The U.S. Green Building Council recently announced LEED Positive – a vision statement and LEED development roadmap that USGBC hopes will lay the foundation for a “regenerative” built environment.

“We must do all we can to leverage our tools and resources to scale up reductions in carbon emissions associated with buildings, communities and cities,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, USGBC’s president and CEO, at its Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held in Atlanta, Nov. 20-22. “LEED must evolve qualitatively and quantitatively.”


The vision will guide USGBC in transitioning LEED from strategies that reduce the harm done by buildings to strategies that cause no harm. It is aimed at beginning the process of healing and repair, said Ramanujam. 

The visions are: 

  1. Proposed LEED Positive targets for energy and carbon reduction that will require new construction to go further and push existing buildings with high energy use to substantially increase efficiency;
  2. Define LEED Positive targets for other LEED credit categories that make up the LEED rating system;
  3. Continue investment in LEED v4.1 to accelerate the implementation and adoption of LEED for both new and existing buildings; and 
  4. Support category level performance certificates through the Arc platform to provide existing buildings with a pathway to LEED certification. By reporting performance data and obtaining a performance score, a project will now be able to earn a category performance certificate in each of the five performance categories tracked in Arc—energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience. Once a project achieves higher performance scores across all categories, its team will be able to pursue LEED certification.

At the annual Greenbuild conference, attended by more than 10,000 people, USGBC also launched Insight, a data-driven tool that highlights building project design features that can lead to better performance. Insight is available as a feature of the Arc platform and provides information on the design attributes of LEED-certified buildings within a specified geographic region. Project teams can then compare and rank potential sustainability strategies to see how they stack up against the performance of other buildings.

Insight was created over two years in partnership with Skanska – a developer and contractor – and also a USGBC member company.

Green Product Picks

For the past 18 years, BuildingGreen has picked 10 green building products that significantly improve upon standard practices. The 10 picks reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, and contribute to building project resilience, says the green building consultant.

They are: 1) Alpen ThinGlass Triple and Quad, which is so thin it can be used in place of standard double-pane windows; 2) CalPlant medium density fiberboard, a rice-based agricultural fiber that is making a strong comeback, with a formaldehyde-free MDF that performs better than wood-based products, says BuildingGreen; 3) ChargePoint smart charging stations, which are electric vehicle charging systems that use software to optimize the experience.

4) CL-Talon 300 incorporates thermal breaks throughout its cladding system and includes an innovative framework that speeds installation, says BuildingGreen; 5) Duracyl International Inc.’s Corques Liquid Lino uses the same natural ingredients found in standard linoleum—but in a fluid-applied form that takes less carbon to produce and less time to install.

6) EP Henry and Solidia Technologies ECO Bristol Stone with Solidia pavers are the first commercially available products made from Solidia cement, produced using less water and emitting fewer greenhouse gases; 7) Hanging Gardens Smart Blue Roof Stormwater Systems not only store water on rooftops but also communicate with other systems to become part of a site-specific or municipal stormwater system.

8) Johnson Controls YORK YZ Magnetic Bearing Centrifugal Chiller is the first to be optimized for use with a next-generation refrigerant with a global warming potential (GWP) of only 1, says BuildingGreen. 9) R-50 Insulation Systems LLC Rich-E-Board encloses vacuum insulation in a protective layer to push the limits of thermal insulation, achieving R-50 in a 1.5-in.-thick panel; 10) USG Corp.'s USG Sheetrock Brand EcoSmart Panels can be used as a drop-in replacement which reduces embodied carbon without requiring any other changes to the building, says BuildingGreen.


Also at Greenbuild, the Carbon Leadership Forum launched its Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator--a first of its kind interactive database in North America. One feature of EC3, a cloud-based EC management tool that is open-source and free for all to use, is a tie-in with Autodesk’s BIM 360.

The software developer expects to maintain the integration between BIM 360 and EC3, improving the user experience based on beta user feedback, and exploring additional ways of visualizing EC on the building model using the embedded Forge Large Model Viewer.

Autodesk Sustainability got hooked on EC3 at a demonstration of an early version at the Global Climate Action Summit in 2018 and decided to become a sponsor of the project. EC3’s database of EC metrics for building materials, and the methodology the tool uses to guide architects, engineers and contractors in making climate-smart material choices made perfect sense as part of a BIM workflow, but the connection to any project model was missing, says Autodesk, which set out to build that connection to make EC management easier, faster and visually intuitive.

The BIM 360—EC3 integration greatly accelerates materials data entry by allowing teams to take advantage of existing model data, quickly extracting quantity takeoff from a Revit file on BIM 360, and automatically populating the materials schedule in EC3’s web interface, says Autodesk. The integration also leverages the power of visualization, automatically turning the model into a highly interactive EC heatmap.

Users start by activating the EC3 integration through the BIM 360 Apps tab, and granting EC3 permission to read their model data once logged in. Clicking the “Import from BIM 360” button in the EC3 web service displays the user’s BIM 360 file tree in EC3, allows selection of a specific Revit file and loads the model data (including quantities) into EC3.

Users can organize building elements by Uniformat, Masterformat, or “BIM”. As users assign materials collections and specific materials to building elements, the “conservative” and “achievable” global warming potential for each element is color-coded onto the building model. Clicking the “Show 3D model” button opens the Large Model Viewer (LMV), where the ratio between conservative and achievable GWP for each building element defines its color.

True Hotspots

Red elements are true hotspots where thoughtful procurement can dramatically reduce embodied carbon by 40% or more; yellow elements have around 30% GWP savings potential; and green elements, less than 10% potential savings, says Autodesk. Visualization draws attention to those high-risk-high-opportunity elements, and helps users focus on climate-smart procurement efforts. Selecting an element and clicking the EC3 button in the LMV displays specific GWP range and potential savings values for that element savings.

 Users also have access to the full range of LMV features, including turning elements, assemblies and object categories on and off, and querying complete BIM data per selected element, says Autodesk.

In other news at Greenbuild, the Green Business Certification Inc. announced it added two sustainability credentials to its suite of green business services. Originally developed by the International Society of Sustainability Professionals, GBCI will maintain, promote and deliver the ISSP Sustainability Associate (ISSP-SA) and ISSP Certified Sustainability Professional (ISSP-CSP). The credentials provide third-party verification of competency in the field of sustainability and recognize individuals committed to sustainability.