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Not Complicated - Just Green

Not Complicated – Just Green Sept 8, 2023 with The Dragon Group

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Yvonne and Randall Dragon, founders of The Dragon Group, discuss their mission to revolutionize the construction industry by infusing sustainability and diversity. They emphasize the need to expose underrepresented communities, particularly black and brown youth, to careers in architecture and sustainable entrepreneurship. They hope to close the diversity gap in the industry in the hopes that more community-oriented, environmentally friendly projects can be developed.  They’re counting on the younger generation’s natural interest in sustainability to speed up positive changes in the industry. Enjoy!

ESG Investing in Healthy Buildings

ESG Investing in Healthy Buildings

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According to the World Green Building Council, staff are the most valuable resource in most organizations and make up about 90% of operating costs, so even the slightest impact on worker productivity can have a large compounded effect. In terms of ESG, investing in healthy buildings means investing in your people and the environment, taking important strides to improve your company’s Environmental and Social components of ESG. There are two areas unique to healthy building investments that can take your company’s ESG performance to the next level.


Healthy buildings deliver tangible and measurable effects on an individual’s day to day life, as opposed to less tangible ESG initiatives that focus on broader more thematic issues like governance or climate change. Instead, focusing on tangible efforts such as creating green spaces or increasing ventilation efficiency can aid in the effort for broader initiatives. It demonstrates ESG through measurable actions instead of ideas.

Return on Investment

Since we are now expected to live with Covid, health supporting interior environments will be an important consideration during real estate decisions. The focus that healthy buildings have on ventilation and employee health are increasing in demand as new Covid strains develop. Healthy buildings are investments for the future of your people and your real estate assets.

The most comprehensive way to meet healthy building standards is to get Fitwell or WELL certified. Contact The Dragon Group to learn what healthy building path is right for you.

Healthy Buildings Increase Productivity

Healthy Buildings Increase Productivity

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On average, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors, emphasizing the importance of human health and wellbeing when constructing the built environment. In life, there are few things we can control to the extent we can control our built environment. With this knowledge, The Dragon Group aims to create buildings that are not only healthier for the environment, but also healthier for human wellbeing. In terms of the bottom line, the largest seeked advantage to healthier buildings is more productive workers. There are three key healthy building areas scientifically proven to directly affect both human health and productivity: Lighting, Ventilation, and Greenery.


It has become common practice to change out old light bulbs to more efficient LEDs to save money on electricity. Instead of just saving money, productivity and profit can increase by making easy changes to lighting such as changing light bulb colors to a more sunlike blue-enriched light and maximizing natural sunlight. Window tints can additionally help maximize natural sunlight while minimizing glare, UV radiation, and energy costs


Indoor pollutant concentrations are typically 2-5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. Especially in cities, where air pollution and airborne pathogens are higher, it is important to update and maintain ventilation in the workspace as there is a direct relationship between ventilation  and our ability to process information, make decisions, respond to crises and stay healthy.


Both indoor greenery and outdoor green areas can drastically improve employee wellbeing and productivity. According to a recent report, spending only 29 minutes outdoors can result in a 45% increase in productivity. Likewise, more than 60% of employees reported increases in mood after getting fresh air. If creating a new outdoor area is out of the question, indoor plants can have comparable benefits on productivity and mental wellbeing, all while improving localized indoor air quality.

The most holistic way to insure satisfied, healthy, and productive employees is to update your building to achieve one of the many green building certifications available. Contact The Dragon Group to discuss which sustainable building certification is right for you and how we can work together to get you certified.

Sustainable Building Materials

Sustainable Building Materials

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Choosing the right building materials can take a project from energy efficient to environmentally sustainable. Cement and concrete make up 8% of worldwide  emissions, while steel and iron make up  6-8%. Not only are these carbon intensive materials, but they also release VOCs which negatively impact both indoor and outdoor air quality. To help mitigate  and VOC emissions, keep an eye on these relatively new sustainable building materials: low   concrete, mass timber, and hemp.

Low   Concrete

Concrete is the number one source of embodied carbon in buildings. While the technology is still being perfected to minimize the  footprint of concrete, several companies do provide products that range from low carbon to zero carbon. Recent efforts to reduce the  emissions of concrete include: sequestering  during cement creation and trapping it into cured concrete, using low temperature and low energy processes during cement production, incorporating recycled fly ash or steel slag into cement mixes to decrease  intensive portland cement, and utilizing geopolymer cement mixes instead of traditional portland cement. All of these alternatives tend to alter either the strength or durability of the concrete in various ways. Thus, it can be an intensive task to determine where in a project concrete must be used and what if any type of low  concrete can be utilized.

Mass Timber

Mass timber is a low carbon alternative to concrete or steel referring to composite wood systems that combine multiple pieces of wood in order to increase the wood’s tensile and compressive strength. Mass timber can be utilized for load bearing walls and allows wood structures to be much taller than previously possible. Incorporating mass timber into building designs can improve a buildings carbon footprint, provide the mental health benefits of biophilic design, improve building acoustics, and better withstand earthquakes. Still, mass timber, like all wood products, does emit VOCs and aids in deforestation.

Hemp Blocks and Insulation

The newest sustainable building material to watch out for is hemp. Hemp can be utilized in blocks or as insulation. Depending on the internal block structure and hemp mix, hemp blocks can be as strong as some concrete mixes. Hemp blocks made with limestone mixes can actually be carbon negative as it sequesters  over time. They are also completely fireproof and will not deform in the event of heat waves unlike steel or concrete. Hemp also does not emit VOCs. Likewise, the lifecycle of hemp is around 90 days, making it a much more renewable resource than trees. In terms of insulation, non-toxic hemp can be 10 times more insulating than traditional insulation, reducing building energy costs over its entire lifecycle. Still, hemp blocks are not strong enough to solely comprise tall commercial buildings and will require other structural supports.

Contact The Dragon Group to discuss which sustainable building materials are right for your project.

Green Warehouses

Green Warehouses

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On average, 90% of companies’ carbon footprint comes from the supply chain, making the sustainability of the supply chain key to reversing climate change. Sustainability in the supply chain is complex as there are many moving parts, but one aspect that won’t change anytime soon is the need for warehouses. From supplier to manufacturer to distributor to retailer, warehouses have an integral role in the supply chain. Green warehousing attempts to push for increasing sustainability in the supply chain while offering a nearly immediate return on investment. With this in mind, The Dragon Group is proud to provide sustainability services for Stream Realty in their push for sustainable warehouses in the supply chain. There are three interconnected design aspects that affect the sustainability of warehouses the most: location, lighting, and heating/cooling.


Distribution center proximity to freeways, ports, highways, airports, and general urban zones is key to minimizing transportation related emissions. Still, location plays a larger role when it comes to energy costs and emissions. The particular climate zone a warehouse is located in can significantly impact the design process for lighting and heating/cooling.


Depending on location, the maximization of daylight can minimize energy usage and save much more than only switching to LEDs with motion sensors. Atlanta’s humid subtropical climate is a viable area for this approach as it maintains comfortable temperature ranges most of the year. Maximizing daylight via strategically placed windows, energy efficient window tints, and reflective interior paint can drastically improve not only the energy efficiency of the warehouse but also worker productivity.


Vast open spaces such as warehouses can decrease the effectiveness of traditional HVAC systems. Depending on the season, it can be beneficial to use high volume low speed (HVLS) fans to move air around the room, decreasing energy usage. Still, there are some creative ways to increase or decrease a warehouse’s heat absorption if located in a non-neutral climate. For example, reflective cool roofs can be an easy solution for cooling that will also help mitigate the urban heat island effect.

Still, the most holistic way to insure a sustainable, healthy, and efficient warehouse is to update your warehouse to achieve one of the many green building certifications available. Contact The Dragon Group to discuss which sustainable building certification is right for you and how we can work together to get you certified.

3 Scopes for Tracking Carbon Emissions

3 Scopes for Tracking Carbon Emissions

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If your company is serious about sustainability, one of the most important things to do is tracking carbon emissions before you can even go about trying to create a carbon footprint target. This causes tracking greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to be one of the largest obstacles in mitigating emissions. Increasing climate change related threats as well as America’s re-commitment to the Paris agreement will likely bring regulations and standards on industrial and commercial GHG emissions, making tracking GHG emissions a proactive way to give you a business advantage in the future.

Currently, there is no globally accepted standard for calculating greenhouse gas emissions. However, the EPA does offer a GHG inventory development process and guidance. This guidance includes three scopes that can help you compartmentalize where your GHG emissions are coming from and where you should focus your mitigation efforts:

Scope 1 covers direct emissions from owned or controlled sources. I.e. what you burn. This includes emissions from company owned facilities and vehicles, but does not include purchased electricity. These are your direct emissions.

Scope 2 covers indirect emissions from the generation of purchased or acquired electricity, steam, heating, and cooling consumed by the reporting company. I.e. what you buy. These emissions usually occur on company location but must be purchased by the company.

Scope 3 includes all other indirect emissions that occur in a company’s value chain. I.e. everything. This can include waste during operations, employee business travel and commuting, emissions from purchased goods as well as transportation emissions in the supply chain.

The 3 scope approach is helpful for understanding where emissions sources are the largest and what sources should be targeted for mitigation efforts. Calculating emissions can also add a measurable component to your ESG strategy. Contact The Dragon Group to learn how to incorporate the 3 scope approach into your ESG strategy.

The Future of LEED What to Expect as LEED Continues to Evolve

The Future of LEED: What to Expect as LEED Continues to Evolve

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Recently, the U.S. Green Building Council released a new June report focusing on the expected evolution of the LEED green building rating system. The perspective of the report emphasizes the urgency for swift decarbonization of the building industry and sticks to the 2030 and 2050 targets of the Paris Climate Accord. LEED has always understood the importance of continual evolution of green building standards. And with this report, LEED is recognizing that their current standards are not reflecting the amount of urgency needed to tackle the climate crisis.

So, what stays the same and what will change? Decarbonization, human health and wellbeing, water-efficiency, and all the things LEED is known for will only be emphasized even more. However, there are three areas where LEED has introduced unprecedented expectations: changes within new construction requirements, data tracking and operations, and a new mysterious LEED affiliated streamlined platform.

Changes for New Constructions

LEED is currently in the process of updating minimum operational energy standards and has suggested that some time in the near future new constructions will require zero carbon readiness for normal operations. Future LEED new constructions will also see minimal requirements for electric vehicle charging. Additionally, climate resilient locations and buildings will see further emphasis as LEED introduces building specific survivability assessments for new constructions. It is unclear what these survivability assessments will look like, but it is clear that the location of new constructions will play a larger role during LEED rating.

Stricter standards for new constructions, a focus on operation standards and a three year time limit for a LEED building design and construction certifications aims to push the industry towards LEED for existing buildings: operations and maintenance.

Emphasis on Data Tracking and Operations

It appears LEED has interest in becoming more than just a rating system, but also a tool for corporate ESG reporting. In order to achieve this, LEED will leverage ESG reporting frameworks and increase its focus on data tracking and reporting by rewarding continuous performance tracking in hopes of it becoming the new norm. The increasing encouragement of performance tracking is LEED’s way of both acknowledging past discrepancies between theoretical design and the reality of operations and leaving room for the continual development of building operations and LEED standards.

A LEED Streamlined Platform

The most notable thing LEED introduced in this new report is a “streamlined platform to simplify compliance and promote meaningful engagement with projects throughout their life cycles.” While it is unclear as to what exactly will be streamlined, LEED is clearly aiming for scalability as they attempt to reduce the documentation burden and improve data management and reporting. This streamlined platform is undoubtedly far from implementation, but it most certainly will look very different from the way buildings are LEED certified today.

LEED is an ever changing green building rating system. Contact The Dragon Group to make sure your project is up to date on everything LEED.

Sustainable Airports

The Future of Airport Sustainability

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The future of airport sustainability is about to soar.  Until recently, there was no standard approach to sustainability in the aviation space but that is changing.  Many airports have their own definition of sustainability and are doing projects or approaching sustainability project by project; however a new trend is emerging. Many airports are shifting to approaching sustainability from a campus-wide perspective while focusing on metrics and measurement.

The big question is “How do you measure sustainability so that airports can track against each other and truly understand what sustainability is domestically and internationally?”

To answer, measuring and comparing sustainability against airports globally and domestically is going to be a trend moving forward.  LEED for Communities and LEED for Airports are two sustainability certifications that airports can use. These certifications by US Green Building Council are relatively new and ground breaking but are projected to pick up steam quickly. ArcSkoru is the technology platform that aggregates airport data and tracks sustainability metrics.

Measuring sustainability no matter what platform is key to setting goals, tracking progress and continuous improvement.  The main categories for airport sustainability are sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, human experience and sustainability innovation.

Passenger(Human) Experience is considered an essential component of sustainability. Features of terminal improvements that are considered sustainable include the reduction and elimination of smoking in airports to improve air quality, increased usage of natural sunlight by placing sky lights in terminal ceilings, and improved layouts for increased walkability.

Other practical yet innovative feature include employee and passenger transportation improvements, food waste recycling and construction waste recycling and diversion.  There many ways to approach sustainability from a design/build or operations perspective.

In summary, airports are developing ways to improve passenger experience and attract carriers while examining and implementing sustainable solutions. The Dragon Group is passionate about designing and providing strategies to airports for improved sustainable solutions.

For more information on The Dragon Group’s Aviation Sustainability practice contact Yvonne Dragon – [email protected]

5 Tips to Easily Save Energy and Money in Your Facility

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5 Tips to Easily Save Energy and Money in Your Facility

One of the biggest misconceptions about sustainable design is that it is insanely expensive and complicated. That is not the case. Sometimes a difference in a window, light fixture or water faucet can vary only a few dollars. There are many small tweaks a project team can make that can enhance the health of building inhabitants and value of your commercial or multifamily assets.

Here, we’ll discuss five tips you can begin implementing today that will help you save energy and positively impact operating costs.

1. Conduct a Lighting Assessment

Older buildings tend to have lighting that are an energy drain and drive up power bills. If this is the case for you, substitute your current lighting for LED lights or CFLs (compact fluorescent lights). Both are energy-saving light options that can make a big difference in your operating costs.

2. Develop HVAC Maintenance Schedule

Sometimes people underestimate the impact of changing a filter. By developing a maintenance plan and regularly servicing your HVAC, you can be sure building systems are working at optimal efficiency.

3. Assess Water Conservation Opportunities

Take a look around your facility. Where can you cut down on water consumption? By installing water conserving faucets and toilets in your building, you will drastically lower your water utility bill.

4. Install Occupancy Sensors

Have you ever walked into a room and the light suddenly comes on? Those are called occupancy sensors. By installing these, there is no need to rely on people to turn off the lights. As an alternative, you can also use light timers.

5. Seal Dry Wall to Avoid Air Penetration

Take a look around your building and see if you have any space around your fixtures, plumbing and ducts. If you do, air may seeping in or seeping out. That means less temperature control in your building and more money coming out of your pockets.

Remember, going green does not have to mean tons of green. You can make small adjustments to your building that can greatly enhance building performance while increasing the value of your asset. If you would like to discuss more cost saving and operational strategies or how you can employ our green building consulting services, feel free to contact one of our green building experts, Randall Dragon LEED AP BD +C at 770.312.5437 or [email protected].

Why You Need a Green Construction Manager on Your Next Project

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Why You Need a Green Construction Manager on Your Next Project

The standard role of a construction manager is to plan, direct, coordinate, and budget activities on the project site. The owner depends on them to oversee the project’s organization, scheduling, and ultimately, implementation.

Typical, right? Not anymore.

A Building’s Impact on Human Capital

On average, people spend about 90% of their time indoors. As a result, buildings have a unique ability to positively or negatively influence the health and cognitive function of those inside. To deeper understand the impact, Harvard designed a study to simulate indoor environmental quality conditions in green and conventional buildings and evaluate the effects on cognitive function.

What they found was astonishing. The study showed 61% higher cognitive function scores in green building conditions compared to the conventional building conditions across nine functional domains, including crisis response, strategy, and focused activity level. Read more about the Harvard Study.

Standard Construction Management is No Longer Enough

Particularly in the healthcare, transportation, education, sports and entertainment industries owners are now looking to design and construct green buildings that drive productivity and invest in society’s most valuable — human capital. In order to oversee and execute performance centric buildings, a construction manager must understand what owners expect from a building and human performance perspective in order to implement sustainable asset solutions.

The Need for a Green Construction Manager

Consideration of building and human capital performance coupled with market demand and government mandates having a green construction manager (GCM) is the key to successful commercial project. The GCM acts as a champion of sustainable design while also transforming green concepts into a cost effective constructible reality.

Anytime an owner pulls a team of architects, engineers, contractors and other vendors together, communication can be challenging. A GCM can develop a strategy to partner with design and construction teams to meet overall project goals and attend to small details that make a big difference in the building’s sustainability.

Overall, the role of construction management is shifting and requires an expanded skill set to meet the market demand of high performing and sustainable buildings. Will your standard construction management approach be enough?

Want to learn more about how our Green Construction Management team can boost the health of your building and those inside? Let’s talk. Contact our one of our green building experts, Randall Dragon LEED AP BD +C at 770.312.5437 or [email protected] to discuss your upcoming project in more detail.