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USGBC adopts building resilient rating standard

Monday, November 27, 2017

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has formally adopted RELi, a building resilience rating standard. The standard will soon become a global rating system under the USGBC’s guidance, similar to but independent from LEED.

RELi will be managed and operated by USGBC and the Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI). The system helps architects, city planners, developers, governments, and businesses design buildings, neighbourhoods, and communities to better withstand events such as hurricanes, super storms, drought, heat waves, earthquakes, and social volatility.

RELi is patterned on LEED, but prescribes methods for designing more resilient buildings, neighbourhoods, and communities. The system was developed in 2012 by design firm Perkins+Will, the Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability (MTS), and others.

“Resilience planning must be thorough. It must consider all of the ripple effects — what we call ‘cascading consequences’ — of shocks and stressors,” says Janice Barnes, global resilience director and co-director of the Resilience Research Lab at Perkins+Will. “Our communities, our neighborhoods, and our buildings are all interconnected.

RELi will award points for various credits across multiple credit categories. In fact, it even incorporates many LEED prerequisites and credits for sustainability. However, it also introduces a comprehensive series of new criteria focused on environmental, social, and economic considerations for resilience, such as: Fundamental Access to First Aid, Emergency Supplies, Water, Food, and Communications; Adaptive Design for Extreme Rain, Sea Rise, Storm Surge, and Extreme Weather, Events, and Hazards; Develop or Expand Local Skills, Capabilities, and Long-Term Employment; Provide for Social Equity and Edible Landscaping, Urban Agriculture, and Resilient Food Production.

RELi is currently being used by pilot projects in Washington, D.C., Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Texas—including the Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City and the Christus Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi (which, incidentally, withstood Hurricane Harvey with little to no damage). These pilot projects, once complete, will help refine the certification component of the standard and establish RELi’s points system, scoring, and certification levels.

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