March 26, 2013 on 8:14 am | In Green Building, Green Cities, LEED, U.S. Government, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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by Jodi Summers

To LEED or not to LEED, that is the question. The government wants your green opinion > through April 6th. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is seeking public comments on a long-awaited recommendation regarding green building rating systems. Go to and share your opinion.

In 2006, GSA first evaluated certification systems focusing on new construction and major renovation.  Based on this 2006 review, GSA identified the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system for use in the Federal sector.

Now the GSA is considering polytheistic practices encouraging each federal agency to make its own decisions about whether to use LEED, Green Globes, or the Living Building Challenge.

They are also looking for input into which optional credits or points must be achieved in a rating system, and whether one rating system should be used across their entire building portfolio, and should work with rating system developers to improve alignment between certifications and federal green building needs.

The comment period will be open through April 8, 2013. For more information, visit



September 17, 2012 on 12:19 pm | In Green Building, Green Cities, Green Houses, LEED, Trends, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

by Jodi Summers

Fresh out of college and ready for adventure, Millennials have been flocking to the downtown Los Angeles urban core. They’re looking for a lifestyle adventure before the responsibilities of marriage and family lead them to settle in. Experts point to several building trends that are very sexy to this demographic:

  1. 1. Green by Desire

Jill Heron chose her loft lease by Pershing Square because it’s centrally located, with “access to just about everything. Lifestyle is important.”

Proximity to restaurants, entertainment and mass transit is important to this group that is now out on their own and spreading their wings for the first time.

2. Green by Mass Transit

Today’s new renters are a highly eco-conscious generation. Buses, trains and bike lanes are as important as cars to this green group.

Have you noticed the new transit villages that are being designed along the metro lines? They’re quite European style in that you can shop, get your dry cleaning and do everything you need in close proximity to your metro stop and your home.

3. The Green Home

We live in a green age. City codes, tenants, builders and developers are all moving toward green design. The benchmark is LEED (Leadership in Energy Efficiency and Design) an international certification system which offers bronze, silver, gold, and platinum certification levels. Statewide we have the CalGreen Code, which is more like everytown’s way of going green. And, individual cities – lead by the examples of West Hollywood and Santa Monica – have passed their own green building codes.

4. The Green Shared Space

Less is more. There is a trend in small rental units, including micro-units and efficiency studios. These downsized units offer renters a more affordable, energy-saving housing alternative in dense neighborhoods, with shared multi-use spaces providing additional amenities.

Roof decks, atriums, the urban version of a vast front porch > common areas appeal to today’s renters. In dense neighborhoods, where living space is at a premium, renters revel in shared multi-use spaces which provide additional amenities.

“The rooms provide an efficient living space for tenants who are ‘on the go’ and don’t want the space (or expense) of a more traditional apartment,” observes Sarah Hatfield of architecture firm S + H Works.

5. Specialized Green Amenities.

Solar power, bike storage, garden space, pet areas, fitness rooms and even Zipcar parking are just a few examples of lifestyle design features that designers and developers are implementing to meet renter demands. Pet areas go a long way with renters, and will lead to a consistent stream of tenants and their pets.




May 30, 2012 on 12:19 am | In Green Building, Green Workplace, LEED, Trends, U.S. Government, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

by Jodi Summers

We evolve and we learn. When it comes to building efficiency, we are advancing at warp speed. The Department of Energy has revealed that buildings meeting the new 2010 energy efficiency standard will conserve 18.5% more energy than structures using the previous 2007 DOE standard.  It’s like making the jump to hyperspace.

The DOE did some pretty serious study to come up with the new codes. For its findings, DOE simulated 16 representative building types in 15 U.S. climate locations. In addition, they analyzed the energy codes published by the American National Standards Institute/American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.

The evolved 2010 standard covers a wide spectrum of the energy-related components and systems in buildings ranging from simple storage units to complex energy usage locations like hospitals and laboratories. The size of the structures also ranged from under 1,000 square feet to the largest buildings in the world.

States are expected to review Standard 90.1, Energy Standard for Buildings and update their building code to meet or exceed the energy efficiency of the new standard within two years. Certification statements by the states are due October 18, 2013.

California requires our state-developed commercial code the 2008 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, comprising Title 24, Parts 1 and 6, of the California Code of Regulations.

The DOE boasts that the newer version of the standard contains 19 positive impacts on energy efficiency. Among the modifications are new requirements for daylighting controls under skylights; increased use of heat recovery; cool roofs in hot climates; skylights and daylighting in some building types; reduced ventilation energy; supply air temperature reset for non-peak conditions; efficiency requirements for data centers; control of exterior lighting; and occupancy sensors for many specific applications.

Over a 20-year span, green buildings can $53 to $71 per square foot back on investment. LEED and Energy Star certified buildings achieve significantly higher rents, sale prices and occupancy rates as well as lower capitalization rates potentially reflecting lower investment risk…and green buildings make the world a better place.



April 23, 2012 on 12:57 am | In Act Locally, all, Green Building, Green Workplace, Greenhouse Gas, LEED, Snapshot, Solutions, Trends, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

By Jodi Summers

Kudos to the Port of Long Beach which is growing and greening in a big way. The Port has landed the largest deal of its kind for any U.S. seaport The Port of L.B. has inked a 40-year, $4.6-billion lease with Orient Overseas Container Line for the Middle Harbor property. Hooray for the SoCal economy > the Middle Harbor terminal is projected to generate more than 14,000 new, permanent jobs throughout Southern California by 2020.

And bravo to the Port of L.B. for investing $1.2-billion to develop the new 300-acre-plus Middle Harbor terminal. The lease would secure a tenant for the Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project, which combines Pier F and E into one state-of-the-art container terminal.

According to Long Beach Harbor Commission president Susan E. Anderson Wise, “This proposed agreement will enable the Port of Long Beach to maintain its competitive edge while bringing many benefits to the community.”

The Middle Harbor Redevelopment Project will combine two aging shipping terminals into one modern terminal which doubles the existing capacity. The project will utilize the most advanced cargo-handling technology in the world. The nine-year, $1.2 billion project will upgrade wharfs, water access and storage area; as well as add a greatly expanded on-dock rail yard.

“It will also be the greenest terminal in North America, cutting air pollution in half through the use of more on-dock rail, electrified cargo handling equipment and shore power, which allows vessels to draw electricity from a landside utility when docked rather than diesel-powered auxiliary engines,” affirms Anderson Wise.


And in signs of an economic comeback, long-term tenants, OOCL and LBCT will invest approximately $500 million in the latest cargo-handling equipment. FYI, LBCT ~ a.k.a. Long Beach Container Terminal Inc. ~ is a marine terminal full service container facility that has occupied Pier F since 1986.

OOCL is an ideal client. Their goal is, “To be the best and most innovative international container transport and logistics service provider; providing a Vital Link to world trade and creating value for our customers, employees, shareholders and partners.”

OOCL ships have a near 100% participation in the Port’s Green Flag Program, which provides rebates to vessel operators that slow down in and near the Port to cut down on air pollution.

The Port of L.B. Green Flag Program is a voluntary vessel speed reduction initiative that rewards vessel operators for slowing down to 12 knots or less within 40 nautical miles (nm) of Point Fermin (near the entrance to the Harbor).

Ships emit less when they travel more slowly > thus the program has been highly successful in reducing smog-forming emissions and diesel particulates from ships. In 2009, more than 90% of vessels participated in the program, slowing their ships in the 20 nautical mile zone. Even more impressive, more than 70% of incoming vessels to the POLB have decelerated within the 40 nm zone.

In return for their participation vessel operators can earn dockage rate reductions during most of the calendar year The Port will award about $2.5 million in dockage savings in 2010; and anticipates that 2011 awards will total in the $4 million range.



January 23, 2012 on 12:08 am | In Act Locally, Green Building, Green Cities, Green Workplace, LEED, Statistics, U.S. Government, Uncategorized, Water | 3 Comments

by Jodi Summers

Los Angeles International Airport has the world’s first LEED Gold Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting facility.  The Gold certification recognizes the project’s efforts at maximizing operational efficiency while minimizing negative environmental impacts.

Also known as LAFD Station 80 at Los Angeles International Airport, the building has incorporated a slew of green features, which yield energy cost cuts of 35% per year. Green upgrades include low-flow plumbing systems which reduce annual water usage by 39%. Water savings have further been achieved via utilizing more than 2,000 gallons of reused water for dust control in place of potable water.

The facility has installed a high-performance heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit which resets temperatures to optimum efficiency while maintaining the comfort level of the building occupants. Presence of occupancy-sensor controlled lighting fixtures contributes to the sustainability factor by reducing energy consumption.

The building has made extensive use of low VOC paints, adhesives, and sealants in the interior to upgrade indoor air quality. Other eco-friendly features include use of 20% of reclaimed materials during construction, and recycling or salvaging over 99% of construction debris.

All of these green elements have given LAX’s Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting facility LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council. It is the second building at LAX to incorporate LEED standards and receive LEED certification. The first building to incorporate LEED standards was the $737-million renovation of the Tom Bradley International Terminal – the first-ever for a renovation project at a U.S. airport. It received LEED Silver certification.

Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey said, “The LEED Gold certification reflects our commitment to contribute to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s vision of making Los Angeles the cleanest big city in America, and is in keeping with a sustainable ‘green’ building policy adopted by our Board of Airport Commissioners that commits us to incorporate LEED  standards in all our future construction projects.”


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November 28, 2011 on 12:48 am | In Act Locally, Green Building, Green Workplace, LEED, Net Zero, Solutions, Statistics, Trends, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

by Jodi Summers

Cargo is all about TEUs. The Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit is the approximate volume of a 20-foot-long (6.1 m) intermodal cargo container, a standard-sized metal box which can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trains and trucks. TEUs are used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals.

If combined, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles would be the world’s sixth-busiest port complex (11.8 million total TEU). In layman’s terms, it means 11.8 million containers pass through the ports each year. Some ships that dock in the Port of Los Angeles tie up at modern piers and unload their cargo directly onto a rail network. Others tie up at older piers, where the cargo must be loaded onto trucks. The trucks then haul the containers 24 miles up the 710 Freeway to BNSF Railway’s Hobart facility, where they are loaded onto trains and transferred across the nation. Wooo! Hoooo! This is exciting stuff!

BNSF Railways of Dallas has a plan to significantly shorten the haul for 1.5 million of those containers each year > it’s called the Southern California International Gateway. It will link to the new millennium Alameda corridor train line, which can handle significantly more volume than the 40 trains that currently pass daily. FYI, Each train that’s loaded equals around 280 trucks.

The Primary Project Area is 153-acre swath of land extends from Sepulveda Blvd. to the north, Pacific Coast Highway to the south, the Dominguez Channel to the west, and the Terminal Island Freeway to the east. The Southern California International Gateway would be for train loading and unloading, overall site management and administrative support activities. At present, the land is generally used for cross docking (cargo transfer from one mode of transportation to another mode, such as from a container to a trailer. ), warehousing, and container and/or trailer maintenance servicing and storage. Good to know.

BNSF has proposed a plan for more on-dock rail loading, which loads the containers onto rail closer to the ports, shortening truck trips, creating less traffic and promoting cleaner air and hopefully making life a bit more pleasant for the 9,818,605 +/- people who live in L.A. County. The project has bumped along through political red tape for seven years without being either approved or rejected. Seriously.

The Southern California International Gateway facility will vie for LEED qualification. Among many green features the site promotes are wide-span mounted electric cranes that produce zero emissions and less noise, as well as low-emissions locomotives. On the downside, the Sepulveda Bridge would need to be rebuilt.

The Southern California International Gateway would stimulate trade and 1,500 union jobs for the construction of the $500-million rail loading yard. The deal is worth an estimated $255 million in wages for the three-year construction period. In the long run, operations would be hundreds of jobs. Pundits believe the indirect impact of improved transportation and efficiency at the port could produce as many as 22,000 more jobs over the long term.

The Southern California International Gateway is the obvious next phase of the build-out surrounding Pier S > the $650 million green container shipping depot on Terminal Island at the Port of Long Beach. This terminal is expected to showcase sustainable goods movement and generate up to 40,000 jobs in the region.

The Southern California International Gateway is heralded to be “the greenest intermodal facility in the nation.” A bold claim. If they can green up the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which are the busiest in the country, then all ports become viable for greening.

The plan “allows us to bring containers from the port in an environmentally friendly way,” notes the BNSF spokesperson.

Founded in 1911, the 3,200-acre POLB is a premier gateway for trade between the United States and Asia. Today, the POLB’s loaded containers account for 1/3 of containers moving through all California ports, 1/4 moving through all West Coast ports and nearly 1 in 5 moving through all U.S. ports.

Check out the BNSF Southern California International Gateway promotional video:



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