In 2005, the New York City Council passed Local Law 86, establishing a mandatory set of sustainable criteria for public buildings. The city's School Construction Authority (SCA) responded by developing a LEED-like green building self-certifying rating system it calls the NYC Green Schools Guide.
Much like LEED, the guide has five categories, including indoor environmental quality, site, water efficiency, energy efficiency, and materials. The reason SCA developed its own guide is to emphasize areas — most notably indoor air quality, which represents about one-third of the rating system's points — it felt were more critical to school construction.
Lately, the Division of School Facilities (DSF) has become much more involved in working with SCA on new construction projects, says Ozgem Ornektekin, director of sustainability for DSF. The reason for that is partly the team effort and relationship-building that's resulted from the large-scale energy efficiency projects, and partially the commitment to sustainability, as both agencies have realized the necessity of having facility folks involved in new construction planning so that they don't build schools that are difficult to manage — a mirror of a trend in the industry at large.
"When SCA improves their guide, they make sure DSF is a part of the conversation before changing the standard," says Ornektekin. "They don't do anything we can't operate, and now they provide training for us."
Shea agrees: "Our relationship with the SCA has grown over the past few years because of our shared commitment to the sustainability ideals, and that has led to more productive collaboration. SCA always solicited our input, but the teams now in place have a more involved working relationship."