Celebrating global leadership: April roundup

Sumner Byrne

Celebrating global leadership across our Four Pillars. 

GBCI was founded in 2008 to drive implementation of LEED, and for more than a decade, has proved instrumental in ensuring it remains the world’s most widely used green building program. None of this would have been possible without the leadership of the projects and professionals who have advanced LEED in communities around the world. We have launched a monthly newsletter to share the stories of the projects and professionals who are leading the way toward a more sustainable, healthy, resilient and equitable future – for all. Be sure to subscribe to GBCI's email list to hear more of these stories. 

Mahesh Ramanujam
President and CEO, USGBC and GBCI



Discovery Elementary in Arlington, Virginia

Discovery Elementary School makes sustainability come alive in the classroom through their LEED Zero Energy certification. Located in Arlington Virginia, Discovery Elementary School is the largest net zero energy public school in the country. But they don’t stop there. In their first year, Discovery produced 18,600 kilowatts per hour more energy than it consumed. Sending a surplus of energy back to the grid, Discovery supplied enough energy to power 7.5 Virginian homes for an entire year.

All the while, Discovery was able to save $100,000 in energy costs per year to pay their teachers' salaries and expand into a second and third zero energy school. Students learn firsthand about the work that goes into Discovery's environmental commitments and its positive benefits for the planet. Discovery brings us one step closer to empowering a new generation of activists, advocates and innovators. 


Cedar Rapids, Iowa 

Resilience goes beyond the strength of buildings. It’s the resilience of people and communities which make our planet better for everyone. Eleven years ago, disaster struck Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Cedar River crested to the highest level in its history and flooding covered 10 square miles. Approximately 10,000 residents were displaced, 6,500 jobs were lost, more than 5,000 homes damaged and six major city buildings that provided critical services to residents were incapacitated. 

Fortunately, locally based OPN Architects not only had the courage to rebuild, but to rebuild better. Project “Recovery Reimagined” aimed to improve city infrastructure that could protect both people and planet. As part of that mission, Cedar Rapids has achieved LEED for Cities certification with detailed plans to improve flood protection. They are redeveloping the river corridor neighborhood and business district to create jobs. Throughout their rebuild, they are ensuring that their improvements are sustainable for long term structural and economic security. In a time of crisis, Cedar Rapids is preparing for the brighter, more resilient future for its citizens.


Native American Connections in Phoenix, Arizona

At GBCI, we believe a sustainable future is meaningless unless it's also an equitable future. Diana Yazzie Devine is actively trying to make this vision a reality as the CEO of Native American Connections. What started as substance abuse treatment facility has become one of Arizona’s largest affordable housing providers, and Phoenix’s first LEED Platinum certified affordable housing community. NAC provides AA and various recovery programs and is known for their Kids Cafes, where kids can receive meals and after school tutoring. 

Among Devine’s and NAC’s crowning achievements is the LEED Platinum certified Stepping Stone multifamily housing development, which houses 82 furnished units, 44 of which are reserved for Section 8 vouchers and 20 for persons living with HIV/AIDS. NAC understands not only the importance of sustainability and wellness, but why it is important for everyone to be equally involved in building their future.  

Health and wellness

Ward Village in Honolulu, Hawai'i

Ward Village blends sustainability and wellness throughout the design of its LEED Platinum certification for Neighborhood Development. This dynamic community is centered around outdoor gathering spaces that embrace Hawaiian culture. It optimizes health by ensuring walkable pathways, dedicated bike lanes and accessible tree-lined sidewalks to help their residents get outside and get moving. Health and wellness is also prioritized, with many cultural amenities made available to residents and local community members including outdoor farmers markets, yoga in the park, free concerts and outdoor film screenings. Ward Village serves as a leader for how people and planet can work together in our green spaces.

Does your project represent USGBC and GBCI's four pillars of sustainability, health and wellness, resilience or equity? Share your story with our Living Standard campaign and we may feature it in an upcoming newsletter.

Check out the original 4 Pillars newsletter here, and subscribe to GBCI to receive future program updates.

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