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Making the rounds at Greenbuild 17

In Boston, there was a greater focus on resilience and biophilic design among the usual parade of advances and innovations at the annual expo.

Every year, the massive Greenbuild International Conference and Expo promises news and networking opportunities within the ever-evolving green-building industry.

This week in Boston, there was a focus on everything from biophilic design to hazardous building materials to greening the rapidly accelerating transportation sector. Bill Clinton even made a closing keynote speech for industry that matters now more than ever.

Here are key updates from this year's Greenbuild season.

USGBC adopts RELi

In 2012, Perkins+Will, in collaboration with the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability (MTS), introduced RELi, a tool to prescribe methods for more resilient buildings, neighborhoods and communities. Now, thanks to its adoption by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), this methodology will become a global standard rating system under USGBC’s rubric.

RELi will operate independent from LEED, but similarly offer points across various categories, such as Fundamental Access to First Aid, Emergency Supplies, Water, Food, and Communications; and Develop or Expand Local Skills, Capabilities, and Long-Term Employment; and Provide for Social Equity and Edible Landscaping, Urban Agriculture, and Resilient Food Production.

"What we’re seeing now is the merging of thought leadership from some of the world's most progressive designers and thinkers with the global organizing capacity of the USGBC," said Doug Pierce, principal investigator for RELi and co-director of Perkins+Will’s Resilience Research Lab. "It’s going to create unprecedented potential for market transformation toward resilience planning and resilient design."

RELi will be managed and operationalized by USGBC and the Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI). Additionally, USGBC and MTS have launched a "Resilience Steering Committee" to refine and maximize the standard.

Perkins+Will launches revamped healthy building tools

More news from Perkins+Will: The design and architecture firm is updating two tools to help in its mission to improve the health effects of building materials. Those looking for an easier way to assess hazardous building materials can use the revamped Precautionary List, which features an easy-to-use tool for searching and filtering substances and chemicals of concern. The fresh tool also includes a "Watch List" and "Sunset List" to delineate substances suspected of being harmful, and seldom or no longer used in the industry, respectively.

"Diverse groups make better decisions than homogenous ones." - @BillClinton @Greenbuild #Greenbuild17

— Erica Mattison (@EricaMattison) Nov. 10, 2017

The Precautionary List will be incorporated into Portico, a building-materials analysis and decision-making tool being developed in collaboration with the likes of Google, Harvard University, the Healthy Building Network (HBN) and others. It also will be available on the Transparency website, which itself has been retooled to include new features such as a section providing context on the importance of material health.

Getting WELL gets easier for manufacturers

Since its introduction in 2014, the WELL Building Standard, administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), has helped workplaces around the world harness the built environment to improve the physical health of employees. But for a long time, manufacturers who produce sustainable building products and materials didn’t have an easy way to understand its in-depth processes and thresholds.

The just-launched Manufacturer’s Guide to WELL aims to change that, demystifying the standard for manufacturers of furniture, floors and other building materials. The guide includes detailed information on features within WELL concepts, including air, fitness and light. (Furniture manufacturers, for instance, can use it to learn about requirements for light reflectance values for ceilings, walls and furniture systems.)

Rick Fedrizzi, International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) chairman and CEO, noted that the tool will be product-agnostic, with a focus on materials, not brands. He also emphasized that he was inspired at Greenbuild by "the innovation and creativity product manufacturers are demonstrating as they work alongside us to create products that contribute to healthier and more sustainable buildings and communities."

It's an honor for ILFI award winner…

With its focus on using nature as a healing process, Singapore’s Khoo Teck Puat Hospital has led the way in the principles of biophilic design, with innovative features including rainforest-inspired landscaping, sky bridges and a natural habitat for butterflies, birds, dragonflies and fish.

At Greenbuild, the hospital’s groundbreaking work was honored with the inaugural Biophilic Design Award, offered through the International Living Future Institute’s Biophilic Design Initiative. The award honors the legacy of Stephen R. Kellert, the late scholar and Yale University social ecologist who pioneered the use of biophilic design.

Four other buildings were awarded honorable mentions: the Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh; Etsy Headquarters in New York City; COOKFOX Architects Studio, also in New York City; and Yanmar Headquarters in Osaka, Japan.

…and an honor for USGBC Leadership Award recipients

Green building pioneers also got their due at Greenbuild, earning Leadership Awards from the USGBC.

Individual honorees included Alex Liftman, Bank of America’s global environmental executive, who has pushed for such ambitious goals as becoming carbon neutral and purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020; and Dorothy Stoneman, founder and former president of YouthBuild, an international organization that empowers low-income 16- to 24-year-old volunteers to rebuild sustainable homes and businesses in their communities. On the company front, Kohler, the sink and tub maker, was recognized for its extensive Net Zero 2035 program.

"These people and companies are upending the status quo and pushing their respective industries to create a more sustainable future for generations to come," said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC.

Green transportation report comes at the right time

Transportation facilities, including airport terminal buildings, train stations, bus centers, seaports, light rail stations and control towers, are known for their significant water and energy usage and waste. LEED has been a key tool for many of these facilities to diminish their immense environmental output — and a new report aims to inspire others to follow suit.

"LEED in Motion: Transportation" highlights some of the most impressive LEED-certified transportation facilities in the world, including the LEED Gold Denver Union Transit Station, LEED Platinum General Aviation Terminal at Appleton International Airport in Wisconsin, and LEED Gold Terminal F Baggage Claim at the Philadelphia International Airport.

"Being less bad is not being good" per William McDonough @USGBC #greenbuild17 @Greenbuild

— Judy Nitsch (@JudyNitsch) Nov. 7, 2017

The report underscores the importance of sustainability in the transportation sector, as well as the strategies that easily can be implemented to reduce environmental impact and reduce costs in the process. The information is also being released at a critical time: According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), 7.2 billion passengers will fly in 2035 — almost double the number that traveled last year. Over the next several years, new airport projects in nearly all 50 states and more than 40 countries and territories will open, all of which could benefit from adhering to LEED regulations.

"LEED in Motion: Transportation" has been released on the heels of an announcement earlier this year that USGBC and GBCI had released a new LEED green building rating system pilot designed to suit the unique needs of transit systems.

Greenbuild heads to Europe

Those who enjoyed the education and networking at Greenbuild Boston will find the next Greenbuild in April at the Raddison Blu Hotel in Berlin, Germany.

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