George Bandy Discusses Impact of Biophilic Design at Joint Meeting with IFMA

On January 14th, the Gulf Coast Region of USGBC partnered with IFMA Houston in presenting a luncheon event featuring speaker, George Bandy, Vice President of Sustainability at Interface.  The internationally renowned leader in sustainability discussed the human benefits of designing with nature and the global impact of biophilic design.  Members and guests learned about the role biophilic design has on happiness, productivity and creativity in the workplace along with its significance in other market segments, including Healthcare, Education, Retail, Corporate, and Community.  Due to the relationship between nature, our built environment, and our psychological well-being, Bandy believes designing spaces that inspire, energize and support the people who use them is a global imperative.

To learn more about the significant impact of biophilic design, visit

Recent Changes and Expansions At GBCI

The Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) has changed its name to Green Business Certification, Inc. GBCI is a brand that has been synonymous with LEED and green building since 2008. It will continue to be referred to as GBCI with a mission to speed market transformation and expand to new markets.

GBCI’s name change is due to the direction and vision of the organization which is to extend its core competencies of certification and credentialing services to organizations that share the same mission. GBCI is well-positioned to fulfill the Third-party validation need that has become very valuable across the globe.

GBCI is the only organization to administer project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Building Rating System. GBCI will also provide certification and credentialing services for the following standards:

  1. Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal (PEER) standard, which is used to measure and improve sustainable power system performance.
  2. The WELL building standard, which is used to measure the impact of building design on human health.
  3. The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) standard, which is used to measure specific areas of site design such as water, soil and vegetation, materials, and human health and well-being.
  4. The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) benchmark which is used by institutional investors to improve the sustainability performance of the global property sector.

By, Maria Perez, LEED AP, Gensler


For more information please visit  



Sullivan Brothers Builders certifies 9 homes in Evia Community on Galveston Island

The LEED-Homes program is picking up momentum as a few builders in town have committed to building 100% LEED Certified homes.  One of them, Sullivan Brothers Builders, has recently received certification of 9 of their homes at the Certified level.  That's just a start, however.  They have 57 more homes registered, with many of them slated to receive Gold level certification.
We spoke with Sullivan Brothers Builders to find out more about why they feel that LEED brings value to their customers.  Their representative, Karen Travelstead, explains that Sullivan Brothers has always been committed to building "green" homes, but needed a way to communicate what that meant to their clients.  LEED brought an industry-recognized, coherent program that homeowners could easily get their heads around.  Ms. Travelstead says that they were already using a lot of green building techniques, such as reclaimed hardwood flooring, foam insulation, PEX manifolds and drought-tolerant, indigenous landscaping.  Documenting the rest of their process to meet LEED standards wasn't a huge leap.  After the first few projects, LEED just became part of their standard procedures.
Additional education of the homeowner has proven to be one of the biggest impacts of choosing to build LEED homes.  Some clients come to them because of their commitment to LEED, but others have never heard of LEED or think that LEED applies just to commercial buildings.  Taking time to explain to the homeowner why things are a little different in their homes than others takes additional effort, but it's well worth it. 
The building industry has a great responsibility to build healthy, energy- and water-efficient homes.  The USGBC's mission is to have everyone living in a green home within a generation.  It's heartening to see that LEED-Homes is picking up momentum and there are such committed builders in Houston!  Great job, Sullivan Brothers!
For more information about the communities being developed by Sullivan Brothers Builders, visit
By, Caroline Kostak

USGBC Advocacy - 2015 Texas Legislature

The following is a short synopsis of the Legislation that USGBC in Texas advocated for/against in the 2015 Texas State Legislature.

House Bill 1736 – Building Energy Performance Standards

Bill was originally presented under the premise that stricter energy codes increased the cost of housing and made housing too expensive for some in the market. Working with the bill’s sponsor we were able to demonstrate that utility savings from the stricter energy codes more than offset the mortgage cost increase. The bill will adopt (September 2016) the 2015 Residential Code as the base for Texas. Municipalities will be able to adopt stricter standards if they desire.

Senate Bill 1679 – Residential Building Code

Bill was presented to add knowledgeable building industry oversight to the Texas Code Adoption Procedure. This would be accomplished by creating a new review board of six individuals, to be appointed by the governor, to review/alter the recommendations of the existing technical review board prior to being submitted to the legislature. Worked with the bill’s sponsor to demonstrate the potential shortcomings of this legislation. This bill did not come to a vote.

House Bill 2392 – Wheel (Residential Energy Efficiency Loan Program)

Bill was to amend the Health and Safety Code to direct the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to establish and administer a self-sustaining program to issue loans for improvements to increase the energy efficiency of existing residences. The bill had enough votes for passage but the sponsor could not get recognized on the floor by the Lt. Governor and so the bill never came to vote. Will work on this before the next legislative session with SECO to craft a similar program that will pass.

House Bill 3363 – Residential Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Districts

Bill would allow local governments to adopt residential PACE districts to provide low interest loans for energy and water upgrades to homes that are paid back on an assessment that is attached to the property. This bill stalled in the House Committee. Will work on this bill again for the next session.

House Bill 1184 – Utility Cost Savings & Alternative Fuel Programs

Bill would allow the authorization for certain alternative energy and fuel programs for local government energy savings performance contracts. This bill was added to an existing law to increase the eligibility potential for these contracts. The bill passed and was forwarded to the governor for signature.

House Bill 1192 – Permissible Additional Domestic Use of Graywater

Bill was to expand the use of graywater for interior use in the flushing of toilets and urinals.   The bill was referred to the Natural Resources Committee where it stalled. We will work on this in the next legislature.

House Bill 1902 - Regulation and Use of Graywater

Bill was to address regulations allowing for additional safe uses of domestic graywater.   These will include expanded use of AC condensate, swimming pool backwash, storm water and reverse osmosis. Worked with the sponsor to inform others of the benefits and move the bill forward. Was passed and forwarded for the Governor’s signature.