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).

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


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