VG Lake Forest Project Wins USGBC-LA Innovation Award

Verdical Group is pleased to announce that the City of Lake Forest Civic Center — for which we worked with Bernards to provide LEED v3 Project Management, CALGreen Commissioning, and LEED Fundamental and Enhanced Commissioning — has won a Sustainable Innovation Award.

The tenth Annual Sustainable Innovation Awards were announced at USGBC Los Angeles’ Green Gala on December 9, 2020. The ceremony recognized eleven exceptional projects that went above and beyond to achieve sustainable goals.

“Our members, who design, build and operate the environments where we spend nearly 90% of our time, do an amazing job of pushing each other to go further each year. These projects and the people who made them happen deserve to be honored to bring more attention to the work they are doing and to drive others to go even further,” USGBC-LA Executive Director Ben Stapleton said.

The 53,265-square-foot Civic Center achieved the LEED Silver level of certification under the LEED v2009 BD+C New Construction rating system.

The project met 10 out of 10 available Water Efficiency credits, plus 2 Exemplary Performance credits, plus 2 Regional Priority credits. Lake Forest, like most of southern California, is an arid region where the need to reduce water demand is essential. Water efficiency landscaping, innovative wastewater technology, and water use reduction strategies were applied to reduce the burden on municipal water supply and wastewater systems.

The project selected drought-tolerant and native species where possible and 75% of the plant species are rated as either low or very low by WUCOLS standards including California’s official state grass, Nassella Pulchra “Purple Needlegrass” and the critically endangered species Pinus torreyana “Torrey Pine.” The irrigation drip and bubbler systems are only operated between the hours of 9:00pm and 6:00am to prevent water evaporation loss. The irrigation schedule operates on a weather-based controller which automatically adjusts based on the local weather conditions. One hundred percent of water used for landscaping is non-potable treated recycled water from the municipality.

The municipal plant generates 155,727.25 gal of treated non-potable water which is equal to the captured site water. It fulfills the demand for the flush water. The flush water demands equals the water generated with 100% of demand of flush fixtures is through municipal treated wastewater. An extra credit was earned for exemplary performance since the reduction doubled the required percentage.

Innovative wastewater technology uses municipal treated wastewater to supply 100% of demand from flush fixtures. Low-flow indoor water fixtures were installed. The prerequisite only requires a 20% reduction from the baseline and the project almost quadrupled the requirement by achieving 79% indoor water savings.

The project selected a variety of materials to create a positive environmental impact and healthy environment for the occupants. To reduce the heat island effect products with high solar reflectance index (SRI) values were installed on the ground level and roof to reflect heat away from the building. Regional (10%) building products with recycled content (49.94%) and wood certified (10%) by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) were selected and installed. Low emitting materials with low to no VOCs for adhesives, sealants, paints, and coatings were applied to protect the indoor environmental quality.

Drew Shula Featured on Green Building Matters Town Hall

Verdical Group’s Founder & CEO recently joined a Town Hall webinar, hosted by the GBES Green Building Matters podcast, to discuss the unbelievable year 2020 has been and forecast the year in 2021.

He was joined by podcast host and LEED Fellow Charlie Cichetti, as well as Michael Strong of Charles Pankow Builders. The wide-ranging conversation covered a variety of pressing issues impacting the green building industry, including the US Presidential election, the Paris Agreement, COVID building re-entry and the new LEED COVID response credits, diversity and inclusion, B Corporations, the buzzword of the year “carbon,” the climate crisis, California net-zero legislation leading the way for the country, and recaps of the nationally leading green building conferences — the Net Zero Conference and Greenbuild.

You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or view the webinar recording below.

Shula Featured on Greenbuild Carbon Roundtable

“The COVID19 pandemic has cut down emissions by about 6-8%. Although a start, that means 92% of emissions are still happening even with a complete global shutdown. It really shows how much work we have to do.” — Drew Shula, VG Founder & CEO

Carbon emissions have far-reaching impacts on the planet. In this spirited Carbon Roundtable hosted by UL at Greenbuild, Verdical Group’s Founder & CEO Drew Shula discussed the impacts and innovative solutions being created to address carbon emissions in the built environment.

Shula was joined by a group of international panelists including Josh Jacobs (UL) in Atlanta, Dana Schneider (Empire State Realty Trust) in New York City, Shaun McCarthy (Action Sustainability) in London, Shawn Jang (BEE) in Tokyo, and Joseph Marfi (Turner Construction) in Los Angeles. They covered topics from building design and construction to carbon metrics and tracking.

“There are so many parallels between the COVID19 pandemic and the ClimateCrisis,” said Shula. “The climate crisis, like this pandemic, is something that ties everyone in the world together. It’s going to require a global response. It’s going to require every person and every country in the world. It will require us to move more quickly than we have in the last couple of decades but we’ve got to do it now as a collective.”

To see more from the UL Sustainability Talks, Carbon Series, visit their website here.

Verdical Group Signs USGBC Healthy Economy Commitment

We’re proud to join more than 200 green building professionals and companies who have voiced their support for the U.S. Green Building Council’s Healthy Economy Commitment. USGBC is encouraging elected leaders to ensure they are taking the necessary steps to build a better future for all.

“Today’s global economy is rapidly evolving. Gone are the days where businesses are valued only on their economic performance. Positive environmental and social impact are now just as important as profit. At Verdical Group, we’re harnessing the power of business to compete with the market to do the most good. We’re proud to join USGBC in our ongoing commitment to building a healthy economy that works for all people,” said Drew Shula, Founder & Principal at Verdical Group.

The commitment asks leaders to take action to mitigate climate change, promote health and wellness for all, protect our natural resources, enhance biodiversity, connect people to nature, promote sustainable materials, and building a greener and more equitable economy.

Learn more and see the full list of signatories here. 

Drew Shula of Verdical Group Selected as 2020 LEED Fellow

LEED Fellows represent the top of their fields in green building design, engineering, and development. 

Los Angeles, CA – (October 20, 2020) – Verdical Group’s Founder & CEO Drew Shula has been named a 2020 LEED Fellow by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). Shula is among 25 professionals who represent exceptional practitioners and leaders within the green building community and have demonstrated mastery of the technical application of LEED, the world’s most widely used green building rating system. The first class of LEED Fellows was announced in 2011, and the 2020 class is the tenth class, with a total of 341 LEED Fellows including this year’s class. Shula is one of just six individuals ever to receive both the LEED Fellow and Living Future Hero Award.

Verdical Group’s mission is to build an equitable net zero future for all people, now. A highly proficient LEED practitioner with a deep understanding of all rating systems, Shula has proudly worked on more than 100 LEED projects throughout his career. He leads multidisciplinary design and construction teams, effectively working with clients to customize a green building approach specific to each project.

Shula embraces his role of inspiring the team at Verdical Group — the firm he founded in his Pasadena garage in 2012 — and the firm’s clients to push the envelope of what sustainability goals they thought might be possible. Verdical Group is a certified B Corporation, as well as a 1% for the Planet member company, and hosts the world’s largest annual conference dedicated to net zero building design, the Net Zero Conference. Shula often works with his team to recommend additional high-performance building strategies that enable projects to attain higher levels of LEED certification than the project team originally targeted. In all of his project work, Shula seeks to educate project team members that using LEED as a tool is not about checking boxes, but about the sustainability intent of each credit and working to achieve ever-higher levels of green building performance.

Shula is a frequent public speaker on LEED and net zero design and has spoken at events hosted by such institutions as Cornell, the AIA Los Angeles 2 Degrees Symposium on Climate Change, the Conrad Hilton Foundation, and the Living Future unConference. In 2016, he served as a speaker at Greenbuild giving a tour of his hometown host venue, the LA Convention Center. A past Board Member and long-time volunteer with the U.S. Green Building Council Los Angeles Chapter (USGBC-LA), Shula has dedicated hundreds of hours of service to further USGBC’s mission. He has received numerous leadership awards for his service from USGBC-LA and USGBC National, including the Green Agent Award in 2011, the Above & Beyond Volunteer Award in 2014, USGBC Leadership Award in 2015, and Certificate of Appreciation Recipient in 2016. Shula has been featured or published as a green building expert in media including USA Today, Forbes, and USGBC+ Magazine. He holds a 5-year professional degree in Architecture from the University of Notre Dame.

Shula has also worked with his team and clients to pursue multiple innovative LEED pilot credits, including the Local Food Production credit and, more recently, the new Safety First pilot credit to help owners and occupants stay safe during pandemics like COVID-19. In 2017, Shula worked with a Verdical Group team member to submit a new pilot credit, “Residential Energy Submetering and Real-Time Usage Data.”

“As a social entrepreneur and environmentalist, it’s been my privilege to provide leadership on energy and environmental design, using the LEED rating system as a primary tool throughout my career” said Shula. “I’ve made it my personal mission to create a built environment that functions more like our natural environment.”

LEED Fellows are nominated by their peers and must have made at least 10 years’ worth of exceptional impact on LEED and hold an active LEED AP with specialty credential, among other requirements. The evaluation process includes extensive portfolio review and is carried out by the LEED Fellow Evaluation Committee and supported by GBCI. The LEED Fellow program was established in 2011 to recognize outstanding LEED APs who have demonstrated exceptional impacts with LEED in key mastery elements related to technical knowledge and skill; a history of exemplary leadership in LEED; significant contributions in teaching, mentoring, or research with proven outcomes; and a history of highly impactful commitment, service, and advocacy for LEED.

“The green building industry plays a critical role as we look toward rebuilding our economy and our communities in the months and years ahead,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of GBCI and U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). “Our LEED Fellows are on the frontlines of that work helping to ensure our buildings and spaces are healthy, resilient and sustainable places for us all to enjoy. LEED Fellows have made substantial contributions to the green building community and their commitment to LEED will continue to help us shape a better living standard for all.”

The 2020 LEED Fellows will be recognized at this year’s Greenbuild Virtual conference during the USGBC 2020 Leadership Awards on Thursday, November 12 at 5 p.m. EST. Visit to register for the conference and for more information on professional credentialing opportunities.

Watch Mahesh Ramanujam, President & CEO of USGBC and GBCI, give the 2020 LEED Fellow awards including Verdical Group Founder & CEO, Drew Shula.

Read the press release from the U.S Green Building Council (USGBC) here:

VG Fall Update: Our Impact + VG in the News + Earn CEUs!



Los Angeles Southwest College Student Union Building
Verdical Group is working with LA Southwest College and HGA Architects to provide LEED Project Management, LEED Energy Modeling, LEED Daylight Modeling, and Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) services for the LA Community College District (LACCD)’s LA Southwest College Student Union building, which is pursuing LEED BD+C Silver certification.

The Student Union building is a two-story, 31,000-square-foot facility that will encompass a mix of student lounge and study spaces, a gaming room, dining and a café, kiosks, conference spaces, and offices.

Read more

VG Energy Analyst Leads Cleantech Live Webinar on Decarbonization

Buildings, including the highest performing ones, depend on the grid. One of the oldest and most complex machines ever made, the grid is responsible for delivering reliant and resilient energy to power and heat people’s lives. However, that energy comes tied with carbon emissions, and when buildings are responsible for a large percentage of energy consumed in the United States, the carbon footprint involved is significant. A decarbonized future depends not only on building the greenest buildings but on a greener grid.

Verdical Group’s Energy Analyst and Project Manager, Frank Schwamborn, joined Cleantech Live for a webinar explaining why buildings meant to last decades should be built or retrofitted today to meet tomorrow’s grid. You can watch the full recording below. 

VG Partners with USGBC-LA to Present Virtual Tour of LA Valley College

LAVC CSC, Location: City, CA, Architect: Pankow

On July 16, Verdical Group and the U.S. Green Building Council Los Angeles Chapter (USGBC-LA) partnered with the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) to present a virtual tour of two LEED-certified buildings at Los Angeles Valley College.

Verdical Group provided LEED Project Management for the Community Service Center and Glen Gateway buildings on campus, which both earned LEED v3 BD+C Gold certification.

Verdical Project Manager Rebecca Ramsdale was joined by representatives from LA Valley College, QDG (Architect), Southland Industries (Mechanical and Plumbing Engineer), KPFF (Structural and Civil Engineer), and Charles Pankow Builders (General Contractor) for a virtual walkthrough of these two unique buildings, highlighting specific sustainability challenges and successful savings measures along the way.

You can view the slide deck here, and watch a full recording of the tour here.

Let’s All Be Part of the Change

To our Verdical Group community,

You may have seen that Verdical Group issued a call-to-action for organizations in our industry to voice their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and share their commitment to anti-racism within our community. And we’ve seen many organizations do just that. At the same time, we understand that it’s important to back up our statement of solidarity with concrete and immediate actions. We see this as happening in three parts:

1. Educating ourselves: Acknowledging that the system is broken and that we need to listen to more people more often and take it upon ourselves to become better educated about systemic racism, police brutality, and the life experiences of people of color living in America;

2. Immediate actions: What we’re doing to support protests, protestors, and Black Americans in this historic moment;

3. Sustained change: Implementing policies for our employees, events, and projects that will ensure long-term, sustainable impact outside of the current moment.

We hope others in the sustainability world will follow suit in being part of the solution. We know the sustainability industry has an incredible diversity problem and is far too homogeneous. Data is lacking, but to take one example from our Net Zero Conference: of all speakers who submitted abstracts, only roughly one-tenth of one percent (0.01%) self-identified as Black or African American. Verdical Group is committed to actively working to change this through anti-racism policies, outlined below, that positively impact Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) in our company and throughout our industry. We felt it was important to make a statement now, but do not believe this letter to be comprehensive — know that we are open to feedback and intend to continue listening, continue learning, and continue encouraging conversation within both our company and our industry.

Businesses typically remain neutral on issues in an attempt to sell to both sides, but Verdical Group has always operated with the goal of making a positive impact on the world, and we will not remain silent on racism and police brutality in America in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the murders and abuse of countless other Black Americans. Silence is complicity. Companies, as groups of people, need to stand up for human rights. Our company stands for the Black Lives Matter movement, equality, social justice, and dismantling white supremacy. We will not remain silent on this issue. We will use our platform for positive change.

As mentioned above, we think it’s important not just to show solidarity but to also share the actual concrete actions that we are taking at Verdical Group. While we will always aim to expand this list and do more, here are a few of the steps our company is taking now:

  • We’ve made a donation to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Many of our team members have also independently donated to and / or organized giving campaigns for organizations working to fight racial injustice, end police brutality, and free protestors. We encourage you to donate if you are able or to spread the word throughout your community about ways to contribute. Though it is by no means comprehensive, we’ve included a list of bail funds and other organizations accepting donations below as a starting point.
  • We’re enabling our employees to attend, support, and organize protests during business hours. We understand that activism does not fit neatly into an after-hours-only slot and that, especially given the curfews currently being implemented by many cities, protests are increasingly being scheduled in the early afternoons and evenings.
  • We encourage businesses to improve their transparency and accountability around racial diversity, equity, and inclusion by exploring third-party platforms such as JUST and B Corporation. Specifics on both programs are available at the end of this page.
  • As a company founded by a white male in an industry where it’s clear that many events feature white men disproportionately, it is our responsibility as non-optical allies to amplify people of color’s voices. We’re proud to have an ongoing commitment to selecting a minimum of 51% of speakers who are women and / or people of color at our Net Zero Conference. We understand that this is just the first step, and that the fights for gender equality and racial equality are both important but separate, and we aim to improve and increase representation for people of color, and Black people specifically, at our event and across our industry.
  • As noted above, we’re calling for organizations and businesses in our community to speak up and share their support. We’ll be highlighting organizations that do so in a thread on our social channels; if you would like to submit a statement, please DM us on any of our channels.
  • We are sharing resources and calling for organizations to show their support on social media and via direct emails to leaders in our industry.
  • We’re meeting internally to discuss the issue, share areas of improvement, and determine what specifically it means to operate as an anti-racist organization.
  • We’re listening. We’re learning. We’re opening up our inbox to feedback, questions, and suggestions for what more we can do. We invite you to contact us at We have someone monitoring this inbox continuously and flagging messages relating to the Black Lives Matter movement as a priority.

Let’s all be part of the change,

Drew Shula
Founder & Principal
Verdical Group


Additional Resources:

About B Corporations:
“B Corps” are for-profit businesses committed to making a positive social and environmental impact. In order to achieve certification, companies must demonstrate transparency, social performance, accountability, and environmental performance. A significant portion of this work is to develop and share internal practices and policies relating to equity, diversity, and inclusion.  As a certified B Corp, Verdical Group hopes to implement more of these measures and improve our standing in the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion category of the B Corp Impact Assessment.  Though not all of the below are required to achieve certification, the Assessment awards points to companies that are:

  • Owned by individuals from underrepresented groups;
  • Have practices in place around diversity, equity, and inclusion (such as including a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all job postings; analyses of job description language and requirements; offering training to employees;  setting specific diversity goals; and implementing equal compensation improvement plans);
  • Measuring demographic data to ensure diversity goals are met and improved upon;
  • Tracking the number of company managers who identify as members of underrepresented groups;
  • Promoting diversity within their supply chain by tracking the diversity of ownership among suppliers, giving preference to suppliers with ownership from underrepresented populations, establishing formal targets to make a specific percentage of purchases from suppliers with diverse ownership, or developing a formal program to purchase and provide support to suppliers with diverse ownership


About JUST:
In line with the recommendations of the International Living Future Institute’s JUST platform, Verdical Group recently updated the Ethnic Diversity Policy in our Employee Handbook, detailed below. Verdical Group has completed a JUST assessment and is in the process of earning our label. In the wake of recent events and new learning, we’ve updated the language to specifically establish that Verdical Group is an anti-racist organization, actively working to end discrimination rather than simply forbidding it. For reference, our Ethnic Diversity Policy reads as follows:

  • Verdical Group is committed to the hiring, retention and promotion of racially and ethnically diverse employees. Our retention and promotion strategies are focused on providing a culture and work environment where racially and ethnically diverse employees have the opportunity to be successful in their careers and to be represented at all levels of the organization including senior leadership.
    Our human capital is the most valuable asset we have. The collective sum of the individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, inventiveness, innovation, self-expression, unique capabilities and talent that our diverse employees invest in their work represents a significant part of not only our culture, but our reputation, goodwill and long-term success. We aim to create a welcoming, supportive, and collaborative environment where full participation is valued and voices from diverse backgrounds and perspectives are heard.
    Verdical Group’s racial and ethnic diversity initiatives are applicable—but not limited—to our practices and policies on recruitment and selection, compensation and benefits, professional development and training, mentorship and sponsorship, work and project assignments, promotions, transfers, social and recreational programs, layoffs and the ongoing development of a work environment built on a premise of racial equity that encourages and enforces:
    • Anti-racism; we are committed to not just prohibiting racism within our organization but also actively fighting discrimination against Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).
    • Respectful communication and cooperation between all employees.
    • Teamwork and employee participation, permitting the representation of all groups and employee perspectives.
    • Work/life balance through flexible work schedules to accommodate employees’ varying needs.
    • Employer and employee contributions to the communities we serve to promote a greater understanding and respect for traditionally underserved and historically marginalized populations.


VG’s Karen Young Shares Sustainable Event Musts

On May 13, Verdical Group’s Senior Events Manager Karen Young joined the NYC Sustainable Event Alliance for a “Coast to Coast” deep dive into sustainable event production. She was joined by Ali Ames of Three Squares Inc., Meghan Tierney of Kilowatt One, and Event Producer Maria Ingaglio.

Karen spoke about the ways in which our Net Zero Conference and similar events are approaching net zero energy and waste, as well as the environmental benefits of temporarily moving to virtual events. She also noted the importance of keeping communication open and continuing to ask questions while live events are on pause. Learn more about Verdical Group’s sustainable event planning services at 


Watch the entire recorded presentation here: