Ecoimpact Leadership Announcement

Ecoimpact Founding Partner, Penny Bonda, announces her retirement from active participation in Ecoimpact Consulting as of January 1, 2017. It is with a mixture of sadness and fondness that we wish her many happy adventures as an official retiree.

Her steadfast leadership and unwavering advocacy will be missed by those of us who had the pleasure of working by her side during her long and fruitful career. We are indebted to her vision and commitment to propelling the sustainable design industry to its present state. Penny has been an active participant in the green building industry since its early stages and has pioneered the development of many of the accepted practices and recognized standards that have defined the sustainability movement. Popularly referred to as the “mother of green interiors,” she is the founding chair and primary author of the US Green Building Council's committee for LEED Commercial Interiors rating system. As Founding Partner of Ecoimpact Consulting, Penny has provided educational forums to businesses and organizations to assist them in greening their products, people, processes and communications. She is a trusted mentor and a true friend. 

Penny wishes us all a fond farewell in this address, "For the last seven years of my nearly five decades-long design / greenbuilding career I have been working with you, my clients and collaborators, to establish and promote sustainable strategies for better business. Together we’ve made progress in moving our people, products, buildings and messaging to a deeper shade of green, which gives me great joy. I am leaving you in the very capable hands of my business partner, Summer Minchew. Those of you who have worked with Summer know her to be knowledgeable, savvy, dependable and dedicated to your success. It has been my honor to work alongside her – and with you. In this season of celebration I wish you and your families peace, prosperity and lasting happiness."

 

 

 

Think Globally, Act Personally

This Earth Day we encourage you to start a new tradition: set an Earth Day Resolution. Similar to the time we spend every December 31st searching our souls for ways improve ourselves in the New Year, this Earth Day we challenge everyone to start thinking about ways that our personal actions can positively impact the environmental movement.

Much like the popular New Year’s Resolutions including exercising a little more or spending more time with family and friends, we acknowledge that some resolutions are easier to keep than others. Here are some great ideas generated by Ecoimpact partners and staff to get you thinking about easy ways to think globally and act personally this Earth Day and every day:

Reduce:

  • Bring your own shopping bags to the grocery store. If you are like us, sometimes you forget to grab your reusable bags so keep some in the trunk of your car or hang them by your front door.
  • Reduce food waste. Food waste is the third largest contributor to GHG emissions. Consider composting food scraps in a home composter and try shopping for small amounts of produce twice a week to reduce spoilage.
  • Cut down on your meat consumption. Livestock rearing is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Start with “meatless Monday” if you are new to the vegetarian concept. Someday you may find yourself eating “meat free most days.”

Vote with your dollars:

  • Buy more organic foods. Buying organic food supports a heathier lifestyle and a healthier food economy. Check out lists of which conventional produce contains the most pesticides and replace those with organic as a place to start.
  • Consider purchasing household items from companies who are certified B corporations. Buy Fair Trade. Look for the FSC label on paper and wood products.
  • Send a regular donation to an environmental group whose sustainability goals align with yours.
  • Switch out chemical cleaners and sprays at home. Research alternatives to chemical cleaners and make your own using things like baking soda and vinegar whenever possible.

Enjoy nature and encourage natural habitats:

  • Consider planting bee and butterfly friendly flowers this spring. Plant a tree near your house. Reduce irrigation needs at home by reducing turf grass area and selecting native or adaptive species for your region.
  • Volunteer with a local organization for a creek or urban clean up.

Know the Issues and Advocate:

  • The averages temperatures of the Earth and its oceans are rising.
  • Glaciers are shrinking and sea levels are rising.
  • Oceans are more acidic due to the emission of more harmful gases in the atmosphere, causing changes in the chemical composition of water.
  • Learn the issues, study the research and take a stance against the climate change deniers.
  • Vote with our Planet’s future in mind.

Small changes can make a big difference. From all of us at Ecoimpact, let’s make every day Earth Day!

Ecoimpact Partner to serve as an Education @USGBC Pro Reviewer

Summer Minchew was chosen to serve as an Education @USGBC Pro Reviewer.  Pro Reviewers review Education @USGBC course content and serve as expert voices providing feedback to both the course creator and Education @USGBC customers.  Pro Reviews assist customers with their green building education by providing information upfront about what to expect from each offered course.  Pro Reviewers are active LEED AP or LEED Green Associates with strong general knowledge and deep subject matter expertise in LEED and green building.

Toward a Greener Office: Low and No-Cost Strategies to Reduce Your Office's Environmental Impact

HAPPY EARTH DAY!!

This Earth Day, ECOIMPACT urges you to implement one or more of the following low and no-cost operations and maintenance policies in your own office that will promote a more robust sustainable economy, improve your building, provide a more healthful indoor environment for tenants and staff, and help make the world a better place.

Reduce environmental and operating cost by making purchasing policy changes.  Make the switch to cleaning supplies that are Green Seal certified; use paper products that contain at least 30% recycled content or are FSC certified; change to more energy-efficient and longer lamp life bulbs; add low-flow aerators to breakroom and bathroom handwashing sinks; and purchase only Energy Star or EPEAT certified office equipment. 

Use less by encouraging double sided-printing or the reuse of non-sensitive printer waste as scratch paper. Use only remanufactured toner cartridges. Replace paper towels with high-speed energy-efficient hand dryers. Ask staff to bring their own reusable coffee mugs to the office. If your office has a surplus of cups, plastic ware and paper napkins, tell caterers not to bring those items to your next luncheon.

Recycle more. Implement a waste disposal plan for durable and on-going consumables at the end of their useful life. Organize a building or office-wide recycling program to ensure an understanding of which items can be recycled and where recycling bins are located. Provide recycling bins under desks instead of or in addition to the standard waste receptacle. Include battery recycling in your program.

Reduce building occupant exposure to indoor pollutant sources by specifying and purchasing furniture with a third-party certification that addresses limits to VOC content and interior paints that are low- or no-VOC. Implement pest management procedures on an as needed basis instead of on a routine schedule and use only least-risk pesticides.

Provide preferred or subsidized parking for carpool participants and for hybrid or electric vehicles to encourage alternative transportation. Provide safe and secure bicycle storage for building occupants.  Offer flextime or compressed workweek schedules and telecommuting among employees when possible. Conduct a monthly raffle whose prize is a public transportation subsidy.

Inspire change within the building or office staff by promoting environmentalism, volunteerism and social justice.  

Remember – EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY!

Passing the LEED AP Exam

I recently decided to add the O+M credential to my exiting LEED AP ID+C appellation. Shortly after registering to take the exam, I questioned my decision – and sanity – as I remembered how hard it was to pass my last LEED exam in 2004. According to friends, colleagues and the green building rumor mill, the LEED exams are only getting more difficult. 

As described by USGBC, “The professional credential exams measure your understanding of green building design, construction and operations. The LEED AP exams also assess your understanding of the LEED rating system and your ability to facilitate the certification process.”

Ok, I facilitate the LEED process for a living. Can the test really be as tough as everyone reports? Can it be true that the pass rate is estimated at only 34 percent? I have bad news - yes it is a very difficult test – and good news - I PASSED and so can you. Here are some hints and tips:

·         Although strongly recommended, USGBC no longer requires project experience in the rating system in which you are pursuing credentialing as a prerequisite to taking the exam. However, without it you will have to study harder. Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the rating system and the scorecard. 

·         Study –and then study some more - the v4 Reference Guide specific to the specialty credential that you are pursuing. Read critically and highlight key concepts and credit specific metrics. You will need to have a very deep knowledge of the Reference Guide including the Behind the Intent, Rating System and Project Type Variations and Required Documentation sections for each credit. The test may include questions that require you to recall calculations, point thresholds, definitions and referenced standards.

·         Take some practice exams to familiarize yourself with the test format, length and kind of questions that may be asked. Although at additional cost, I used the exams from Green Building Education Services. They were as difficult as the actual exam and I found them to be a great tool in my preparation process. Make note of which questions you did and did not answer correctly and learn from your mistakes. I admit to failing three out of the four practice exams.

There is no shame in failing the exam on your first attempt; apparently most people do. Take to heart the wise words of Paula Melton, Managing Editor of BuildingGreen in her November 14th blog post: Why I’m About to Fail the New, Harder LEED v4 AP Test, “Be afraid. Be very afraid. I know I am!”  Use that fear to drive yourself toward earning a passing score by preparing for the worst (and hoping for the best).

Ecoimpact Delivers: Unitarian Universalist Association Headquarters awarded LEED ID+C Platinum Certification.

The U.S. Green Building Council awarded the Boston based Unitarian Universalist Association Headquarters Relocation project LEED ID+C Platinum Certification on December 2, 2014. 

 

Ecoimpact’s Summer Minchew served as LEED Project Administrator to guide sustainability decisions and ensure positive outcomes. The project team included architect Goody Clancy, MEP engineers Cosentini Associates, general contractor Shawmut Design and Construction, and commissioning team ICO Energy.

 

The UUA project boasts over 30% reduction in tenant water use and more than a 35% reduction in connected lighting power consumption. Recycling strategies diverted over 90% of construction waste from the landfill. Using more than 20% of materials manufactured and extracted within 500 miles of Boston earned recognition for exemplary performance. 

 

“This was an ideal project,” said Minchew. “The entire team was intensely committed to providing a high level of design coupled with environmental and wellness strategies that reflect the mission of UUA.”

Ecoimpact partners co-author Sustainable Commercial Interiors, 2nd Edition

The second edition of Sustainable Commercial Interiors is on the bookshelves! 

Penny Bonda and Summer Minchew, along with Katie Sosnowchik, have delivered a comprehensive guide on the latest in green and sustainable design for commercial interiors. The book, published by John Wiley & Sons, includes design strategies and frameworks based on the new LEED v4 rating system, plus essential information on global environmental issues, water and energy usage, materials, furnishings, finishes, product standards, and certifications. New to this edition is substantiation of the connections between human health and buildings and the evolving transparency initiatives within the industry. Content also includes essays by prominent thought leaders and fifteen case studies that provide the philosophical and technical knowledge necessary to improve not only the indoor environment, but the world beyond the walls as well.

"So much has changed in the field of sustainable design since the release of the first edition in 2006.  We are proud to share our continued passion for sustainability and environmental advocacy in the fully revised second edition.”

More information about the book is available on the Wiley web site at www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118456297.html. It is also available for purchase through Amazon.

Ecoimpact Assists Excel Dryer in Adopting The Architecture 2030 Challenge for Products

Excel Dryer joins a wide coalition of product manufacturers, design firms and experts as an adopter of the Architecture 2030 Challenge for Products.  Collectively, this group is working towards increasing awareness about the issue of embodied carbon, developing Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for building products, and using this information to make informed, low-carbon decisions.

Congratulations to our friends at Excel Dryer!  Your leadership as a Manufacturer Adopter of the Architecture 2030 Challenge for Products demonstrates your dedication to creating a product that positively impacts the environment through sustainable, energy-saving and cost-saving solutions. 

www.exceldryer.com

Ecoimpact Partner to participate in development of Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan

Ecoimpact Partner, Summer Minchew, has been selected to participate in the development of the Mecklenburg Livable Communities Plan.    The Plan will describe the vision for quality of life in our region now and well into the future.  Five citizen workgroups will break down previously siloed efforts by various cities and municipalities to create a cohesive Vision and Plan for Mecklenburg County.  Striving to create a more sustainable future, citizen workgroups will address topics including: the built environment, economy and jobs, community life, and healthy living.  The Plan is scheduled for adoption in early 2015.

  

To join the conversation or learn more visit charmeck.org/livablecommunities.

Summer Minchew Attends Charlotte Region Visioning Event; RealityCheck 2050 #RC2050

The Charlotte Region Reality Check 2050 event took place on June 4th at the Charlotte Convention Center.  Over 400 participants and 100 volunteers from the surrounding 14-county region attended the event with one goal in mind: to participate in a visioning exercise that would address the reality of growth projected for our area by the year 2050.  Visioning exercises, like RealityCheck2050, seek to build broad-based consensus on where and how growth should be accommodated.  They are an opportunity for a diverse group of stakeholders to ask the questions: How should we preserve, promote, and protect our strengths and assets?  How should we address the challenges and seize the opportunities faced by our region?  As a local business and stakeholder in sustainable community initiatives, we knew that Ecoimpact had to be involved. 

The event sponsors The Urban Land Institute (ULI), Charlotte District Council, CONNECT Our Future, Centralina Council of Governments and Catawba Regional Council of Governments; predict 1.8 million new residents and 863,000 new jobs will come to our region by the year 2050.  Participants heard guest speakers and were introduced to the main challenge of the day: plot where possible future growth should go (transportation corridors, jobs and housing) on a 6’x6’ map of the 14-county region.  42 teams of 8-10 participants were given LEGO blocks of the number corresponding with the projected new residents and new job growth anticipated for our region by 2050 and yarn to identify new transportation corridors, transit corridors and green space.  There was only one rule: all LEGOs must be placed on the map by the end of the 1 ½ hour game play period. 

The task was more challenging than we thought.  The findings were impactful. 

Of the 42 tables, growth patterns varied between four major types: dispersed: growth is dispersed broadly over a large area (15), corridor: growth surrounding existing or new transportation corridors (15); compact urban: growth is concentrated in existing or proposed urban areas (5), and multi-centers: multiple high density areas connected by existing or new transportation corridors (7).  Participants were then asked outcome specific questions; here are some of their responses:

Which growth pattern do you feel is most appropriate for our region’s growth?

41% said corridor

37% said multi-centers

Which goals are most important to you in determining the region’s growth?

47% said support regional transportation connection

36% said encourage development within areas where infrastructure already exists

35% said conserve water resources

What are your priorities for the Charlotte region by year 2050?

84% said more light rail and commuter rail transit

53% said improve the roads we currently have

Being Green: It's Never Been Easier

Happy Earth Day from Ecoimpact Consulting.  Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has served to promote environmental awareness issues.  From the creation of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to the Earth Day Network’s Climate Rally on the National Mall and the Billion Acts of Green campaign, Earth Day has inspired many to unite for one purpose: the fight for a clean environment.

With over 30 years of dedication to sustainability in the built environment, the Partners at Ecoimpact would like to share some of our favorite “going green” at the office tips:

  • BLINDS:  During cold weather, take advantage of the sun’s warmth by keeping blinds open during daylight hours.  To keep out the heat of the summer sun, close blinds in warm weather.  Raise and lower blinds year-round to allow maximum daylight in to your office space while still preventing glare.
  • LIGHTS:  Rely on natural lighting as much as possible.  If you have the ability to control the general lighting in your work space, consider turning off the overhead lights and using just your desk lamp when outside conditions are bright.  Remember to turn off the lights when leaving conference rooms and your work space, especially at the end of the day.
  • VENTS:  Make sure window vents are clear of papers and other items so the air can circulate freely.
  • COMPUTER:  Look for the Energy Star label and enable power management settings on your work computer and monitor so they automatically enter a low-power mode when not in use.
  • POWER STRIP:  Even when turned off, electronic and IT equipment often use a small amount of electricity when plugged in.  Use a power strip that has a central “on/off” point, when you are done using office equipment turn the power strip off to completely disconnect the power supply.
  • RECYCLE:  Separate paper, metal, glass, and plastic for recycling.  If your employer or building does not have a recycling program, create one.  Bring your own recycling bin to the office and take it home with you each week to include with your curbside pickup.
  • PURCHASING:  Endeavor to influence purchasing practices in your office; from the evaluation of energy efficiency in replacement light bulbs to the promotion of a reduced paper workplace by purchasing recycled content copy paper and printing double-sided.
  • BREAKROOM: Consider the environmental impacts of your breakroom policies.  Bring and reuse ceramic mugs instead of using single-serve paper or Styrofoam cups for coffee or tea.  Consider creating a catered lunch policy in your office that minimizes boxed lunch waste.
  • YOU:  Create a Green Team with your co-workers to help save energy and reduce waste.  Let your employer know what is important to you; whether that means working out of a LEED certified office space, or working for a company who participates in corporate sustainability reporting and assessment; you can make a difference by getting involved.  

For more information on ideas presented in this blog post, visit www.earthday.org and www.epa.gov.