Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Three Cool Things You Didn’t Know About the LEED International Program

Jennivine Kwan
Vice President, International Operations
U.S. Green Building Council

Summer’s winding down but the heat’s still here in Washington, D.C., and what better way to cool off than to immerse yourself in the wave of cool things USGBC is doing internationally? Here are three things you may not have known about LEED International:

  1. Hablas espaƱol? We do! USGBC now offers customer service in Spanish. It is hosted by the same great team that provides service to our English speaking community, and this is just one of the many steps we are taking to making green building information more accessible for everyone. The toll free number for the U.S. is 1-800-795-1747. If you are calling from outside the U.S., please call 1-202-742-3792 (try using Skype). Option 2 is for Spanish. E-mail inquiries can also be sent to leedinfo@usgbc.org.

  2. Bike ride in Paris: June marked the start of what we hope will be increasing engagement with our international LEED Professional community. Thanks to our co-hosts, the Korea Sustainable Building Council (KSBC), CB Richard Ellis Philippines and Deloitte France, we were able to personally reach out to more than 100 LEED Professionals in Seoul, Korea; Manila, Philippines; and Paris, France through three fun, informal LEED Professional meet and greets. For those of you who read my previous blog, “What Does Korean Fried Chicken Have to Do With the LEED International Program?” you’ll know that that meeting was ablaze with activity. The Philippines event kept it cool in the elegant Manila Tower Club, and the event in France attracted attendees from six European nations. It also involved a planned bike ride through Paris. Coming up this week: Meetings in Peru and Brazil. See you there!

    European LEED Professionals along the Seine (Photo: Scot Horst)

  3. LEED Resources in Chinese: Do you do business in China or know someone who does? This is the tool for you. Available now on our website is a useful package of Chinese resources in Mandarin: The Business Case for Green, LEED FAQs, Project Profiles and a Membership Package. Include them in your presentations and your proposals to clients. Use the membership package to invite new members in to our community. Help give decision makers and the general public who have not heard about LEED or green buildings the opportunity to decide for themselves. Just by passing these along, you can help inspire monumental change. How cool is that?
"An extensive knowledge is needful to thinking people – it takes away the heat and fever; and helps, by widening speculation, to ease the Burden of Mystery." (John Keats)

Help reduce the heat this summer by passing on the cool things we are doing to help ease the "burden of mystery" internationally.

Q&A at LEED Professionals Meet and Greet, Manila, Philippines, June 21, 2011 (Photo: CB Richard Ellis, Philippines)

Follow us on Twitter at @USGBC hashtag #USGBCIntl, or join us on LinkedIn.

Monday, August 29, 2011

USGBC's Roger Platt, Vice President Joe Biden to Speak at National Clean Energy Summit

Roger Platt, USGBC's Senior Vice President of Global Policy and Law, is to speak at the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0: The Future of Energy on Tuesday, August 30, 2011. The event, sponsored by the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, will convene key stakeholders—from seasoned business executives and entrepreneurs to public officials and energy policy advocates—to discuss the necessary steps needed to adopt robust national clean energy policy, and in doing so, realize the goals of energy security and independence and promote the clean energy economy.

Platt explains in his prepared remarks, "...buildings account for 70% of our country’s electricity consumption and 40% of our total greenhouse gas emissions. A huge part of that impact comes from completely avoidable and staggering energy waste…in stopping that waste—especially through building energy retrofits—we can tap a major source of projects and jobs that can’t be exported and that have huge up-stream and down-stream supply chain implications."

Joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Platt will not only highlight the facts about energy waste in the Western world, but also recommended practical and economically-sound policy solutions to harness the low-hanging fruits of energy efficiency.

"Today if in my business I waste more energy than you do...I get a bigger business expense tax deduction under federal and state laws...but if I invest in the kind of project I’ve been discussing the tax consequences can be quite negative. This imbalance can and should be addressed through tax policies that I’m very pleased are finally under serious consideration in Washington," says Platt.

Platt will explain how small, yet crucial tax code adjustments like this can go a long way to undo the perverse incentives which currently prevent energy and emissions reductions in the United States.

A webcast of the event will be available at www.cleanenergysummit.org beginning at 9 a.m. PT.

Read the press release »
Access Roger Platt's prepared remarks »

Friday, August 19, 2011

Introducing: Rachel on the Road

Rachel Gutter, the director of the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council, has taken her flip cam on the road to speak with everyone from teachers, parents and students to policy makers and leaders in sustainability, green building and education.

In the first of many interviews, Rachel speaks with Congressman John Sarbanes of Maryland. Rep. Sarbanes is a longstanding supporter of green schools efforts, and vocal about the connection between academic success and environmental awareness. Rachel discusses the bi-partisan No Child Left Inside Act introduced by Rep. Sarbanes, and the support it is gaining.

About Rachel on the Road:
With regular video posts, Rachel will take us on green school and campus tours, tackle important topics and continue the mission of creating green schools for everyone within this generation. Join Rachel as she speaks with the folks who are helping to make our schools and colleges safer, healthier and more conducive to learning.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A New Generation of Leadership: USGBC Emerging Professionals

Mariah Howard-Porath
USGBC Emerging Professional
Social Media Coordinator, Earth Day New York

Imagine having the ability to gather a village of engineers, architects, designers, lawyers, teachers and advocates of green building practices in one place for a week.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Mid-Year Meeting, held in late July, united such a group to discuss the future for high performance buildings and the people who are connected to them. I was lucky enough to get to participate as a member of the Emerging Professionals Leadership Studio, the in-person training portion of USGBC’s Emerging Professionals Leadership Academy.

The Academy is an integral part of the goal to build the organizational capacity and effectiveness of USGBC and its chapters. Fundamentally, it provides leadership development to the Emerging Professional (EP) members of the greater USGBC community. It also strengthens our relationships within USGBC and local chapters. As part of our six month-long leadership training program, we participated in the dynamic conference that was the Emerging Professionals Studio.

There were so many amazing moments in this meeting. The "EP Studio" successfully brought together 43 Emerging Professionals from 34 USGBC chapters and four countries outside the United States. As an attendee, I had the chance to meet with and learn from senior-level USGBC staff, the Board of Directors, Chapter Steering Committee and many others. We had the opportunity to hear from the founders of USGBC; David Gottfried and Rick Fedrizzi, not to mention environmental justice advocate Majora Carter who was recently elected to the USGBC Board of Directors. We also learned about important new advocacy programs, like USGBC’s Center for Green Schools, and Project Haiti. It was a privilege to be welcomed into a wonderful group of movers and shakers in the sustainable building world. I quickly discovered I was with my “people.”

The Academy directors kept us busy, well informed and well fed. Most importantly, they made the younger generation feel welcome, valued and part of something really big! Key programming included a day-long visioning session for USGBC’s future engagement of EPs and a day-long series of training sessions on facilitation skills, grassroots advocacy and exercises in mapping out personal leadership pathways. I took back a wealth of knowledge to share with my fellow Emerging Professionals in NYC, further broadcasting the message. Among my favorite events: Thursday's celebratory "Take 5" event, shared with members of chapters' Green Schools Committees, gave six outstanding EPs the opportunity to share their own innovative projects and experiences. Further evidence of the passing of the torch: The Emerging Professionals Leadership Academy members joined forces with the Green Schools Committees in a lively competition to raise funds for Project Haiti, collecting more than $3,000 in that one night!

The week's adopted motto, "Be leaders, not victims," was overheard almost constantly as individuals headed back to their chapters refreshed and ready to push the USGBC mission harder and farther than ever before. Perhaps the quote to best summarize that week was from EP Katie Flynn, who professed she rarely uses inspirational quotes: "The best thing about torches is you don’t have to put yours out to light another." We hope that message of community and fostering the future generation was conveyed to all of the industrious members of the USGBC.

As an Emerging Professional, it was an honor to participate and have my torch ignited by such a great, important movement and community. I emerged, indeed, inspired and energized for the next generation of high performance building leaders.

Learn more about USGBC's Emerging Professionals program »

Video: See what Mariah thinks is the future of green building »

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

States Powering New, Innovative Green Building Policy: A Review of This Year's State Activity

Jeremy Sigmon, LEED® AP BD+C
Manager, Building Codes Advocacy
U.S. Green Building Council

Despite a struggling economy that’s putting tough budget constraints on states across the nation, the green building marketplace is driving innovation and competition, creating opportunity for savings and new jobs, and – bold though it may sound – our states are working overtime to help win the future.

In a year of what feels like an unyielding stream of at least underwhelming news, there is still much to celebrate in the world of green building policymaking (note: last week’s celebration of green schools by state lawmakers). Today USGBC released a report that highlights that market-transforming policy activity, “Advancing Green Building Policy in the States: 2011 Victories from Alabama to Wyoming.” With positive policy activity in all 50 states, and countable wins in 25, here are some of this year’s superlatives:

Friend to All: Florida HB 639 and HB 7003, which add another state to the list of state housing authorities that are increasingly rewarding green building practices as part of the scoring system for competitive loans offered to affordable housing developers.

Most Popular: Oregon HB 3672, which creates tax credits for commercial construction or retrofit projects that achieve high standards for building energy efficiency and offers LEED Platinum certification as a compliance pathway.

Most School Spirit: Kansas Senate Resolution 1856. Cheer for the first LEED Gold school in the state!

Most Athletic: Oregon HB 2960, the “cool schools” bill, which will allow the state to repair and retrofit aging schools to help create jobs while enhancing student learning, reducing operational costs, and building healthy learning environments. Might the Oregon Ducks be inspiring legislators like Rep. Jules Bailey to lay up such a slam dunk?

Craziest Driver: New Mexico’s 2009 Energy Conservation Code, which, after securing top spot in 2010 as the strongest building energy code in the nation, and after thousands of dollars of code books and training, succumbed to a full-stop by Executive Order in January, a subsequent lawsuit. An apparent deal to move forward produced a series of public hearings, a June repeal of the original 2009 ECC and a then a replacement with a building energy code that’s simply par-for-the-course that will take effect in February of next year… we think.

Most Original: Connecticut HB 1243, which establishes the nation’s first state-managed “green bank” – now known as the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority – that will leverage government dollars to provide financing for clean energy and efficiency projects all across the state.

Most Dependable: Texas HB 51, a tried and true leadership-by-example policy that requires that public buildings and public-funded buildings or renovations of a certain size or scale (including universities) achieve certification under a high performance “building evaluation system.” The State Energy Conservation Office and the Boards of Regents of state universities will identify the systems that will satisfy compliance with the law.

Trend-Setter: California’s Green Building Standards Code, the subject of both excitement and confusion since its 2010 adoption, became effective as a mandatory minimum code for all local jurisdictions on January 1. Which state will be next to integrate green building provisions into mandatory statewide minimum codes?

Most Likely to Succeed: A 2011 report in Illinois, Moving Toward a Sustainable Future for Illinois Schools, which was developed in response to HJR 45 (2009). The 2009 legislation and the effort to develop the report was championed by the Illinois Working Group on Green Schools, and effectively establishes a plan to green every school in the state. The report details findings from the USGBC Illinois Chapter’s pilot program to support the greening of three underserved schools since 2009. Bravo!

Best Looking: New York AB 8510, which creates an on‐bill financing program that will enable property owners to access safe loans for retrofits and energy efficiency upgrades by repaying the loan with savings earned on utility bills. Utility bills never looked so nice.

Most Likely to be Published: Maryland HB 972, which enables the adoption of the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) by all local governments across the state. Which local government will be first to upgrade their base codes? With the proliferation of green building codes, where do we go next?

Most Talkative: California State Legislature, which – surprise, surprise – introduced more than 30 bills on which USGBC’s California Advocacy Committee has been active. Adding to the state’s long list of green building accomplishments, the state continues to discuss ways to break new ground.

Most Dreamy: Michigan HB 4286, a bill that has not yet passed, proposing wonderfully attractive incentives for new commercial construction or renovations that earn LEED certification.

For more information on USGBC’s advocacy and public policy work, visit www.usgbc.org/government.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Encouraging Energy Efficiency: A Tax Fix Everyone Can Get Behind

Lane Burt
Technical Policy Director
U.S. Green Building Council

Pretend you are a small business owner. You happen to own the building where your business is housed, which has helped you weather the recession. Things seem to be getting better, and you have the opportunity to make some investments in your company that could really pay off in the long run.

You’d like to figure out how to cut your operating expenses, especially utilities, which have gone up and up and up over the last 10 years. You know your building is pretty old and leaky, and that much of that energy you buy is wasted. You’ve heard the President talk about efficiency retrofits and think that might be a smart investment that will cut your energy bills and pay for itself.

But there is a problem. If you invest in your own building energy efficiency, you will have to pay federal taxes on the value of the investment. If you were to keep wasting energy, all that wasted money would be completely deductible from your taxes.

That’s right; in effect our tax code unintentionally subsidizes wasted energy. Despite the economic benefits (not to mention the domestic job creation and the environmental benefits), investments to create energy efficient, better buildings do not receive the same treatment under the tax code as wasted energy.

That’s why USGBC is working with a diverse coalition of industry and environmental organizations, like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Real Estate Roundtable, to change that. It’s our highest priority to convince Congress that energy efficiency is at least as valuable to the nation’s prosperity as wasted energy.

We’ve proposed changes to fix Section 179D of the tax code, and existing policy designed to encourage energy efficient new construction to make it usable for existing buildings. You can read more about those changes here.

The positive impact of this tax code tweak would be immense – 77,000 new jobs and immense savings on energy bills where we live and work. Those are benefits that will be felt not only by those who do the work, but also by everyone who works in an office, stays in a hotel, shops at a mall, or lives in an apartment.

But what will be the cost to the treasury? Not much if anything for one major reason – all those investments we want to encourage will drastically decrease the total amount of money spent on energy at businesses across the country, thereby lowering the total expenses deducted from their taxes for years to come. Instead of deducting wasted energy, they will reap energy savings and reinvest that money in much more productive ways.

This is one tax fix that nearly everyone can get behind. We plan to advocate tirelessly for these changes on behalf of our members, many of whom own the buildings, make the more efficient products, and will design and engineer the retrofits. Stay tuned for opportunities to get involved.

Friday, August 12, 2011

State Lawmakers Convene in Celebration of Green Schools

Nathaniel Allen
Associate, Schools Advocacy
U.S. Green Building Council

Green schools were the focus of a reception with more than 60 attendees – mostly state lawmakers – at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) this past Tuesday, August 9. Co-hosted with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, leading legislators from the 50 for 50 Green Schools Caucus Initiative convened with their colleagues from other states to discuss some of the recent updates in the national green schools movement and opportunities to stay engaged in the coming months.

Illinois State Representative Karen May, Chair of the Illinois Working Group on Green Schools and the 50 for 50 National Advisory Council, set the stage by providing an overview of recent progress and achievements that are facilitating the uptake of green schools. Noting the opportunity around greening existing schools, Rep. May discussed the replicability of HJR 45 and Illinois’ intention to green every school in the state, and she announced the release of an updated Green Schools Menu of Options for State Legislators published by the Center for Green Schools at USGBC.

The Representative also expressed her excitement about the Department of Education’s pending Green Ribbon Schools program . Given that the nomination process for Green Ribbon will likely come through the states, Rep. May encouraged her colleagues to connect their local schools with the program when the criteria become available in the coming weeks.

Texas Rep. Eddie Lucio III., Chair of the Texas Green Schools Caucus, welcomed everyone to Texas and spoke about how green schools are striking an important chord with Texans – particularly in his part of South Texas.

"How do you change the mindset of a society,” Rep. Lucio asked. “It starts with our children. We can have a tremendous impact on our future energy use, our national health, and even our purchasing habits simply by promoting the right values in our kids -- values championed by the green schools movement."

Washington Sen. Maralyn Chase said, "I'm here tonight because of my 11-year-old grandson. I'm working so he can have a healthier school, free of harmful pollutants, with ample natural lighting and where he has the best opportunities to learn. Why else would we spend our time working so hard on this? We need to ask ourselves what kind of world we're turning over to our grandchildren, and then we need to have a razor sharp focus as we work for them. Coming here tonight has recharged my batteries."

Florida Rep. Alan Williams concurred. "I’m always enthusiastic about legislators getting together to talk about policy ideas that we’re passionate about. Given that green schools embrace core values that transcend political boundaries and that they make sense for the future of our country, I look forward to working with my colleagues in Florida and from across the nation to make green schools a reality."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ray Anderson: Great leader of our time passes

Rick Fedrizzi
President, CEO & Founding Chairman
U.S. Green Building Council

If there was a Dictionary of Green Building, Ray Anderson is whose picture you’d probably see alongside the word “leader.” And I’m saddened to hear that he passed away yesterday, losing a heroic 20 month battle with cancer.

Ray was a legend of corporate sustainability, a man whose personal story – a story of an epiphany that changed a life and an entire industry – could be a metaphor for the entire green building movement. When he started Interface Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1973, his entrepreneurial genius was immediately clear. Before long, Interface was a billion-dollar-a-year business and one of the largest interior furnishings companies in the world.

But Interface is in the business of carpeting, and carpet traditionally uses a lot of petroleum, a lot of water, and creates a lot of waste.

Ray’s epiphany moment, the moment of truth that he has called a “spear to the chest,” was the same one that several of us experienced — reading Paul Hawken’s Ecology of Commerce and getting permission to be both a capitalist and an environmentalist. It launched the transformation of Interface, and of the entire carpet industry, and set the foundation for USGBC.

Under his leadership, Interface was set on a goal of zero environmental impact companywide, a target of eliminating petroleum entirely from its manufacturing process, and a commitment to sustainability as Ray defined it: taking nothing from the earth that is not naturally and rapidly renewable.

But perhaps what made Ray’s leadership so important and so effective was the way he has completely negated the argument that environmental sustainability can only be had at the expense of economic prosperity. Interface’s remarkable success – and the positive business impact that has come as a result of its reputation as a sustainability pioneer – stands as a strong example that without a strong triple bottom line, you’re never truly successful.

Ray was a personal hero of mine, a man who truly changed the world.

I’m grateful that last year, USGBC was able to present him with a USGBC leadership award at Greenbuild. It was a small tribute to a great man, but it meant more to me than anything I’ve done in a long time.

I invite you to share with us your personal and favorite Ray story. He touched us all in one way or another.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cities and States Take on Energy Benchmarking: New Report Highlights Opportunities and Needs for Building Energy Benchmarking

Lauren Riggs, LEEP® AP
Manager, LEED and Building Performance Partnership
U.S. Green Building Council

We have heard the old adage “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” more and more over the past few years. In line with that message, cities and states throughout the U.S. have begun to require measurement and reporting building energy consumption. With the right tools and strategies, we can leverage the focus on energy consumption to encourage action towards increased building operation efficiency nationwide.

Regulations for public disclosure, disclosure to government or tenants, and/or point-of-sale disclosure are currently in place in Austin, DC, NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, California and Washington (point-of-sale only). The momentum that these regulations have built is tremendous and is a driving force behind market discussions on the clarity and support needed around energy data collection. Last week, the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) released a report that dives into current building energy rating and disclosure policies in the U.S. This report will provide the basis for the support the market has been looking for, and will open the door to other support efforts around the country.

The IMT report communicates the availability of best practices that will help building owners comply with regulations in their locale. The report elaborates on best ways to approach outreach and education through activities such as partnering with local organizations and conducting benchmarking trainings. Projects certified under the LEED for Existing Building program and buildings participating in USGBC’s Building Performance Partnership (BPP) have already taken their first steps in complying with energy rating policies by using ENERGY STAR’s Portfolio Manager.

Most of USGBC’s BPP partners are in a unique position to act as role models where disclosure policies require access to their energy consumption data, because BPP offers two options for data confidentiality (confidential or disclosed). We hope that participants will enjoy streamlined compliance with energy rating and disclosure policies if they choose to disclose their data through the program. Participants are demonstrating their commitment to energy efficiency monitoring; they are in a position to share their experiences with their peers and contribute to the market need for education.

In support of IMT’s recommendation that jurisdictions develop and implement outreach and education programs on data disclosure and benchmarking, anyone who is interested in developing a local outreach and education program may take advantage of Building Performance Participant Handbook and an advocacy handbook (under development) as free resources. We will post additional resources and links to usgbc.org/bpp over the course of program development.

I hope that the market will view programs like BPP as aids in complying with energy rating and disclosure policies. These types of programs will help in identifying additional procedural guidance and support owner accountability, as the IMT report suggests. As discussions progress, it is likely that many data collection and performance monitoring programs in the market will come together to streamline the reporting processes nationwide.

I encourage all potential and current LEED building owners to consider the content of IMT’s report and to identify ways that they are able to lead their communities and help local policy implementers by complying with energy rating and data disclosure policies in their area.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What does Korean Fried Chicken have to do with the LEED International Program?

Jennivine Kwan
Vice President, International Operations
U.S. Green Building Council

Not only is it crispy, crunchy, deliciously seasoned, and goes great with beer, but it also proves to be a great tool for convening people and engaging LEED professionals.

In June, I visited South Korea. While there, I had the pleasure of sharing beer and - you guessed it - Korean fried chicken with a small group of LEED Professionals after the official LEED Professionals Meet and Greet in Seoul. The event was a wonderful opportunity to answer questions and get to know so many dedicated green building professionals in one place, but the “after-session” was by far the highlight of my trip to Korea. Not only did I get to know these talented LEED Professionals as individuals, but by the light of the flaming chicken (literally – they poured some type of alcohol over it and sent it up in flames at the table), the LEED Professionals themselves had the chance to start building their community.

My flaming fried chicken, after-event drinks with Korea LEED Professionals, Seoul, Korea, June 16, 2011

It is this type of personal interaction that nurtures the grassroots leadership needed to help us collectively move towards our shared mission for a better and greener world. It didn’t have to be fried chicken, it could have been any little mundane thing that brought people together, but I am glad it was. And as I continue my work with USGBC, I hope to have and cherish many more “Korean Fried Chicken” moments.

Moving from the Era of INPUTS to the Ear of Performance, Korea LEED Professional Meet and Greet, Seoul, Korea, June 16, 2011

Wherever you are located, we encourage you to connect with fellow LEED Professionals in your part of the world and form networking and meet-up groups. The first step is to start communicating: Use the LEED Professional Directory to connect with LEED Professionals in your area, or join the USGBC International LinkedIn group and start chatting.

We’re always interested in hearing from LEED Professionals, so feel free to contact us at international@usgbc.org. If you are forming a meet-up group in your region, we’ll reach out to you on future trips, and may be able to introduce you to others who are starting informal networking groups, as well.

What will be your “Korean Fried Chicken” moment?

Follow us on Twitter at @USGBC and join the international conversation using hashtag #USGBCIntl - and join our USGBC International LinkedIn group.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reorganization of LEED EB: O&M in draft version of LEED 2012 Highlights Performance Monitoring, Key Metrics

Lauren Riggs, LEEP® AP
Manager, LEED and Building Performance Partnership
U.S. Green Building Council

In the draft version of LEED 2012, which opened for public comment yesterday, USGBC has taken its first steps towards a streamlined and simple ongoing certification program for LEED. After consideration of how project teams should implement the strategies in LEED EB: O&M, and what we know about how teams implement them, we have reorganized the prerequisite and credit structure of LEED EB: O&M.

The new structure of LEED EB: O&M allows LEED projects to enable high performance during the performance period by emphasizing a two-step process for applying the credit strategies: (1) write, vet and verify your policies, plans and-one time activities before you begin your performance period, and (2) conduct your performance period confident that your building will do well.

Image created by Christopher Davis, GBCI

This reorganization highlights the importance of performance monitoring and what metrics should be tracked in preparation for the building’s next certification. Our first application of this new structure is reflected in the second public comment version of LEED 2012 for Existing Buildings: O&M.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Five Ways Harvard Reached Its Green Building Milestone

Heather Henriksen
Harvard Office for Sustainability

Earlier today the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced that Harvard University had reached a first for any higher education institution in the world – 50 LEED certified projects. It's an exciting green building milestone for us and one that entire Harvard community can celebrate.

Like many large institutions, one of the primary challenges Harvard faces is our structure comprised of many separate operating units (in our case multiple schools and administrative units), each with its own culture and organizational structure. So how did we get this decentralized institution to reach our LEED milestone? Here are five lessons we've learned along the way:

Set Clear, Aggressive Goals: Harvard's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2016, including growth unified our schools and units, requiring us to focus on very specific energy reduction targets. Our comprehensive Green Building Standards set clear energy reduction, resource conservation and LEED targets for all construction and renovation projects.

Engage the Entire Community: Our strategic planning process engaged over 200 faculty, students and staff from every level of our organization. Every major policy or initiative is reviewed and approved by representatives from all our schools and units, giving everyone a say in the ultimate outcome. Likewise, our Green Building Standards require that occupants are included earlier in project development so that future design considerations and decisions include their concerns, feedback and ideas.

The renovation of the 46 Blackstone complex, a former industrial site, was the University’s first LEED Platinum-certified project and one of its most ambitious undertakings to date. The brownfield project includes several on-site strategies to minimize pollution runoff to the Charles River, including a bioswale system that naturally filters stormwater runoff from an adjacent parking lot. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Develop Tools and Resources: We've focused on developing tools, like a Life Cycle Costing calculator that allows schools to prioritize projects that are economically viable and environmentally beneficial. Our Green Building Services team also posts LEED case studies for all our projects so the community can learn from the work we have already done.

Provide Forums for Change: The Harvard Office for Sustainability acts as a catalyst for change, facilitating opportunities for students, faculty and staff to come together and learn from each other, while sharing best practices that make us all stronger.

Celebrate Success and Recognize Green Champions: Harvard's annual Green Carpet Awards ceremony is an opportunity for our entire community to nominate and recognize students, staff and faculty who play an exemplary role in helping Harvard achieve its sustainability goals.

EED green building projects not only help reduce energy use — they also create healthier, more welcoming places to work, live, and learn. The 2009 renovation of Holyoke Center’s fourth floor created conference room space and maximized daylight. Only low- or zero-VOC materials were used during construction. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

While we work hard to create foundations in order to achieve our goals, what really counts the most are the people – from Harvard's leaders, President Faust and the deans, to the facility directors, building managers and project managers at all of our schools and on to the faculty, students and staff who work, live and learn in our new greener, healthier buildings. Without action and involvement from everyone in our community, our progress would not be possible. And that is perhaps the most important lesson for us all to remember – we are only as strong as our people and our success depends on the level to which we empower and engage our community.