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Annual Top 10 States for LEED Green Building

Massachusetts tops the list for the second year; New York, Hawaii and Illinois showcase leadership in geographically diverse locations

Washington, D.C. — (Jan. 31, 2018) — Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released the annual list of the Top 10 States for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the world’s most widely used green building rating system. The list ranks states in terms of certified square feet per resident in 2017. The list draws attention to states throughout America that are making significant strides in sustainable design, construction and transformation at the building level and opens up conversations around the community and city-level accomplishments in sustainable development. LEED-certified spaces use less energy and water, save money for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier environment for occupants and the community at large.

“As the U.S. Green Building Council celebrates 25 years of market leadership and growth, we know how important green building practices and certifications are to ensuring a more sustainable future for all,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president, and CEO, USGBC. “These states showcase exceptional leadership and by using LEED, businesses, property owners, and policymakers in these states are strategically addressing some of the most critical social and environmental concerns of our time. LEED is a proven economic development tool and method of meeting carbon reduction targets, reducing waste, energy and water consumption, and more. By measuring success on a per capita level each year, this list reflects the personal and individual impact of these states’ efforts. We commend the community leaders, businesses and government bodies in all ten of these states for their ongoing efforts and dedication to a better quality of life for everyone.”

Now in its eighth year, the list is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects that were certified throughout 2017. Massachusetts retained its top position for the second year in a row with 130 LEED certifications representing 4.48 square feet of LEED-certified space per resident, the highest since 2010.

The mid-Atlantic continues to show strong regional leadership, with both Maryland and Virginia returning to the list for the seventh year running. Also notable, Washington, D.C., which is not included in the official list of top states due to its status as a federal territory, tops the nation with 39.83 square feet of space per resident certified in 2017.

With Georgia, Hawaii and Minnesota all returning to the list for the first time since 2014, it is clear that market uptake for LEED is strong nationwide and not limited to any particular region or corridor. Illinois and Colorado are the only states to have made the list every year since the inception of the ranking in 2010. This year, Illinois comes in third with 3.38 square feet per capita and Colorado places 10th with 2.27 square feet per capita. The 2017 list has the highest average square footage per resident per state since 2010 (2.9). The full ranking is as follows:

2017 Top 10 States for LEED

Rank

State

Certified Gross Square Footage (GSF)

GSF Per Capita

Number of Projects Certified

1

MA*

29,338,378

4.48

130

2

NY*

65,749,387

3.39

192

3

IL*

43,363,065

3.38

135

4

HI

4,519,757

3.32

16

5

MD*

15,854,679

2.75

105

6

MN

13,018,056

2.45

47

7

GA

23,638,051

2.44

71

8

CA*

89,258,519

2.4

475

9

VA*

18,589,482

2.32

152

10

CO*

11,397,964

2.27

76

**

DC

23,966,817

39.83

139

*Included in 2016 Top 10 States for LEED list

**Washington, D.C. is not ranked as it is a federal district, not a state

USGBC calculates the list using per capita figures to allow for a fair comparison of the level of the green building taking place among states with significant differences in population and number of overall buildings.

In 2017, LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M) was once again the most popular rating system within the Top 10 States, representing more than 50 percent of the total square footage certified. LEED for Building Design and Construction (LEED BD+C) was the second most popular and LEED for Interior Design and Construction (LEED ID+C) was the third most popular rating system. A sample of notable projects that certified in 2017 include:

  • Massachusetts: Boston Public Market, a 28,000 square foot indoor, year-round marketplace with 40 regional food vendors in Boston, achieved LEED Silver;
  • New York: Animal Haven Adoption Center, a 6,700 square foot shelter and adoption center for abandoned animals in New York City, achieved LEED Silver;
  • Illinois: Chicago Children’s Theatre, a 15,300 square foot mixed-use education and performing arts facility in Chicago, achieved LEED Gold;
  • Hawaii: The Moana Surfrider Resort by Westin, a 605,400 square foot resort and spa in Honolulu, achieved LEED Certified;
  • Maryland: MGM National Harbor, a 1.3 million square foot casino resort in Oxon Hill, achieved LEED Gold;
  • Minnesota: U.S. Bank Stadium, a 1.8 million square foot professional sports facility in Minneapolis and host of the 2018 Super Bowl, achieved LEED Gold;
  • Georgia: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a 1.9 million square foot professional sports stadium in Atlanta, achieved LEED Platinum;
  • California: LA Lakers Headquarters, a 96,800 square foot commercial office building in El Segundo, achieved LEED Platinum;
  • Virginia: The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, a 38,500 historic multi-use space in Charlottesville, achieved LEED Silver; and

Collectively, 1,399 commercial and institutional projects achieved LEED certification within the Top 10 States in 2017, representing 314.7 million square feet of real estate. Nationwide, 2,647 commercial and institutional projects achieved LEED certification in 2017, representing 484.6 million square feet of real estate.

More than 40,000 commercial and institutional projects representing more than 6.5 billion square feet of space have been LEED-certified to date worldwide, with another 51,000 projects representing 13 billion square feet in the pipeline for certification. LEED’s newest version, LEED v4, features increased technical rigor; new market sector adaptations for data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential projects; and a simplified submission process supported by a robust and intuitive technology platform. Tracking ongoing building performance is a growing priority and a number of projects in the Top 10 States achieved certification through the Arc online performance platform, which uses data to measure and improve sustainability performance. Arc delivers a performance score based on building data and action-oriented strategies across energy, water, waste, transportation, and human experience.

Project Water Use Reduction

See how a water use reduction pilot credit helped Starbucks measure their water savings.

In April 2017, USGBC released a new pilot credit with the potential to change the way project teams document their water savings—allowing teams to earn more points while potentially saving both time and money.

In the U.S., buildings account for 13.6 percent of potable water use. As our climate continues to change with the warming of the planet, it’s more important than ever to both use water more efficiently and reduces our potable water use. Now is the perfect time to reevaluate how your team documents water use reduction—there might be several additional LEED points you could achieve.

Taking water use reduction further

The LEED Building Design and Construction pilot credit Whole Project Water Use Reduction aims to reduce the indoor and outdoor water consumption of a project and associated site. Project teams can always document water savings through credits such as Rainwater Management, Outdoor Water Use Reduction, and Indoor Water Use Reduction, but depending on the building type and use, these credits may not currently address all the water use within a given project boundary. The pilot credit allows potentially significant water savings that previously went unrecognized, such as process water.

In order to pursue this pathway, project teams must develop a water use baseline and create a proposed water balance model. USGBC and GBCI will also work with you before you even submit the credit, to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

A successful test run with Starbucks

Although this is a relatively new pilot credit available for all LEED 2009 and LEED v4 new construction and tenant fit-out customers to use, Starbucks, a leader in the sustainable retail and food service building industry, has already used this pilot credit on over 500 LEED-certified projects worldwide, with several others close behind. Their use of this new pilot credit exemplifies how USGBC and GBCI work together with customers to find solutions that encourage innovation in sustainability.

Starbucks leadership has long recognized that process water use far exceeds fixture water use in stores, leading project teams to employ methods to save process water—even though they weren’t gaining additional points through their LEED volume program. Therefore, the company decided to work with USGBC on a cumulative calculation to account for the process water savings they had been able to achieve. As it happens, members of USGBC’s LEED User Group: Industrial Facilities were also working on an alternative solution to better address the high volume of water used in a manufacturing facility.

Measurable results, high savings

Essentially, LEED was capturing all water savings in two separate use categories, but the Indoor Water Use Reduction credit required that both the fixture and process water categories meet the percentage savings required to achieve higher point thresholds. Starbucks’ process water savings are typically four times the savings achieved in fixture water, because of the much higher volume of use. This innovative new pathway therefore allowed projects to receive credit for the high volume of savings achieved in the process water category.

With this process, Starbucks went from achieving 2–3 points to 11 points on most projects. This type of major increase could mean the difference in certification levels for a company seeking LEED credits. In addition, the new strategy has reduced the project teams’ overall documentation burden. Starbucks presented their approach to holistic water management at an education session exploring the new pilot credit at the recent 2017 WaterBuild Summit at Greenbuild Boston.

If you’re interested in using this pilot credit on a project or have questions, please contact us. Our LEED technical specialists can work with you to meet your special water reduction needs. To suggest a future LEED pilot credit, please submit your idea online.

Rhode Island Green Buildings Act

The official signing launches Rhode Island’s updated green building standards.

On December 15, the Honorable Gina Raimondo, Governor of Rhode Island, signed a law “showing that [Rhode Island] is serious about being green.”

The legislation updates the state’s Green Buildings Act, first adopted in 2009. The amended law now includes LEED for Neighborhood Development and SITES as applicable standards for the sustainable development of the real public property, making Rhode Island the first state to incorporate SITES into statewide public policy.

“I love it that Rhode Island is first, and I hope that the rest of the nation follows our lead,” Gov. Raimondo said in an interview with Renewable Now Network (RNN) upon signing the legislation into law. “It is the right thing to do. It is the right thing for the environment, and it will also save money,” she said, by enabling the state to consume less water and energy while creating jobs.

In 2009, Rhode Island became the first state to adopt LEED into law for state construction projects, through its Green Buildings Act. The update to the legislation maintains the previous commitments and effectively establishes a demonstration project period for four years or four projects, whichever comes first, where new public construction in the Ocean State must apply sustainability and resilience measures to project sites beyond the buildings themselves.

“Once again, Rhode Island shows its leadership position,” said USGBC Chair of the Board of Directors and Rhode Island native Mike McNally to RNN. “[T]he certification has moved beyond the buildings, into the public space here in Rhode Island, and we expect the rest of the states to follow as they did years ago.”

The signing was the culmination of a multi-year collaborative effort between USGBC, USGBC-Rhode Island, Environmental Council of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Green Infrastructure Coalition and other stakeholders like the Rhode Island Builders Association.

Connect the Dots Green Schools Challenge

The K–12 school is a great example of how the Connect the Dots program inspires achievements in sustainability.

USGBC’s Connect the Dots program challenges K–12 schools across the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia regions to develop and implement the most creative, effective, no- or low-cost sustainable practices for their schools. Participating schools target projects that aim to lower operating maintenance costs, improve indoor air quality, conserve natural resources and more.

Schools are matched with volunteer mentors from the building and design industry to guide project implementation and development. Projects are also registered as part of USGBC’s annual Green Apple Day of Service campaign to contribute to the global impact of increasing sustainability in schools.

Registration for both schools and volunteer mentors for the 2017–2018 program is open through October 13.

Each spring, the schools that most effectively meet this challenge are recognized for their achievements at a ceremony around the time of Earth Day. In 2016, the Agnor-Hurt Elementary School in Charlottesville, Virginia, was given the Honor Award for their comprehensive approach to promoting sustainability. The school constructed its own learning gardens, using the vegetables and herbs in cooking classes to promote healthy eating. To engage the whole community in this effort, the school organized a Healthy Living Night for students and parents.

The Albermarle County School District in which Agnor-Hurt Elementary is located has also been a past recipient of USGBC’s School District Scholarship program and is currently part of a small cohort of school districts using the Arc platform to benchmark, track and take action on sustainability metrics at each school. Energy, water, waste and other data can be collected by students through hands-on auditing activities and then incorporated into STEM curriculum for ongoing engagement and action. The data is also used by school personnel to make informed decisions about school improvements.

The 2016–2017 Connect the Dots School Champions at Agnor-Hurt Elementary School were Adam Mohr, Courtney Wood, Brittany Mullinex, Marci McKenzie, Michael Thornton and Drew Craft, and their volunteer mentor was Tish Tablan, a national organizer with Generation 180.

After participating in the program, Mohr, who was also Agnor-Hurt’s multiage team leader/teacher for grades 1–3, commented, “This was a fabulous opportunity for our school and existing garden-to-table project. It helped us reflect on what successes we have had thus far, and what we still need to improve upon moving forward. Other schools should take part in this important challenge, so we can all benefit from each other’s work and share ideas.”

Tall wood buildings for high-performance

In this series, speakers from USGBC Northern California’s GreenerBuilder conference, held July 13, 2017, at the Zero Net Energy Center in San Leandro, share insights from their sessions. Interested in supporting GreenerBuilder 2018 as an event sponsor or exhibitor? Please contact Brenden McEneaney.

Building with mass timber is relatively new to the United States, and particularly in Northern California; the session served as an introduction to the material and basics of construction, set the context for the role of mass timber in sustainable design and high-performance buildings and presented lessons learned from an experienced developer.

The Basics

The term “mass timber construction” or “tall wood construction” is different from the light-wood frame, stick-frame or even heavy timber post-and-beam structures. Mass timber usually refers to timber products engineered for loads similar in strength to structural materials like concrete and steel. Fire and structural engineering methods for these materials have been well developed around the world in the last 20 years, and we are realizing the many benefits mass timber that allows us to build tall, with a lighter, natural, low-carbon and high-quality material.

There are several products in the mass timber family. Nail-laminated timber (NLT), glued-laminated timber (GLT), and cross-laminated timber (CLT) are some of the most common. Each product is engineered to provide strength in different ways, and the way we use them varies accordingly. CLT is particularly versatile, and it presents strong opportunities for Northern California.

Why wood?

Building with wood is an opportunity to realize complementary performance benefits contributing to environmental, social and economic goals at all scales.

The use of mass timber helps with our shift to renewable resources, necessary as part of large-scale climate adaptation and mitigation. Mass timber supports very efficient and high-performing envelopes, and the precision manufacturing process creates extremely airtight buildings that can support good passive strategies for high-quality and comfortable operation.

Economic benefits include off-site fabrication, making construction schedules shorter and limiting financing time. Wood is a lighter material compared to concrete, allowing for a reduction in the size of footings and an associated reduction in costs. In addition, mass timber often means smaller crews and simpler tools.

Aesthetically, the natural qualities of wood lead to increased occupant satisfaction. Humans are attracted to natural shapes, forms, and textures, and wood is widely understood as a material that contributes to our sense of well-being in spaces and that can be a very healthy alternative to other finishes as an exposed surface on the interior.

Finally, mass timber is being used around the world to contribute to local and global climate action goals. It has a place in policy at all scales of governance as many jurisdictions recognize wood as an integral part of a low-carbon development, tying it directly to economic development, research initiatives, and emissions goals. Local expertise with the material is growing, and many resources exist to support developers, designers and construction professionals.

Lessons from experience

The benefits of building with CLT in the United States is demonstrated by Lend Lease’s Redstone Arsenal hotel project in Huntsville, Alabama. Completed 37 percent faster than traditional steel frame construction, and first-cost neutral, this example was a success that is being replicated in support of positively disrupting traditional construction methods. Analysis indicates that this approach could be optimal in the current residential, hospitality and office market sectors for mid-rise buildings of between six and 12 stories.

Challenges in the industry include a limited supply of CLT within North America, limited industry experience, lack of testing data and explicit support in building codes. Although it is currently possible to overcome regulatory barriers, early adopters like Lend Lease are supporting fire, blast and seismic testing to demonstrate acceptable performance parameters to regulators and authorities. Moreover, new U.S suppliers of CLT are becoming available, and other mass timber products can be accessed through numerous suppliers across the country.

To accelerate adoption, emphasis on demonstrating that this approach is effective for mass market development is most important.

USGBC stands with Houston

Mahesh Ramanujam shares thoughts on USGBC’s support of Houston.

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Texas—especially our USGBC staff, volunteers, their families and our members.

As a community of staff, volunteers and members all across the globe, we are all impacted as an organization when something as devastating as Hurricane Harvey takes place. The images of the storm and those affected by it remind us all how vulnerable we are when a natural disaster of this magnitude strikes. Please keep those in the greater Houston region in your thoughts and prayers as they work to repair and reclaim their homes, offices, schools, places of worship, and other critical buildings.

Sadly, Hurricane Harvey once again reminds us our work on resilient cities is at a critical juncture and represents an unprecedented opportunity to scale our work, spread our mission, and provide replicable models of resiliency that can be used in the United States and across the globe.

The road to complete recovery in the greater Houston region will be long, and please know that I am committed to doing everything we can as an organization to support that.

We are all in!

USGBC Announces LEED Homes Award Winners

Washington, D.C.—(Sept. 12, 2017)—Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced the recipients of its annual LEED Homes Awards, which recognizes projects, architects, developers and homebuilders who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and innovation in the residential green building marketplace.

The LEED Homes Award recipients include multi-family, single-family and affordable housing projects and companies that are trailblazers in the residential sector and have prioritized incorporating sustainability within their projects in 2016.

“Homes provide more than just shelter. As demonstrated by the slate of LEED Homes award recipients, LEED homes improve the health and well-being of the occupants while saving energy, environmental resources, and money,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president, and CEO, USGBC. “This year we praise the innovative and integrative LEED Homes’ honorees for advancing the residential green building movement.”

The awards also recognize the “LEED Homes Power Builders,” which USGBC developed to honor an elite group of developers and builders that have exhibited an outstanding commitment to LEED and the green building movement within the residential sector. In order to be considered as a LEED Homes Power Builder, developers and builders must have LEED-certified 90 percent of their homes/unit count built in 2016. Homes at any LEED certification level—Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum—are eligible for consideration.

LEED Homes Award Recipients:

Project of the Year: Hassalo on Eighth, Portland, Ore.

Developed by American Assets Trust, designed by GBD Architects and constructed by Turner Construction, Hassalo on Eighth is a LEED Platinum mixed-use, dense development that creates a vibrant, 24-hour neighborhood for people to live, work and play. With more than a million square feet of new construction spread across three buildings, this project covers apartments, parking, an outdoor urban plaza and North America’s largest bike hub with space for 900 bicycles. Site-specific strategies include rainwater harvesting and treatment; on-site wastewater treatment and re-use with infiltration; district energy; natural daylighting and access to public transportation.

Outstanding Single-Family Project: Right-Sized Passive Home, Oak Park, Ill.

Designed by Tom Bassett-Dilley Architect, constructed by Evolutionary Home Builders and verified by Eco Achievers, the Right Sized Passive Home is a LEED Platinum home. Nontoxic, no-added formaldehyde, water-borne finishes, and materials were selected carefully for this project helping it become sustainable. This home also has its own energy monitoring system so the owners and designers can track energy use compared to modeled predictions.

Outstanding Single Family Developer: (Tie) John Marshall Custom Homes, Davidson, N.C.and Koral and Gobuty Development Co, LLC., Bradenton, Fla.

John Marshall Custom Homes continue to be a leader in sustainable building. Last year the firm developed a “pocket neighborhood” of 15 homes in Davidson, N.C. Currently, 12 of these homes have achieved LEED Silver certification while the remaining are waiting for certification and construction completion. The walkability of this community is one of its biggest attractions as it sits within a five-minute walk of the elementary school, park, shops and public library.

Koral and Gobuty Development Co, LLC are the developers of Mirabella, an innovatively designed, eco-conscious neighborhood of 160 paired villas created for active adults (55+). As of today, 72 Mirabella homes have achieved LEED Platinum certification – 100% of the community’s building stock. Mirabella currently has an additional 37 homes under construction and 51 lots remaining, with plans to have those 88 properties also earn the same level of LEED certification.

Outstanding Multi-Family Project: Arete, Kirkland, Wash.

Built by Natural & Built Environments and developed by Sustainable Kirkland, LLC, five buildings make up the Arete community that earned LEED Platinum status last year. This is the first micro-apartment project in the city of Kirkland and consists of living, working and art-centered spaces. Energy performance is one of the greatest successes for this community as some buildings surpass 40 percent savings over the LEED baseline. Additional energy features include solar hot water providing 40 percent of annual demand, triple pane windows, blown-in-blanket insulation, advanced air sealing, 100 percent LED lighting, efficient central ventilation, and 96 percent efficient boilers with radiant in-floor heat.

Outstanding Multi-Family Developer: AMLI Residential – Dallas, Texas, Austin, Texas, Sunrise, Fla., Chicago, Ill.

Since 2006 all of AMLI Residential’s new construction buildings have been built at the minimum to LEED Silver standards. In 2016 AMLI’s portfolio grew to contain 25 LEED certified projects, which represents more than one-third of the developer’s properties. AMLI created a habitat for native pollinators and utilized LEED as an opportunity to create regenerative landscaping. AMLI has several other projects currently targeting LEED and wishes to grow their portfolio past 50 percent LEED certified in the coming years.

Outstanding Affordable ProjectProspect Plaza Site One, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Developed by Oceanhill LLC and built by Blue Sea Development, Prospect Plaza Site One is the first site to be completed in a three-block project that will provide 394 units of modern, human-scaled, affordable housing. Site One is LEED Platinum certified and consists of 110 units of sustainable, energy efficient, healthy housing in four attached townhouse style buildings and a mid-rise elevator building. Prospect Plaza received the first national affordable housing Active Design Verified certification from The Partnership for a Healthier America and is the subject of a Mt. Sinai School of Medicine clinical study on long-term health benefits of living in a green building.

Outstanding Affordable Developer Builder / Developer: Habitat for Humanity, Kent County, Mich.

In 2016 Kent County’s Habitat for Humanity chapter built 15 homes earning LEED certification—10 receiving Gold and five Silver. To date, Habitat Kent has built 158 LEED-certified homes. On average, Habitat Kent’s LEED certified homes save homeowner’s $67.12 per month over an average Michigan home. Habitat Kent also partners with Grand Rapids Public School and Grand Rapids Community College to provide professional green construction experience to the next generation workforce.

LEED Homes Power Builders (*Represents a company that also won a LEED Homes Award):

  • AMLI Residential*
  • Blue Sea Development Company, LLC*
  • Frankel Building Group
  • Forest City
  • Gerding Edlen
  • Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte
  • Habitat for Humanity of Kent County*
  • Habitat for Humanity Grand Traverse
  • Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services
  • Jamboree Housing Corporation
  • John Marshall Custom Homes*
  • Koral and Gobuty Development Co, LLC*
  • Metro West Housing Solutions
  • MHI-Austin
  • MHI – McGuyer Home Builders- DFW
  • Msheireb Properties
  • National Church Residences
  • Natural & Built Environments, LLC*
  • ROEM Builders
  • Sotramont
  • The Dinerstein Companies
  • The Hudson Companies
  • Uptown Rentals
  • Urban Development Partners

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the world’s most widely used rating system for green buildings. The LEED for Homes rating system was created in 2008 as a way for single-family homes and multi-family buildings to achieve LEED certification. LEED for Homes projects undergoes a technically rigorous process to become certified, including multiple on-site inspections and diagnostic tests. Quality control and quality assurance are built into the process so that builders, architects, and homeowners can rest assured they get what they paid for and specified. More than 1.2 million residential units are currently participating in LEED. USGBC’s 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study found that the residential green construction market is expected to grow from $55 million in 2015 to $100.4 million in 2018, representing a year-over-year growth of 24.5 percent.

To learn more about LEED for Homes, visit https://www.usgbc.org/guide/homes.

State lawmakers plan legislation in support of green schools..

Legislators gathered at a green school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the Center for Green Schools.

Early in August, the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators hosted their annual meeting in Boston, where state lawmakers discuss the most pressing issues in environmental policy and make commitments for their coming legislative sessions. Each year at the caucus meeting, the Center for Green Schools at USGBC holds a workshop to review the latest in green schools research and policy and make an action plan.

A dozen legislators from around the country joined us in a morning tour of the beautiful Martin Luther King, Jr. School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which was recently built with aspirations of net zero energy and seeks to achieve LEED Platinum. Visitors met with the architects from Perkins Eastman, the former mayor of Cambridge and city energy staff to learn about the policy landscape and motivations behind the green school. They also learned more about the school’s features—including an extensive learning garden, lesson-friendly mechanical room, and an indoor/outdoor gym.

National Caucus of Environmental Legislators tour Boston school

That afternoon, the group was joined by around 30 additional lawmakers for a workshop to review current research and recent legislation on four topics:

  • School infrastructure financing and management: The group discussed recommendations for local, state and federal action from a 60-person working group of national experts on school financing and management, including implications for state-level policy making to give school districts what they need to operate healthy and efficient buildings.
  • Energy efficiency in existing schools: A soon-to-be-released policy overview from the Center for Green Schools was reviewed. The overview covers state laws in eight states that provide funding mechanisms for energy efficiency projects in existing schools.
  • Benchmarking: The group examined current best practices for benchmarking energy, water and other sustainability metrics on the local and state level, including examples of existing state-level and local policies.
  • Green infrastructure: A preview was given to a forthcoming study that builds on the 2016 Achieving Urban Resilience, as well as policy implications for more sustainable land and infrastructure management. New research on the sustainability and health opportunities of so-called “smart surfaces” was also addressed.

Each year, the Center for Green Schools follows up with state legislators to ensure they have the resources they need to advance their priorities on green schools and green buildings. View our menu of options for state legislators, and pick out what you think is most important to take to your elected officials.

After many years of working with legislators, we have learned that your voice, as a constituent, is the one they value most.

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.”

 

USGBC South Carolina participates in STEM Fest

Published on 3 Mar 2017 Written by Sandra Doherty Posted in Community

On February 11, the USGBC South Carolina Low Country Branch participated in the fourth annual Charleston STEM Fest 2017, an outdoor celebration of science, technology, engineering and math. Our booth was located right on the river on a beautiful 70-degree day. The group started setting up around 9 a.m., and by 10, the kids were flocking around the booth with excited faces.

 Engaging the community

At this festival, our goal was to interact with students and engage them in activities about how to be green. In addition, being an exhibitor not only gave the organization exposure, but also the an opportunity to network with other exhibitors/vendors that have a presence in Charleston that may seek to know more about USGBC. We hoped to reach students, faculty members, school board members and other leaders of the Charleston community.

Sketching out green homes

USGBC volunteers Joe, Jacquayle, Jennifer and Greg assisted the children in modeling a basic house with a door, windows and a gable roof. They acquainted parents with the sketch-up software and other computer modeling software that is all free. With up to 200 students participating, the eclectic neighborhood that came to life expressed unique color palettes, and a variety of structures from modest to ambitiously soaring.

After the volunteers highlighted the basic geometric functions to the children, most were quick learners and were excited to explore their new tech-savvy hobby at home. After each child modeled their dream home in sketch-up, volunteers would assist in creating an overhang in front of a few windows. They would demonstrate the shadow cast by the new addition to their structure and open an adjacent window with a model that demonstrated an energy efficiency profile.

The energy-efficient model, adorned with a heat-color-coded response, stirred curiosity in the children. The volunteers explained that the shading device modeled above their windows allowed for a cooler response from the building toward its environment. Adjacent trees in the energy model were pointed out, and the USGBC volunteers explained how the leaves create shade in the hot months of the year and then fall to create more opportunity for light in the colder months.

 Encouraging enthusiasm for STEM

The volunteer team was as enthusiastic about the day as the participants. Jennifer described her experience:

As a USGBC South Carolina volunteer, I am absolutely thrilled we were able to attend the Charleston STEM fest 2017. We could not have asked for a more beautiful day. With an abundant and vivacious group of exhibitors, I felt personally encouraged by the surrounding network of professionals, who are passionate about creating games to facilitate the interest of the next generation in science, engineering, math and technology.

The children and parents came out with overwhelming interest. The kids were patient and quick learners who were all extremely engaged. It was a great success.

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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.