Advance Campaign for Social Equity Toolkit | U.S. Green Building Council
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Advance Campaign for Social Equity Toolkit

GBCI: 0920014930

A framework for social equity and mainstreaming sustainable practices.

Published on: November 14, 2017



How can we create a more inclusive, equitable green building movement? How can we offer access to green building resources and benefits for underserved and vulnerable communities?

With USGBC’s Advance Campaign!

The Advance Campaign helps community-based organizations discover effective green building strategies that align with their goals. It builds upon sustainability industry best practices and leadership standards while connecting community-based organizations to green business tools, resources and expertise.

This course page tells you what you need to know to understand this program and get started. Log in with your account or create a free user account to access these materials. In addition, a lot of great tools and training materials are available.

Want to partner on the Advance Campaign? Contact us and we'll help you access the right people and materials.

Advance Campaign: Making green building inclusive and equitable to all.


In order to advance the green building movement within underserved, emerging, vulnerable and frontline communities, USGBC created the Advance Campaign.

Through a series of guided workshops and activities, benefitting organizations are teamed up with green building professionals who volunteer their time and skills to help them identify, prioritize and in some cases, implement cost-effective strategies that can lead to improved health, efficiency and environmental performance.

What is it?

The program is an on-the-ground engagement campaign that brings community-based organizations together with green building experts, resources and tools to advance operational efficiency in their organization.

The Advance Campaign follows a process of engagement similar to the integrative design process that is promoted throughout LEED and other green business rating systems. In order to meet participating organizations and people ‘where they are’, significant focus is placed on both relationship and team building.

Advance prioritizes activities that foster alignment and encourage discovery through data and analysis, in order to develop an optimal solid plan of action to best serve the benefitting community-based organization and its constituents.

What are the goals?

  • Expand engagement with non-traditional audiences by providing technical assistance to targeted community-based organizations
  • Increase access to green building, expertise, tools, resources and benefits in underserved markets
  • Remove barriers for entry into the green building marketplace through pro-bono services
  • Create mentoring opportunities within the industry by mobilizing expert and emerging green building professionals to work together as a volunteer force
  • Encourage green practices with a focus on existing building and their operations, maintenance and ongoing performance, the largest opportunity in most local market’s building stock

The Advance Campaign serves two primary audiences - community organizations and sustainability professionals.

Community Organizations

  • Community-based organizations looking to get started with green building are the ultimate benefactors of the Advance Campaign. These can be market sector partners who have not traditionally been engaged with the green building movement, and organizations who serve people from under-served, under-resourced, low-income, and other vulnerable communities.
  • Representatives from the organization receive green building expertise, coaching and education from industry professionals who serve as a mentors and educators. This could include organization staff, volunteers, clients, and other key stakeholders. Activities and workshops are provided to guide this work.

Sustainabilty Professionals

  • Green building professionals looking to volunteer gain hands-on experience in teaching others, making meaningful contributions within their communities, and have the opportunity to earn up to 30 hours in GBCI Continuing Education hours.
  • Volunteers can include: Design and construction professionals seeking to learn more about ongoing building operations, maintenance, performance and LEED for Existing Buildings; Students and emerging professionals seeking to gain experience and mentorship; LEED Professionals seeking to maintain their credentials; or LEED Fellows and other seasoned professionals seeking to mentor young professionals and new audiences.

The goal of the Advance Campaign is to increase engagement with partners and market sectors who have not traditionally been engaged with the green building movement and make tools, resources and expertise accessible to people from emerging, under-served, under-resourced, low-income, and other vulnerable communities. These include:

  • Education: Ongoing operations of K-12 schools with a focus on Title 1 schools, and educational institutions serving vulnerable populations and frontline communities
  • Faith-based Organizations: Houses of worship and faith-based missions
  • Affordable Housing: Multifamily, nonprofit or public housing properties
  • Veterans Affairs: Non-profit organizations serving veterans and their families
  • Public & Social Services: Municipal or non-profit social service facilities

The Advance Campaign was designed to work across various scales of buildings, organizations and volunteer groups. This could include:

  • A single, existing building like a house of worship, VFW Hall or school
  • A single organization with a portfolio of buildings (i.e. 39 senior care facilities owned by a public housing authority)A newly construction single-family home (i.e. YouthBuild, Habitat)
  • Multiple organizations convened by a partner (i.e. Several congregations convened by Interfaith Power & Light)
  • Multiple properties within a boundary (i.e. Community college or school campus)

The Advance Campaign follows a simple trajectory - START, PLAN, ACT & LEED.

What happens?

Specific tools, workshops and guided activities support the project teams at each phase. A campaign can do any or all of these steps depending on their goals and resources.


  • Outreach & relationship building
  • Introductory green building education
  • Kick off workshop on the value of green building, aspirations and opportunities
  • Baseline data collection on existing conditions, current green initiatives and, and benchmarking of present building performance


  • Team building
  • Comprehensive planning workshop
  • Resource assessment and allocation


  • Implementing green strategies for incremental improvements
  • Identifying and making connections with local experts, services and resources
  • Seeking supportive professional services


  • Assessment of progress
  • Celebration of accomplishments
  • Potential to achieve LEED or other relevant green certifications

What steps to take?

  1. Identify a target market
  2. Do outreach and engagement
  3. Establish partnerships
  4. Hold a KickStart Workhop
  5. Assess the building and establish benchmarks
  6. Hold a PlanBuilder workshop
  7. Put plans into action
  8. Celebrate your success


This toolkit provides the materials and guidance you need to run activities for the Advance Campaign

Materials listed in bold are available in the Additional Resources section to the right. Be sure you are logged in with your user account to access them. Contact us to access the additional materials available for Advance Campaign partners.

General Resources

  • Advance Campaign Flyer to promote the Advance Campaign for social equity to increase access to green buildings for all
  • Advance Campaign Overview presentation slides to promote and discuss the program
  • BuildingGreen’s Checklist for Implementing an Occupant Engagement Survey
  • An Advance Campaign Playbook is available for campaign partners. This has all the steps and information you will need.

Phase One Resources: Start

  • KickStart Workshop - This introductory workshop initiates the development of a green vision for the benefitting organization, the assessment of existing assets and constraints, and the building of a team of internal and external stakeholders to support the organization’s success. An overview and sample agenda are included here. In addition, presentation slides, workbook, facilitator guide, sample report and hosting tips are available for Advance Campaign partners.
  • Start Phase Survey - a simple indoor/outdoor walk through assessment of the benefiting organization’s building(s) is completed in order to gather basic information and identify opportunities. Examples for an indoor survey and outdoor survey are included here.
  • An interactive ENERGY STAR Benchmarking Jam workshop can be useful for organizations seeking to benchmark a portfolio of multiple buildings. Use the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Benchmarking tool to assess the benefitting organization’s building(s) energy and water performance, compared to similar buildings and evaluate potential savings. An overview and sample agenda are included here. In addition, presentation slides, workbooks/guides, and hosting tips are also available for Advance Campaign partners.

Phase Two Resources: Plan

  • PlanBuilder workshop - In person session that builds upon KickStart workshop and data gathered through surveying, benchmarking etc. to develop a holistic, goal-oriented sustainability plan. An overview and sample agenda are included here. In addition, presentation slides, workbook, and facilitator guide are also available for Advance Campaign partners.
  • PlanBuilder report - Create a report to guide the benefiting organization to resources and tools in order to achieve their goals. A sample report and template are available for Advance Campaign partners.

Phase Three Resources: Act

  • Action worksheets - 16 action-oriented worksheets based on the LEED for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance rating system are available for Advance Campaign partners. These help organizations create internal policies and complete low and no costs operational actions in support of their plan.

LEED Resources

Would you like to get involved in the Advance Campaign for Social Equity? Contact us to learn more and access additional materials available for Advance Campaign partners.


There are opportunities for volunteers to earn GBCI continuing education credit.

Continuing education hours can be a strong motivator for attracting volunteers. Three of the workshops for the Advance Campaign are eligible to offer a total of 11 GBCI CE Hours for participants.

KickStart Workshop - 3 GBCI CE Hours
KickStart is the first in a series of workshops for USGBC's Advance Campaign for social equity. In this workshop, sustainability professionals work with community based organizations' to launch their sustainable and green building efforts. The two-hour discussion-based workshop helps community organizations define their green values, collectively define a vision for future sustainability, assess current conditions and assets, and identify who should be part of their green team.

The workshop starts with presenting the 'case' for green buildings from a value perspective. Participants discuss how those values translate to within their community and for their organization. Then, participants identify the scope of their project and what they want to impact - from building systems to occupant engagement and education, to waste, and beyond. Together they conduct a preliminary assessment of their buildings existing assets and conditions, including energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience. Finally, they map out a list of decision makers, supporters and resources needed to support their green vision. This hands-on learning activity includes 30 minutes of preparation and 30 minutes of follow up work from green building experts.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss how your values are aligned with green building & sustainability
  2. Identify existing challenges, opportunities & assets for your space
  3. Brainstorm dreams and aspirations for your organization and your buildings
  4. Develop a strategy to begin building a plan and achieving aspirations
  5. Map organizational relationships to understand power dynamics and how to influence others to take action

ENERGY STAR Benchmarking Jam Workshop - 3 GBCI CE Hours, O+M LEED-specific
This 3-hour data jam workshop supports community organizations participating in USGBC's Advance Campaign for Social Equity. Community-based organizations are teamed with architects, engineers and other green experts to input and verify their energy and water performance data with ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager tool.

Building professionals often say, "you can't manage what you can't measure." This high-energy jam session helps you do just that -measure, monitor and manage building energy and water performance. Working in teams with volunteer architects and engineers, utility data is entered and verified using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Teams identify projects eligible for ENERGY STAR certification and strategies for increased performance and decreased utility bills. The Arc platform for tracking and benchmarking broader green goals, including waste, transportation and human experience, is introduced.
This workshop can be offered in-person or online in a live, interactive format.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Establish an account in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® and enter information about your building(s) and at least one year of energy and water use data
  2. Analyze your energy and water use to identify opportunities for increased performance
  3. Determine eligibility to achieve ENERGY STAR® certification
  4. Set clear performance goals in ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® for your buildings' energy and water use

PlanBuilder Workshop- 5 GBCI CE hours
This 4-hour workshop pairs green building experts and community organizations to collaborative on the development of an action plan to meet their sustainable goals. This plan charts a pathway toward green building leadership through clear performance goals, identification of specific sustainable strategies, and details on resources to implement next steps.

This event is designed for organizations who have internal momentum and support of key leadership to move a plan forward for the spaces they occupy. In addition to internal 'green teams', each participating organization should ensure the right leaders are at the table who make decisions regarding facility management, finances, purchasing, programming etc.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify existing challenges, opportunities & assets for your property
  2. Review clear performance goals for improved building health, energy efficiency, and resource performance
  3. Identify strategies that contribute to achieving your goals.
  4. Develop an action plan to meet the performance goals you set
  5. Locate resources to get started and take steps toward implementation

In addition volunteers who lead an organization through the complete Advance Campaign may be able to earn 19 LEED-specific (BD+C, ID+C, O+M) continuing education hours through aService Learning Experience.


Many USGBC communities and other partners have implemented the Advance Campaign at different scales.

In Step with Sustainability
Saint Anthony, MN
Saint Anthony Village is winning accolades for moving toward becoming a green city. (Featured in USGBC+ May/June 2017).

Gateway to Sustainability
St. Louis, MO
A St. Louis community has faith-based response to climate change. (Featured in USGBC+ July/August 2015).

Made in Macon Food Pantry and Community Kitchen
Tuskegee, AL
Community members and Tuskegee University students worked with Mobile Studio and USGBC Alabama to assess existing conditions at the food pantry's building and help plan for future building improvements. The eventual goal was to install a commercial grade kitchen where local entrepreneurs can develop new products and learn business skills to start new local food businesses.

Focus Points Family Resource Center
Denver, CO
USGBC Colorado was first introduced to Focus Points when a group met to review a donor package for a 15,000 sqf addition to the center. The Advance Campaign tools help establish and document best practices for managing the organization’s existing facility. USGBC volunteers, Focus Points employees and higher education students conducted an educational waste audit as one of their steps to put sustainability into action.

Roots of Success (Youthbuild Louisville)
Louisville, KY
Volunteers from USGBC Kentucky have teamed up with YouthBuild Louisville in the development of their campus in the Smoketown neighborhood of Louisville.
USGBC volunteers facilitated a geothermal installation class as part of Energy course within Youthbuild’s Roots of Success green building curriculum, and supported Youthbuild in their pursuit of LEED certification for their new building.

Garysburg Food Hub
Garysburg, NC
USGBC North Carolina worked with the Advisory Board and Community of Garysburg to design and redevelop an old school into a viable food aggregation and processing facility with an on-site farmers’ market, grocery cooperative, processing and distribution facilities and multi-purpose community center and enterprise hub. Volunteers assessed the Town's sustainability goals, conducted an energy audit, developed action plans and facilitated the development of a healthier, greener facility and sustainable community.

Charitable Assistance to Community's Homeless (CATCH)
Boise, ID
Charitable Assistance To Community’s Homeless (CATCH), Inc. is committed to re-housing and serving homeless families with children. USGBC Idaho volunteers launched greening efforts with a KickStart workshop to set CATCH out on the path toward sustainability leadership. Working together, they identified opportunities and challenges to advance green initiatives in their organization and building.

Green YOUR Schools KickStart
Atlanta, GA
The KickStart workshop was specifically designed to prepare schools to build a comprehensive plan to green the places and spaces they occupy. Teachers, staff,students, and volunteer mentors came together to talk about what they are doing now and how to make a plan for the year. These schools continue to work with USGBC Georgia to make a difference in their schools.

AR Interfaith Power and Light and the McElroy house
Dardanelle, AR
A work day was held at McElroy House in February 2016 with 15 Volunteers from USGBC AR, AR Interfaith Power & Light and the McElroy house. The team focused on weatherization of the old house that will be use as McElroy’s headquarters. They caulked windows, put in outlet covers, repaired damage floors and walls, fixed lights, repaired rotted door thresholds, installed a vapor barrier and insulation under house. Our Advance Campaign leader Matt Poe coordinated all the volunteers and loved crawling under the house to install the insulation and vapor barrier!

Eastside Community Development Corporation
Charlston, SC
USGBC South Carolina worked with the Eastside CDC to develop sustainable initiatives for a multipurpose job resource center and emergency affordable housing unit. Volunteers launched the work with a KickStart workshop and survey to assess sustainability in their space. A comprehensive sustainability plan and report was developed for Eastside based on data collected and outcomes from the PlanBuilder workshop.


  1. Define the goals of an Advance Campaign
  2. Identify Advance Campaign partners and projects within specific non-profit and governmental service sectors
  3. Deliver workshops and activities in the Advance Campaign in support of a project
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Created by

U.S. Green Building Council
Washington, DC
United States

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