Greenbuild 2016: Green Buildings Team Up with Zero Waste, Certified Buildings Lead to Smarter Employees

by | Oct 6, 2016

ut-greenbuildings-infographicGreenbuild 2016, the annual green building conference and expo, opened yesterday and runs through Oct. 7 in Los Angeles.

Also yesterday the Paris climate agreement crossed the threshold for adoption now that more than 55 countries, accounting for over 55 percent of global emissions, have ratified the deal. It will enter force on Nov. 4.

Considering the built environment accounts for 25 percent to 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, the building industry will have a major role to play in limiting global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius per the Paris agreement.

Here are some of the news stories coming out of Greenbuild.

Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the certification body for the US Green Building Council’s LEED green building program, and the US Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) are formally joining forces to advance zero waste business practices. GBCI will manage the Zero Waste Facility Certification and Zero Waste Business Associate programs created by USZWBC, and the zero waste principles will be aligned with GBCI’s offerings.

GBCI has also announced a new technology organization called arc that will launch later this year. Arc is a platform that will allow any building, LEED certified or otherwise, to measure performance, make improvements and benchmark against itself. USGBC founding chair and CEO Rick Fedrizzi says arc will “provide new and more transparent ways” to share green building data.

Two years after the launch of the WELL Building Standard (WELL), which focuses on the effects of the built environment on human health and well-being, the International WELL Building Institute says more than 270 projects encompassing 57 million square feet are now registered or certified under the standard in 23 countries across six continents. The US, China, Australia, France, Canada and the UK are leading the healthy building movement. IWBI also says it is collaborating with the US Green Building Council (LEED), Green Building Council of Australia (Green Star), BRE (BREEAM) and others on a program called WELL Crosswalks that will identify synergies between the standards and streamline the process for projects seeking dual rating.

Employees in high-performing, green-certified buildings had 26 percent higher cognitive function test scores than those in similarly high-performing buildings that were not green certified, according to researchers at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and SUNY Upstate Medical University. The study also found that employees reported 30 percent fewer sick building symptoms and had 6 percent higher sleep quality scores compared to those working in high-performing buildings that were not green-certified, indicating that benefits of green buildings may extend beyond the workday.

Real estate companies and funds are improving across all aspects of environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance, including a 1.2 percent reduction in energy consumption, 2 percent reduction in GHG emissions and close to 1 percent reduction in water use, according to data from the 2016 GRESB Real Estate, Developer and Debt assessments. A record 759 real estate companies and funds participated in the assessment, representing more than 66,000 assets across 63 countries, with a value of $2.8 trillion. “In 2016, 90 percent of property companies and funds reporting to GRESB are integrating carbon management strategies into their investments,” said Nils Kok, CEO of GRESB. “These actions have contributed to a 2 percent annual decrease in carbon emissions.”

The Aluminum Association released Aluminum in Green Buildings – A Guide to Environmental Declarations for the building and construction market sector. The guide is designed to assist and support aluminum producers, end-users, architects, designers, engineers and others in understanding how to appropriately conduct environmental assessments for aluminum building products and make environmental declarations. Environmental product declaration (EPD) is becoming a significant component of LEED v4 program and is replacing the traditional recycled content method for material credit in the previous versions of LEED.

Carpet manufacturer Interface debuted a third-party certification from GreenCircle Certified. Interface is the first flooring manufacturer to receive this certification, which provides third-party validation of both product-level environmental and human health attributes, and factory-level environmental footprint claims in an easy-to-read, accessible format.

And as we reported yesterday, The Bloc — a redevelopment project in downtown Los Angeles that occupies an entire city block — is the first US project to undergo BREEAM certification. It expects to received BREEAM In-Use certification next month. The Bloc is also the first and — to date — only project to participate in LEED, BREEAM and WELL building programs.


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