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A Long-Overdue Conversation on Green Building and the Codes

by Jeremy Sigmon, Director, Technical Policy, U.S. Green Building Council Sep 25, 2012

(Photo credit: USGBC)

The 2011 Green Building Market Activity Report begins with this statement: “Green building is here to stay.”

It’s certainly been a busy year – or should I say three, or even five? Following the growth trends of a green building economy that has far outpaced an otherwise down economy, the building community has been hard at work to develop draft regulations – or model codes – that can help to translate green building ideas into tomorrow’s minimum expectations.

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FEMA Agrees: We Need More Resilient Communities and Buildings

by Don Knapp Mar 01, 2012

usgbc resilience speaker series 3

Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Craig Fugate.

A new effort is required to communicate climate risks and develop greater resilience at the local level, according to Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA). Fugate served as the keynote speaker on Feb. 29 at the National Leadership Speaker Series on Resilience and Security in the 21st Century, hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council and ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability USA at the National Press Club in Washington DC.

“We cannot afford to continue to respond to disasters and deal with the consequences under the current model,” said Fugate. “Risk that is not mitigated, that is not considered in return on investment calculations, will often set up false economies. We will reach a point where we can no longer subsidize this.”

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New York City Leads on Benchmarking Building Energy Efficiency

by Don Knapp Dec 20, 2011

New York Chrysler building

While the U.S. remains a reluctant player in the global fight against climate change, New York City has emerged as a leader.  At last week’s international climate talks in Durban, South Africa, the city received the inaugural World Green Building Council’s Government Leadership Award in “Industry Transformation” for its “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan” (GGBP) – a suite of energy efficiency measures designed to deliver a large scale impact.  By concentrating on the largest existing buildings that are responsible for 45% of all citywide carbon emissions, the GGBP is expected to reduce citywide greenhouse gas emissions by 5% while saving hundreds of millions of dollars and creating thousands of new jobs.

In a related development, New York City released its first report on the baseline energy efficiency of its own buildings. Since 2009, the City has energy benchmarked 2,730 buildings, including libraries, police stations, firehouses, schools, courthouses, health, community and family centers, and government offices. As it turns out, NYC government’s municipal buildings fall on both ends of the energy-efficiency spectrum and everywhere in between. Now with the benchmarking information, the City can identify which buildings to target for the greatest energy savings.

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Houston and Chicago Enlist Hundreds of Business Owners in Green Business Challenge

by Kim Brokhof, Program Officer and Lisa Lin, Regional Associate May 26, 2011

Green Buildings on Success Page

Imagine 1,923 American football fields lined up in a row. If you were to ride your bike past them, your trek would be 131 miles. That’s quite a ride!

Consider that the square footage of those same football fields is equal to the square footage of participants in the Chicago Green Office Challenge and registered participants in the Houston Green Office Challenge – representing approximately 110 million square feet of commercial space with a commitment to a reduced environmental footprint.

To reach climate goals, local governments often use outreach and engagement programs to their advantage. ICLEI’s Green Business Challenge can be a primary means to engage the business community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainability while help you reach your community’s climate and energy goals at the same time.


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Watch ICLEI’s Top 10 Sustainability Webinars

by Don Knapp May 09, 2011

green electrical outlet banner

Have you been tracking ICLEI USA’s webinars for local governments? Over the past year, we’ve featured dozens of sustainability innovators who have shared their experience and expertise so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Below, we’ve compiled our top 10 of the past 12 months. Click to watch them on demand, or download the presentation slides.

To keep up with our latest sustainability webinars, trainings, resources, news, and tips for local governments, subscribe to our free, bi-weekly ICLEI Connection e-newsletter.

Our Top 10, On Demand

Note: some webinars are for members only and require a website login.

Arrow icon1. Sustainability in the Master Plan and Zoning Code (Nov. 2010)
ICLEI’s most popular webinar of 2010. Midwest local government staff share perspectives on the role of the master plan and zoning code in creating sustainable communities.

Arrow icon2. Clean Energy and Sustainability as a Local Economic Development Strategy
Part 1: Saving Money, Expanding Markets, and Building a Talented Workforce
Part II: Leveraging Public Resources and Federal Funding
(Nov. 2010)
Connect the dots between sustainability and prosperity. Learn from the leading experts ICLEI brought together for this popular two-part series.

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ICLEI Member Cities Top Energy Star List

by Adrienne DeAngelo Mar 14, 2011

Skyline of Washington, DC Credit: Ad Meskens

Skyline of Washington, D.C. seen from the National Cathedral. Source: Ad Meskens

Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and San Francisco top the EPA's list of cities with the most ENERGY STAR certified buildings in 2010. Detroit and Sacramento are new to the top ten while New York City climbed five spots to claim fifth in the rankings.

Congratulations to our ICLEI member cities, who comprise 22 of the 25 cities on the list!

In 2010 more than 6,200 commercial buildings earned the Energy Star, an increase of nearly 60 peENERGY STAR logorcent over the previous year.

According to the EPA, the growth in Energy Star certified buildings across the country has prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the emissions from the energy use of nearly 1.3 million homes a year, protecting people’s health, while saving more than $1.9 billion.

To qualify for the ENERGY STAR, a building or manufacturing plant must earn a 75 or higher on EPA's 1-100 energy performance scale, indicating that the facility performs better than at least 75% of similar buildings nationwide. The ENERGY STAR energy performance scale accounts for differences in operating conditions, regional weather data, and other important considerations. Eligible buildings include offices, hospitals, court houses, retailers, hotels, schools and supermarkets.

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Energy Efficiency Improvements to Save Cincinnati $1 Million Per Year

by Natasha Umer Feb 22, 2011

Cincinnati City View (credit: oomni via Flickr)

Cincinnati cityscape. Credit: Oomni via Flickr

The Achievement

Beginning February 2011, the City of Cincinnati will undertake a massive renovation to more than 70 city-owned facilities. The project will upgrade the buildings’ lighting, heating, air conditioning, and building automation systems to improve energy efficiency significantly.

The energy efficiency measures will cost $14.5 million, but will be mostly paid for through energy savings over time.


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EPA Green Building Resource Now Available

by Adrienne DeAngelo Feb 21, 2011

EPAToolKitCoverThe EPA released a green building primer last year that could be a valuable resource for local governments interested in pursuing sustainable design. The 92-page "Sustainable Design and Green Building Toolkit" includes sustainable design permitting assessment tools and step-by-step instructions on how to develop an action plan.

>> Download the Green Building Toolkit

(Source: EPA)

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Los Angeles County Thinks Big on Energy and Climate

by Monica Gilchrist, Regional Officer Feb 16, 2011

California Map Los Angeles County















Did you know that the County of Los Angeles is one of California's regional leaders on climate and sustainability action? Below, we highlight five of the most significant recent programs the County has undertaken. When you consider that LA County is the most populous county in the nation -- encompassing 88 separate municipalities, including City of Los Angeles -- you can better appreciate the far-reaching positive impacts of its actions.


Los Angeles County logo

Energy Upgrade California Program

LA County participates in the Energy Upgrade California Program, which helps homeowners make home upgrades to reduce energy use, conserve resources and create more comfortable and efficient homes. Participating homeowners may be eligible for up to $4,500 in rebates and incentives. LA County's goal for the Program is to improve the energy efficiency of 18,000 houses in the County by the end of 2012.

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San Francisco Passes Sweeping Building Energy Efficiency Law

by SF Environment Staff Feb 08, 2011

San Francisco Rooftops

Yesterday the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved groundbreaking policy aimed at transforming commercial buildings from the biggest energy users in the city to the biggest energy savers.

The newly adopted “Existing Commercial Building Energy Performance Ordinance” requires commercial property owners to measure and rate, or “benchmark” the energy performance of their buildings and make energy ratings available to the public. The ordinance also requires owners to conduct energy audits every five years.

While benchmarking and auditing will be relatively new practices for smaller building owners, many large property managers already use these proven energy-saving techniques, including those profiled below.

This decision comes just a week after President Obama unveiled his “Better Buildings Initiative” aimed at reducing energy use in buildings by 20 percent by 2020 by improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

Benchmarking building energy performance is widely regarded as the critical first step that owners can take to start taking control of energy use and costs; and more cities and states are starting to require owners to do so, including Seattle, New York City, Austin and Washington D.C. and California and Washington state.

Below is additional information on San Francisco’s new law and similar efforts around the nation:

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