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SITES and LEED: Pilot projects

A third of the certified projects that participated in the SITES pilot phase also achieved LEED certification.

LEED is a global movement, with about 92,000 registered and certified projects across 167 countries and territories, with 2.2 million square feet certifying every day. To complement LEED and ensure that the sustainability movement addresses all areas of the built environment, GBCI expanded with several other project certification and credentialing programs, including SITES.

With several rating systems to choose from, how does one know which is the right fit? How can specific goals be met through a variety of approaches? This article is the first part of a series explaining the relationship between the two rating systems and how projects can drive incredible results by using SITES and LEED together.

Integrating natural and built systems

Although every building project has a site, not every site has a building. Originally modeled after LEED, SITES was developed to fill the gap in addressing site sustainability. It can be used as a standalone system, but it was also developed to work with LEED to integrate natural and built systems in a more meaningful and efficient way.

A third of the certified projects that participated in the SITES pilot phase (2010–2014) also achieved LEED certification. These projects were national and local parks, commercial headquarters, botanic gardens, museums, government facilities, residential homes and more. Each helped shape the direction of the SITES program and its relationship to LEED.

Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes

Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes

For Richard Piacentini, Executive Director of the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, pursuing SITES certification in addition to LEED was not even a question. As an early adopter of SITES, the Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) achieved the highest certification level in 2013 during the SITES pilot program. CSL was among the 150 projects that field-tested SITES during its pilot phase.

CSL also achieved LEED Platinum, the Living Building Challenge and WELL Platinum certifications. The goal was to apply systems thinking to the center, says Piacentini. “We wanted to know how we could truly integrate the building and landscape.” With the new center, “nature is now not that far away,” he explains. Sustainability is embedded in the organization’s culture and values.

Novus International

Novus International

In 2009, Novus International achieved LEED Platinum for their nine-acre corporate campus. Landscape architect Hunter Beckman recalls meeting the Novus owners soon afterward at a local USGBC event. According to Beckham, “We shared similar passions for sustainability and were fortunate enough to introduce them to what sustainable design means outside of the building, particularly improving both intellectual and physical health for anyone experiencing the property.”

After achieving SITES certification during the pilot program, the campus boasted many sustainable elements, such as a garden terrace linked by a trail and the transformation of a concrete-lined water detention pit into an amenity that not only manages stormwater, but also attracts wildlife and serves as an inviting outdoor space.

“This level of certification represents the company’s commitment to minimizing our impact on the environments in which we operate,” said former Novus President and CEO, Thad Simons, in 2012. “Our successful application of land and development practices proves that companies can achieve a healthy sustainable work environment while reducing operating costs.”

NREL Research Support Facility

National Renewable Energy Laboratory's Research Support Facility

The 30-acre Research Support Facility at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, earned both LEED and SITES certification (also during the pilot phase).

“For buildings, we tend to concentrate on LEED certification, which is great from a structure standpoint,” said Michelle Slovensky, the NREL Senior Sustainability Project Manager at the time. “Not only should your building have a sustainable and efficient design, but so should your infrastructure and your landscape. We felt that if we have the highest-performing buildings, we should look at our campus to find ways it can be used as an example of a sustainable campus and living laboratory.”

A goal of USGBC Central Pennsylvania

In March of 2016, USGBC Central Pennsylvania identified an opportunity to work with Habitat for Humanity of Harrisburg on a rewarding project: a duplex that was going to be given to a military veteran’s family, which had suffered from a fire. The goal of the project was to provide a low-cost and healthy home that operated sustainably to keep day-to-day costs for the family very affordable.

USGBC Central Pennsylvania worked with Habitat for Humanity by providing technical consultation and identifying potential suppliers to offer discounted materials and services. Several USGBC Central Pennsylvania board members conducted site visits and provided architectural, energy-related and green-building recommendations, including:

  • Insulation types and installation methods
  • Low-usage plumbing fixtures
  • Paints with less than 50 grams per liter of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Asbestos testing
  • With new roofing and windows, and a complete remodel of the interior by Habitat for Humanity volunteers, the property will soon be a beautiful home to a happy family. The space has energy-efficient windows donated by Plygem, upcycled cabinets, and countertops from the Habitat ReStore and bamboo and cork flooring donated by Calibamboo.
  • USGBC Central Pennsylvania is looking forward to more projects in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity in the coming years.  We are also glad to support other community-focused organizations that are interested in sustainability. Please email Heidi Kunka, the community’s director, or phone 202.706.0836, if you have a project in mind.

Cities share strategies for energy innovation at Better Buildings Summit

Published on 12 Jun 2017 Written by Alysson Blackwelder Posted in Advocacy and policy

At this year’s Better Buildings Summit, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy from May 15–17 in Washington, D.C., public and private stakeholders seized the opportunity to share their challenges and successes in reaching greater energy performance. Among those making strides to improve their energy efficiency were our nation’s cities, and USGBC was there to celebrate their latest achievements.

Here are a few examples from cities we’re proud to count as USGBC members, cities we hope will inspire others to innovate on local energy policy:

  • With the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, Seattlehas amassed a vehicle fleet that will help drive the city in the right direction. Andrea Pratt, Green Fleet Program Manager, shared that of its total fleet of 4,000, Seattle now has 99 battery electric vehicles and 47 plug-in hybrid vehicles. To help sustain this fleet, the city has successfully retrofitted an existing parking garage to include two floors of EV infrastructure.
  • Calling itself “The Green Port,” Long Beach, California, is home to the second busiest port in the U.S. Its Green Port Policy directs the port to incorporate sustainabilityin its development and operations. Richard Cameron, the port’s Managing Director of Planning and Environmental Affairs, spoke on its efforts to quantify and address greenhouse gas emissions. Its Middle Harbor is currently being redeveloped, and once completed in 2018, will reduce air pollution from port-related operations by 50 percent or more at the terminals. The terminal uses zero-emission automated guided vehicles, as well as solar panels, shore-side electrical power for ships and expanded on-dock rail for moving cargo via rail instead of trucks.
  • Travis Sheehan, Senior Infrastructure Advisor at the Boston Planning and Development Agency, discussed Boston’s efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change. The city has taken steps to strengthen its energy resilience to avoid disruptions for its residents. For Boston, a key to making progress in this area is developing public and private partnerships across different industries.

These latest actions are just a snapshot of city leadership in energy performance. These cities have a long history of efforts to address building energy efficiency, with LEED being a part of their toolbox.

Indeed, Seattle, the Port of Long Beach, and Boston each have LEED building policies in place, ensuring that at least some of their buildings meet this standard. In addition, Boston and Seattle are ranked first and third in this year’s ACEEE City Scorecard (Long Beach is not ranked, due to size).

 

Sea View community in New York City ties sustainability to human health

Published on 28 Mar 2017  Written by Meghan Hazer  Posted in Industry

Sea View Healthy Communities builds health into the design of the neighborhood.

Sustainable design, once unconventional, has become the norm for many developments. Health-promoting design is emerging as a new trend, due in part to the realization that how we build matters—not just in terms of environmental sustainability, but also in terms of human health. Pioneering projects are now engaging in a new type of health-focused design.

One of those pioneers, Sea View Healthy Communities, is the subject of a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) recently released by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Initially developed as a tuberculosis facility, the hundred-year narrative of Sea View’s history in the context of its future vision reflects the public health community’s shift in focus from infectious to chronic disease. This shift was discussed by NYCEDC’s Munro Johnson in a recent blog published through our colleagues at the Build Healthy Places Network.

When asked by the Staten Island borough president to create a “health and wellness campus,” NYCEDC initially envisioned state-of-the-art health care facilities and residential communities for the disabled. This is not surprising, as health care facilities often come to mind when discussing health in the context of real estate development. However, the RFEI for Sea View takes a different approach by striving to develop Sea View instead as a healthy community, with explicit requirements to promote health through both design and operations.

It’s a unique ask, especially at the neighborhood scale. Munro Johnson, Vice President of NYCEDC, and Tommy Boston, Project Manager at NYCEDC for the Sea View Project, describe how they got there.

From health care to health promotion

The new focus on developing a “healthy community” was informed by data collection and cross-sector collaboration. According to Johnson, NYCEDC began with a medical services demand analysis and was surprised to find very low demand for additional medical facilities. In spite of having several highly ranked health care facilities, NYEDC discovered, the Staten Island borough has the highest mortality rate in New York City, specifically due to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Johnson explains that this “paradox led us to the doorstep of healthy communities research and healthy communities design, and the current vision that we are working with for the project.” Johnson continues,“the original underlying policy objective [is] better health. Based on the numbers and the data, the best way to achieve that turned out not to be building a bunch of gleaming new health care facilities, but rather by building health into the design of a neighborhood.”

Health and sustainability side by side

In addition to health, the RFEI also includes sustainability goals. The NYCEDC team explained that requiring a focus on sustainability performance is viewed as a nonnegotiable, standard feature in procurement. For Sea View, Johnson referred to health and sustainability as “a natural match,” stating that “part of the nature of sustainable design is to surface what is happening in the environment in order to be better stewards of it—and living with a better relationship to nature is intrinsically healthy in most cases.” Boston added, “I think that the physical sustainability of the built environment in Sea View will comingle with the individual sustainability of its residents and inhabitants.”

This inclusion of health alongside sustainability in the “ask” for Sea View makes a bold statement, challenging the development community to consider what’s next for health and sustainability, and how we will define high-performing sites in the future.

 

Sea View community in New York City ties sustainability to human health

Published on 28 Mar 2017 Written by Meghan Hazer Posted in Industry

Sustainable design, once unconventional, has become the norm for many developments. Health-promoting design is emerging as a new trend, due in part to the realization that how we build matters—not just in terms of environmental sustainability, but also in terms of human health. Pioneering projects are now engaging in a new type of health-focused design.

One of those pioneers, Sea View Healthy Communities, is the subject of a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) recently released by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). Initially developed as a tuberculosis facility, the hundred-year narrative of Sea View’s history in the context of its future vision reflects the public health community’s shift in focus from infectious to chronic disease.

When asked by the Staten Island borough president to create a “health and wellness campus,” NYCEDC initially envisioned state-of-the-art health care facilities and residential communities for the disabled. This is not surprising, as health care facilities often come to mind when discussing health in the context of real estate development. However, the RFEI for Sea View takes a different approach by striving to develop Sea View instead as a healthy community, with explicit requirements to promote health through both design and operations.

From health care to health promotion

The new focus on developing a “healthy community” was informed by data collection and cross-sector collaboration. According to Johnson, NYCEDC began with a medical services demand analysis and was surprised to find very low demand for additional medical facilities. In spite of having several highly ranked health care facilities, NYEDC discovered, the Staten Island borough has the highest mortality rate in New York City, specifically due to chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Johnson explains that this “paradox led us to the doorstep of healthy communities research and healthy communities design, and the current vision that we are working with for the project.” Johnson continues, “the original underlying policy objective [is] better health. Based on the numbers and the data, the best way to achieve that turned out not to be building a bunch of gleaming new health care facilities, but rather by building health into the design of a neighborhood.”

Health and sustainability side by side

In addition to health, the RFEI also includes sustainability goals. The NYCEDC team explained that requiring a focus on sustainability performance is viewed as a nonnegotiable, standard feature in procurement. For Sea View, Johnson referred to health and sustainability as “a natural match,” stating that “part of the nature of sustainable design is to surface what is happening in the environment in order to be better stewards of it—and living with a better relationship to nature is intrinsically healthy in most cases.” Boston added, “I think that the physical sustainability of the built environment in Sea View will comingle with the individual sustainability of its residents and inhabitants.”

 

Hitched: How we all work together (USGBC New York Upstate)

Published on 18 Oct 2016 Written by Jodi Smits Anderson Posted in Community

We all need to work together to strengthen our communities and environment.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” —John Muir

This Muir quote does a great job of defining sustainability, triple bottom line planning and just plain common sense. Additionally, as we are reminded in the book “This Spaceship Earth,” we are “crew” on this planet, not just passengers who can sleep our way through the journey. “This Spaceship Earth” makes it clear that we are all hitched together—and not just to one another, but to the world we inhabit: the water, air, soil, flora and fauna, affecting planetary bodies beyond our thin, habitable layer as well.

Buildings are like this. Take one element of a building, such as the type of window, and change the window’s functional attributes or performance ratings. That will affect view, solar heat gain, comfort of the occupants, sizing of HVAC systems, the code review and even the manufacturing and material sourcing. It is not just a window, but one component of the building energy system and a connector of the occupant to earth and sky.

Projects are like this. The most successful projects in business, in life, in committee work, are those that seek to achieve cost-effective, optimized results in the long-term view, and that consider as much as possible all the aspects that the project affects and all that can affect the project. We have to expand our teams and ask more questions. Seek broad and deep levels of input from your stakeholders.

Relationships are like this. The deepest and most fulfilling relationships have many layers and embedded influences in our lives. Some of these influences are supportive and generous, and some cause negative ripples for years. The characters most deserving of our pity in literature and song are those who are not “hitched” to those around them, either by circumstance or by their own actions.

Simply put: we need to be engaged with one another and our environment, since we are intrinsically connected. If every project requires insights beyond our own capabilities and if each building is tied to the aspects of nature around it, we have the power to make the changes we seek. We are crew. We have the responsibility to understand and strengthen our connections and our effects. All hands on deck.

Written by Jodi Smits Anderson

First ADVANCE Energy Benchmarking Jam engages community (USGBC Alabama)

Published on 11 Aug 2016  Written by Daniel Tait and Kathleen Kirkpatrick Posted in Community

On July 28, USGBC Alabama’s newest ADVANCE Ambassador, Daniel Tait—CEO of Energy Alabama—hosted our first Energy Benchmarking Jam. This community event was held at the new Salty Nut Brewery in Huntsville and brought together various community organizations, including the Von Braun Center (Huntsville’s largest convention center), and the Girl Scouts of North Alabama. Other individuals from throughout Huntsville entered energy data for their own personal places of interest, such as their church or child’s daycare.

Local energy engineers and experts were on hand to help enter and verify utility data using Energy Star Portfolio Manager. Portfolio Manager is an online tool used to measure and track energy and water consumption, as well as estimate greenhouse gas emissions. By establishing building energy benchmarks of their current operating conditions, building owners and operators can begin to more easily identify how they can improve efficiency—and save big on the cost of their utilities.

“We had a blast! It was great to get together with people, roll up the sleeves and get to work,” said Randy Buckner, Director of Research and Development for Avion Solutions and one of the energy experts in attendance. “I really think we need more of this in our community.”

Participants also discussed the Huntsville Better Buildings Challenge, a local competition to document energy and water use and to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent in participating buildings. Modeled after the Department of Energy’s challenge, this is a fun way to get local businesses more involved in energy efficiency and discovering ways they can improve their operations and save resources.

“This benchmarking jam is the first step,” said Daniel Tait. “This is where we show people the magnitude of the opportunity in front of them to increase energy efficiency and reduce expenses. It usually gets them pretty excited.”

USGBC

 

Salt Lake City partners with utilities

Published on 13 Jun 2016 Written by Whitney Ward Posted in Community

USGBC Utah partner Salt Lake City was recognized by the White House for its work to improve energy efficiency.

Over the past two years, USGBC Utah has been partnering with Salt Lake City to promote Project Skyline, a city initiative to expand building energy tracking and benchmarking using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager program. Our community hosted an event to raise awareness for the program and provide education on the benefits of both benchmarking and financial incentives for energy improvement projects. We are so pleased to be a part of this program and to have it recognized at a national level.

Salt Lake City has recently been recognized by the White House and U.S. Department of Energy for ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency through building benchmarking and energy transparency. According to an article on the city’s website,

Since 2013, Salt Lake City has partnered with both Rocky Mountain Power and Questar to provide whole-building energy data access to building owners through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager Tool. The effort, which is on track for completion in 2017, will ensure effortless energy data management for building owners, providing a complete picture as to building energy use and enabling them to employ more responsive strategies.

“Salt Lake City, Rocky Mountain Power and Questar are working together to help building owners understand how their building is operating and to identify opportunities to improve energy management,” says Vicki Bennett, Sustainability Director for Salt Lake City. “By automating and streamlining the process, more Salt Lake City building owners will be able to improve energy efficiency—ultimately saving energy, money and emissions.”

Salt Lake City is committed to improving air quality, and buildings play an important role in emissions. The most recent data from the Utah Division of Air Quality show that 39 percent of existing air pollution comes from area sources (i.e., homes and businesses). This percentage is expected to increase significantly over the next 20 years as vehicles become more efficient, making building energy efficiency efforts more and more important.

Last week, Mayor Jackie Biskupski extended an invitation to leading industry experts to share their ideas and best practices for energy efficiency in buildings, as part of the Elevate Buildings process.

“There is nothing more important than the air we breathe, and working to clear our skies is a top priority of my administration,” says Mayor Biskupksi. “By collaborating with industry experts, we will help improve air quality through increased energy efficiency [in] our city’s largest buildings.”

You can learn more about Salt Lake City’s efforts to reduce our collective carbon footprint through energy benchmarking and efficiency improvements in commercial buildings at SLCgov.com/Project Skyline.

USGBC

Whitney Ward

Sustainability Manager VCBO Architecture

Member employees, Chapter members

 

The Glumac Shanghai Office aims high

Published on 31 May 2016Written by Amanda Sawit Posted in International

Glumac Shanghai Office TI

Glumac Shanghai Office TI holds the distinction of being the first LEED v4 Platinum building in China, a country with nearly 1,670 registered projects and 787 LEED-certified projects. It is also the very first LEED v4 Platinum project in East Asia, a region boasting more than 48,198,000 gross square meters of certified space.

Located in the heart of Shanghai, the 6,450-square-foot office space is a retrofit of a 100-year-old Rockefeller mansion. The project team worked to overcome many challenges specific to the project’s location: poor air quality, fractured regulatory landscape, unregulated building materials, different time zones and cultural communication.

The space, which was certified under the Interior Design and Construction (ID+C) rating system for Commercial Interiors (CI), is net-positive for energy, water and carbon. It also is designed to deliver exceptional indoor air quality, with air filtered to reduce the particle count to less than one-tenth of outdoor conditions.

“Glumac takes pride in our leadership in sustainability,” said Steven Straus, president of Glumac. “We appreciate our staff in Shanghai and believe that our great space, with excellent indoor air quality, contributes to their health and improves productivity of our office.”

Glumac, a USGBC member at the Silver Level, is an engineering firm that specializes in energy-efficient and sustainable building technologies. The new office supports Glumac’s local presence in China and showcases advanced measures of sustainability in the built environment.

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 it 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

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

 

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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.