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Press Release




Wednesday 7 January, 2009



Greening the Buildings Where We Work, Live, and Eat

The bid for the greenest green building title has taken another step forward in New York City, an epicenter of "competition," as the National Audubon Society's new headquarters earned LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum designation, the highest of four levels of certification. In fact, the Audubon space scored the highest point total of any commercial interior in the world evaluated by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the LEED certifier. Check out Audubon's cool video for details on the eco-friendly measures taken to achieve such high LEED rating - such as daylight harvesting and a Construction Waste Management Plan diverted more than 75 percent of construction debris away from landfills.

Speaking of USGBC, the organization is finalizing a positive transformation highlighted by CSR guru John Tepper Marlin in a June 2008 HuffPost Green blog entry. Marlin noted the irony that the mainstream press didnít pick up the news that the USGBC is reorganizing the certification process, a move he applauded for promising to break up the backlog of buildings needing evaluation. "The big USGBC news last week means that as of January 2009 it will concentrate on standard-setting, and its sister organization, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), will no longer certify buildings," Marlin wrote last June. "Instead, GBCI will become de facto an accreditation institution. To conform to international standards, GBCI should become the Green Building Accreditation Institute (GBAI) and it should be moved up to a status coequal with USGBC - comparable with the Forest Stewardship Council and its sister Accreditation Services International, which started up in 2006."

In addition to environmental benefits, sustainable building management can also offer social benefits. That's the focus of Learning Links Centers, a socially responsible real estate investment company that features Resource Rooms equipped with educational resources such as Internet-wired computers where, in exchange for reduced rent, school teachers tutor student residents a few hours a day, four days a week. California-based Learning Links just bought its second development in Dallas, where it is adding a Resource Room to reach about 100 children with at least four teachers and about six assistants at full occupancy.

Sustainable practices extend beyond the buildings where we work and live to encompass those where we eat as well. For example, Massachusetts-based Owl Power's Vegawatt cogeneration system provides on-site electricity and hot water for restaurants using the very waste product most plentiful there: used vegetable oil from fryers. Instead of throwing the waste oil away, restaurants re-use it, displacing the need to buy electricity or natural gas and saving up to $800 a month. "My largest line-item expense is runaway utility costs," said George Carey, owner of Finz Seafood & Grill in Dedham, Massachusetts, the first establishment to install the Vegawatt system. "The Vegawatt system enables me to significantly reduce my energy costs, generate clean energy on-site, and very importantly, reduce the heavy energy footprint of my restaurant." Now that's "food for fuel".


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