Thursday, May 9, 2013

Green Building is Booming: Are Your Bases Covered? 6 Tips for Keeping Your LEED Credentials Current

In February McGraw-Hill Construction and United Technologies Corp. released their “World Green Building Trends” report, which looked at current trends driving the global green building market. The consensus? More and more firms are making the shift toward green building—with 51 percent of those surveyed anticipating more than 60 percent of their work to be green by 2015.

Likewise, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a recent report that a growing focus on sustainable construction will offer even more job prospects for qualified professionals. Now more than ever, demonstrating your knowledge and skill level by maintaining your LEED credentials is essential for staying competitive in the growing green market. Here are 6 tips for making sure you complete the education you need to renew your accreditation and stay competitive:

  1. Make Sure Your Education Provider is USGBC Approved. Be sure to choose an education provider approved by the U.S. Green Building Council. This will guarantee your courses support the LEED professional credentialing maintenance program and meet the USGBC’s high standards for instructional design and content quality.
  2. Multiple Licenses? Choose “Double Duty” Courses. If you hold a professional license, check to make sure the courses you are taking will also work toward any continuing education requirements you have in your license state. That way, you can kill two birds with one stone.
  3. Keep Your Certificates of Completion in One Easily Accessible Location. There’s nothing worse than scrambling to find your course completion certificates when you need them, so be sure to store them in one place so they’re easy to find. Better yet, choose an online education provider such as RedVector with an electronic transcript service that uploads all your documents to one master location.  
  4. Make Sure You can Test Drive a Course. You wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it first, so why shouldn’t it be the same for CE? Check to make sure your education provider offers demo courses so you can get a feel for what they are like before you commit to a lot of hours.
  5. Having the Right Support is Critical. Don’t underestimate the value of good support—especially when you’re having technical issues or you need help navigating your LEED requirements. Make sure your education provider offers 7-day-a-week technical AND educational support to help answer your questions, and always ask if they have LIVE support and not just an automated system.  
  6. The Best Providers Put Your Satisfaction First. A quality product or service will always be backed by a quality guarantee. Be sure to check the refund policy of your education provider to make sure you can get your money back if you’re not completely satisfied.
A Word about Renewing
Finally, when it comes to getting your LEED education requirements completed on time, the USGBC recommends renewing as close to your renewal date as possible since you can’t start logging new activities until your two years are up. (Each CMP reporting period last two years, with your two-year anniversary marking the date you initially earned your primary credential.) For professionals with more than one credential, the USGBC recommends renewing all of them at the same time as your primary credential so you only have one date to remember. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Is 2013 Living up to the Green Building Trend Predictions?

Earlier this year surmised what 2013 would have in store for construction professionals in terms of green building. As we move closer to the half-way point of the year, do you think these predictions are on track?

More green renovations

According to the news source, many existing buildings will receive makeovers in an effort to transform them into greener spaces. This trend is expected to impact nonprofits and higher education institutions.

One school that has shown a commitment to going green is Sewanee: The University of the South, which is located in Tennessee. While many colleges and universities take steps toward sustainability by following the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards, Sewanee is taking a different route, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported. The university used the LEED standards as the basis for its own system - the Sewanee Standards.

Using these standards, Sewanee has renovated Cannon Hall, one of the school's dormitories. The facility, which was built in the 1920s, now features an array of green features, including a recycling center and air conditioning that will be connected to the campus' new efficient central cooling system.

More water conversation reported that many building owners, managers and designers will place a greater focus on conserving water to avert a freshwater crisis. This is apparent based on the number of recipients of LEED certification that list water conservation among their buildings' green features.

No matter what size a structure may be, it is possible to reduce the amount of water that goes to waste. For instance, in Florence, Kentucky, a new Verizon Wireless store proves that it is possible to do business and keep the planet healthy in the process. According to, this LEED-certified Verizon location optimizes water use and is designed to save 28,000 gallons of water each year.

Meanwhile, in Mount Dora, Florida, First Green Bank has proven its commitment to the environment with a new location that lives up to the bank's name. According to American Banker, the branch cuts down on water consumption by roughly 25 percent through the use of waterless urinals and other fixtures.

More solar power

Officials from First Green Bank also believe in solar power, which is something many other people will support in 2013, reported. The news source predicted that the number of buildings using solar power will continue to rise in the new year.

American Banker reported that First Green Bank has offered to finance 100 percent of business owners' or homeowners' solar power upgrades.

"My dream is if you drive into central Florida and go, 'Wow, look at all the solar power, wonder what that is,' our name will be front and center as to the reason why," Ken LaRoe, the bank's founder and chief executive officer, told the news source. stated that the interest in moving toward net-zero energy buildings will help fuel the growth in solar power use in 2013. The Georgia Institute of Technology is one institution that wanted to become less reliant on energy. Now, its Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory is the first building on campus to achieve its net-zero energy consumption goal, Technique, the school's newspaper, reported. This is made possible thanks to the largest photovoltaic array on campus.

"Almost every available surface, we put photovoltaic cells on," Darrell Scott Jones, the institute's director of design and construction in its Facilities Department, told the news outlet.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

USGBC Identifies the Country's Greenest States

While construction crews can help environmentally friendly structures rise across the country, there are certain states where green building is especially popular. Recently, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its list of the 10 states that had the most Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications over the course of 2012.

Landing in the list's top spot was the District of Columbia. Virginia, Colorado, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Washington, California, Texas and Nevada followed it, respectively.

"Securing a spot on this list is a remarkable achievement for everyone involved in the green building movement in these states," said Rick Fedrizzi, president, chief executive officer and founding chair of the USGBC, as quoted by the council's website. "From architects and designers to local chapter advocates, their collective efforts have brought sustainable building design and use to the forefront of the national discussion on the environment, and I applaud their efforts to create a healthier present and future for the people of their states."

Here is a look at some of the states that appeared in the top 10, as well as reasons why they earned a spot:

District of Columbia
Although it is not a state, the District of Columbia bested all other regions of the country in terms of LEED space certified per resident. According to USGBC data, 36.97 square feet of space was LEED certified per resident in 2012. Overall, 110 projects were certified.

After learning of the District of Columbia's placement at the top of the list, Keith Anderson, interim director of the District of Columbia's Department of the Environment, said that buildings are one of the main focus areas of Mayor Vincent C. Gray's Sustainable DC Initiative.

"We are indeed thrilled to be leading the nation in per-capita LEED certified space," said Anderson, as quoted by the USGBC website. "Our private and public building sectors are boldly leading with the development of high performing green buildings, and we have aligned governmental policies to support such innovation."

According to the District of Columbia's website, 24 District buildings have received LEED certification at the Silver level or higher. In addition, more than 150 projects are LEED registered.

Landing in the list's second spot is Virginia, with 3.71 square feet of space LEED certified per resident. While Virginia's LEED space per capita was lower than the District of Columbia's, its number of projects certified was significantly higher at 170.

One man who was very pleased with the ranking was Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who has a desire to make his state the energy capital of the U.S.

"Today's ranking is a validation of the tremendous effort of Virginia's architects and builders to design and renovate building spaces to be more energy-efficient," McDonnell said in a statement. "Last year, I signed into law the High Performance Building Act, which ensures that public building design, construction and renovation now meets the LEED green building standard as well. It is good for the environment, good for our bottom line and good for business."

Illinois earned the fifth spot on the USGBC's list, with 1.94 square feet of LEED space certified per resident. For Governor Pat Quinn, this was welcome news, as he has worked to make Illinois the "most environmentally-friendly state" since he took office, according to a press release.

Quinn's advocacy for green building is one reason why Illinois ranked so high on the list. In 2009, the governor signed a capital construction plan that requires all state-funded projects to seek at least LEED Silver certification. Furthermore, any major renovation of an existing state-owned structure must pursue LEED certification as well.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What Companies Want to see in their Green Facilities

Companies continue to see the value in finding greener ways to do business. This means that many organizations may be looking for construction professionals who can help them design, build and renovate structures that would be worthy of the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

If construction professionals wish to become green building authorities, they could look into continuing education options, as well as work toward earning a LEED AP credential. Something else these individuals may want to do is take a look at companies that clearly have an interest in becoming more environmentally friendly organizations. This will allow them to see what types of green features some of today's biggest companies want to see in their facilities. Here are just three examples of businesses with buildings that recently received LEED certification:

Swisslog Healthcare Solutions
This provider of integrated logistics solutions for hospitals, warehouses and distribution centers, recently saw its North American headquarters in Denver, Colorado, receive LEED Silver Certification for Existing Buildings, a press release stated.

What this means, according to the USGBC, is that the facility puts an environmentally friendly spin on ongoing building operations, such as water and energy use, as well as waste stream management.
"LEED certification is the culmination of two years' effort in sustainability projects at Swisslog," said Mike Hoganson, Swisslog's president. "Our gains in operational efficiency and cost reduction provide a sound business justification for the stewardship programs we have in place as a result of our participation in the LEED program."

SKECHERS sneakers often come in green, which is fitting, as the footwear manufacturer has an interest in keeping the planet healthy. This is apparent based on the fact that the company's 1.82 million square foot North American distribution center in Rancho Belago, California, recently earned LEED Gold certification, according to a press release.

The facility received LEED certification for multiple green features, including a warehouse ventilation system that makes use of outside air, energy-efficient hating and cooling systems, and 280,000 square feet of solar power generation systems that sit atop the distribution center's roof.
"SKECHERS is committed to growing its business in a way that conserves natural resources, protects the environment and reduces waste," said David Weinberg, the company's chief operating officer and chief financial officer. "In addition to efficiently distributing our product across North America, the SKECHERS Rancho Belago facility is an outstanding example of how large corporations can grow their business while also promoting Earth-friendly practices."

Whirlpool Corporation
Since its inception more than 100 years ago, Whirlpool Corporation, the world's largest manufacturer of home appliances, has worked to make a positive impact on communities, according to Lee Utke, the company's senior director of global corporate real estate, as quoted by a press release. Whirlpool's commitment to communities continues with its new Riverview Campus in Benton Harbor, Michigan - the recipient of LEED Platinum certification.

The Riverview Campus serves as an example of what green construction can be. For example, nearly 15,000 tons of construction waste was kept out of landfills thanks to the fact that 95 percent of building materials and waste were recycled and reused. In addition, the facility is designed to save more than 147,000 gallons of interior water each year.

Other green features at the Riverview Campus include architecture that uses natural daylight and onsite electric charging stations to promote the use of fuel-efficient vehicles.

 Of course, these are just three companies that have recently received LEED certification for their facilities. With the right training, construction professionals may be able to help many more organizations do the same in the years ahead.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reaching Higher for Green Cred

The water crisis sounds like another media creation, like Y2K. But Y2K was only solved after the hype scared businesses into looking at the situation. They managed to fix most glitches and were prepared for the date change. But the specter remained. And the media loves a good specter. And so the hype lived on until New Year’s Day, 2000.

Can business also solve the water crisis before it goes too far? That remains to be seen, but like Y2K, the clock is ticking.

In the U.S. we use water for everything from drinking and farming to washing vehicles and watering lawns. At the same time, costs for utilities are going up and everyone from homeowners to major conglomerates would like to spend less on it. But it’s tough to break bad habits.

Low-hanging Fruit
Much of the low-hanging fruit is gone. We have the low-flow fixtures in place. Even retail spaces like business offices have gotten a handle on it due to a mix of fighting for LEED certification and trying to save cash. Reclaimed water for landscaping maintenance? It’s being carefully drip-irrigated outside your window right now.

Reach Higher
So that leaves us with the fruit that isn’t low-hanging. Rainwater capture could be interesting. It works well for Bermuda, where all the roofs are designed to catch and contain rainwater for home use. Water flow as well as water treatment issues would need to be addressed. Get some ideas with these classes:

These can be used to filter out pollutants before water hits a wetland or groundwater table. Wetlands are an important defense against a storm surge and are often regarded by local governments as protected areas. Groundwater, of course, leads to aquifers and other bodies of water where the majority of our drinking water comes from. Polluting either can result in fines, not to mention bad karma. Check out these classes for a little help:

Drinking Water
Sure, you have that little filter on the sink for your water, but wouldn’t it be nice to skip that? Or to be able to stop buying those jugs of water at the supermarket? Learn what’s up with RedVector drinking water classes:

Clean water is something we take for granted right up until we don’t have it. We know that municipalities are on the lookout for polluters and hefty fines can be incurred through mistakes of omission. Keep an eye out for mistakes with training from RedVector.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Small Business Survival Skills

There’s an old axiom that bemoans how it isn’t fair that we take our best standup comics and make them sit-com stars. They got famous being great standup comedians. And now we demand they do something completely different? It’s proven with every failed Margaret Cho and Jeff Dunham show.

Small business people often feel the same way. A contractor gets where he is by building things. By knowing lumber and codes and LEED certifications. But then he starts out on his own and has to learn things like sales, billing, W-4s and marketing, plus do all the stuff he usually does.

It can easily get overwhelming. Luckily, RedVector has your back.

Marketing: 101
Don’t fall for the old “I see it so everyone sees it” marketing strategy.

You see lots of media every day, including TV, billboards, newspapers and radio. Just because you listen to 70s Rock doesn’t mean your customers rock out to “Freebird” on the local station. In fact, if you sell high-end homes, all your customers might only be on satellite radio.

No, put the SiriusXM contract down; my point is that you don’t have the bandwidth to research all that. Gut instinct is great, but don’t rely on it. Use it when testing new media, not when you are betting the farm that it works.

Start slowly and take a class. RedVector has them available—from public relations to putting together a marketing strategy. Just type “Marketing” into the course search online.

To get you started:
  • Effective Public Relations:
  • Marketing:
  • Another Marketing:

Small Business Survival Skills
So let’s say you start out and you get a few contracts. Then, you need to hire employees to do the work. But you need more work coming in to keep those paychecks going out. And your business builds.

Best case scenario? It has a dark side. Payroll taxes. Benefits. Morale. You’ll need leadership and juggling skills. If you’ve come this far, you probably have all the building blocks. Hone your skills by stopping by SmartTeam. A sister to RedVector, SmartTeam specializes in getting your small business on its feet. Your sales guys can get trained to sell. Your human resources person can get the basics. And you can take a class on staying stress-free.

SmartTeam can even keep you out of legal hot water.  There are ethics classes to help you spot where a business venture might be getting a little shady and compliance classes to show you the way out of shady territory. There are safety classes that help keep everyone off workers’ comp. And there are professional courses that could head off sexual harassment cases.

And so on. We can help teach you computer skills, health and wellness and so much more. And suddenly you might just realize that you have gone from a crazed small business person to someone who is taking care of business.

Have you visited It's built just for small businesses looking to step up their game from the receptionist up front to the back office. Try out the 7 day trial for free.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rethinking Dunes (and Codes) after Sandy

(Note: Scroll to the bottom of the post for hurricane-related courses from RedVector.)

Hurricanes Sandy and Andrew were very different storms more than 20 years apart, but they will have an impact on the way local governments build for decades to come. Andrew spurred major wind mitigation rethinking. Early indications point to flooding and storm surges as being the thrust of Sandy’s legacy.

To that end, seaside communities from Fire Island to Atlantic Beach are reevaluating their dunes strategies. In the recent past, not every community was willing to pony up several million dollars for mounds of sand that would disrupt views and ruin the fun for surfers. But Sandy changed a lot of that thinking.

Long Beach, NY, turned down dunes six years ago. Myriad local opinions drove the city council to vote it down unanimously. Neighboring beach communities to the north and the south swallowed the cost and voted it in. The Army Corps of Engineers designed and built the 15-foot-tall dunes where approved.

The result?

After the storm blew through, Long Beach (with a population of 30,000 people) suffered more than $200 million in damages. Nearby towns with dunes saw a fraction of those damages. Even where the dunes were breached, scientists and community leaders say the damage wasn't as bad as it could have been.

Damage estimates and comparisons between the towns are still being calculated, but the wheels of emergency federal funds are already moving forward with dunes projects. Local government is ready to approve the measures. There is a good chance this won’t be the only policy revisited after Sandy.

When Andrew rolled through South Florida, strict building codes were enacted that reverberated throughout the state. Those in high-risk counties strapped down their roofs and purchased specially-designed doors and windows. Even builders hundreds of miles away from the affected area were impacted by revised codes. And the state’s property insurance landscape has forever changed since the storm.

RedVector training helped architects, engineers and construction companies in Florida adjust to the new restrictions. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on any changes in the Northeast as well. In the meantime, we have a variety of courses designed to keep your customers safe, including:

And our package: