Center for Resilience

The Center for Resilience

Promoting resilient buildings and communities

USGBC is working to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated to encourage green building practices—and resilience is a clear extension of this work. We know that more sustainable buildings are the cornerstone to enhancing community resilience, and our work continues to expand our reach to other sectors of the built environment. The Center for Resilience is a USGBC initiative housing all of the organization’s resilience activities. We know that addressing and emphasizing resilience through green building and infrastructure certifications can help ensure a more resilient future for all.

The hard work of USGBC members, partners, and LEED users underscores our collective commitment to building a greener future among the mounting challenges of our era. USGBC is proud to count continued progress toward fulfilling our mission of a sustainable and resilient built environment. The challenge, of course, is to do much more, which is manifested in our advocacy activities at all levels of government.

 
Federal advocacy
 
State and local advocacy
 
USGBC’s local communities

Green strategies support community resilience

Green buildings are driving resilience-enhancing designs, technologies, materials, and methods. To support these efforts, green buildings often include practices such as the use of durable materials, thoughtful site selection, rainwater collection, demand response, grid islanding, maximal energy efficiency, on-site renewable energy generation and more.

What is resilience? USGBC and our partners have defined resilience as the “ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events.” Through our work, USGBC finds that resilience means:

Modern building on blueprint
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Design Planning

Proactive design planning and construction for potential impacts of reasonably expected natural disasters with minimal damage.

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Healthy Site

Creation and execution of a site development plan that promotes healthy vegetation, soils, and aquatic ecosystems to provide ecosystem services such as flood control.

Man using weedwacker to trim grass on project site
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Maintaining Project Site

Design, building, and maintaining of the project site and adjacent landscapes to reduce risk of wildfire.

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Catastrophic Event

Support for community recovery during catastrophic events and extended bulk power grid outages by enabling islanding and power reliability to essential services.

Rating system tools

Through LEED and other programs and initiatives, USGBC promotes and advocates for principles of design, construction, operation, and maintenance that address and emphasize resilience in buildings, landscapes, power systems, and communities. Beyond sustainability, green building and infrastructure certifications are driving resilience-enhancing designs, technologies, materials, and methods.

LEED

LEED
LEED is the gold standard for how buildings and communities are designed, constructed, maintained, and operated. LEED promotes resilience in each of these areas as well via the LEED Climate Resilience Screening Tool, which evaluates the resilience potential of each LEED credit. For examples of LEED-certified projects that have exhibited exemplary resilience, see our Profiles in Resilience brief.


green building research

PEER
PEER is the certification program that measures power system performance and electricity infrastructure, while also working to improve the sustainability, reliability, and resilience of these systems. PEER includes guidance for cities, utilities, campuses, and transit to help ensure reliable delivery of electricity, reduction of emissions, improved safety and security, and more.


advocacy priorities

SITES
SITES is the sustainable land development and management program that aims, in part, to “create regenerative systems and foster resiliency.” SITES provides a green infrastructure framework for landscapes of virtually any type. Because SITES was modeled after LEED, the system optimizes resilience efforts by enabling some projects to concurrently pursue both certifications.


advocacy priorities

LEED for Cities
LEED for Cities is a pilot certification program that supports continues progress towards better, more resilient cities. Available through the Arc performance platform, LEED for Cities provides cities with solutions for measuring and managing energy and water use, human experience, waste production, and transportation usage on a city scale.


advocacy priorities

RELi
The RELi resilience rating system is rising as the new leadership benchmark for resilient buildings and neighborhoods. RELi focuses on resilience by requiring assessment and planning for acute hazards, preparedness to mitigate against them, and designing and constructing for passive survivability.

Resources to support resilience

Access resources to support your resilience efforts.

Research and reports

USGBC has participated in and tracks research to advance our collective understanding of resilience in the built environment.

Education

USGBC offers wide selection of on-demand education courses focused on resilience. 

  • The Road to Resilience learning pathway: This learning pathway provides you with the resources to assist you in incorporating more resilient practices into the design, construction, and operation of your project, and identify opportunities to leverage LEED and GBCI systems such as SITES and PEER to increase resilience.
  • The Future of Resilient Urban Transit Systems explains how having a resilient transportation system is essential to a city’s overall well-being, livability, and development, and also explores how the U.S. can learn from other countries in how to improve transit options.
  • Resilience for Business Sake explores how some businesses are incorporating resilience tactics into their planning and decision-making strategies, including some specific examples from such approaches in practice.
  • Designing Resilient Building Envelopes examines how modern wall and roof systems can be important factors in achieving resilience in buildings, and the strategies that exist to incorporate resilience into these designs.
  • Climate impact and building resilience strategies discusses the anticipated effects of climate variability on building energy use, and how different building models take these effects into account to support increased resilience.
  • Disaster Preparedness as a Catalyst for Building Community hosts JoAnn Jordan of Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management as she discusses how preparing for a disaster brings a community together through a common objective, as well as discussing how Seattle in particular is connecting people to achieve great resilience.
  • Building Resilient Communities – Climate proof residential property discusses strategies for incorporating resilience into residential projects, and how investing in low-income communities before disaster is cost-effective.
  • The Well-Tempered Community hosts urban development expert Jonathan F.P. Rose, and explores his comprehensive vision for sustainable communities and how social infrastructure can help strengthen resilience.
  • Achieving Urban Resilience: Adopting City-Wide Smart Surfaces explores the value of green infrastructure, including smart surface solutions, and how it impacts urban resilience.
Events

USGBC hosts several annual events with our members, partners, and industry leaders to facilitate collaboration and information sharing in pursuit of our mission. National and regional events each offer education and networking opportunities at the nexus of green building and community resilience.

  • Resilient Cities Summit: This annual convening of elected officials, private sector stakeholders, and subject matter experts allows attendees to share best practices and explore solutions to designing, building, and governing a more resilient city. The Resilient Cities Summit is a unique complement to other programs, serving as a leading forum for city sustainability, resilience, and financing solutions. USGBC will again co-host the Resilient Cities Summit on the West Coast in July 2018. See reports from our 2017, 2016, and 2015 summits, and check back for more information on the 2018 summit.
  • Greenbuild: Each year, Greenbuild brings together professionals, advocates, designers, and experts to share strategies for sustainability and resilience. In recent years, USGBC has amplified the conference’s focus on sharing resilient strategies at the city and sector level. Several sessions at Greenbuild 2017 in Boston featured resilient practices and how they are incorporated into the built environment. The entire conference proceedings are available for purchase. For a list of resilience-focused sessions at Greenbuild Boston, visit our learning pathway The Road to Resilience (click on Greenbuild 2017). Stay tuned for more information on resilience at Greenbuild Chicago in November 2018.
  • Rocky Mountain Green: Hosted annually by USGBC Colorado, Rocky Mountain Green is a regional conference that convenes leaders in sustainability and professionals in the building sector for education, discussion, and networking opportunities on green building, sustainability, and resilience. In 2018, several sessions focused on resilience in 2018. For more information visit the event program website and search ‘resilience.’
  • IMPACT: The annual IMPACT conference and expo brings together Midwestern building professionals for discussions on sustainable and resilient development, educational sessions, and networking opportunities. This regional event is hosted by USGBC’s local communities: Central Plains, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri Gateway, Nebraska Flatwater, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
  • GreenerBuilder: Hosted by USGBC Northern California, GreenerBuilder brings together key players and experts in the region’s built environment. This annual conference and expo encourages discussion of industry trends including resilience. GreenerBuilder also serves as an opportunity to learn more about emerging technology and new research – all to help create a more sustainable future in the Pacific region.
Demonstration projects
  • Recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (Louisiana): In the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, USGBC and our members worked across the Gulf Coast to prioritize sustainability in the rebuilding and recovery process.
  • Green Schools Fellow (video): USGBC placed a fellow in the Recovery School District of Louisiana to assist with rebuilding the schools after the storms. As of October 2017, 64 green schools projects had been completed and certified to LEED with more in the pipeline.
  • William Jefferson Clinton Children’s Center (Port-au-Prince, Haiti): Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, USGBC partnered with Fondation Enfant Jesus to help oversee the design and construction of the first LEED-certified orphanage and children’s center in Haiti. Using local workforce and bioclimatic architecture to harness the trade winds, the net-zero energy facility will be independent from the unreliable power grid in Port-au-Prince, and provides a shining example of resilience, both for Haiti and also for other developing nations. 
  • Recovery from Superstorm Sandy (New York and New Jersey): After wind and water wreaked havoc on the Mid Atlantic, USGBC and our local communities supported the recovery and rebuilding process. The City of Hoboken’s experience inspired the need for a resilient downtown microgrid that is using PEER certification to ensure resilient power system design and performance.
  • LEEDing Tiny Project (Florida): USGBC Florida community is working with Eco Relics and Norsk Tiny Houses to design and construct the first LEED-certified tiny house in the United States. The LEEDing Tiny Project aims to educate the public about healthy, sustainable, the value of LEED in homes, as well as inspiring others to go small and resilient at the same time.

Contact

Contact us for help with projects, rating systems, or your community resilience efforts at resilience@usgbc.org.