Arc: Helping Buildings Become More Waste-Wise

The following is a guest blog from All About Waste, an A/G Sustainability Consultant.

What is USGBC’s Arc Platform?
Arc, formerly known as Dynamic Plaque, is the U.S. Green Building Council’s new building rating system that relies on annual, performance-based data. It serves as an effective measurement tool to track a building’s incremental performance progress. It’s new and exciting because it can apply to LEED certified buildings and non-certified buildings alike. Non-certified buildings can use Arc as a pathway towards LEED certification, while buildings that are already certified can use Arc to further improve or make recertification even easier. Unlike conventional LEED recertification, which involves a major recertification effort every 5 years, Arc requires annual USGBC reviews and active assessment of building performance. USGBC claims Arc to be the future of the building certification market. There are 5 different categories that Arc focuses on: Energy, Water, Waste, Transportation and Human Experience. There is also a final, static category that is worth 10 points and based upon credits that were earned in the building’s initial LEED certification.

Figure 1: Arc Plaque Example

Source:     USGBC

Source: USGBC

Figure 2: Solid Waste Landfill

Source:     PlanetAid

Source: PlanetAid

How is Arc helping buildings become waste-wise?
The U.S. is one of the world’s leading waste producers. Waste that is sent to landfills negatively impacts our health, economy, and surrounding environment via greenhouse emissions, disposal costs, and other factors. Waste has become one of the most prevalent societal issues within green building systems. LEED v4 took a major step in addressing this issue by requiring waste audits for existing buildings, audits at similar locations for new retail construction, and waste generation estimates for Core and Shell projects. Arc takes this another step further by requiring waste audits annually for any buildings using the platform, both LEED certified and noncertified buildings. In the past, waste audits played an important role in learning about a building’s total waste stream and how much waste was being diverted from landfills and incinerators, although audits were not required. Annual waste audits are an excellent way to gain consistent, thorough feedback on a building’s waste management strategies and their success after implementation.

Figure 3: Waste Audit Streams

Source:     All About Waste

What does a waste audit entail?
After planning and coordination with the building’s janitorial team, all of the waste in the building is organized in one location to be collected and then sorted into specific waste streams (recyclables, non-recyclables, organics, e-waste, fluorescent bulbs, etc.) by the audit team. After sorting, the materials from each waste stream will be measured and recorded to determine the building’s total waste output, and also to provide a breakdown of each individual waste stream. With all of this waste information, the success of the building’s waste management strategies can be accurately assessed. All About Waste is a sustainability consulting firm that has extensive experience not only performing waste audits, but also providing expert advice on waste management strategies. Improving waste management practices can not only lead to increased waste diversion and recycling rates, but can also help achieve LEED building credits. For more information on the Arc Platform Waste category and its requirements, you can visit the Arc website or ask more specific questions about waste to the All About Waste team!

All About Waste is a sustainability consulting firm that has extensive experience not only performing waste audits, but also providing expert advice on waste management strategies. Improving waste management practices can not only lead to increased waste diversion and recycling rates, but can also help achieve LEED building credits. For more information on the Arc Platform Waste category and its requirements, you can visit the Arc website or ask more specific questions about waste to the All About Waste team!


U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles Chapter Wins LA County Green Leadership Award for “Road to Greenbuild” Campaign

Media Contact:  Julie Du Brow, USGBC-LA, 310-922-1301

EcoMap, Eco-Tech Makerspace, Tours & Greening Businesses Demonstrate Useful, Replicable, Teachable & Community-Driven Projects

USGBC-LA's Dominique Smith and Argento/Graham's Annie Argento accept the award from LA County Supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas.

USGBC-LA's Dominique Smith and Argento/Graham's Annie Argento accept the award from LA County Supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Members of the Greenbuild Host Committee gather for a group photo after receiving the award.

Members of the Greenbuild Host Committee gather for a group photo after receiving the award.

LOS ANGELES (April 12, 2017)  The U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles chapter (USGBC-LA) has received the Los Angeles County Green Leadership Award for a nonprofit agency for its 2016 campaign “Road to Greenbuild”. The campaign was prepared over months to showcase sustainable built environments and initiatives across LA County to over 18,000 people attending an international green building conference here over 72 hours. The annual awards—recognizing outstanding efforts by individuals and organizations in fulfilling innovative strategies to improve our environmental sustainability—were presented yesterday by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Chairman, during the weekly Board of Supervisors meeting.  

We are honored to be among the awardees selected by the committee for this year's Green Leadership Award. This is a win for all of the USGBC-LA members and our partner organizations who keep working to make every day Earth Day in L.A.,” states USGBC-LA Executive Director Dominique Hargreaves. 

In October 2016, the USGBC-LA chapter hosted the Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, for the first time.  The conference traditionally draws tens of thousands of visitors, and it was no different this year. USGBC-LA and its army of volunteers—led by Hargreaves and L.A. Greenbuild co-chairs Annie Argento and Randy Britt—spent the majority of 2016 preparing how to showcase, and then present, a sustainable built Los Angeles environment to those who attended. 

Tools, projects, and events/tours were created, planned and employed to meet this goal:

  • The launch of Eco-Tech Makerspace at in Gardena, where young people are able to explore sustainability challenges and learn how to solve problems using technology and other STEM learning. This “Legacy” project was a gift to Los Angeles for hosting Greenbuild. Through collaborative efforts, USGBC-LA was able to install a hi-tech design workspace at T4T, as well as help cool the building with green screens (walls of plants) so the tech and the children can innovate on-site more comfortably. This project is replicable and a second one is in the works.
  • Going door-to-door, USGBC-LA engaged 100 businesses, providing them with giveaways and toolkits on how to green their operations, and then encouraged Greenbuild attendees to patronize these businesses. Toolkit included sustainable tips and guidance to specific incentives through the LADWP.
  • Creation of EcoMapLA, an online, real-time, interactive and searchable tool for all things sustainable in L.A.—from transportation hubs to local green places, spaces and businesses, as well as iconic landmarks. Enabled Greenbuild attendees (as well as all future visitors and locals) to take self-guided tours, click on the building/place they are at, and learn its sustainability story, and more. Already quite comprehensive, the map continues to add more places, information and features.
  • Eighty (80) tours, over three days, of green buildings, transportation hubs and routes, and outdoor facilities, showed off L.A.’s greening efforts across a region that was the most geographically expansive of any prior Greenbuild host city.
  • Connecting and developing 600 local women leaders in sustainability throughout the year and leading up to participation in Greenbuild. Women were inspired by such leaders as Mary Nichols, Chairman of the California Air Resources Board and Anna Guerrero, Chief of Staff for LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, among many others.
  • The BuildSMART Trailer brought knowledge and resources about sustainable building materials, new technologies and utility incentives to over 4,000 L.A. area residents. This mobile learning tool offered a one-on-one, tactile learning opportunity directly to various communities (schools, parks, etc.) throughout 2016.
  • On-the-job energy and water conservation training and certification for 400 janitorial workers across the County, who are now certified Green Janitors. Through this program, janitors earn a seat at the sustainability table alongside building owners and managers, empowering them to actively participate in the goals of the LEED Rating System, with emphasis on energy efficiency and building health. Janitors also take their knowledge home to their families and neighbors, spreading sustainability across local communities. The program continues to grow, locally and across California.

Los Angeles’ Greenbuild co-chairs Annie Argento of Argento/Graham and Randy Britt of Vanir Construction Management state, ”The Road to Greenbuild offered us an amazing opportunity to engage hundreds of volunteers in this highly effective outreach initiative, and we’re so proud and grateful to them and to the Board of Supervisors. We’re especially pleased that almost all these programs are ongoing and growing, well past Greenbuild, leaving a tangible legacy for all Angelenos.”


About U.S. Green Building Council-Los Angeles

USGBC-LA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to creating a prosperous and sustainable future within one generation. Our mission promotes sustainability in LA County's built environment by delivering access to knowledge, resources, recognition and networking. (


A/G is Hiring — Project Manager

Job title

Project Manager

Job purpose

Argento/Graham (A/G), a green building consulting firm based in Los Angeles, is seeking a full-time project manager to oversee and implement green building and sustainability services for a diverse portfolio of projects of varying scale, in order to integrate environmental stewardship, promote occupant wellbeing, and sound economics in the built environment. The ideal candidate will also have experience in performing energy analysis or a desire to learn this skill.

Duties and responsibilities

  • Define and propose the scope of the project (LEED Rating System, WELL, CALGreen, energy efficiency goals, or other code requirement or green building framework) in collaboration with principals.

  • Create a schedule and plan which identifies and sequences the activities needed to successfully complete the project from the proposal phase to completion. Review the plan and project schedule with principals and all other staff that will be affected by the project activities; revise the schedule as required.

  • Execute the development of a project work plan from beginning-to-end ensuring that all deliverables are on time, within budget and at the required level of quality.

  • Perform self-directed research, evaluate and provide recommendations on cost-effective measures to drive a project towards its goals. This includes materials research, design, construction and operational best practices, etc. Recommendations are to be clear, logical and evidence-based.

  • Provide guidance and direction to project team members on designing to and constructing to applicable green building standards.

  • Develop forms, reports, presentations, memorandums or other client-facing materials to document activities and results.

  • Liaise with and coordinate deliverables with project team members.

  • Update stakeholders including appropriate staff on the progress of the project.

  • Prepare and maintain project checklists and ensure tracking tools are up to date.

  • Work with A/G engineers to build energy models in eQuest or EnergyPro to analyze the energy performance of projects.

  • Create reports that detail energy efficiency measures analyzed in the energy model and their impact on a project’s performance.

  • Review mechanical, electrical, and plumbing drawings for compliance with codes and standards.

  • Perform calculations to ensure a project will meet its goals of indoor air quality and provide the best possible occupant experience.

  • Coordinate utility incentives on behalf of the project owner / client, as applicable.

  • Keep abreast of advancements in green building technologies and trends, including but not limited to healthy building materials, renewable energy, building monitoring, water treatment, and energy efficiency measures.

  • Act as internal expert resource for green building standards especially in relationship to the LEED Rating System.

  • Communicate and document any discrepancies between the as-designed project and what the LEED Rating System requires to design consultant and impacted project team members.

  • Document and review all credits at regular intervals and prior to USGBC submittal in collaboration with other project management staff.

  • Coordinate Proven Provider review sessions with USGBC staff.

  • Keep abreast on LEED errata and addenda and other USGBC announcements and news that impact services and/or strategies implemented on projects.

  • Maintain confidentiality and trade secrets in accordance with the employee handbook.

Direct Reports

  • Develop and manage an internship program to train students and young professionals in green building.


  • Maintain strong, client-centric approach to project management and delivery.

  • Understand ethical behavior and business practices as it relates to self, clients, and partners, and behave in accordance with these standards ensuring that professional conduct aligns with the values of the organization.

  • Speak, listen and write in a clear, thorough, and timely manner using appropriate and effective communication tools and techniques.

  • Develop new and unique ways to improve operations of the organization and to create new opportunities.

  • Work cooperatively and effectively with others to set goals, resolve problems, and make decisions that enhance organizational effectiveness.

  • Be receptive and open to feedback.

  • Positively influence others to achieve results that are in the best interest of the organization.

  • Assure quality by reviewing others’ work and vice versa to ensure its alignment with the project goals, client expectations and quality standards.  

Required Qualifications

Qualifications include:

  • 3-5 years professional experience in the building industry

  • Keen understanding of sustainable design principles

  • Deep knowledge of green building and energy standards such as Title-24 Part 6 and Part 11, the family of LEED Rating Systems, WELL, or others.

  • Firm command of the building design and construction process

  • Ability to read and understand architectural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing diagrams and drawings

  • Ability to manage multiple projects and tasks at any given time

  • Bachelors degree in architecture, engineering, environmental sciences or related field

  • LEED Accredited Professional

  • Proficiency with MS applications, Adobe, Google Work apps including email, voice, calendar

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience working with eQuest, EnergyPro, and other software and tools used for energy analysis strongly preferred

  • Knowledge of HVAC systems and controls preferred

  • WELL AP 

Working conditions

  • Must be able to travel to job sites (personal auto use, train, air)

Physical requirements

  • Must be able to climb ladders

  • Must be able to carry objects (25-35 lbs.) 


  • Salary is commensurate with experience

  • A/G offers a comprehensive benefits package including medical and dental insurance, transit benefits and a flexible work schedule.

Please send your resume and a cover letter to by June 24th, 2016.


The State of Water: California

California’s years-long drought conditions and this winter’s unpredictable, underperforming El Niño rainy season have put water issues at the forefront of the state’s public attention. Just as interest in clean energy and energy conservation spurred an explosion of energy-saving technologies and regulations in California years ago, the way we think about water conservation and water reuse in our state may now be poised for a major overhaul. Directives from the state of California, the initiatives of individual project owners, and the efforts every stakeholder in between are contributing to a revolution in the ways we use, save, and treat our water.

Here in southern California, for example, local regulations are opening the door for innovative water saving strategies. As part of the Beverly Hills Revitalization Plan, the currently under-construction Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills will be required to irrigate all landscaping with nonpotable water. To this end, the project includes an Aquacell greywater system that collects and treats shower, tub, and lavatory water from a swath of hotel rooms to be used for irrigation. In San Francisco, beginning last November projects over 250,000 square feet are required to meet both irrigation and toilet flushing demand to the greatest extent possible utilizing recycled water produced onsite, including recaptured greywater and rainwater. This regulation, which prescribes the ends but not the means, forces each project to consider strategies to minimize water demand and maximize recycled water supply that are unique to the intended use, building design, and inherent hydrology of each site.

Due to growing interest and concern for the drought in California, more and more project owners are looking seriously at water conservation strategies without direct mandates from local regulators. For example, A/G is working with a large restaurant group dedicated to tackling water issues at a new Southern California location. The project is early in design, so many water conservation and water reuse strategies are still being carefully considered. The most plentiful potential supply of water for capture and reuse onsite is kitchen process water – this is a major challenge, since under local regulations kitchen water is considered blackwater, which requires additional treatment and currently can only be used for subsurface irrigation. For the project this presents a tension between supply and demand. Greywater can be collected, but only in relatively small amounts that cannot measure up to high demand uses such as toilet flushing. Blackwater can be collected and reused, but it is costly to treat and the supply far outstrips the demand for subsurface irrigation alone. The project team will work together with local regulators and third-party water reuse technology companies to find solutions that maximizes water savings while satisfying all public health and safety regulations. As one of the first projects of its kind to consider onsite water reuse in Los Angeles, this project will be paving the way for future commercial kitchens to utilize these technologies.

For projects without commercial kitchens, other types of process water can be a potential source of greywater supply as well as an often-overlooked area for water conserving technologies. By using technologies that increase the number of times water can be cycled through water-using building systems such as cooling towers, for example, projects can conserve water much more effectively than through the use of low-flow plumbing fixtures alone. For further savings, projects can look for ways to treat and reuse the process water after its final cycle, whether for toilet flushing, irrigation, or other uses.

Even as more and more municipalities and project owners are experimenting with innovative, technology-based solutions for water conservation and water reuse, California isn’t wasting any time in moving forward with common sense, low-tech water conservation solutions. Starting this year, California’s already stringent maximum flow rates for basic water fixtures are being further slashed, and not just for new projects. Starting this year, the installation and sale of any new urinals with a flow rate greater than 0.125 gallons per flush will be prohibited – this aggressive standard matches the maximum flow rate already in place for the City of Los Angeles. The maximum flow rate for kitchen sinks is reduced to 1.8 gallons per minute and, perhaps most controversially, the maximum flow rate for residential lavatory faucets is reduced to 1.2 gallons per minute ( This last item alone is expected to save about 4.5 billion gallons of water, 16 million therms of natural gas, and 118 gigawatt hours of electricity in the first year the standard is in effect, though there is some discussion of delaying implementation of this measure until July 2016 due to limited availability of compliant fixtures on the market today. (

California has come a long way in its regulation of water as a part of our built environment, from seeing water as a one-dimensional utility to a precious resource that interacts in complicated ways with with our infrastructure as well as our energy budget. Taking an even wider view of water, though, will be an important part of the next major step forward in thinking about water – large scale stormwater retention strategies to keep California’s reservoirs filled and infiltration and reclamation of California’s polluted aquifers to ensure a safe, clean, and plentiful water supply for generations of Californians to come.

Greenbuild 2015: Monumental Green, Washington DC

The Argento/Graham team had some amazing experiences this year at Greenbuild 2015: Monumental Green in Washington, DC! We attended valuable educational sessions, caught up with old friends, and made great new connections.

With the new LEED version 4 rating system mandatory implementation less than a year away, many educational sessions took a closer look at the new requirements, particularly with respect to sustainable materials and healthy indoor environmental quality strategies. For example, the session LEEDv4: Market Transformation in Action examined how new materials transparency standards are impacting materials manufacturers, and how LEED requirements can have a wide range of effects on different international markets.

As always, one of the top highlights of Greenbuild was this year’s Women in Green Power Breakfast. The fourth annual Women in Green event, The Challenge with Mentorship, featured an inspiring panel of women in sustainability who shared their gratitude for the people who supported and motivated their careers, and on what it means to them be a mentor. During the breakfast, USGBC unveiled its Bringing Up Girls initiative and challenged the attendees to make a commitment to mentorship in their own lives.

A/G stayed involved outside of educational sessions as well. A/G co-sponsored the highly anticipated Monumental Party reviewer’s party at Town Danceboutique, and Annie Argento helped run the Los Angeles Greenbuild host committee booth.

Greenbuild may be over this year, but we’re already looking ahead to Greenbuild 2016: Iconic Green in Los Angeles! As co-chair of the host committee, Annie Argento is working with USGBC LA to make next year’s event the best one yet. We can’t wait to see you there!

What the Clean Power Plan Means for the Green Building Industry

By: Andy Ray

            In early August, the U.S. Green Building Council released a statement applauding the Obama administration for issuing the final rule of the Clean Power Plan that, for the first time, will place nationwide limits on emissions of carbon dioxide from power generation.[1] This historic plan aims to reduce domestic carbon emissions 32% by 2030 and is centered around three “building blocks”: 1) improve efficiency of current power plants; 2) increase dispatch of natural gas combined cycle plants; and 3) significantly expand the amount of electricity generated from clean energy sources.[2] Each of the three “building blocks” was assigned an applicable emission reduction value based on state and regional characteristics to establish state-specific emission limits for the electric generation sector. Collectively, these three blocks were determined to be the best system of capping carbon emissions generated by the electricity sector.

            Careful observers within the green building industry will note that demand-side energy efficiency measures, an important and low-cost option to reduce emissions, were used as the fourth building block in the draft plan, but were conspicuously removed from the administration’s final rule. In the CPP draft version, the formula used to establish state-level emissions limits included an annual emissions reduction of 1.5% annually from energy efficiency measures.[3] But following extensive comments from outside parties indicating that the energy efficiency block could become a legal vulnerability, the EPA selected not to incorporate it in the final rule.[4]

            So will eliminating the energy efficiency block affect sustainable building design and construction? It is easy to see why the initial reaction of many would be to assume that its elimination as a key block would negatively influence the green building industry and decrease the overall efficacy of the CPP—but numerous indications signal that this is unlikely to be the case. 

            The removal of the energy efficiency block by the EPA will simply alter the methodology used to determine the yearly emissions cap for the power sector. Even without the fourth energy efficiency block in place, EPA’s overall emissions reduction target in the final rule is actually two percent higher than what was announced in the draft phase. Secondly, despite its exclusion as the plan’s fourth building block, demand-side energy efficiency measures will continue to be allowed as a tool aiding states in achieving their prescribed emission reduction goals.

            Energy efficiency mechanisms are widely considered the lowest-cost option for achieving emissions reduction targets, and in some modeling scenarios, they can facilitate meaningful savings for consumers.[5] States will be able use various options that help reduce electricity consumption including: demand-response programs, energy-efficient construction and design, incentivizing high-efficiency lighting and appliances, and third party energy monitoring. Furthermore, within the pages of the administration’s plan, is the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), an optional provision that incentivizes early investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects located in low-income communities.[6] States participating in this program will receive double Emissions Rate Credits that can be used toward compliance in subsequent years. It is probable that the CEIP will be attractive for states, likely spurring special financing mechanisms that encourage renewable energy systems and green building developments; such as schools, offices, and hospitals, in regions that are sorely missing green infrastructure.

            Already, many states have policies that promote energy efficiency; and those with the most stringent and comprehensive measures – such as California and Oregon – will be distinctively ahead of the curve in meeting their carbon emission targets. The Clean Power Plan will transform the way America looks at energy production and indubitably usher in the next era of energy efficiency and renewable energy development. In the coming years, the green building industry is positioned to become a major beneficiary of the CPP as a growing number of states and communities adopt and expand energy efficiency and green building practices. But perhaps most importantly, is that just months before the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the United States has announced that we have finally recognized the need to become an international leader in developing solutions to reduce global carbon emissions. 

[1] USGBC CPP Statement, 2015

[2] EPA CPP - Final Rule, 2015

[3] EPA CPP - Draft Rule Fact Sheet, 2014

[4] Greenwire - 'Building Block 4' Cut Seen as Pre-Emptive Move for High Court, 2015



A/G at Engage LA with Mayor Garcetti: What It Will Take to Save the Drop

Eric Garcetti Save the Drop California Drought Los Angeles Engage LA

On June 5, A/G attended Drought LA: What It Will Take to Save the Drop, an Engage LA series event hosted at the Mayor’s residence. The Getty House set the tone for the event with new drought-tolerant landscaping in the parkway and front yard and dry fountain out back. Though the house still features some stretches of turf grass, posters displayed around the yard indicated that they are soon to be torn out in favor of citrus tress, herb gardens, and native vegetation.

At the event, Mayor Garcetti unveiled a new bilingual Save the Drop video promotion to raise awareness for water conservation by comparing every drop of water that we use to a friend that travels hundreds of miles just to help us wash our dishes or water our lawn each day. “The Drop” has already appeared on bus stops and posters all over the city and, the mayor said, is recognized by many Angelinos, even schoolchildren, as a water conservation mascot.

Garcetti was joined by Moby, who spoke to the crowd about “drought-shaming” in lawn-heaving neighborhoods and lifestyle choices such as eating less meat that can help conserve water. The event concluded with a panel style discussion with Garcetti and his Chief Sustainability Officer Matt Peterson, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board Felicia Marcus, and Executive Director of Urban Semillas Miguel Luna. The panel highlighted many of Los Angeles’s successes in the quest for water conservation, including the its steady progress towards meeting and exceeding incremental reduction goals, as well as upcoming challenges such as the rehabilitation of the San Fernando Valley aquifer. Marcus emphasized Los Angeles’s role as a leader in California that is paving the way for successful water conservation strategies, and Luna stressed the importance of involving Los Angeles’s diverse community groups and organizations, calling for “many messages from many messengers.”

The Save the Drop campaign is not just talk – the City is offering resources and incentives for all Angelinos to do their part. Programs include turf trade-in rebates, free low-flow showerheads and aerators, and incentives for smart irrigation controllers. To learn more about Save the Drop or find out ways you can get involved, visit