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".