Thursday, December 18, 2008

Upcoming events related to Sustainability

Here's a list of some upcoming events relating to green building and sustainability. Many listed here are located in Minnesota or the Midwest:

Growing Cooler: How Land Use Can Help Minnesota Reach Its Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals. January 5, 2009. Minneapolis, MN.

Bringing Renewable Energy Home: Energy Policies To Maximize Energy Security And Economics. January 9, 2009. Northfield, MN.

University of Minnesota Renewable Energy Initiatives: Second Advanced Biomass Workshop. January 15, 2009. Morris, MN.

A Lumberyard's Perspective on Green Building. Northwestern Building Products Expo. January 19, 2009. Minneapolis, MN.

USGBC Mississippi Headwaters Chapter Recap of Greenbuild 2008 and Chapter meeting. January 20, 2009. St. Paul, MN.

Applying LCA Building Design - Easier than you Think! January 20, 2009. Long Beach, CA.

LEED® Core & Shell - Gold Tour: 8200 Tower. January 22, 2009. Bloomington, MN.

Green Building Basics and LEED. February 2, 2009. St. Paul, MN.

Introduction to Renewable Energy Options & Opportunities. February 7, 2009. St. Paul, MN.

Minnesota Renewable Energy Roundtable. February 9, 2009. Saint Paul, MN.

Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) 2009 Conference: Harnessing Resources & Teamwork for Minnesota’s Energy Future. February 10-11, 2009. St. Cloud, MN.

Green Building Programs: Are they Really Leading to Green? Wood Solutions Fair. February 24, 2009. Raleigh, NC.

Forest Values and Carbon Markets: Opportunities for Minnesota. February 25-26, 2009. Cloquet, MN.

Minnesota Shade Tree short Course. March 17-18, 2009. Arden Hills, MN.

Enhancing the Bottom Line through Certified Forest Products: A Primer for Wholesalers and Retailers. March 29, 2009. Plymouth, MN.

WindEnergy Business 2009: US-German Opportunities for Cooperation in Wind Energy. February 24, 2009. Chicago, IL.

Solar Energy: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Photovoltaics. April 4, 2009. White Bear Lake, MN.

Solar Energy: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Solar Water Heating. April 18, 2009. White Bear Lake, MN.

Residential Energy Auditor Training. Jan. 12 – 16, 2009, Feb. 23 – 27, 2009, April 20 – 24, 2009, May 11 – 15, 2009

Living Green Expo. May 2-3, 2009.

Greening the Heartland Conference. May 31-June 2, 2009. Detroit, MI.

Materials are only Green in Relation to Each Other. SWST Annual Meeting. June 24, 2009. Boise, ID.

The Eco-Experience at the Minnesota State Fair. August 27-September 7, 2009. Saint Paul, MN.

EEBA Excellence in Building Conference & Expo. September 28-30. Denver, CO.

2009 Minnesota Solar Tour. October 9, 2009. Various locations in Minnesota.

Greenbuild. November 11-13, 2009. Phoenix, AZ.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Changes to LEED Professional Accreditation

The USGBC has recently approved the latest standard LEED 2009, and now they are also unveiling a new accreditation program for professionals. There are going to be some changes in LEED 2009 for sure, but one major change is how the accreditation process is going to work. The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), formed by the USGBC, has been in charge of implementing these changes and helping professionals learn more about LEED.

Accreditation Program Changes
Here are the major changes from the old AP program to the new one:

  • There will be three levels of accreditation, called tiers (see below).
  • All exam levels will have eligibility requirements
  • As the standards evolve, additional testing will be required, in addition to continuing education hours. $50 credential maintenance fees occur every two years.
  • Levels of Accreditation
    The three tiers, according to GBCI, are as follows:

    Tier I
    LEED Green Associate: Evoking good environmental practice and being the first step in the LEED professionals career pathway the LEED Green Associate credential attests to demonstrated knowledge and skill in understanding and supporting green design, construction, and operations.

    Tier II
    LEED AP+ : The LEED AP+ credential signifies an extraordinary depth of knowledge in green building practices and specialization in a particular field: commercial building design & construction, commercial operations & maintenance, commercial interiors, residential design & construction, and neighborhood development.

    LEED AP Fellow: LEED Fellows enter an elite class of leading professionals who are distinguished by their years of experience and a peer review of their project portfolio. Fellows contribute to the standards of practice and body of knowledge for achieving continuous improvement in the green building field.

    Specialty Tracks
    There are also 5 specialty tracks to pursue (for LEED AP+):
    • Operations and Maintenance (old EB) 2009 O&M
    • Residential Design and Construction (HOMES) 2009 HOMES
    • Building Design and Construction (old NC) 2009 BD&C
    • Interior Design and Construction (old CI) 2009 ID&C
    • Neighborhood Development (ND) 2010 ND
    Continuing Education Requirements
    LEED Green Associate: 15 hours required every two years, 3 of which must be from an approved program specific to the LEED Rating System, credit categories, and LEED updates

    LEED AP+: 30 hours required every two years, 6 of which must be from an approved program specific to the LEED Rating System, credit categories, and LEED updates

    LEED Fellow: information not available at this time
    Changes to the Exam Format
    There are a few changes to the exam format itself. For LEED Green Associates, the exam is computer-issued, multiple choice, and takes up to 2.5 hours. The LEED AP+ exam has two parts, the core exam (same as the LEED Green Associates exam) and a specialty examination on one of tracks listed above. The LEED AP+ exam may last 4 hours. If only one portion of the exam is passed, you have three chances and one year to retake that portion until you pass. Qualifications for LEED Fellow are still under development.
    Credential Fees
    In addition to seminars, study guides, and handbooks, the following costs apply:

    LEED Green Associate:
    $50 application fee; $150 USGBC National Member fee per exam appointment ($200 for non-members); $50 maintenance fee (every two years).

    LEED AP+: $100 application fee; $300 USGBC National Member fee per exam appointment ($450 for non-members); $50 maintenance fee (every two years). Additional specialty exams are each $150.00 members ($200.00 non-members) plus the application fee.

    LEED Fellow: $50 maintenance fee (every two years); other requirements are currently being developed.
    Existing LEED AP's
    If you are currently a LEED AP, you will now be known as a "Legacy LEED AP" and have two years to "opt in" to the new system, beginning June 2009. Until you opt in your status will be listed as inactive. You must sign the disciplinary policy and agree to complete the required hours of credential maintenance to officially opt in (30 hours continuing education every 2 years, 6 of which must be LEED-based). Once opted in, you will be able to use the new LEED AP+ designation and be listed in the active registry (after the second exam is passed). If you choose to not opt in, your LEED AP status will be listed as inactive until June 2011, at which point you will be required to fulfill eligibility requirements and retake the test. The fee for opting in is waived until June 2011, at which point it becomes $50 for credential maintenance every two years (same maintenance fee as for non-current LEED AP's).

    To obtain additional designation as a LEED AP+ (ie, pursue a specialty track), a current LEED AP that has opted in only has to take the specialty track portion of the test. This costs $150 for USGBC National members and $250 for non-members for each exam appointment.

    The beta testing for Tier 1 (LEED Green Associate), and also LEED AP Operations and Maintenance exam will begin in February 2009. More beta exams will be launched first and second quarter of 2009. Stay tuned for more information as it develops.

    For more information on the new LEED Accreditation, visit GBCI or email

    Minnesota Rebate Update

    The CERTS network has just released updates on energy happenings across Minnesota, including the MN Solar Hot Water Rebate (there is still $46,000 available) and the MN Solar Electric Rebate Program (program is now full but they are taking applications for a waiting list in case the program is extended). There is also information on the MHFA's Micro-Energy Loan Program and Fix-up Fund for residential home energy improvements, updates to Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon (deadline is December 15th) as well as information on what is happening in each region in Minnesota.

    Click here to see the full update, or to see what is happening in your region.

    Wednesday, December 3, 2008

    Green Building in Crookston

    The University of Minnesota, Crookston, is hosting an event to provide education about green building, economic development, and responsible materials. See below for more information.

    Director of Eco-Affordable Housing Program at Minneapolis-based Dovetail Partners to Speak Tuesday, December 9, 2008, at the U of M, Crookston at 7 p.m. in Bede Ballroom

    Contact: Elizabeth Tollefson, assistant director of communications, 218-281-8432 (

    Crookston, Minn. (December 3, 2008) – With a focus on sustainability, the University of Minnesota, Crookston will feature guest speaker Alison Lindburg, director of the Eco-Affordable Housing Program at the Minneapolis-based nonprofit Dovetail Partners, Inc. The event, sponsored by Crookston Students for Sustainable Development and a grant funded by the Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs), is at 7 p.m. in the Sargeant Student Center Bede Ballroom. The public is welcome and admission is free.

    Lindburg, who holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture with a focus on sustainable design, is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional. Through her work at Dovetail Partners, Lindburg has worked with economic development and housing interests in many communities and presented at educational conferences across the country. Raised in a rural community herself, she is deeply committed to addressing housing challenges and is dedicated to energy-efficient design and the use of responsible building materials.

    LEED, a green building rating system, provides technical criteria for environmentally sustainable construction. A new residence hall, slated to open in summer 2009 on the Crookston campus, received LEED certification. Students, Chris Waltz and Erick Elgin led the effort for the certification of the $10.6 million, 128-bed facility. The certification verifies that a building project meets the highest green building and performance measures.

    The mission of Dovetail Partners is to provide authoritative information about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, including consumption choices, land use, and policy alternatives. To learn more, visit

    For more information on the event, contact Chris Waltz at

    Today the University of Minnesota, Crookston delivers more than 25 applied-science undergraduate degree programs and 50 concentrations, including several online degrees, in agriculture; arts, humanities and social sciences; business; math, science and technology; and natural resources. To learn more, visit

    To learn more about Dovetail Partners, visit


    Monday, December 1, 2008

    Wood is Good - Choosing Wood Flooring

    It's no secret that I believe that one of the biggest misconceptions in green building is that we need to find replacements for wood. Wood is a great building material - it's non-toxic, renewable, durable, and natural. It can be reused, refinished, or recycled. And now wood products are available that come from sustainably-managed forests, so you can be sure that the trees are harvested in a way that considers ecosystem and environmental impacts as well as ensures rights to the workers that harvest them.

    Because of the number of flooring options out there, choosing the best "eco-friendly" wood flooring can still be a confusing ordeal. Fortunately, there are some great resources to help you make an informed decision. Remember that in addition to considering the items outlined below, choosing a local product is one of the most sustainable things you can do. And be sure to check out Some Dos and Don'ts of Picking Green Products.

    Wood Characteristics - A simple overview of the different characteristics of wood, including color, character, durability, and hardness

    Flooring types - Explains the difference and benefits between veneers, solid wood, and engineered wood flooring

    Wood Certification - Forest certification originated from a desire to positively impact social, economic, and environmental issues in the forestry sector. The certification systems of today are similar to each other and cannot easily be categorized as one better than another; this link provides an unbiased resource to learn more about the different systems.

    Bamboo Flooring - Some basics about bamboo. Bamboo is great because it's natural, durable, and rapidly renewable, but not all bamboo is created equal; sustainable forest certification is especially important for bamboo. For more information on this topic, try the report, Bamboo, Environmental Silver Bullet or Faux Savior?

    Flooring Installation - The different types of wood flooring installation, and some tips and facts to remember when choosing your installation method. Also try this link to Subfloors and Finishes, which can help if you're thinking of installing over concrete or radiant heated floors.

    Wood Care and Maintenance - Wood is a durable material and can last for centuries if properly installed and cared for. Here are some tips to keeping your wood strong and beautiful.