A Letter from Our Chair
Our hearts are heavy with everything going on in the world right now. These are difficult and trying times. Our hearts and thoughts go out to everyone because we all have been affected by the pandemic and the racial injustice issues plaguing us at this moment.
USGBC Louisiana takes seriously its commitment to improving the lives of all residents throughout the state, across all races, religions and backgrounds. We know that as a diverse population, we all must strive for tolerance and empathy in order to create a safer, more just and more sustainable world. In the words of Michelle Obama, “It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own and it ends with justice and compassion and empathy that manifests in our lives and our streets.”
We as an organization - and you as our members and friends - have an opportunity to reimagine how our cities, buildings, communities, policies, schools and workforce can better represent an equitable future. We will embark upon that path together with all Louisianans: students, up-and-coming professionals, public officials, architects, engineers, community leaders, and developers. Stay tuned for transformative discussions in the months ahead.
With the renewed focus on the inequity and inequality our family and friends of color are facing, and with June being Pride month, we remind you to respect and stand firm with your brothers and sisters. Regardless of your skin color, religion or sexual or gender identity, use your voices. Speak up for equality, speak up for acceptance, speak up for equity.
Resources to inform yourself and get involved:
Black Lives Matter
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
American Civil Liberties Union
Southern Poverty Law Center
Color of Change
Below is a statement from USGBC’s CEO.
“USGBC is defined by a single belief: Every person, regardless of race, background or circumstance, has the right to a better standard of living. Our mission is focused on creating better lives. This week’s events are a painful reminder that pursuing our mission with the utmost sincerity and purpose means acknowledging the compromised quality of life, pervasive discrimination and violence experienced because of racial injustice. We mourn the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, along with countless other Black people who have lost their lives and unduly suffered from discrimination.
While USGBC has always condemned injustice in all forms, we recognize we must renew our commitment to dismantling the systems that enable such tragedies to occur. A sustainable future is meaningless if it is not also an equitable future. Now is the time for USGBC to double down, to put our budget and resources toward building a more inclusive vision. We will hold ourselves accountable to doing everything in our power to replace racism and violence with equity and justice, and in the process, to lift people up.”
- Mahesh Ramanujam
Stay positive, stay kind, and stay safe. We are one human race and will get through this together.
You can still become a member of USGBC Louisiana for HALF price from now until September 30th. Our Mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy and prosperous Louisiana. We do this through education, advocacy, research, and service.
- Discounts on continuing education and select chapter events.
- Networking with a diverse membership of sustainability professionals and regional green building thought leaders.
- Serve the Community on a chapter committee promoting green building across Louisiana.
- Become a Leader by running for the Board of Directors and develop invaluable professional skills.
- Membership Directory Listing in an online searchable, member accessible USGBC Louisiana Membership Directory.
- Regular Member Open to anyone who supports a greener, healthier Louisiana
- Employee of a National Member Company Open to employees of a company that is a current member of USGBC National. You will need your company’s USGBC member ID number.
- Emerging Professional Open to green building professionals 30 years of age and under
- Student Open to full time college students
- K-12 Teacher Open to K-12 school faculty and staff.
Calendar of Events
MAKING YOUR BUILDING MORE SUSTAINABLE THROUGH ARC SOFTWARE
June 30, 2020
9:30 AM to 10:30 AM
Learn about the free green-building technology platform Arc, used to track LEED scoring and overall building sustainability performance.
Visit out Events page to learn more.
Thinking of Taking a LEED exam?
Great news! You can now take it from home! The exam is still given by Prometrics, just through their online portal. Read more here.
Need help studying? Let us know you are prepping, and we will try to hook you up with others in the same boat. Or try a third party group like https://everbluetraining.com/ to get you through it.
Green Schools Challenge
Thank you to all of the participating schools for their hard work and dedication to making their schools and communities healthier places to live, learn, and grow. Congratulations to our People’s Choice Award winner Southeastern Laboratory School!!! And congratulations to the winners of the drawing: New Harmony High School, Shady Grove Elementary, Iberville Stem Academy, and St. Margaret’s Catholic School. All winners will receive an Elkay water bottle filler.
This year presented unexpected challenges for our participants, but they still persevered. We are proud to recognize the participating schools for their hard work. Visit our website or USGBC Louisiana Green Schools Challenge Facebook page to see their work.
- Benjamin Franklin High School
- Iberville STEM Academy
- Mayfair Lab School
- New Harmony High School
- Shady Grove Elementary
- Southeastern Louisiana University Lab School
- St. Margaret’s Catholic School
- St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Lakeview
- St. Thomas More
The USGBC Louisiana Green Schools Challenge is an annual competition that celebrates K-12 schools in Louisiana undertaking no- or low-cost green projects to make their schools and/or communities healthier places to live, learn, and grow. The projects include raising awareness of environmental stewardship, reducing waste, energy and/or water use, or creating healthier spaces within their schools. A huge thanks to our sponsors Entergy for allowing the Challenge to happen and Elkay for providing the prizes.
Your Green Home Office Checklist
Keep your home office healthy for you and the environment with these 6 steps:
Reduce your commute - Check! When you work from home, you reduce your carbon footprint by not driving to the office.
Let daylight shine - Choose a space with adequate daylight. Daylight is proven to improve productivity, and if it is bright enough, you can leave the lights off to save electricity.
Breathe in the fresh air - If you have a space with adequate daylight, it is likely coming from an operable window. When it’s not too hot and humid outside, crack the window open to let in some fresh air.
Add a plant - Plants are a great way to naturally filter toxins from the air and soften a space. Aloe, lady palm, and snake plant are some examples of air filtering plants you can add to your home office.
Reduce energy consumption - Make sure your electronics are energy efficient. If you aren’t using it, turn it off, or start using smart power strips to save energy.
Cut the paper - Reduce your paper use by avoiding the printer. If you must print, consider using recycled paper.
Balancing Work with Wellness Strategies
By: Stephen M. Long AIA, LEED Accredited Professional BD+C, Senior Architect for the City of Baton Rouge / Parish of East Baton Rouge, and a veteran of 3 New Orleans Marathons.
Workers may not often think about health issues or tend to deal with them on a crisis management basis. Although maintaining good health while working is not very difficult, it is realistically achievable with preventive health care strategies and a little sustained focus over time starting with about 1-2 hours / week among different days. From my own experience, I know that continuing to build on initial progress and maintaining good habits has the potential to minimize need for medical treatment substantively if not entirely and enable you to be the pilot of your own good health.
Stay with fundamentals
There may be a number of workable methods, though basically most sustainable good health strategies will probably be built upon balanced nutrition and moderate exercise. A healthy eating pattern will fit all foods consumed together like a puzzle to meet nutritional needs without exceeding sensible limits.[i] The USDA has an interactive website (https://choosemyplate.gov) that based on your age, gender, and level of physical activity, can help you set daily recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy, and even provides an Action Guide with intuitively understandable tips like Start with small changes, Take one day at a time, and Be active your way.[ii] Over the years I have made a cornerstone of my diet Asian food dishes of whole grain rice with bits of vegetables, fruits, chicken and cashews, a sustainably balanced meal. The inhabitants of Okinawa island, with a comparable diet of primarily vegetables and rice or noodles, have the best longevity in the world.[iii] Healthy eating doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning the foods you like either. Fitness guru Denise Austin, a vibrant and youthful 63-year-old, from her own habits recommends eating about 80% what you should, and about 20% the sweet stuff you like. Moderation is key.
The idea of exercise can be particularly daunting to some, though the good news is even very mild, low-impact activity like walking can suffice. The important thing is to at least slightly elevate your cardiovascular activity (heart and blood flow) and respiration (breathing) for about 20-30 minutes 3 times/week. Taking days off between workout days tends to be constructive, as muscles usually take about 40 hours to regenerate themselves, and resting is when you receive the benefits of exercise. Over time a good workable strategy will build slightly on your present capabilities, sustain it semi-regularly for a while, then slightly expand the envelope again, sustain it, etc. Setting and attaining goals will gradually boost your confidence, and recognizing your developing abilities will improve self-esteem.[iv]
Listen to yourself
As you start to exercise regularly and maintain some focus on a balanced diet, you will gradually get more in tune with yourself, refining your senses about what your capabilities are, how much you can push those limits, and recognizing your vulnerabilities, knowing when to ease off to avoid unnecessary pain or potential injury. If feeling a little under the weather, it is recommended to maintain a scheduled workout, though at only 50-75% usual intensity. If gravely ill, definitely just rest and if required, medicate. Though if viable, maintaining milder workouts can help you effectively work through lesser colds and ailments. You may find sometimes it even makes you feel better.
As exercise becomes more habitual, you may also start to notice incidental holistic health benefits as you start to function more smoothly. Aerobic exercise in a regular schedule often helps you sleep more soundly at night, which can be key to reducing stress and feeling well. It can also boost cognitive processes during the day, including improved focus, better working memory, and task-switching ability.[v] Exercise stimulates the growth of cells on the cerebellum, the stem of the brain associated with memory, reducing the risk of mind degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Dementia.[vi] Though your heart rate and breathing may increase during exercise, your resting pulse will gradually slow and become confidently regular, reducing risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. With increased lung capacity your breathing will get deeper, slower, and more regular. Endurance exercise over longer distances causes the body to release endorphins, naturally occurring morphine-like opiates, and endocannabinoids, THC-like natural chemicals, that together numb the perception of pain and create a kind of “runner’s high” which can invigorate the spirit.[vii] Sweating while exercising will clear the pores, and give the skin a healthy glow.
Working out may make you hungry, especially for the kind of carbohydrate-rich food the body uses as fuel during exercise. Though I find regular exercise can improve your sense of how much food is enough. Athletes develop a sense of what it takes to get themselves through their next work out, and it may inspire them to not smoke, drink less alcohol, and/or snack less, sometimes at an unconscious level. There is a theory that the food cravings pregnant women sometimes get may be signals about what nutrition might benefit their unborn child. Moderately active individuals may also discover they are developing better intuitive senses about a more beneficial diet for themselves.
Deal constructively with stress
When work or personal life gets busy and stressful, shifting priorities may result in suspending regular exercise and a balanced diet. However, those times may be the most important to maintain healthy habits to successfully navigate the stress, and avoid stress-related illness. Chronic stress severely weakens the immune system--the body’s natural defense against bacteria, viruses, and parasites[viii]--and can directly and negatively impact the wound healing process.[ix]
Contemporary doctors often acknowledge problematic health issues could at least be partly stress-related, influenced by psychological and/or emotional factors, or psychosomatic, pertaining to both the body and the mind. Some ancient shamanic beliefs and Ayurvedic medicine see wellness as based on an interconnected balance of internal energies and external environmental elements.[x] Sometimes your own subjective feeling of being out of sync with your environment—even at an unconscious level—may cause psychosomatic stress that leads to weakened immunity. Because civil servants and some other workers have duties and standards to maintain, that occasionally require them to be out of sync with their environments and fellow citizens, they can be vulnerable to such stress. They may benefit from being a little extra healthy with improved immunity, in order to do their jobs well.
Pace for the marathon of life
Running a marathon is sometimes described as a unique physical and psychological challenge. Much preparation and training are advised in order to navigate the at-times grueling stresses somewhat smoothly. After many miles, an interesting state develops. Though muscles may begin to sense fatigue, endorphins and endocannabinoids numb the runner’s nervous system’s ability to sense that stress, and provide a feel-good sensation in the mind above and beyond the exhaustion. The sensation can seem like a mercurial autism, enabling you to accomplish challenges you might not otherwise be able to achieve, though simultaneously making you somewhat vulnerable to impression in ways both good and bad. When things get that way, when stresses and challenges are near their worst, it may become increasingly important to think positively, so you don’t give up. Being around constructive and helpful family, friends and volunteers can also be intrinsically valuable. Some way or another though, you find a way.
It is a little like life. Some good nutritional habits and a little regular exercise can help us work through many of life’s challenges, which we all experience in varying forms. Sometimes we may seem to be weathering them alright, though at other times we might barely begin to fathom how dangerous and vulnerable is the situation in which we may find ourselves. In order to endure, we may likely have to keep calm, remember what we know in terms of our training and preparation, and in the face of dire uncertainty, keep thinking constructively. As you exercise, you might listen to some music you like, think of your favorite writing or poetry, or maybe say a Hail Mary or Our Father prayer. Though somehow, find a way to be the healthy person you can be.
[i] US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture, “2015-220 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, <https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/> read May 2020, Chapter 1 Key Elements of Healthy Eating Patterns: Dietary Principles.
[ii] US Department of Agriculture, <https://choosemyplate.gov/myplate-mywins-tips-reach-your-nutrition-goals> read December 2019.
[iii] Hill, Ansley, RD, LD “What is the Okinawa Diet? Foods, Longevity, and More,” Healthline, April 16, 2019, <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/okinawa-diet> read May 2020.
[iv] Cattanach, Jacquie,”6 Benefits of Running,” Active magazine, <https://www.active.com/running/articles/6-benefits-of-running> read May 2020.
[v] Guiney, Hayley and Machado, Liana, “Benefits of regular aerobic exercise for executive functioning in healthy populations,” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, February 2013, Volume 20, Issue 1, pp 73-86, <https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758%2Fs13423-012-0345-4> read May 2020.
[vi] Science News, “How exercise may protect against Alzheimer’s,” February 8, 2019, <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190208173511.htm> read May 2020, referring to a study by the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
[vii] Winderl, Amy Marturana, “What Causes the Legendary Runner’s High and How to Feel It,” Self, February 15, 2017, <https://www.self.com/story/what-causes-runners-high-and-how-to-feel-it> read May 2020.
[viii] Segerstron, S.C. & Miller, G.E. (2004), Psychological Stress and the Human Immune System: A Meta-Analytic Study of 30 Years of Inquiry. Psychological Bulletin, 130(4), 601-630, <http://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.601> read December 2019.
[ix] Gouin, J.-P. & Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K. (2011), “The Impact of Psychological Stress on Wound Healing: Methods and Mechanisms,” Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America, 31(1), 81-93, <http://doi.org/10.1016/j.iac.2010.09.010> read December 2019.
[x] “Holistic Healing: Six Steps to Holistic Health,” Healthy Hildegard, <https://www.healthyhildegard.com/holistic-healing/> read May 2020.
Returning to the Office: Indoor Air Quality
By: Sydney Taylor Associate IIDA, LEED Green Associate
While we navigate through the COVID19 pandemic, we are learning what precautions to take as we return to the new normal. Studies on the novel coronavirus indicate airborne transmission heightens concerns about indoor air quality of hospitals, offices, retail stores, and other highly populated spaces. [iv] While individuals can take some action to improve the indoor air quality of the space, they do not have much control over the air supply of the building they occupy.
ASHRAE has established the Epidemic Task Force through their Environmental Health Committee to address the ongoing pandemic. They have released statements acknowledging the likelihood of airborne transmission and that adjusting building operations such as HVAC systems may reduce the probability of exposure. The Epidemic Task Force states, “Ventilation and filtration provided by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems can reduce the airborne concentration of SARS-CoV-2 and thus the risk of transmission through the air.” [iii] They do not recommend disabling these systems as a method to reduce transmission because this may result in other public health issues such as potentially life-threatening thermal stress. [iii] During this time, ASHRAE continues to develop guidelines and support research of building designs to reduce transmission of pathogens.
Before increasing ventilation and filtration as recommended, there are some factors to consider such as climate conditions, building envelope, mechanical systems, and the effects of moisture. According to Scott Katzer, the Florida Division Manager for VERTEX Companies, Inc. with a background in mechanical engineering, increasing ventilation in warmer, humid environments, like Louisiana, will increase the relative humidity and moisture the air handling unit (AHU) must handle. Katzer says, “Increasing the outdoor air ventilation for a specific [AHU] system increases the mixed air temperature being delivered to the cooling coil, which in turn increases the supply air temperature leaving the AHU that is delivered into the space — along with any excess moisture the AHU system was not able to remove.” The increased moisture has the potential to cause discomfort for the occupants and create conditions for microbial growth which may have adverse health effects. It is best to consult a licensed mechanical engineer or vendor before increasing ventilation.
Katzer also recommends consulting a licensed mechanical engineer or vendor when upgrading to filters with higher efficacy. Filters with high MERV ratings are more effective at capturing airborne particles, but this also means they have a denser composition which decreases airflow velocity and causes a pressure drop. This can lead to an overall decrease in airflow to the space. Katzer points out that a decrease in velocity across the cooling coil may cause the coils to freeze. Depending on the system, the solution to counteracting the decreased airflow velocity may be as simple as increasing the speed of the fan or the horsepower of the fan motor. It is important to consult a professional to verify that the system can handle these changes and perform as intended. Additionally, precautions should be taken when changing and disposing of these filters because they may have traces of SARS-CoV-2 and other contaminants. While changing the filters, CDC recommended PPE should be worn, the surrounding work environment should be protected from falling particles, surfaces should be disinfected, and dirty filters should be disposed of properly.
Returning to the office will be an adjustment in a familiar setting. People may feel relieved and excited to go back to their offices, resuming a sense of normalcy. Others may feel anxious about their health and safety of the working environment. Ensure the safest environment for employees and tenants by following CDC and ASHRAE recommendations but consider the effects any changes to the operating systems might have on the building and occupants. Consult with a professional to determine the perfect balance between indoor air quality and system performance.
[i] ASHRAE “Pandemic COVID19 and Airborne Transmission,” ASHRAE, April 17, 2020, https://www.ashrae.org/file%20library/technical%20resources/covid-19/eiband-airbornetransmission.pdf > read April 2020
[ii] Katzer, Scott “Discussing the CDC and ASHRAE Recommendations for HVAC Systems,” The News, April 16, 2020, https://www.achrnews.com/articles/143009-discussing-the-cdc-and-ashrae-recommendations-for-hvac-systems > read April 2020.
[iii] Santarpia, Joshua L, Danielle N Rivera, Vicki Herrera, M. Jane Morwitzer, Hannah Creager, George W. Santarpia, Kevin K Crown, David Brett-Major, Elizabeth Schnaubelt, M. Jana Broadhurst, James V. Lawler, St. Patrick Reid, John J. Lowe “Transmission Potential of SARS-CoV-2 in Viral Shedding Observed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center,” MedRxIV, March 26, 2020 https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.23.20039446v2 >Read April 2020