Big Announcements from USGBC

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By Alyson Laura
Sustainability Maven

This summer delivered two landmark announcements from the USGBC.

  1. CALGreen alternative documentation path for 6 credits in LEED BD+C or LEED ID+C nonresidential projects in California. Learn more, here.
  2. GBCI changes name from Green Building Certification Institute to Green Business Certification, Inc. Learn more, here.

California has long been recognized as a transformative power in green building trends, and now their practices are formally recognized with documentation shortcuts based on their leadership practices. The California Green Building Standards code (CALGreen), the nation’s first mandatory green building code, was published in 2013. A task force was formed in 2014 to analyze opportunities to reduce costs for documenting and reviewing LEED projects complying with CALGreen. Recommendations were made to the LEED Technical Committee and the LEED Steering Committee, and will continue to develop guidance for future projects.

How to take advantage of this new path?

By submitting a letter of attestation and an approved building permit, or certificate of occupancy, CALGreen projects can skip the prerequisite indoor water calculations. That’s one less LEED form to fill out. However, it doesn’t exempt projects from completing an energy model to predict energy savings. To get the most points, teams will still have to document predicted savings in both energy and water.

The greatest advantage of this new path is for projects aiming to meet prerequisites and keep documentation fees low. With a goal of Certified or Silver, a CALGreen project gets shortcuts like a streamline path for all buildings to comply with fundamental refrigerant management requirements. Most interestingly, CALGreen standards also cover Construction Waste Management in addition to prerequisite storage and collection of recyclables. The alternative compliance documentation path opened to projects on July 1st, 2015.

GBCI changes name, adds certification systems

In what feels like an overnight makeover, the GBCI has expanded from serving the LEED green building rating system to now serving certification and credentialing services to five additional organizations: PEER, WELL, SITES, EDGE, and GRESB. The website FAQ identify that name change as, “a true reflection of our direction and vision for the organization.” For the casual observer, operations remain ‘business as usual.’

For an educated user of LEED systems, the name change heralds a new dawn in the expanded field of green business. No longer is LEED standing alone at the top of the green certification podium. Now it is joined by PEER-a rating process for power systems, WELL-certifying wellbeing in the built environment, SITES-healthy landscapes, EDGE-a software application for India, and GRESB-real estate portfolio management. No matter the scope of your green business practices, GBCI remains a powerhouse of third party verification services.

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