shift over the last few years—today, “being sustainable” is really about the occupant’s ability to survive their own built environment. The workplace has been undergoing a design awakening over the past few decades, and much of it has been driven by the quest for increased employee productivity.

One of the latest iterations was that workers would thrive with more light, lower walls, fresh air, plants and informal gathering spaces. They do and will, but there is much more to the equation; be it the use of adhesives, finishes, material ingredients or increased air ventilation, the conversation continues. Fortunately, design is not static, and we keep learning from experience.

“If we promote physical and psychological health and well­-being among workers, we can begin to reduce medical costs, improve productivity and performance, net happier and more engaged workers and ultimately realize greater economic value,” says Tracy Backus, LEED AP ID+C, Director of Sustainable Programs for Teknion.

According to a recent productivity study of 32,000 workers by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), almost half of them admitted to performing below par and not being as engaged as they could be. It’s not difficult to do the math. JLL field studies show that a workplace environment that features natural light, thermal comfort and good indoor air quality can dramatically improve employee productivity.

If that’s a worthwhile return, what can be done to change the physical work environment? Clients like TD Bank and other market leaders such as CBRE are blazing the trail on workplace wellness. In 2013, CBRE became the first commercial office in the world to achieve WELL certification for a commercial office space through the WELL Building Standard® (WELL) pilot program. The workspace integrated key features to improve employee health and well­-being, both to drive inspiration and to enhance productivity and focus. These features focus on optimal indoor air quality, circadian lighting, active design, biophilia, drinking water and access to healthy food.

TD Bank incorporates the WELL concept, a global workplace strategy initiative that features a balance of private and collaborative workspaces designed to support the way employees work through enhanced flexibility, mobility, technology, productivity and wellness.

Written by Tracy Backus

LEED Earth Project Pioneers: The Dominican Republic’s greenest mall

Published on 14 Jun 2016Written by Amanda Sawit Posted in International

Ágora Mall is the first LEED-certified building in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.

USGBC’s mission is to bring the environmental and human health benefits of green buildings to all, and it is committed to accelerating the adoption of LEED in new and existing markets.

The LEED Earth Project Pioneers series spotlights those who have set a new standard of green building leadership in their countries, sharing both the successes achieved and challenges navigated.

Ágora Mall

Large retail spaces are notorious for being huge energy consumers, and this was not lost on the project team behind Ágora Mall, Santo Domingo’s first LEED-certified building. Minimizing its environmental impact through energy- and water-saving strategies was a key priority for this project.

Ágora Mall was awarded LEED Silver under the Building Design and Construction (BD+C) rating system for Core and Shell. While the mall doesn’t control the entire design of the tenants, the achievement highlights the complexity of systems that converge within the building. Its domed roof is a 2,000-square-meter structure made of steel and pneumatic ETFE pillows supported by a lightweight structure. The pillows are filled with low-pressure air for insulation and resistance to wind loads. This helps the building save energy by maximizing sunlight while maintaining thermal control over the space; it also creates a more natural indoor environment, which can directly increase employee productivity and boost visitor moods.

“This certification has a direct impact that goes beyond complying with the requirements of efficient design and construction,” said Dariela Linares of the Landmark Realty Corporation, the owner of Ágora Mall. “Our commitment goes beyond the technical operation of the building.” The mall’s status as a green building also inspires change in people’s lifestyles to raise public awareness about the need to save energy and water and how individual behavior influences our ecological footprint, she added.

The project team also implemented a recycling and waste management plan, which has become an environmental management program with key sustainability indicators that include the treatment, reuse and disposal of potable and wastewater; energy savings; and the correct handling and disposal of hazardous materials.

LEED around the world

Currently, there are 160 countries and territories using LEED. LEED Earth has helped catalyze green building in markets where sustainable building practices are not as prevalent, and is an important first step in steering communities toward a more resilient, healthy and sustainable future.

 Amanda Sawit

Content Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

 

Green Homes 101

Published on 22 Dec 2015Written by Heather Benjamin Posted in Community

According to the National Association of Home Builders, single-family green residential construction has grown dramatically, from 2 percent in 2005 to 23 percent in 2013. Green home building—or retrofitting—is clearly a booming industry. But it may be intimidating to think about making your home green and what that involves.

What is a green home? 

Simply put, a green home uses less energy, water and natural resources compared to a standard home. It is more efficient, and so creates less waste. In addition, a green home can be a much healthier habitat for the people living inside.

 Why make your home green?

Benefits to living in a green home include greater durability, lower energy costs and increased health for those dwelling inside the building.

 Saving your breath 

Green homes use nontoxic building materials to help combat indoor air pollution. Unhealthy air inside a dwelling can pose serious health risks for residents.

Saving money 

The typical household spends about $2,150 a year on residential energy bills. LEED-certified homes can save 30-60 percent on those bills.

An increasing number of insurance companies offer discounts on policies covering green homes. Similarly, several mortgage companies offer discounted loan rates for homebuyers.

A green home often uses higher-quality building materials and construction processes than a standard home—and better materials mean fewer repairs.

The resale value of a green home is often higher than that of a comparable standard home, and the market demand continues to rise.

Saving the environment 

Residential cooling and heating alone make up 20 percent of annual energy use in the United States. When you add in lights, appliances and other electronics, homes use a huge amount of energy. Most of this comes from greenhouse gas producers such as oil and coal, in turn contributing to global climate change. Green homes use 40 percent less energy.

By deciding to make your home more green, you are also making a commitment to be part of a more sustainable world.

Heather Benjamin

Content Marketing Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

Green Homes 101

Published on 22 Dec 2015Written by Heather Benjamin Posted in Community

According to the National Association of Home Builders, single-family green residential construction has grown dramatically, from 2 percent in 2005 to 23 percent in 2013. Green home building—or retrofitting—is clearly a booming industry. But it may be intimidating to think about making your home green and what that involves. Start at the beginning, and educate yourself to ensure that your efforts are as effective as possible.

What is a green home? 

Simply put, a green home uses less energy, water and natural resources compared to a standard home. It is more efficient, and so creates less waste. In addition, a green home can be a much healthier habitat for the people living inside.

You can build a sustainable home, or you can make changes later to make it more green. A “green makeover” can happen all at once, or it can be a gradual process.

Why make your home green?

Benefits to living in a green home include greater durability, lower energy costs and increased health for those dwelling inside the building.

Saving your breath 

  • Green homes use nontoxic building materials to help combat indoor air pollution. Unhealthy air inside a dwelling can pose serious health risks for residents.
  • Natural ventilation in green homes, as well as mechanical ventilation systems that filter fresh air from outside, keep residents breathing easy.

Saving money 

  • The typical household spends about $2,150 a year on residential energy bills. LEED-certified homes can save 30-60 percent on those bills.
  • If initial green construction costs seem high, it is often because many architects, homebuilders, and other industry professionals don’t have the knowledge and experience to cost-effectively plan, design and build a green home. Make sure you find a professional familiar with green building techniques.
  • An increasing number of insurance companies offer discounts on policies covering green homes. Similarly, several mortgage companies offer discounted loan rates for homebuyers.
  • A green home often uses higher-quality building materials and construction processes than a standard home—and better materials mean fewer repairs.
  • The resale value of a green home is often higher than that of a comparable standard home, and the market demand continues to rise. The same cachet is often attached to rental units.
  • Local, state and federal governments are increasingly offering tax breaks and other incentives for building LEED homes or adding green features to your home.

Saving the environment 

  • Residential cooling and heating alone make up 20 percent of annual energy use in the United States. When you add in lights, appliances and other electronics, homes use a huge amount of energy. Most of this comes from greenhouse gas producers such as oil and coal, in turn contributing to global climate change. Green homes use 40 percent less energy.
  • Some green homes further reduce our dependence on conventional energy by using alternative sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.
  • Efficient plumbing and bath fixtures, drought-tolerant landscaping and water-conserving irrigation systems help green homes use less water.
  • Many green building materials have significant recycled content, from carpets and floor tiles made from recycled tires to structural materials salvaged from demolished buildings. They also use materials made from rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo, hemp, agrifibers and soy-based products. And if you use wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, you are helping to promote socially and environmentally beneficial forestry practices.
  • Building a standard 2,500-square-foot home creates approximately 2 tons of construction waste that ends up in landfills. Construction of a green home, however, can generate far less waste.

By deciding to make your home more green, you are also making a commitment to be part of a more sustainable world.

Heather Benjamin

Content Marketing Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

 

Tips for living green, part 1: Reduce, reuse, recycle

Published on 5 Jan 2016 Written by Heather Benjamin Posted in Community

There are so many ways that your actions, both large and small, can help make your community and the world at large a healthier place.

Are you using the amount of resources that you need? Are you disposing of the products you use in a way that doesn’t harm the environment? Here are some tips on reducing your consumption, repurposing useful items and recycling others.

Reduce

  • Use less.Think about how much you consume on a daily basis. Can you start by just using less? Watch “The Story of Stuff” with Annie Leonard to learn more about simplifying your life.
  • Drink from refillable bottles.Disposable plastic bottles use up a lot of resources. Buy a reusable plastic or metal container from which to drink water, and while you’re at it, get your daily Starbucks fix poured directly into an insulated coffee tumbler.

Reuse

  • Many items you use can be creatively reused. Are you into DIY or crafting? Make some nifty decorative or storage items out of materials such as bottles, boxes or old magazines.
  • You might not want that coat anymore, but chances are someone else will. You can donate used clothing, books, kitchen items or furniture in good condition to Goodwill or Salvation Army. They will even pick things up from your home.

Recycle

  • Put out the bin.In most urban areas, recycling has been made easy for us. If you have a blue bin in your driveway, you probably set out your recycling every week with the trash. If not, check with your local trash-collection company or search online to find out what services are available.
  • Give at the office. Does your place of employment provide recycling bins for those cans of soda left over from lunch meetings or those papers that got jammed in the printer? If not, see if they can provide recycling containersand disposal for everyone.
  • Dispose of electronics safely.Many computers, phones, batteries and other devices include toxic materials that can contaminate soil and water if sent to landfills. Take your old gadgets to a retailer such as Best Buy for safe recycling.
  • Do a bit of Googling.Not sure if something can be recycled? Many things you wouldn’t expect can be, from shoes to mattresses to hearing aids.

 

Heather Benjamin

Content Marketing SpecialistU.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

 

Tips for living green,Transportation

 

Published on 20 Jan 2016Written by Heather Benjamin Posted in Community

There are so many ways that your actions, both large and small, can help make your community and the world at large a healthier place. In this series, we’ll touch on a few ways you can make changes to “live green.”  

One of the big ways to make a difference in fighting global warming is to reduce our use of fossil fuels by driving less or by taking alternate transportation. If you live in an urban area, you have a lot of options: 

  • Ride the train.Traveling by commuter rail is a great option if you live some distance from your job site. In addition, many major cities have subway or elevated trains that can take you from home to work as well as to restaurants, nightlife and cultural attractions in the city.
  • Ride a bike.Bicycling wherever you need to go is the new thing. You can find a bike that suits your needs forcommuting or even rent a bike to tour a new city when you’re traveling. Plus, pedaling through the park is a great activity for families on the weekends.
  • You don’t need new gear or a timetable for this one. Walk a few blocks to the nearest grocery store rather than hopping in your car, or make it a half-hour sneaker commute to your workplace. Bonus: you get in a workout without half trying.
  • Carpool or take the slug line. In many places, you can queue up in a slug lineto share transportation with anyone going into or out of downtown. You can also set up a carpool with coworkers who live in your same area.
  • Buy a greener car.Still need to drive? Buy an electric or hybrid or just a more fuel-efficient car. Check the U.S. Department of Energy’s list of most fuel-efficient cars to find the one that’s right for you.

Heather Benjamin

Content Marketing Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

 

Tips for living green

Published on 12 Jan 2016Written by Heather Benjamin Posted in Community

There are so many ways that your actions, both large and small, can help make your community and the world at large a healthier place.

We all spend a fair amount of time cleaning, shopping and taking care of the home or apartment in which we live. Here are some ideas for making your home and garden techniques more sustainable:

Cleaning

  • Use biodegradable cleaning products.Laundry detergent, cleansers, furniture polishes and other household products may be found in environmentally friendly formulations at any natural grocery store, and even in many mainstream stores. Check labels for nontoxic ingredients, and browse lists of tested green products. Better yet, try making your own.
  • Reduce your laundry footprint.Use cool instead of warm water in your wash cycle, and consider buying an Energy Star-certified unit that uses less energy overall.

Shopping

  • Buy local.Shop for food at your local farmers market, and find holiday gifts at craft fairs with local artisans. Buying local reduces the amount of fossil fuels required to transport products across long distances, and it cuts down on wasteful packaging.
  • Take a reusable tote.Instead of using grocery stores’ disposable plastic or paper bags, bring your own reusable tote bags, which are available at many grocers. Not only are the bags less wasteful, they are sturdier, making your trip home easier and keeping your groceries intact! If you must use disposable bags, ask your bagger to avoid double-bagging.

Gardening

  • Use green gardening techniques.Many gardeners improperly apply pesticides, putting themselves, their families and their pets at increased health risk. (Also, make sure any pesticides are stored out of the reach of children.)
  • Keep your lawn care and landscaping sustainable.Learn how to use an appropriate amount of water for your plants, avoid too much pruning and cut your grass with a mulching mower.
  • Set up a composting station.Composting is essentially creating soil with a bed of plant matter, leftovers and other biodegradable materials. Whether you live in an apartment or on a farm, you can create a compost pile within the constraints of your space.

Heather Benjamin

Content Marketing Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

USGBC staff

USGBC and UVA School of Medicine Awarded 
$1.2 Million Grant from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Published on 14 Jul 2015Written by Aline Peterson Posted in Media

Funds will help advance existing Green Health Partnership, research to promote healthy places

Washington, DC – (July 14, 2015) – USGBC and the University of Virginia School of Medicine (UVA) announced today that they have been awarded a three year, $1.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to advance their Green Health Partnership. This research initiative, led by Chris Pyke, Ph.D., (USGBC) and Dr. Matthew Trowbridge (UVA) directly addresses longstanding gaps in the availability of practical tools to promote healthy places.

The development and launch of new tools with the expertise of UVA’s top-ranked School of Medicine, leveraging USGBC’s LEED green building rating system, will support RWJF’s vision for a nation-wide Culture of Health by enabling and incentivizing real estate professionals to participate in broader population health promotion efforts.

“The U.S. Green Building Council is pleased to work with UVA to bring the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s vision for a Culture of Health to the built environment,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “Enhancing human health is a longstanding value of the green building movement, and RWJF’s support allows us to create powerful new tools for project teams and new strategies to effectively engage capital markets.”

This new phase of funding from RWJF will allow the UVA/USGBC Green Health Partnership to focus on developing two complementary sets of tools:

 New tools for green building project teams to create healthy places.

The team will engage with a network of collaborators to create and demonstrate the value of an innovative process for the promotion of public health through the design, construction and operation of green buildings.

 New tools for real estate investors to promote healthy places.

The team will partner with the Amsterdam-based Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) to bring a public health lens to assessments of commercial real estate portfolios.  The goal is to empower institutional investors to pursue health and wellness as investable attributes of real estate in the same way green building allows investment in sustainability performance.

“The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation values the opportunity to continue work with both the UVA School of Medicine and the U.S. Green Building Council to further promote a national Culture of Health,” said Sharon Roerty, RWJF Senior Program Officer. “Partners with influence over the built environment, such as USGBC, combined with the public health expertise of institutions like the University of Virginia, allow us to drive community development that promotes health and well-being at a national scale.”

Aline Peterson

Media & Communications Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

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.