Thursday, September 6, 2012

Out with the old...

We're excited to announce that the USGBC blog has moved to the new website.

Head there now to check out our recent posts, including:
And don't forget to update our RSS feed link in your readers.

Thank you for sticking with us during this change and for reading the USGBC blog. See you on the other side!

- The USGBC blog team

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Q&A with Mark MacCracken: Taking Project Haiti Fundraising to New "Heights"

Marisa Long 
External Relations Manager
U.S. Green Building Council

Mark MacCracken, Immediate Past Chair of USGBC's Board of Directors and CEO of CALMAC Manufacturing Corporation, is embarking on an adventure that’s taken him and his 25-year-old son, Josh, to the Swiss Alps; where they are climbing the Matterhorn, one of the highest peaks in the region, and clearly the most recognizable. Each foot they climb is raising money to build USGBC’s LEED Platinum Project Haiti Orphanage & Children’s Center being designed by HOK Architects.

Marisa Long: What made you decide to climb the Matterhorn?

Mark with his son, Josh, on a recent climbing expedition

Mark MacCracken: I was fortunate to first visit Switzerland and Zermatt almost 20 years ago and have been going with my wife Kimberly to ski for many years. The mountain is truly majestic and the lure to climb it was palpable, at least for me. About 10 years ago I mentioned it to my son and we put it in the "bucket" list. Two years ago my son said to me, “Dad, you aren’t getting any younger, I think we need to do this now.” I’m always looking for adventures for my son and I to take together and this seemed like a perfect fit. Knowing my year as Chair of USGBC’s Board of Directors would be very demanding on my time, and needing time to prepare, we set the date for Summer 2012.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The EBies: Honoring Great Work in Buildings Gone Green

William Nutt
Associate, Marketing and Communications
U.S. Green Building Council

Urban Green Council, the New York City chapter of USGBC, held the first-ever EBie Awards on June 28th at the Hard Rock Café Theater. Though this marks the first public showcase for the EBies, the project reflects concepts and ideas that have been discussed for years by NYC leaders in sustainability. The basic idea is this: We need to recognize and encourage the people who are making amazing improvements to existing buildings (hence “EB”ies). Last month, a total of 10 projects from around the country received awards across eight categories.

Sixty-seven entries were submitted; the jurors narrowed the list down to a select 18 finalists, and then chose the winners. Winning the All-Rounder was Glen Neville, a Director of Deutsche Bank, with a team from Jones Lang LaSalle for the Deutsche Bank Americas Headquarters at 60 Wall Street. Maintenance, operational, and capital improvements to the property increased its energy and water efficiency as it moves towards a goal of carbon neutrality by 2013. Included in the spectacular outcome of this $8 million project is the creation of a 123KW flat panel solar array – the largest rooftop array in New York City.

Forty percent energy savings over the past three years earned Jesse Dillard of the Dallas Museum of Art the Reformed Gas Guzzler Award thanks to lighting, HVAC and water heater retrofits. The Reformed Drinker Award went to Steve Allwine of the Johnson Braund office building in Seattle for reducing water consumption by 95%. The range of building types that received other innovative awards include a commercial office space, a mixed-use industrial complex and office building, an elementary school, a condominium complex and a rental apartment building.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

LEED: A Global Reinvention

Mahesh Ramanujam
Chief Operating Officer
U.S. Green Building Council

“Invent because you must.”

Tom Sachs’ adage is a fitting mantra for our International vision for LEED. As the market and the passion for LEED grows around the world, we must re-invent USGBC in the context of the global landscape. There are new destinations ripe with green building potential, and emerging markets from Berlin to Budapest.

Our strategy? To follow the knowledge, to go where there is passion. Last month, that took USGBC leadership to China.

The USGBC team in Shanghai, along with bian lian performers wearing USGBC-themed masks

Why China? The passion and pro-activeness for green building among Chinese developers cannot be understated. Despite language barriers and other challenges, the Chinese have begun applying LEED across an array of projects and building types, from green schools to Shanghai Tower, which will be the tallest LEED building in the world once complete. China is a place where the dispersion of green building has grown organically, 7,500 miles from the birthplace of LEED. For our USGBC team, it felt like we were parents looking at our own child: Our creation made us look very small. And that was a remarkable feeling.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Policymakers Imagine a Contributing Role for 130+ Million (Greener) Homes

Jeremy Sigmon, LEED® AP BD+C
Director, Technical Policy
U.S. Green Building Council

Even in a still struggling economy, green building policymaking continues. To celebrate some of the impressive progress this year, USGBC partnered with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) to convene key state lawmakers in Chicago this past Tuesday during the annual meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The most notable successes to date have been in the proliferation of green schools policymaking – more than 80 bills in 28 states this year alone.

Big buildings – like schools, office buildings and civic structures – capture a lot of the limelight in green building policy and practice. Rightfully so, you might say, due to their typically large social, economic and environmental footprint. But in a nation with more than 130 million homes and growing, the numbers point to a similarly important opportunity for residential buildings to make important contributions to a more sustainable future.

Access the policy brief.
At Tuesday’s event, the group of leading state policymakers explored how government could help augment the potential of residential buildings to contribute to achieving sustainability goals. We introduced a new policy brief to answer that question: Green Homes are Better Homes.

To date, USGBC counts more than 400 public policy initiatives that promote or advance green building and LEED. Only 25 of these, however, make a concerted effort to leverage all that a green home can contribute to a greener neighborhood or community. (If I’m missing one you know about, please do send it in!) New Mexico and Cincinnati have probably had some of the most celebrated successes with their programs, and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo just approved a bill last month that would allow New York municipalities to offer similar, powerful incentives.

Of course, Adam Smith would argue that the Invisible Hand of the free market, too, has a critical role to play. But efficient and transparent systems for sellers and buyers of green homes aren’t yet widely available. We’ve got a campaign for that: Highlight Green Homes. And while the market may eventually provide adequate and appropriate housing for all, healthy and efficient affordable housing is needed today. We’ve got a campaign for that, too: Value Healthy and Efficient Affordable Housing. And to accelerate the market uptake of green homebuilding practices, our Leadership with LEED campaign promotes incentives for building green homes that are verified and tested by a third-party, like a LEED for Homes Green Rater.

State Legislators Celebrate Green Schools While Paying Tribute to One of the Movement’s Greatest Champions

Nathaniel Allen
Center for Green Schools Advocacy Lead
U.S. Green Building Council

Earlier this week, the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council co-hosted a reception at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) alongside the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) to celebrate the impressive growth of green schools policy activity. More than 80 related bills across 28 states have been considered in state legislatures just this year. Additionally, 28 of these bills have been signed into law, and more may still be on the way. Surely these are stats worth celebrating.

This year’s monumental progress is enumerated in a report released at the reception, which drew together approximately 50 lawmakers and members of the NGO community. The report highlights the variety of ways that legislators are using their pen to help make green schools for all within this generation a reality. From appropriating funds for school upgrades, to standards around new school construction, to improved operations and maintenance best practices, the report showcases tried-and-tested policy ideas and fresh, new approaches.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sowing Seattle Seeds for the Green Apple Day of Service

Emily Knupp 
Grassroots Outreach
Center for Green Schools

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to Seattle for our very first Day of Service project. I joined the Seattle Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders and Seattle Storm, along with Washington Green Schools and Seattle Public Schools, the Green Sports Alliance, Skanska, community volunteers and students from Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth High School to conduct a service project to gain momentum leading up to the official Green Apple Day of Service on Sept. 29.

The goal for the day was to expand the garden. We were tasked with building three plant beds and filling them with compost, soil, and plants, installing shelves in the tool shed and building a few benches. There were 22 middle and high school students there to join including the garden clubbers and some of the school’s athletes, new Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda, an amazing crew from Skanska, the Washington Green Schools program, Cedar Grove Composting who even donated a truckload of composted soil, as well as players past and present from the Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders and Storm.

Helping Lucas Luetge with our project
In four hours we unloaded the soil, built three beds, two benches, planted kiwi, lavender, blueberries, strawberries and flowers, made an amazingly tasty lunch with ingredients from the garden, got really smelly and pretty much had the greatest day ever. The players were super engaged and excited to be there. I showed the Mariners relief pitcher Lucas Luetge (who pitched half an inning later that night!) how to plant a lavender bush and helped Superintendent Banda put a blueberry bush in the ground. They had a great time. The team from Skanska taught the kids about the company’s “Stretch and Flex” program which encourages job site safety and about being great advocates for Green Apple Day of Service.