An Ode to GIS in Green Building

Photo courtesy of ESRI.

What comes to mind when you think of Geographic Information Systems (GIS)?

Maybe some of the latest beautifully crafted New York Times maps, like the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election Results map or the constantly updated map that tracks the Coronavirus Outbreak in the United States. Or maybe you recently used Google Maps to navigate to a new take-out restaurant to shake things up during quarantine. Out of all the examples that come to mind, I can almost guarantee that green building isn’t at the top of your list. However, GIS is an increasingly important tool for the green building industry, and it has huge potential for future growth.

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The Top 5 Green Building “Buzzwords” of 2020

2020 has been quite a year. The pandemic that altered nearly every facet of our lives, the wildfires burning across the western US, waves of social change rising around the globe, and a presidential election like no other. But we weathered through the uncertainty and found new ways of going about our daily lives—and so did the green building industry.

As we wrap up the year, we put together a list of the top five green building “buzzwords” of 2020. We hope that these buzzwords will give you a glimpse of key ideas that have shaped the green building landscape this year. 

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Confused About Carbon? Let’s Break It Down.

One of the biggest buzzwords in the green building industry right now is carbon, and for good reason. Carbon is, after all, inextricably linked to the greatest threat faced by humankind: the climate crisis. Though very simple when taken at face value, carbon has a lot of intricacies as it relates to the green building industry. From embodied carbon to net zero carbon to carbon sequestration, the variations are endless! Let’s dive deep into the vast world of carbon and define these terms.

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The Difference Between the U.S. and Thailand’s Sustainability Scenes

Cartoon Watanasirisuk is Verdical Group’s Sustainability & Business Development Intern. She is a student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she is pursuing a double major in economics and biology & society. Cartoon is currently staying with her parents in Thailand and taking classes at UCLA remotely.

Growing up in the capital city of Thailand, I’ve gotten used to the amount of cars constantly on the road and to the plastics that encase almost everything in the grocery stores. It wasn’t until I saw how self-sustained and natural my great grandparents’ lifestyles outside the metropolitan area were that I became aware of the difference between the older, less ‘developed’ or less westernized and the more modern ways of living. 

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Verdical Impact — Purpose with Numbers, Numbers with Purpose

Download the infographic.

Kevin Chris Zhu is Verdical Group’s Sustainability Intern. Kevin is a LEED AP BD+C accredited professional, holds a B.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering and is a candidate for an M.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering with an Atmosphere/Energy Program, Sustainability and Energy Focus from Stanford University.

Thank you for your interest in our third update of the Verdical Impact infographic project!

We are proud to share the positive social and environmental impact Verdical Group has made through our growing number of certified projects, team volunteerism, and educational events, including our very own annual Net Zero Conference. Together at Verdical Group, we continue to tackle new challenges with innovative and practical solutions to model an environmentally sustainable institution to help our campus, local, and global community understand, mitigate, and adapt to the changing climate.

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Climate Change & The Building Industry: Re-Framing the Present and Looking Forward to the Future

Figure 1: A breakdown of global CO2 emissions by sector (Why the Building Sector, 2020).

Luna Oiwa is a student in the Master’s in Engineering Management program at Cornell University, interested primarily in sustainable buildings. She organized Cornell University‘s Business Impact Symposium, which our Founder & Principal, Drew Shula, participated in this March.

She currently serves as a Built Ecology Intern at WSP USA, having previously worked as a Project Manager at Cornell Sustainability Consultants and a Project Intern at Taitem Engineering. This essay was originally submitted to a Cornell-run essay competition, in which it earned first place.


Climate change is indisputably one of the most important topics of the day. Less clear is our ability to pinpoint exactly who is to blame or to be held responsible for its increasingly catastrophic consequences. Does the burden fall on consumers or industry, on developing or developed nations? Is it right to assign guilt to the current generation of Earth’s inhabitants, when we inherited already-broken systems from past generations?

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Top 5 Reasons to Attend the Net Zero Conference

Verdical’s annual Net Zero Conference & Expo, hosted virtually this year on September 15 + 16, is just two months away! We’re pleased to be bringing NZ20 to you, while still mimicking the energy you’ve come to expect from the in-person event.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Building a Zero-Waste Lifestyle

Rebecca Ramsdale is a Project Manager at Verdical Group. She is a TRUE Zero Waste Advisor and LEED AP BD+C and serves as the USGBC-Long Beach Vice-Chair and a member of the LF-LA Steering Committee.

I’m not a fan of taking out the trash—and who is? It’s smelly, grungy, and wasteful. My disposal method includes a harmonized, squeamish routine of plugging my nose, lifting the dumpster lid with my pinky finger, and “throwing it away.”

“Away”… where is “away”…?

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An Introduction to the Environmental Justice Movement

September 20th, 2019, New York City. Youth Climate Strike, an initiative that addresses the climate crisis and promotes environmental justice, led by Greta Thunberg. Credit: Cartoon Watanasirisuk.

Cartoon Watanasirisuk is Verdical Group’s Sustainability & Business Development Intern. She is currently a junior at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she is pursuing a double major in economics and biology & society.

This past summer I was in New York during the September climate protest that was initiated by Greta Thunberg. Having never participated in a rally of any kind before this, I was stunned by the number of people and the intensity with which they demanded actions for our climate crisis.

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JUST For All: The Social Justice + Transparency Label That’s Changing the Game

Recognizing the need for more social justice and equality in the workplace, the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) launched its JUST labeling program in 2013. It was the start of a new age of transparency in business—one that has continued to grow in the intervening years as more business owners and employees see the cultural, wellness, and financial benefits of running an ethical organization. The second iteration, JUST 2.0, was launched in May 2019.

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