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  • Friday, April 07, 2017 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    How Can We Combat Climate Change? Education!
    By Mike Brown

    America is in the midst of one of the most profound and rapid societal shifts in history. Today's generation of children is the first to grow up indoors. Their plugged-in lives are largely devoid of exploring the natural world and we are just beginning to understand the ramifications of their virtual world.

    This movement indoors is not benign; there are costs to the health of our children: attention difficulties, hyperactivity, childhood obesity, diminished use of senses, disconnect from things that are real. Additionally, if children are detached from nature, how will they learn about, understand, and value nature? How will the next generation care about the land and be stewards of its resources? Did you know that environmental education can help children perform better in social studies, science, language arts, and math?

    Our children deserve the best education, and with proposed budget cuts to national programs that support energy & water conservation, our mission to promote sustainability is now more important than ever. April is Earth Month and with Earth Day Texas right around the corner we have the opportunity to re-engage the community and local industry professionals about the modern environmental movement; inspiring citizens around the world to demonstrate their commitment to a healthy and sustainable world. One way that the local U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Texas Chapter is doing this is through educational outreach with its Mobile Experience Center (MEC).

    It’s no Tiny Home, but something even better! The Mobile Experience Center is a 24-foot enclosed trailer that includes an interactive multimedia space – so that visitors can actually see, feel, touch and learn about green building design, construction, as well as building operation and maintenance strategies.  Through videos, touch-screen applications, and real-world demonstrations of energy-efficient lighting, appliances and plumbing fixtures, the Mobile Experience Center makes the concept of “sustainability” tangible to thousands of visitors. 

    What’s unique about the Mobile Experience Center is its portability.  It is truly a learning and experience center on wheels.  Instead of inviting groups to come see our green exhibit at a fixed location or even a temporary installation, we are able to bring this learning and experience center to them – whether it’s a tradeshow floor, a street fair, a city building, a public parking lot, or a school playground.  It just takes a few minutes to set up (i.e. -- we position the trailer, extend the entry ramp, flip up the solar panels, and switch on the inverter).  Voila!  An instant green building demonstration platform that’s fun and interactive! Some of these exciting exhibits include:

    • 500W Solar Photovoltaic System by Axiom Solar
    • High Efficiency Plumbing Fixtures by American Standard
    • LED Lighting Panels by RAB Lighting
    • EZ-H20 Water Bottle Filling Station by Elkay
    • Green Cleaning Products (Commercial & Residential) by Staples
    • Car Charging Station by NRG
    • And even insulation made from Recycled Blue Jeans! by Bonded Logic

    Sponsors benefit from creating, developing and enhancing credibility, engaging in highly targeted marketing, leveraging word-of-mouth potential, increase brand recognition, and give back to the community.

    Since the trailer has both residential and commercial products, local business owners can also learn about strategies and equipment that can be used improve their bottom line. Many of our volunteers are engineers, architects or contractors and are knowledgeable about various green building practices and methods for reducing operational costs. Data collected from last year's travels across North Texas estimated that the solar panels generated about 1,300 kWh electrical over the course of the entire year (equivalent to 2,190 miles driven by a car or preventing 1 metric ton of CO2 emissions). Now that the USBGC Texas Chapters are united, the MEC has the potential to travel across the vast state of Texas to various trade shows, conferences, and schools. Upcoming appearances include events like GRO El Paso, the USGBC Texas Energy Summit (Houston), and the North Texas Sustainable Showcase.

    Interested in having the MEC at one of your events, schools, or social? Visit our website here for more details on event requests.

    The MEC is scheduled as an exhibit for this year’s Earth Day Texas event to be held Friday, April 21st – Sunday, April 23rd at Fair Park in Dallas. Event hours are 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. This three-day free event is held in April to celebrate progress, hope, and innovation and is the largest event in the world of its kind. Earth Day Texas brings together environmental organizations, businesses, academic institutions, government agencies, speakers, interactive programming, and subject matter experts along with live music and sustainable beer and food pavilions. Earth Day Texas creates a fun and engaging atmosphere for thought and experiential learning while encouraging attendees to be the change they wish to see in the world. In 2016, Earth Day Texas hosted over 130,000 attendees, 700+ exhibitors and 250+ speakers
    , becoming the largest annual environmental exhibition and programming initiative in the world.


    The MEC not only offers the community an opportunity to learn about existing technologies that conserve water and energy, but it also gives them the tools and resources to apply in their everyday lives. In an era where more and more children are disconnected from nature, USGBC recognizes the importance of making a real investment in environmental education and outdoor learning. Studies have shown environmental education engages students in learning, raising test scores, and encouraging youth to pursue career in environmental and natural resources.

    Teaching the community to become environmental stewards would not be possible without the help of our MEC Leadership Team and dedicated volunteers throughout the year.

    If you would like to volunteer at an upcoming event or join the development of bringing this amazing initiative all together, send a request below. You can also support by following or sharing on social media.

    ·        Like the USGBC Texas Facebook page

    ·        Follow USGBC Texas Twitter

    ·        Follow USGBC Texas on LinkedIn


  • Friday, March 03, 2017 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    The Business of Water: North Texas Water Symposium 2017
    By David Rodriguez

    Don't be deceived just because the lakes are full. Water will be an on-going concern for Texas businesses and homes as the population increases and temperatures rise. What do business owners, managers, and homeowners need to know about the current and long-term costs and availability of this quintessential natural resource? Find out on March 29th when USGBC Texas hosts its third annual North Texas Water Symposium.

    This symposium will focus on water security confidence, which the public and private sector need to continue making North Texas a viable place to invest in and conduct business. The intent of the North Texas Water Symposium is to inform and engage the public in dialogue on the state of water in North Texas. This year’s theme is “The Business of Water,“ so speakers will emphasize the business component with its many derivatives.

    Household decision makers and building professionals working with the residential sector will also benefit from understanding the statewide concerns around this critical natural resource that is both renewable and exhaustible.  The average household uses 400 gallons per day for indoor and outdoor domestic uses, spending about $500 annually on water and sewage utility costs. In 2009, it was projected 22% of US households would spend more than 4% of their household income on water and wastewater fees.  

    As water utility rates continue to rise faster than household income, water conservation must increase to improve the economic situation for our nation’s low-income households as well. All stakeholders should be present in order to understand the challenges as well as opportunities that will arise as water issues escalate in importance.

    Event Details
    WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 2017
    Bill Priest Institute, Hoblitzelle Auditorium
    1402 Corinth Street, Dallas, Texas 75215
    9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

    Register Now

    Speakers-to-date include:

    • Sapna Mulki, Director, Water, Hahn Public
    • Jake Spicer, Enterprise Sustainability Manager, DFW Airport

    More speakers coming soon!

    The USGBC Texas has been pleased at the range and depth of water issues explored by the distinguished speakers who have participated in this series. Topics in our water symposium series have included: water stewardship; current historical and future impact of watershed, water quality, and water management issues on North Texas; long-term investment and planning for watersheds and the recent decreasing levels of North Texas reservoir storage; the impact of water on economic development in North Texas; property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing; and various options for water management.

    Previous speakers at our water symposiums have included:

    • Jonathan Radtke, North America Water Resource Manager at Coca-Cola
    • Mike Bastian, Vice President for CH2M Hill and Chairman of the Greater Dallas Planning Council’s Water Task Force
    • Robert Mace,  Texas Water Development Board
    • Jack Tidwell, formerly with North Central Texas Council of Governments
    • Mikel Wilkins , Verdunity Sustainable Design
    • Russell Laughlin, Senior Vice President of Hillwood Properties
    • Frank Bliss, President - Cooper and Stebbins
    • Robert Kent formerly with the North Texas Commission
    • Bech Bruun, Chair- Texas Water Development Board
    • Dr. Andrew Schoolmaster, Dean, AddRan College of Liberal Arts
    • Walter “Buzz” Piskur, Director of Water Utilities, City of Arlington
    • Linda Christie, Community and Government Relations, Tarrant Regional Water District
    • Glenn Clingenpeel , Planning and Environmental Services, Trinity River Authority of Texas  
    • John Robert Carman, Water Director, City of Fort Worth
    • Jay Chapa, City of Fort Worth, Economic Development
    • Lairy Johnson, Environmental Engineer - Miller-Coors
    • Todd Waldvogel, PE, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities & Campus Planning - Texas Christian University
    • Steve Sassman , Water and Energy Conservation Engineer- General Motors
    • Jody Puckett, Director- City of Dallas Water Utilities
    • Frank Crum, former Water Director, City of Fort Worth, Public Infrastructure at Halff Associates

    Any questions? Contact David Rodriguez, Program Chairman, USGBC Texas, Water Symposium Series at

  • Monday, February 06, 2017 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    Join USGBC Texas in Austin for Advocacy Day
    By Anna Clark

    The 85th Legislative Session began on January 10th. and advocacy efforts are underway to promote favorable policies for greener building in the Lone Star state. Green building is projected to see positive growth for years to come, with its influence reaching across the U.S. economy and generating significant environmental, economic and social benefits. If you are eager to learn how to encourage your legislators to support sustainable building practices in Texas, join us in Austin for USGBC Texas State Advocacy Day.

    On February 28th volunteer advocates will convene at the Capitol in Austin for an advocacy training session where we will review the Chapter’s advocacy priorities and legislative agenda.  Following this session, attendees will make legislative visits to offices in the Capitol during the afternoon.

    “Instead of walking in with big agenda, we have the advantage of walking in as educators on what can become positive and non-partisan legislation,” said David Matiella, Chair of the USGBC Texas Statewide Advocacy Committee.

    USGBC Texas is also pursuing a Green Schools Caucus during this legislative session and will target several legislators to co-chair this caucus. Green Schools Caucus will center around three pillars of a green school, including 1) reduced environmental impact & costs, 2) improved occupant health & wellness, and 3) effective environmental & sustainability education

    The state’s advocacy efforts complement USGBC National’s legislative priorities, which include:

    •        Government Leadership by example
    •        Private Sector market transformation
    •        Raising the bar on codes and regulations and
    •        Community-wide sustainability

    For details on the Chapter’s priorities for these impact areas, check out the Narrative of Priorities, the Advocacy & Policy section at, and review the 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study.

    To participate in USGBC Advocacy Day, please meet at the Mitte Foundation Carriage House on February 28th at 11:00 am at 1008 West Ave, Austin, TX 78701. The event will conclude with a reception at Google Fiber Space located in downtown Austin at 201 Colorado St., Austin, TX 78701. Representative Mark Strama will speak. RSVP for the event below.

    For information, contact

    RSVP for Advocacy

  • Wednesday, January 25, 2017 3:00 PM | Deleted user

    U.S. Green Building Council Announces Texas is

    10th State in the Nation for LEED Green Building in 2016

    Washington, D.C. — (Jan 25, 2017) — Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its national ranking of the top states in the country for LEED green building and Texas is the 10th state in the nation for 2016.  The annual list highlights states throughout the country that made significant strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation over the past year.  With a total of 211 LEED certified projects representing 1.67 square feet of certified space per resident, Texas is leading the charge in the green building movement in the United States.

    “Texas has been a phenomenal trailblazer in green building and LEED certifications and is leading the way toward a more sustainable future for generations to come,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC. “The success of LEED could not happen without support from states likes Texas that believe in being environmentally and socially responsible and have committed to transforming the built environment. With each new LEED certification, we are lowering carbon emissions, creating a healthier environment, driving economic growth and prioritizing sustainable practices that will positively impact the way residents, communities and cities live, work and play.”

    According to USGBC’s 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study, LEED construction is expected to support 244,000 jobs and impact GDP by $21.39 billion from 2015- 2018 in Texas.

    “Our ranking in the Top 10 States for LEED shows the continued success of the green building market in Texas,” said Jonathan Kraatz, executive director of USGBC – Texas Chapter. “Companies and business owners across the state have embraced LEED and green building practices in all sectors from a fiscally — as well as socially — responsible perspective, and are realizing the benefits of LEED on both their occupants and facilities. We’ve made a great start and look forward to continuing our work creating prosperous sustainable built environment that improves life for all Texans."

    Now in its seventh year, the ranking assesses the total square feet of LEED-certified space per resident based on U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects certified during 2016. The full ranking is as follows:

    2016 Top 10 State for LEED



    Certified Gross Square Footage (GSF)

    Per-capita Certified GSF

    Total No. Projects
























































    *Included in 2015 Top 10 States for LEED list
    **Washington, D.C. is not ranked as it is a federal district, not a state

    A few notable projects that certified in Texas in 2016 include:  

    •    Skanska West Memorial Place Phase I in Houston; LEED Platinum
    •    Bank of America Plaza 901 Main in Dallas; LEED Gold
    •    Baylor Medical Waxahachie; LEED Silver

    Collectively, 1,819 commercial and institutional projects achieved LEED certification within the Top 10 States for LEED in 2016, representing 309.12 gross square feet of real estate. Across the United States, 3,366 projects were certified in 2016, representing 470.39 million square feet.

    The LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of green buildings. More than 59,000 commercial, neighborhood and residential projects are currently LEED certified, comprising more than 6 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 164 countries and territories globally. 

  • Thursday, November 17, 2016 2:00 PM | Deleted user

    What an exciting time it is to be a part of our USGBC Texas community! One of the key opportunities for Chapter members in guiding USGBC Texas' strategic direction is with the nomination and election of the 2017 Regional Councils.

    The Election will be open from December 1 - December 14, 2016. Voting is conducted online and only members of the Chapter may vote. Chapter Members will receive an invitation to vote via the e-mail on record - login to ensure your e-mail is up-to-date or e-mail for assistance.

    Not a member of the Chapter? Join or renew here.

    Below are your candidates for the 2017 Regional Councils.


    Debby Moore Baker

    Vice President of Sales

    Moore Disposal Corporation & 
    Moore Recycling Incorporated

    Susan Flanagan
    , LEED AP ID+C
    Southwest Regional Manager
    Solatube, International

    Brandon Kenney
    Vice President
    Fischer & Company

    Tricia Loe

    Sustainable Concepts, LLC


    Brent Farrell

    Founder & Owner
    ReCraft Construction Services, LLC

    Tim Murray

    Sustainable Design Leader
    EYP, Inc.

    Maria Perez
    , AIA, LEED Fellow

    Kapil Upadhyaya
    Senior Associate/Building Performance Analyst
    Kirksey Architecture


    Andrew Clements

    Lisa Storer

    Project Manager
    Benz Resource Group

    Andre Suissa, MAI
    Titan Commercial Valuation, LLC

    Amy Tasch
    , LEED AP ID+C
    Treehouse, Inc
    Assistant Store Director

    Allison Wilson
    Ayers Saint Gross


    Lauren Baldwin

    Sustainability Program Specialist
    City of El Paso

    Nicole Ferrini
    Chief Resilience Officer
    City of El Paso

    Ryan Green

    Seeing Green Sales & Consulting, Inc.

    Thea Gudonis

    Solar City

    Joseph Riccillo
    Sundt Construction


    Michael Britt
    Project Architect
    Lake Flato Architects

    John Sullivan
    Architectural Specifier
    InterCeramic USA

  • Friday, November 04, 2016 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    Greenbuild is the most exciting week of the year for USGBC when industry professionals converge to share ideas and celebrate the accomplishments of the past year. This year, members of the green building community and beyond gathered in Los Angeles, California on October 5-7 for the industry’s premier event. 

    Didn’t have the opportunity to attend Grenbuild 2016? Check out the recaps from your fellow Texas Chapter members below, from first-time Greenbuild newbies to Emerging Professionals to seasoned conference goers.

    "The two big USGBC announcements from Greenbuild were the "arc" platform that bridges all the GBCI certifications using big data and LEED for Cities (no details yet!). The expo was as informative as ever and featured several tiny houses. The two big electrochromic glazing competitors tried to outdo each other with View offering a virtual product experience at their booth while Sage glass gave tours of the 71 Above restaurant outfitted with their product in L.A.'s tallest building. The educational sessions were decidedly more technical than in the past and I left each one with new ideas and tools to implement them. I took two tours that were uniquely L.A.. The first showed the polar opposites of the Hollywood neighborhood with a new housing project for homeless and then a Class A+ residential tower incorporating historical buildings of the old CBS radio / TV studio. That tour ended at Morphosis' Emerson College, a dorm and classroom building for the student's L.A. internships, overlooking the Hollywood sign. The second tour was of UCLA with its 30 LEED certified projects on campus and its system wide goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. Keynote Speakers Bjarke Ingels shared his latest projects while Sebastian Junger told us of war-time loyalties that tapped into our instinctive need for tribal belonging and how these groups can make true change possible. Fun was had too, from Pokemon hunting on Santa Monica Pier to Celebration performances by X Ambassadors and Aloe Blacc." - Tim Murray, USGBC Texas Board of Directors - Secretary

    "When I first learned about Greenbuild, it was described to me as “Disney World for people in our industry”. It most definitely did not disappoint.

    My Greenbuild days looked like this: I reached my daily 10,000 step goal by lunchtime, jumped from one interesting education session to another learning about what new projects and technologies are changing our industry, and was exposed to the most innovative green products on today’s market. However, as amazing as all that was, what really made it “Disney World” for me was being surrounded by thousands of people who genuinely cared about the environment, interacting with leaders that were paving the way so we could all make a difference, and having the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas across all areas of sustainable design." - Marianna Verlage, First Time Greenbuild Attendee

    "It was great to attend Greenbuild this year in LA. I always enjoying going to Greenbuild to see new sustainable and innovate products, attending great educational sessions and networking with other sustainable leaders from around the world!

    This year, I noticed a continued emphasis on Health and Wellness. We are still learning just how important our buildings and spaces can have a big impact on human health.  We need to focus on improving the environment that we live in." - Chris Mundell, North Texas Regional Council - Chairman

    "Greenbuild this year offered a lot of LEED v4 informational sessions.  There was concern expressed by many conference attendees about how project teams will handle the new challenges and how the market will accept the new standards.  There was also a subtle transition in the USGBC’s vision and focus with a new CEO taking over for Rick Fedrizzi, Mahesh Ramanujam.  Mahesh gave an official acceptance speech at the Closing Plenary session where he expressed concerns about growing social issues facing the world.  He originally comes from India and is personally touched by the extreme poverty many people live in and the unequal access to sustainable living environments.  I think in the future we’re going to see a lot more advocacy for gripping social issues from the USGBC… or at least more edgier Master Speaker Sessions at Greenbuild!" Courtney Brinegar, ADVANCE Ambassador

    Thank you, Los Angeles – it was definitely an Iconic Green event! For those of you who missed out this year, mark your calendars for Greenbuild 2017 in Boston on November 8-10, 2017.

    Did you attend Greenbuild 2016? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below! (You must be logged in to leave a comment).

  • Monday, October 10, 2016 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    A Green Apple for Our Teachers
    by Stacia Peese

    September has passed and our children are settling in for another year of reading, writing and arithmetic.

    The past several months, I’ve been learning about challenges and opportunities in the education community. How are the students being prepared for the 21st century? What type of tools do they need? How are facilities supporting these progressive learning styles? And how can we pay for it all?  Each of these questions has complex answers. In this blog post, I’m focusing on the maintenance and operation numbers.

    This past spring, USGBC’s Center for Green Schools released a study entitled State of Our Schools: America’s K-12 Facilities. The study highlights that many of our school facilities are struggling to provide 21st learning environments because many essential maintenance and capital improvement programs are underfunded.    

    According to the study, on every school day, nearly 50 million students and 6 million adults occupy close to 100,000 buildings. This equates to an estimated 7.5 billion gross square feet and 2 million acres of land. That’s huge! In fact, state and local governments invest more capital in K-12 public school facilities than in any other infrastructure sector outside of the highways. 

    Nationally, between the years of 1994-2013, states and districts spent a total of $925 billion in 2014 dollars on maintenance and operations (M&O), including: daily cleaning, grounds keeping maintenance, utilities, and security of facilities.  This averages to $46 billion per year over those 20 years. In order to keep pace with the projected increase in student enrollment from 2012-2024, M&O spending will need to increase another by another $8M. 

    In 2013, Texas K-12 Public School facilities consisted of 8,731 schools amounting to 602 million gross square feet. Enrollment was set at 4,897,523.  In the period from 1994-2013, Texas public school districts spent $4,598M maintaining and operating its facilities. That is roughly 11% of their total operating funds. The study stated that based on historic rates of spending, the State of Texas will need to increase its spend an additional $2M per year to accommodate the additional 688,641 students projected to enroll in classes between 2012 and 2024. Most of that increase will go toward capital construction and new facilities as Texas’ historic spending on M&O is above the National average.  Since the study was conducted, this may be a challenge to maintain with the declining oil and gas revenues that have been enjoyed by the State. 

    The report’s executive summary provides four key strategies for addressing our challenges.

    1) Understand your community’s public school facilities.
    A key requirement is to have better data on public school infrastructure.
    2) Engage in education facilities planning.
    Education leaders must communicate to the general public the value of safer and healthier environments for learning. Provide a plan.
    3) Support new public funding.  
    Relying primarily on local property taxes will not allow for improvements.  We need to be creative not only on state and local levels.  We need to explore, too, how the federal government may assist. 
    4) “Finally, leverage public and private resources in new ways to assist states and districts in providing healthy, safe, educationally appropriate and environmentally responsible facilities for their communities.” 

    Practicing sustainability in schools can make a big impact in managing our maintenance and operations resources.  A few activities that fall within these categories include daily cleaning, campus waste audits, grounds-keeping, campus beautification, security and school lighting.

    If an educator is interested in going green or know of one that you would like to support, consider the Green Apple Day of Service, a global movement to put all children in schools where they have clean and healthy air to breathe, where energy and resources are conserved, and where they can be inspired to dream of a brighter future. Events can be hosted year round. To plan an event, visit:

    May we always learn new things in order to better support ourselves in the future.  May we always have an environment available to test new skills and theories. That’s what I’m doing here with my first ever blog post as a proud Regional Council member of USGBC Texas, whose mission is to educate all Texans about the benefits of sustainable building. 

    School is never out for the pro, so if you’re interested in opportunities to grow and learn in sustainability, join us!  Here’s how:

    Stacia Peese, LEED AP
    Staples Business Advantage

  • Friday, September 02, 2016 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    Catalyzing Urban Resilience in American Cities
    by Anna Clark

    Resilience, a new paradigm for urban planning, green building, and community development, was the subject of the 2016 North Texas Sustainable Showcase, an annual conference hosted by USGBC Texas and other sponsors. The event introduced professionals from every facet of the building sector to elements of urban resilience, a term that both includes and transcends sustainability.

    “Resilience is the preservation of communities through ongoing planning for the capacity to learn, adapt, and change in the face of present-day and future threats, both predictable and unknown,“ said Z Smith, principal and director of sustainability and building performance for New Orleans-based design studio Eskew+Dumez+Ripple.

    From left to right: Keynote Speaker Z Smith, North Texas Regional Council Member Norma Lehman, Keynote Speaker Betsy del Monte. 

    Smith used the example of the New York City’s subway system to illustrate the importance of planning for resilience. It had been “designed to withstand all sorts of events” but Hurricane Sandy, which it might have otherwise survived, “proved too much,” said Smith.

    Juxtaposing the example of an urban system being compromised by an immediate blow, Showcase speakers shared other examples that illustrated the cascading consequences of slow deterioration of infrastructure in the face of rising water, heat, and socio-economic pressures.

    “Things can chronically weaken you over time until you just can’t go on anymore,” said El Paso’s Chief Resilience Officer Nicole Ferrini during her presentation on urban resilience.

    Ferrini defines “city resilience” as the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions and businesses within a city to survive, adapt and thrive no matter what kind of chronic stresses and acute shocks they may experience.  

    As a desert city, El Paso faces consequences of increasing heat; the city experienced four heat-related deaths during this summer. On the positive side, El Paso aims to use its unique circumstances to develop a path for other cities. 

    “El Paso wants to establish the value of a ‘desert ecosystem’,” said Nicole Ferrini.

    In Dallas, chronic stress not only involves increasing heat, but also increasing inequality. According to the analysis from the Urban Institute, which examined inequality within commuting zones (defined as portions of several counties that make up metropolitan areas), Dallas posted the largest neighborhood disparity among commuting zones with at least 250,000 residents.

    “We have a $52 billion health care industry in North Texas, but we have the highest rate of uninsured people,” said Dallas’ Chief Resilience Officer Theresa O’Donnell. Alongside her efforts to bolster the built environment, O’Donnell is emphasizing inclusive economic development in Dallas’ roadmap to resilience. 

    The emphasis in inclusion will also enable the City of Dallas to leverage the support of similarly-aligned civic organizations that are tackling this issue, such as the Inclusive DFW Consortium, a multi-stakeholder community under development with the SMU Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity.

    While cities in Texas may seem like underdogs compared to sustainability heavyweights such as San Francisco and New York City, as members of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100RC network, Ferrini and O’Donnell have a track to run on in their race to resilience. The City Resilience Framework provides a lens to understand the complexity of cities and the drivers that contribute to their resilience.

    “Looking at resilience nationally, we see each threat is different but themes are the same,” said Smith. He acknowledged that in some American cities, resilience is not about achieving recognition so much as survival.

    “New Orleans one day may be like Venice, a historic city surrounded by open water,” said Smith.  Fortunately, since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the city has made some phenomenal green achievements.

    Referencing leading-edge projects such as the BioInnovation Center, Smith explained that his team’s work in New Orleans “draws on ideas from around the country and around the world.” (Download the Resilient New Orleans Strategy here.)

    Recalling that jazz was invented in New Orleans by drawing on ideas from other places and combining them in original ways, Smith added, “Everyone working in resilience has to improvise, but that improvisation can produce beautiful results.”

    Strengthening communities with social resilience

    While cities often approach resilience to address their most pressing needs, those that are proactive can enjoy what Smith calls the “resilience benefit,” which encapsulates the health, wellness, and financial benefits that accompany efforts toward climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness, and economic inclusivity.

    Accounting for the social side of the urban resilience movement, the conference concluded with a stakeholder experience led by Betsy del Monte, FAIA, LEED BD+C, and Jim Newman, LEED AP O+M and principal at Linnean Solutions.

    “True engagement comes from co-creating efforts with all stakeholders affected,” said Newman. “Our regenerative development approach is to work with communities to create solutions that are aligned with their environmental, social and economic goals and needs as well as the overall resilience framework of the city.”

    Attendees participate in roundtable discussions at North Texas Sustainable Showcase.

    As those of us experienced in the workshop, Newman’s approach is to insert people and their experiences into the conversation as a key driver for resilient infrastructure planning, Presenting alongside del Monte, Newman explained their belief in the importance of integrating stakeholder input into solutions. Their presentation expressed a happy confluence of regenerative development training, a design competition aimed at dealing with sea-level rise, and a vision for more humane urban development.

    “Betsy and my belief is that we must bring actual people deeply into the planning process so that Dallas can not just survive, but thrive with climate change.” Newman added, “Once we accept these goals, then the question is, ‘How can we affect the most people and do the greatest amount of good?’ This is where our approach to using press and engaging communities gains real power. These tools are available to everyone.”

    The 2016 Sustainable Showcase speakers exemplify the caliber of ideas, expertise, and tools that are available to USGBC members and attendees at events. For more information on the Chapter’s events throughout Texas, visit the Events Calendar on the website:

    About Anna Clark

    Anna Clark is the president of EarthPeople Media, a strategic communication firm serving start-ups, mid-sized enterprises, Fortune 500s and NGOs. An independent journalist on sustainability and social innovation, Anna’s voice has appeared in Huffington Post,, Guardian Sustainable Business, Al Jazeera English, The Christian Science Monitor and The Dallas Morning News.

  • Friday, September 02, 2016 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    Houston Launches PACE Program
    By Tim Murray

    Houston formally launched its PACE program on Wednesday in a ceremony lead by Mayor Turner in the Legacy Room of City Hall. PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. The voluntary program allows for buildings to finance energy and water efficiency improvements with private sector funding. The funding is then assessed as a senior lien on the property, which is why the city or county must establish the PACE programs. This allows for longer term loans, up to 20 years. Property owners can make their improvements with no upfront capital and ideally their payments are designed to be less than the anticipated energy or water savings resulting in a positive cash flow.

    Mayor Turner announces the launch of the Houston PACE program, August 3, 2016
    Photo: Tim Murray

    The Texas Legislature passed the bill authorizing taxing entities to establish PACE programs in 2013. Mayor Turner voted for the bill twice while serving as a state representative, so it was fitting that he be able to formally launch the program. Mayor Turner noted that if only 3.5 % of commercial properties in Harris County participated, it could result in a savings of $650 million in energy reduction. Currently $100 million of commercial projects are planned in Houston.

    John Hall, of the Environmental Defense Fund said that Texas has the highest potential of all states for energy reduction in renewables and demand reduction and the PACE program could result in billions in savings.

    Charlene Heydinger is the President of Texas PACE Authority which will administer the program for the city. Charlene has been a tireless promoter and advocate of PACE for years, yet she used her time at the podium to thank Steve Block of Thompson & Knight for establishing Keeping PACE in Texas. This non-profit organized the creation of the “PACE in a Box” toolkit that standardizes the PACE program. This standardization makes for quicker program establishment by local governments and provides consistency for lending institutions.

    Dub Taylor, Director of the State Energy Conservation Office is optimistic about how effective this structure can be for the private sector as he has seen the success of the state’s similar LoanSTAR program for public properties over many years.

    The Houston program represents the sixth PACE program established in Texas.

    City of Houston’s Press Release:

    Mayor Turner’s announcement video:

    PACE in a Box:

    For more information:

    About Tim Murray

    Tim Murray is a Sustainable Design Leader at EYP (WHR Architects) and has been the Project Team Administrator on 28 LEED certified projects. He serves as Secretary of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Texas Chapter and has been on the USGBC-Texas Gulf Coast Region (Chapter) Board of Directors since 2014. He previously served as Chair of the USGBC Texas Gulf Coast Chapter in 2006/2007, served on the USGBC National Chapter Steering Committee, and the national LEED Steering Committee during the development of LEED v4. Tim was the Founding Chair of the Greater Houston Partnership’s Green Building Sub-committee. A registered architect, he graduated from the University of Houston and serves as Treasurer for his son’s Boy Scout Troop.

  • Friday, August 05, 2016 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    Shootin' the Green Breeze
    by Chris Mundell

    Welcome to the inaugural blog for USGBC Texas! We felt it was imperative to share our thoughts and knowledge about sustainable strategies, resources, and tools for our members and their communities and we’ll be using this blog to connect with you on a monthly basis. 

    I'm Chris Mundell, and as the Chair of the North Texas Regional Council, I asked to start with the first blog.  It is hard to believe that 2016 is my ten-year anniversary as a LEED Accredited Professional. Sustainability has been a passion of mine for so long and it has been an honor to be able to incorporate that into my projects.

    In May, my co-worker and I were asked to be on a Radio Show to talk about Gensler’s approach to sustainability.  Speaking on the radio show “Shootin’ the Breeze” (Episode #25), I shared with listeners about sustainable strategies that make sense here in North Texas. The climate in this region is much different that along the US coastlines, for example. Therefore not everything can be accomplished like in those climate zones. Other topics I talked about included renewable energy from wind and solar power, the use of pervious pavers to help with storm-water management, and healthier materials to provide better indoor environments for occupants.

    Texas is one of the largest producers of wind power.  But much of that wind generation comes from West Texas and large wind turbines. A couple years ago, I helped the University of North Texas (UNT) achieve a LEED Platinum certification for its new football stadium. It also became the first Platinum stadium in the US.  Part of the design of the stadium included the use of wind power. UNT received a grant to design and install 3 “community scale” wind turbines. These turbines worked well in their location and continue to help offset the Stadium’s power. Another strategy that we incorporated on the stadium project was the use of pervious pavers for all the new parking lots and drives in lieu of poured concrete or asphalt slabs.  The pavers allow rainwater to seep through into the ground rather than runoff into the storm drains. 

    Lastly, one of the most important topics today is human health.  We are learning that the materials and products used to build our homes, schools, offices, and hospitals have an effect on our health. Research shows that we spend typically 90% of our time indoors, but the concern is that our indoor environments might not be the best spaces for us. So, we’re now looking more closely at how we design these spaces with proper air ventilation and filtration as well as the selection of healthier materials and products.

    I hope you get a chance to hear the radio show for the full conversation. Join us on this blog as we continue to share knowledge, best practices, and exciting project updates in green building.

    - Chris

    Chris is an architect at Gensler, where he serves as a Senior Project Manager, the South Central Defense and Aerospace Practice Area Leader, a Community-Flex Studio Operations Leader and a South Central Region Design Performance Leader. He has been involved in a wide range of architecture projects for the past 20 years for government, healthcare, commercial, educational and multifamily residential clients. In addition to his work roles, he is actively involved in the local chapters of AIA, CSI, and USGBC. Chris is the current Chair for the USGBC North Texas Regional Council, serves on the 2030 Dallas District Leadership Council, and is a past-president for the CSI Dallas Chapter. 

USGBC Texas Chapter is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 1801 Royal Lane, Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75229

Contact us at or at 214-571-9244

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