7 easy green DIY decorating projects for Halloween

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7 easy green DIY decorating projects for Halloween

The National Retail Federation projects that Americans will spend approximately $8.4 billion to celebrate Halloween this year, a record high in the annual survey’s history. Save a bit of green while being green, and make your home spooktacular with these seven eco-friendly DIY decorating projects.

1. Paper origami bats made with 100 percent recycled construction paper

Trick your guests into thinking there’s a flock of bats in your home by creating 10 or so paper versions to stick on a wall (instructions are at AGirlAndAGlueGun.com). You’ll need recycled black construction paper, which should cost $2–3. You also could create a paper bat mobile as Martha Stewart advises, by tying your winged creations to a tree branch.

2. Spooky terrarium jars

Decorate your windowsills with these DIY Network spooky terrarium jars, using recycled glass jars with spiders, cotton ghosts, moss and branches. Making these terrarium jars is fairly easy, and it’s a great project to get kids involved in. You can let them fill their jars with whatever tiny, terrifying toys they like.

If you have some old gauze tape lying around and extra glass jars, you also can make your own mummy luminaries from the blog “A Little Clairification.”

3. Dark paper flowers

Add a touch of shadowy glamour to your space by making a black flower arrangement using biodegradable crepe paper. If you have extra paper, you also can make a black paper wreath, as seen in “Country Living.”

4. Wooden pumpkins

Try something new this year, and make your own version of a pumpkin as Today’s Fabulous Finds suggests, by reusing old wooden blocks.

5. Spirit jugs

Light up the pathway to your home for trick-or-treaters with “Eighteen25″‘s spirit jugs. Take any old, used milk gallon jugs, and draw silly faces on them using a permanent marker. Make these ghost-like containers shine at night with low-wattage christmas lights.

6. Apple tea light holders

These apple tea light holders from “Woman’s Day” are an easy and quick way to illuminate a room during Halloween. After using the apples, you can give them to a local farm for animal food or add them to a compost bin.

7. Recycled K-cup garland of lights

Big coffee drinker? The “KimSixFix” shows you how to put those old K-cups to use by making a garland of lights to hang across your fireplace’s mantel for Halloween. Like the spirit jugs, you can draw a variety of scary faces on each cup.

Healthy office spaces matter to employees

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Healthy office spaces matter to employees

A transition has been taking place in the green building office world over the past few years. Companies are not just building buildings that are better for our environment overall—they are actually building offices that are better for their employees.

Many companies have realized that not only does their space need to be environmentally friendly, but it also needs to keep workers happy and healthy to increase productivity. For example, McKesson in Richmond, Virginia, took strides to implement WELL Building Certification and focus on wellness for its employees. WELL believes that buildings should be developed with people’s health and wellness at the center of design.

So what does this shift in focus mean for all office spaces? Consider the effect of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) in office buildings on employee health, well-being and productivity. Healthy buildings do more than mitigate our impact on the environment—they can have social and emotional effects as well. Studies have shown that employees in buildings with adverse health conditions are absent more often, lose more work hours and are less productive than employees without these conditions.In some studies, there have been 11 percent gains in productivity from improved ventilation and 23 percent gains in productivity from improved lighting design.

Having healthy buildings can make a huge difference. My friend Anne recently was fortunate enough to move to a new office space. Her company left a relatively old, unhealthy building and has relocated to a much newer, LEED-certified building. She shared with me some of her reactions to moving into a more wellness-focused space, giving us a personal look into how healthy buildings can really improve daily work life for us all.

In your previous building, what was noticeably unhealthy to you during a workday? The air quality was definitely subpar—the dust that accumulated and the allergens we all noticed inside were all frustrating. In addition, I think there were questions about the cleanliness of spaces based on their age. But as an employee, you don’t have a lot of options!

Were you ever worried the IEQ could have longterm negative impacts on your health? I think I was conscious of how dust and mold might be impacting me every day, but it was easy to blame that on my allergies or my problems. But recognizing how a work space can exacerbate those problems—and that it isn’t OK—was definitely a shift that resulted when I had access to a nicer, high-quality space.

What does your new building have that has made your workday seem better? Improvements in technology, better spaces for meetings and group work, and even higher-quality materials in the furniture all result in positive impacts on work. It feels like the space is designed to be productive—not that it just happened to be occupied by a business. The space also has a great employee kitchen, privacy rooms for breastfeeding or other personal needs and a fitness center. It would be easy to call these things perks, but they are important parts of having healthy employees.

Are there things you think we take for granted, but are actually very important to improving productivity in the workplace? Designing spaces where groups can work, I think, makes a difference.

Do you believe that your new space will directly impact your workday mentality? Absolutely, the space is now an easy and comfortable part of my day-to-day. That it isn’t a stressor already helps!

We saw at Greenbuild this past week that the health and wellness of workers is becoming a larger focus across the board—there was an entire section of the Expo Hall floor dedicated to health and wellness. Not only can it help your employees feel better, it can serve as a competitive asset for companies. We heard Rick Fedrizzi say, “We have more to do to extend the focus from inside our buildings to inside our bodies.” A report released during Greenbuild last week shows that employees who work in certified green buildings have higher sleep quality scores — and who doesn’t want better sleep just by going to work every day?

The future holds a lot of changes, but it seems clear that those changes will only improve our work lives. What do healthy buildings mean to you? 

“At their best, our buildings and communities are powerful promoters of health and well-being. At their worst, they contribute to some of the key public health concerns of modern society, from asthma to cancer to obesity.” —Mahesh Ramanujam

Growing PR to meet demands

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Growing PR to meet demands

This article from Marisa LongUSGBC Communications Director, was originally published on PR News on Sept. 19, 2016. Marisa and other leaders from USGBC’s Marketing Department will present Marketing and Sustainability: Tools and Tips to Tell Your Story at the upcoming Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. The session will take place Thursday, Oct. 6, from 2–3 p.m. in Petree Hall C. 

Whether you are managing and growing a team in-house, looking to build better relationships with colleagues and senior executives or establishing the best way to work with consultants or clients, creating a PR team structure that produces results and meets demands is critical to success. PR pros must create a thoughtful plan, identify individual strengths, recognize weak spots and address change and challenges head on—all while creating compelling campaigns that produce results.

Growing to meet demands

At USGBC, we’ve had to navigate significant growth and find the right way to make sure PR was meeting demands. USGBC is a nonprofit dedicated to creating a healthier, more sustainably built environment. Our primary vehicle for this market transformation is LEED®, the world’s most widely used green building rating system.

Since LEED launched in 2000, it has grown to certify more than 5 billion square feet of space in more than 160 countries. Today, approximately 1.85 million square feet of space certifies every day. There are nearly 200,000 LEED-credentialed professionals and thousands of volunteers globally and more than 12,000 national member organizations, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses.

When I arrived in 2010, USGBC had about half the 30-plus staffers that today make up the marketing department. USGBC had somewhat plateaued in attracting new audiences and was seeking to expand its reach. I was tasked with overseeing the launch of the Center for Green Schools, which reached beyond the B2B community and introduced us to consumer audiences.

Over the past few years, our efforts also started expanding to new products and programs through USGBC’s sister organization, Green Business Certification Inc.™ (GBCI).

With so many B2B brands and B2C causes, disseminating information that resonates with the right audiences can be a challenge. The marketing department is responsible for growing USGBC’s marketplace presence and making sure the message is clear and bipartisan for a variety of stakeholders that expect information, transparency and support. And we are mission-based; ultimately,we are focused on advocating for a more sustainable future and providing solutions to create a sustainable environment for generations to come.

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