The Northeast Corridor Regional Committee (NECRC) is composed of 11 chapters, in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The chapters in our region represent diverse environmental, social and economic assets and challenges, with varying green building marketplaces. The region is home to the oldest green building organization in the country, the Green Building Alliance (GBA), originally a USGBC affiliate and now an official chapter that celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013, as well as the youngest chapter in the network, West Virginia.
Since 2006, NECRC has brought chapters together to identify and work on common regional issues and opportunities. We have had a greater impact collectively by sharing best practices and resources, delivering unified public messages across the region and providing guidance on strategic growth of the USGBC chapter network. Rather than working as islands separated by geographical boundaries, the chapters embrace the fact that we are stronger when we work together, and we individually benefit when the region is vibrant and successful.
All of the chapters have worked to establish and support a marketplace for green building practices and products, successfully attracting and supporting the early adopters. Our region collectively boasts 2,991 LEED-certified projects as of Aug. 8. We are now placing an added focus on existing buildings and the larger community in order to achieve our goal of healthy spaces for all. The green building community in the region has grown beyond the initial early adopters in the commercial building sector to now include individuals from government, higher education institutions, K-12 schools, athletic organizations, businesses, nonprofits, and religious and community organizations, all working together to address our built environment and how it impacts health, vitality and quality of life.
Regional points of pride include:
- Way Beyond the Status Quo: Obtaining a LEED for New Construction Gold certification already demonstrates the desire and initiative needed to design a better building. But the David L. Lawrence Convention Center (once the world’s largest green building, as well as the first LEED-certified convention center) recently added a LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance Platinum certification to its previous accomplishment. This certification, along with an in-depth case study that was completed in 2011, revealed that the convention center was performing even better than anticipated. This is an exciting testimonial to the long-term benefits of green building.
- A High Performance Community: Pittsburgh is one of only four cities nationwide to host a 2030 District (convened by GBA): a community of building owners and operators who commit to 50 percent reductions in water, energy and transportation baselines by 2030. In its first year, the Pittsburgh 2030 District already has 50 percent of the city’s square footage committed to the project.
- To Platinum and Beyond: The new LEED Platinum “Yes We Can” Community Center in North Hempstead, N.Y., is a prime example of a building that supports the local community while also conserving resources and providing a healthy indoor environment for its occupants. At the end of 2012, Sota Construction Services (located in the Pittsburgh area) achieved LEED-NC Version 2.2 Platinum certification for its office expansion. This project achieved 62 out of 69 possible points under the rating system — an accomplishment surpassed by only four projects in the history of LEED.
- Banking on LEED: We are lucky to have leadership from the private sector with LEED certification standards for all buildings. For example, many of PNC Bank’s branches are located within the region and are all LEED certified, as well as the company’s headquarters in Pittsburgh.
- Green Schools for All Children within a Generation: All of the chapters in the region support healthy and high-performing places for children to learn. Exciting projects, programs and achievements include: Marshall County Schools in West Virginia was one of 14 school districts recognized nationally in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools awards; for three years, the Long Island Chapter has recognized high school students committed to environmental education and sustainability through its scholarship program; USGBC Maryland’s inspirational The Edgeless School: Design for Learning Exhibit at the City Arts Gallery challenges us to see how our communities can benefit from improved school facilities; Erie City School District in Pennsylvania received the Sustainable Energy Award from the National Environmental Education Foundation, which recognized Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy as one of three high schools across the nation that effectively engages students and teachers in schoolwide energy savings through creative and innovative use of technology; the Southwest Virginia Chapter is conducting its third annual Green Schools Challenge, which invites students, teachers and administrators from all across the region to implement no- or low-cost actions in their schools to increase indoor environmental quality, reduce carbon emissions and save money.
- Greenbuild 2013: This year’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo will be held in Philadelphia from Nov. 20-22. The conference will include the annual Legacy Project, designed to increase awareness about green building and sustainability. This year’s Legacy Project will be the Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse located in West Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, a playground that serves over 150,000 children annually.
- Roadmap to Resiliency: The Urban Green Council recently released the Green Building Roadmap for NYC’s Next Mayor, a plan that makes recommendations regarding state-of-the-art policies and practices aimed at improving indoor and outdoor environmental quality and jump-starting the sustainable building economy. The report was released in conjunction with a brand-new coalition of leaders in the real estate industry, including the Service Employees International Union, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers New York Chapter and the Building Owners & Managers Association of Greater New York. Additionally, the chapter’s Building Resiliency Task Force released its report highlighting key actions needed to protect New York buildings and residents from the threat of future extreme weather events.
As the region continues to exhibit its leadership in expanding the marketplace for green building practices and products, new resources, data and communication tools can assist all of the chapters in celebrating our successes and building a stronger foundation for the future of green building. The new market briefs and state snapshots will help us all to better communicate our story and more effectively advocate for green buildings so that our region is a healthy, high-performing and vibrant place for all of its residents.