Certificate in Urban & Community Design

Texas Tech University introduces certificate program in Urban and Community Design Studies, that is available in Houston. This course is intended to familiarize students who are not environmental specialists with relevant facts and analyses on this recent environmentalism evolution. With the growing globalization of social, political and economic activities worldwide, sustainability has become a fundamental component of the new global playing field (think not just “greening”, but climate, energy, water, toxins, food, health, land use, urban planning, transportation, public agencies, private industry, and non-profits). For more information contact the program director MaryAlice Torres-MacDonald.



UCD Certificate Description

The Graduate Certificate in Urban and Community Design is intended to meet the specialized academic needs of both graduate students and professionals. Understanding the complex nature of the urban environment is an essential aspect of architectural practice and other complimentary fields. The certificate provides this highly motivated individual this specialization after the completion of fourteen (14) hours of graduate level coursework noted under the Certificate Curriculum.

Architecture majors at TTU can obtain this certificate concurrently with the Master of Architecture with no additional hours if enrolled by the second semester of the graduate program. Students seeking this certificate as a non-major or as a professional in practice will work with their instructor to contribute in specialized ways to the approved Advanced Architectural Design studio requirement based on their area of skill and expertise. Coursework offers distance education options.

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University of Texas at El Paso Earns First SITES v2 Certification

(Washington, D.C.)—Sept. 15, 2016—Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) announced today that the University of Texas at El Paso’s (UTEP) Campus Transformation Project was awarded Silver certification under the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES) rating system, and is the first project to certify under SITES v2. Owned and administered by GBCI, SITES is the most comprehensive program for sustainable land development and aligns land development and management with innovative design.

The SITES redesign on UTEP’s campus converted parking lots and unusable sloped landscapes into an 11.57-acre community landscape and meeting space in the center of campus. The core of the project is Centennial Plaza and Centennial Green, which include richly detailed outdoor gathering spaces that feature a performance lawn and a 130-seat amphitheater, desert gardens, vegetated bioswales that mimic natural arroyos, walking paths and a diverse array of trees, shrubs and perennial plants native to the Chihuahuan desert. The green infrastructure and landscape design techniques also increased the vegetative area of the site by 60 percent. The project, which was rated on a number of areas including site design, construction, operations and maintenance, received the maximum amount of points for innovation.

“UTEP’s certification of a sustainable gathering space represents tremendous leadership in landscape design and development,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president, GBCI, and chief operating officer, U.S. Green Building Council. “The Campus Transformation Project is one of the first and largest green infrastructure projects in the El Paso region, and will benefit UTEP students, faculty and the surrounding region for years to come. We know that a sustainable built environment extends beyond the four walls of a building and through the use of SITES, projects like this are creating ecologically resilient communities, reducing water demand and improving air quality and human health by connecting people to nature. As the first certified project under the second version of the SITES rating system, UTEP and the entire project team who worked on this certification are true leaders in campus transformation and sustainable landscape design. Just as LEED undeniably transformed the built environment, SITES has the power to transform land development and use, and projects like this will play a critical role.”

The SITES rating system provides a metrics-based approach to important concepts such as ecosystem services and green infrastructure so that developers and owners can make informed decisions about their land use. Used by landscape architects, engineers, architects, developers and policy makers, SITES creates regenerative systems and fosters resiliency; ensures future resource supply and mitigates climate change; transforms the market through design, development and maintenance practices; enhances human well-being; and strengthens the community.

“The benefits of the Campus Transformation project go beyond sustainable landscapes,” said Greg McNicol, UTEP's associate vice president for business affairs–facilities management. “Research shows that landscapes can provide mental health, cognitive function and stress reduction benefits, which is especially important in a collegiate setting. Through the Campus Transformation Project, we hope to not only strengthen our sustainability priorities, but also create a community gathering space for our students and faculty.”

SITES was developed through the collaborative, interdisciplinary efforts of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden. The rating system can be applied to development projects located on sites with or without buildings and draws on the experience gained from a two-year pilot program involving more than 100 projects. Forty-six of these pilot projects have achieved certification, including landscape projects at corporate headquarters, national and city parks, academic campuses and private homes.

The project team for the Campus Transformation Project includes: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Inc. (Prime Consultant, Landscape Architect); Quantum Engineering Consultants (Civil Engineer); AEC (Structural Engineer); EEA (MEP Engineer); Lake|Flato Architects (Architect); Aqua Irrigation (Irrigation Designer); RLB (Cost Control Consultant); Altura Solutions (Accessibility Consultant); Biohabitats (Ecological Engineer); Regenerative Environmental Design (Sustainability Consultant); Yarnell & Assoc. (Lighting Designer); LAS (Local Site Reviewer); and CF Jordan (General Contractor).

Houston Area Sustainability Network, September meeting

Houston Area Sustainability Network meeting on September 9th focused on "Advocating for Sustainability". Attendees heard presentations from Marina Badoian-Kriticos and Lisa Lin from City of Houston's Office of Sustainability and also Julie Hendricks, Director of EcoServices for Kirksey, giving perspectives on the importance of advocacy, especially in our roles within the sustainability profession. Subsequent to the presentation, attendees moved to smaller groups to discuss a particular topic, such as Energy, Jobs Creation, Resiliency/Low Impact Development, and Transportation. Groups met for approximately 20 minutes to talk about the advocacy priorities for each. Following the meeting conclusion, some attendees took a tour of the Kirksey LEED Certified for Existing Building office building.


Background of HASN:
The Houston Area Sustainability Network is coordinated and facilitated by EarthShare of Texas and the City of Houston's Green Office Challenge as a means of providing a forum for sustainability directors across industries and around Houston to share best practices and get to know one another. Executive Directors from EarthShare of Texas'(ESTX) member organizations, Sustainability Directors from current or future ESTX campaign partners, as well as City of Houston Sustainability Leaders convene quarterly to meet, learn and share knowledge with one another. Participants are asked to participate in an ESTX workplace giving campaign, whereby employees give to the environmental nonprofits of their choice, or participate in the Houston Green Office Challenge.


LEED Calls Out Cradle to Cradle Material Health as Leadership Standard


Recognizing the depth and rigor of the Cradle to Cradle Material Health Methodology, the U.S. Green Building Council added the Material Health Certificate from the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute as a leading standard under its Building Product Disclosure and Optimization, Material Ingredients credit. As a result, architects will be able to earn credits under LEED v4 by specifying products carrying a Material Health Certificate.

Full Cradle to Cradle certification has long been a preferred standard within LEED; the addition qualifies products carrying only the Material Health portion of certification, which is now available as a stand-alone certificate. To leverage the years of expert development and practical application that have made Cradle to Cradle Certified the respected brand it is today, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute began offering the new certificate for Material Health in 2015. The requirements for the Material Health Certificate are identical to the material health attribute achievement level of full Cradle to Cradle certification.

The addition of the Material Health Certificate to LEED increases the flexibility for projects to earn credits for specifying products whose ingredients have been third-party verified and report human and environmental impacts. Under LEED v4, users can earn 1 point for specifying at least 20 products carrying Cradle to Cradle v3 Bronze certification or higher and, now, a Material Health Certificate at Bronze or higher. With more than 3,000 products in the Cradle to Cradle Certified registry and Material Health registry, this LEED credit is very attainable and easy to document with downloadable certificates for verification.

“The Cradle to Cradle Material Health methodology provides the third-party verification, continuous improvement pathway, and easy reporting that instills confidence in specifiers and consumers seeking meaningful information to inform their selection decisions,” said Stacy Glass, Vice President of the Built Environment at the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. “By recognizing the Material Health Certificate in addition to full Cradle to Cradle Certification, the USGBC extends its leadership in the movement toward safer, healthier materials for the built environment.”

View all Cradle Cradle Certified products here. View all Material Health Certified products here.

More information on USGBC’s latest Quarterly Addenda to LEED can be found here.