In a new brief released, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) outline an expanded suite of programs and resources focused on improving building and community resilience in the face of climate risks. Green building helps companies and communities adapt to and mitigate the effects of these growing climate concerns.
“Green buildings are the first step to creating more resilient businesses and communities while also supporting economic development and growth,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of USGBC and GBCI. “We know people, especially those in our most vulnerable communities, are already experiencing the costs of a changing climate, and the resilience of the people in these structures is a critical factor. Resilient design, construction, and operations verified through green building and infrastructure certifications can help reduce risk and vulnerability. USGBC and GBCI’s resources serve as a roadmap for resilience that has the ability to save companies money and improve the standard of living for all.”
The USGBC and GBCI points out that building and construction industry must accelerate its adoption of strategies and practices that respond to climate threats communities are currently facing. The new brief (available for download here) outlines USGBC and GBCI’s existing resilience resources along with new opportunities and include:
- LEED: This green building rating system offers a series of resilience design pilot credits that ensure project teams are aware of and are addressing vulnerabilities. The credits are available for new construction and align with the RELi Rating System. Currently, more than 200 projects have registered to pursue the credits. The LEED for Cities and Communities program outlines options to enhance resilience beyond a single building. More than 110 cities and communities have certified.
- Certification Systems: GBCI integrates resilience strategies across several rating systems. RELi takes a holistic approach to resilience and helps developers, companies, city planners and others assess and plan for acute hazards. LEED credits can also count toward RELi certification. PEER serves as a roadmap for designing and operating resilient and reliable power systems and microgrids and has more than 30 certified projects that serve more than seven million people. SITES focuses on creating regenerative landscapes and ecologically resilient communities and has nearly 150 projects participating.
- Data & Technology: Data will define the future of green building, which is why USGBC is working with Coastal Risk Consulting to deliver a RiskFootprint™ for buildings, communities and cities that provides a climate risk analysis. The service will integrate with LEED, Arc and GBCI rating systems to help assess a project’s vulnerability.
- Workforce Education: Equipping professionals with the latest skills and knowledge is critical to scaling resilient practices and Education @USGBC offers courses from experts working on resilience. USGBC will also open a call for ideas on enhancing resilience across the green building industry. GBCI is also developing a new RELi professional credential expected to be ready in 2021.
- Advocacy: USGBC works with federal, state and local governments and jurisdictions to advocate for policies, guidance and incentives that support green buildings and communities. A goal of that work is to ensure disaster recovery funds are spent on high quality, resilient buildings that mitigate climate risks and promote social equity and health. The latest advocacy activities are housed in the USGBC Center for Resilience.
- Partnerships: USGBC will leverage its network of members, partners and LEED users to build a community of leaders for resilient buildings, communities and cities. USGBC will establish partnerships with a variety of organizations committed to advancing resilience.
The resilience offerings are part of USGBC’s reimagined vision and economic recovery strategy, Healthy People in Healthy Places Equals a Healthy Economy. Resilience is a critical component of building a healthier, more sustainable future, but can also influence how companies and governments respond to social and economic disruptions. Resilience planning helps future proofs assets and support communities in times of crisis.
To learn more about resilience in the building industry, USGBC’s annual Resilience Summit will be held tomorrow at Greenbuild 2020 on October 1, 2020, featuring resilience leaders and the opportunity to learn the newest research and technology around resilience-enhancing designs, technologies, materials and methods.
Green Purchasing Guidance For Healthy Air In Schools
In other news from USGBC, the Center for Green Schools has released guidance for K-12 schools to help protect the health of students with asthma. Schools are encouraged to adopt green purchasing policies for cleaning, filters, furniture, and other products that support health and well-being in K-12 education facilities.
As schools across the country are reopening or making plans for re-entry, the COVID 19 pandemic has brought a renewed focus on health. There are an estimated six million U.S. students under the age of 18 affected by asthma.
“Healthy schools are critical to rebuilding our economy, and we need to prioritize decisions that allow students, teachers, janitorial staff, and communities at large to feel supported and safe,” said Anisa Heming, director of the Center for Green Schools. “Through this new guide, we’re providing actionable guidance that education leaders can put into practice now to protect millions of students. Healthy people in healthy places is the fastest way to rebuild a healthy economy, and it starts with investing in our schools.”
The Center identified four primary categories where environmentally healthy purchasing can help reduce irritants and allergens that contribute to asthma and other health issues. The guidance addresses cleaning products, filters, furniture, and rugs, as well as markers and paints.
A healthy green purchasing policy is an effective measure to help address common asthma triggers, such as exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), indoor allergens, and poor ventilation. The asthma prevention guidance from the Center (available for download here) provides a list of third-party product certifications to consider, best practices for choosing low-VOC materials, and methods for engaging school decision-makers to implement a new purchasing policy. It complements USGBC’s LEED green building program, which provides a framework for creating healthy, efficient and sustainable buildings, including schools.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that people who are asthmatic may be at a higher risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 . USGBC also recently released several updates to LEED to assist buildings with re-entry during a pandemic including LEED Safety First pilot credits and Arc Re-Entry, a free program for both LEED and non-LEED buildings to benchmark infection-control policies and procedures, collect occupant experiences, and track indoor air quality.
In Michigan, Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) switched 100% of their chemical inventory to third-party certified green products, saving the district $100,000 a year and improving the work and learning environment for staff and students. The district was ordering and using over 65 different cleaning chemicals and was able to standardize products across schools and prioritize ones that could serve multiple functions while meeting green cleaning standards.
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