As U.S. Green Building Council president and CEO Rick Fedrizzi delivered his opening remarks at the fifth annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, November 15-17, in Denver, he talked repeatedly about partnerships and collaboration, announcing several new USGBC initiatives and programs with companies and organizations such as Autodesk, Enterprise Community Foundation, the City of Denver, and the Clinton Foundation. “Virtually all of our important work rests on a foundation of interlocking partnerships,” said Fedrizzi. The three-day show’s attendance of 13,500 people set a new record for the event.
Highlights of the USGBC’s newly announced partnerships and programs:
• The Autodesk/USGBC partnership will focus on using technology to make sustainable design easier and more efficient, with several initiatives involving Autodesk’s Revit platform for building information modeling (BIM). The partnership centers on the idea of integrating the LEED rating system with Revit. Future plans include the possibility of jointly developing new technologies, as well as partnering on consulting and education initiatives. As a first step, Autodesk and USGBC plan to develop an educational curriculum for architecture and engineering students.
• The nonprofit Enterprise Community Foundation and the USGBC want to accelerate the rate at which affordable housing developers incorporate green building and sustainable development practices into their projects. The venture will develop and deliver training programs for affordable housing developers; evaluate the costs, benefits, and performance of green affordable housing; and create ways for more affordable housing developers to participate in USGBC programs by aligning Enterprise’s $555 million Green Communities program and LEED for Homes and cutting certification and verification costs.
• Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s opening remarks focused on his city’s new Greenprint Denver initiative, which he said would make Denver one of the nation’s greenest cities and the one with the highest concentrations of LEED buildings. All new city buildings and major renovations must be certified LEED Silver and meet the EPA’s Energy Star guidelines; greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced 10% from 1990 levels by 2011; solar and methane power plants that are capable of powering and heating the equivalent of 2,500 homes and that generate revenue to support other Greenprint Denver programs will be constructed; incentives for energy-efficient affordable housing will increase to $1.2 million within five years; and public transit access will be enhanced by increasing new development within a half mile of existing transit stations by 20% in the next five years. The mayor also talked about planting thousands of new trees that will increase Denver’s tree canopy from the current 6% to 18%.
• Ira Magaziner, chairman of the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative, spoke about partnering with the world’s largest cities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency in three ways:
Create a purchasing consortium for cities to pool their green purchasing power.Mobilize the world’s best experts to provide technical assistance to cities to develop and implement plans.Create and deploy common measurement tools and Internet-based communication systems to allow cities to establish a baseline on their greenhouse gas emissions, measure program effectiveness, and share best practices.
Notable USGBC initiatives and LEED program enhancements unveiled at the conference include:
• An all-out assault on greenhouse gas emissions. Beginning in 2007, all new commercial LEED projects will be required to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% compared to current emission levels. If the measure is approved by the LEED Steering Committee, all commercial LEED projects registered after the approval date must achieve at least two energy optimization credits.
• A portfolio pilot program that allows volume certification of similar buildings. The program allows expedited and discounted certification for roll-outs of similar new buildings based on a prototype design, and recognizes organizations that implement sustainable practices across existing building stock—all based on LEED credits and prerequisites. “It’s a LEED-based system, but not necessarily LEED certification,” said Marc Heisterkamp, assistant manager of the portfolio program. “We want to give organizations that bring all their properties up to a certain level of credit a mechanism to be rewarded for that.” Entities committed to the pilot program include the University of Florida, HSBC, Starbucks Corp., Toyota Motor Corp., and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
• Achieving LEED Platinum comes with a money-back guarantee. The USGBC will refund all certification fees (which can range from $2,000 to $12,000, depending on the project) for any building that achieves LEED Platinum. “We dare you to put us out of business,” Fedrizzi challenged the audience.
The sixth annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo will be held October 17-19, 2007, in Los Angeles.