Sustainable Building: Closed Loop Advisors

Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, Courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

Steve Hall © Hedrich Blessing, Courtesy of Studio Gang Architects

JD Capuano is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Closed Loop Advisors, a sustainability management consultancy. He is super passionate about sustainability and helping businesses truly incorporate sustainable green practices. Holistic Spaces interviewed JD about his business, the Living Building Challenge, and sustainability.

Be sure to check in on the next blog post, to read JD speak about Renewable Energy Certificates

AC: Tell us about your mission at Closed Loop Advisors.

JC: Closed Loop Advisors is a sustainability management consultancy focused on helping organizations with two things: environmental sustainability strategy, measurement, and analytics; and green building fit-outs and certifications. Our mission is to change business as usual by integrating commerce and deep green environmental sustainability.

AC: What is the Living Building Challenge and how have you incorporated it into your consulting? 

JC: The Living Building Challenge (LBC) is the most inspiring and stringent green building standard in the world. It imagines that we design and construct buildings to function as elegantly and efficiently as a flower. LBC has three certifications – the full challenge (7 PETALs, or areas of certification), PETAL Certification (3 PETALs, one of which has to be Energy, Water or Materials), and Net Zero Energy Building Certification. Our involvement with LBC started with my colleague, Eileen Quigley. Eileen was project-managing the Chicago office fit-out for our client, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and posed the idea of pursuing LBC PETAL Certification in their Chicago office. Once we realized there was a chance of doing it, they were all for it, and we were off and running.

Tell us more about PETAL certification and at zero-toxicity materials -- what does that mean and what can we learn from it?

We spend most of our time indoors, and we're surrounded by many human-made materials that are off-gassing toxics. You know the smell of new carpeting or fresh paint? When you smell that, you're inhaling the toxic gasses seeping out from those materials. The Materials PETAL places emphasis on all of the inputs to a building's structure and finishes with very specific requirements, such as a certain amount of material reuse for a renovation, forestry requirements and a definition of local for wood, and most important their Red List of materials and chemicals products cannot contain. By following this PETAL we learn to create an indoor environment where residents or employees can be healthier and more productive. 

Tell us about the Chicago Natural Resources Defense Council project, where you were able to create a notable innovation and really make a difference.

The Natural Resources Defense Council project was innovative because it was the first time anyone suggested that an office could go for the LBC certification. Every project before ours was residential or an entire building. We saw the chance to do something on a smaller scale while still having an impact. We didn't know about the PETAL Certification until we researched it. We got excited once we realized we didn't have to worry about net zero water or energy, which are really difficult to do for a project that is 1% of the building square footage. We pursued the materials PETAL. I think it has just as much if not more, of an impact than water or energy, because it's causing ripples in a huge industry of materials manufacturers and making them re-think their processes. It's also making us re-think what's healthy for people to be in the presence of, especially considering how much time people spend at work.

What are three tips that the readers can do to make their work spaces more sustainable?

It depends. Are you staying in the same space, or moving? Where are you geographically? What have you already done? Sorry, force of habit as a consultant to make sure I'm answering the right questions!

Assuming you're staying in the same space:

  1. Track and analyze your data over time to look for areas of improvement. You can get electricity, maybe heating and water. Start tracking your waste and see how you can reduce it.  
  2. Focus on reducing electricity use by changing set-points, upgrade lighting or de-lamp if your space is over-lit, install sensors (daylight and movement), maximize use of daylighting, make sure lights and equipment turn off when no one is around.  
  3. Look at what you're purchasing and consuming. What can you reduce? Are you purchasing eco-friendly, reusable or recyclable (preferring the former) and non-toxic products (from the little things to furniture)?

by Anjie Cho


Closed Loop Advisors is changing business as usual. We are passionate about integrating sustainability and business. From addressing specific environmental problems to organization-wide sustainability planning, we help our clients become more efficient, responsible and adaptive. Our work focuses on each client’s desired outcomes that we align with their unique combination of priorities, values and budget.

Our services fall into two categories. The first is Strategy, Measurement and Analytics, with projects ranging from environmental target setting to carbon foot-printing to GRI reporting. The second is Buildings and Certifications, where we manage office fit-outs and certify projects to LEED or Living Building Challenge standards. Founded in 2011, we are based in NYC and manage projects in Europe, China, and across the US. We are a Certified B Corporation


The Many Shades of Green with Maxine Margo

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AC: Tell us about TMSOG and your mission

MM: The Many Shades of Green (TMSOG) is an internet radio show which airs on BBoxradio. The program delves into topics on the environment and its interconnection with culture, politics, music and the arts. Many important issues about the environment are under-reported in the mainstream media, and it is a low priority for most Americans. While we, as a human species, depend upon natural resources to survive, we are quickly decimating and depleting those resources, and we are causing the extinction of many of the world’s most majestic and beautiful creatures. We are not living in harmony, nor are we living in balance with nature. The mission of TMSOG is to inform and educate the public about issues of sustainability, and to explain what actions we all can take to protect the planet.

How did The Many Shades of Green start?

I was the content producer and booked guests for a show on Air America called “Green America”.  The program name was later changed to “The Money Message” with host Marc Sussman. We covered topics that included socially responsible investment, which greatly interconnects with issues of sustainability. I co-hosted the show on some occasions, and via my research for guests and topics, I became very interested in all things green. After Air America closed its doors, I hosted and produced an environmental radio program called “Village Green” on WDFH, Pacifica Radio. I was pursuing other avenues for my program, and I saw a flyer posted on a bulletin board in a coffee shop in Brooklyn, for BBox Radio, which stated that they were looking for radio programs for this new Community Internet station. I sent a sample show to Donna Zimmerman, the program director at BBox, and the rest is history.

Where and how did you get involved with sustainability?

I grew up in Brooklyn, not far from Brighton Beach, so I was always drawn to the ocean. I enjoyed the water, the birds, the salt air, as well as the French fries at Nathan’s (salt air and fries go hand in hand). My mom would take me on “nature” walks, and we would take cuttings of bushes and flowers that grew wild in vacant lots, which we would then plant in our backyard on Ocean Parkway. My interest in the environment grew even more through taking Geology courses at Brooklyn College, where I studied Geological periods, fossils, rocks, mountains, oceans, dinosaurs and more.

When I started working on the Green America show, I researched guests and topics that focused on sustainability. Alan Weisman, author of “The World Without Us” and Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org were guests on the Air America program.  I had Mr. Weisman on TMSOG, not long ago, to talk about his new book “Countdown” which covers the serious topic of overpopulation. I also had MayBoeve, co-founder of 350.org, on the program to discuss the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, which is the leading cause of climate change.

Tell us about some of the most interesting people or things you've learned through hosting this radio show.

First off, getting to meet and work with two amazingly talented and compassionate people, Abba Carmichael, my co-producer, and Brian Horowitz, my sound engineer, has enriched my life on so many levels. I could not do the show without them, as they both put their hearts and souls into getting the show out each week.

I have had many fascinating people on the program, and each and every guest is working hard to make a difference and help the planet. I have learned, though it saddens me, that issues involving sustainability are not taken seriously and have a low priority in most people’s lives. The “it is what it is” attitude is pervasive, and on the show I try to educate and inform the public about the need to take action to make the environment a priority.

I have had many interesting interviews that have stood out in my mind. I did an interview with J.K. Canepa, co-founder of NY Climate Action Group, who is fighting to stop the liquefied natural gas port from being built off-shore from areas in Brooklyn and Long Island. When the sound of a construction jackhammer outside the window muffled the interview, we moved to a tree house in a Community Garden in the East Village. Doing a “green” show from an actual tree house was truly awesome.

I also hopped on a Ferry Boat to Governor’s Island with my co-producer, Abba, to interview Murray Fisher at the Harbor School, a high school that teaches students about the importance of the waterways, and what we need to do to protect them.

Other guests of note include Riverkeeper; Eva Radke of Filmbiz Recycling; Syd Mandelbaum, CEO of Rock and Wrap It Up; Clare Donohue, founder of the Sane Energy Project; Nancy Bruning, founder of Nancercize; Tiokasin Ghosthorse, spokesman for the issues affecting the Native Americans and radio host of First Voices Indigenous Radio on WBAI; and of course the terrific Anjie Cho, founder of Holistic Spaces.  

You can hear the interviews of all the wonderful guests that have appeared on the show via my web page (www.themanyshadesofgreen.com) and (www.BBoxradio.com/the-many-shades-of-green). The bottom line is that we have to all be proactive and pick an environmental group and/or cause to get behind, so that we can keep this planet safe and beautiful for future generations to come.

What are three simple tips that you can give to readers to go green and truly lead a holistic life? 

First tip would be “don’t waste water.” Water is a precious commodity that is being threatened by over-consumption, hydrofracking, the bottled water and soda industries and drought conditions due to climate change, nationally and globally. I suggest taking shorter showers, getting a reusable water bottle, and trying not to purchase bottled water whenever possible.

Tip number two: purchase LED light bulbs for your living quarters, you will be reducing electricity usage and saving money in the long run. LED light bulbs have come down in price, and it is a win, win all around.

Tip number three: recycle cans, plastics and bottles and reuse as much as possible. Thrift stores have become cool over the years, visit one and get some vintage clothes or furniture. You will be helping yourself and Mother Earth.

One extra tip: go outside and connect with Mother Nature.

by Anjie Cho


Maxine Margo Rubin has been involved with the media business as a content producer and part-time co-host for Air America (Marc Sussman’s Money Message), and hosted and produced Village Green on WDFH, a show which focused on topics of environmental sustainability and progressive social issues.

In addition, she worked to create a pilot for Green World Radio. Maxine is a Brooklyn girl, born and raised on Ocean Parkway, and is an alum of Abraham Lincoln High School and Brooklyn College. She has a master’s degree in Public Policy/Public Administration from New York University (The Wagner School). Maxine is a confirmed “Greeniac,” and serves on the Sustainability Advisory Board in the town of New Castle. She loves all genres of music, and enjoys her wonderful, nutty and creative family, including her pampered and highly cerebral pooch, Sparky 2.0. She is happy to be connected with BBOX Radio, and looks forward to spreading the word about environmental and social issues affecting Brooklyn and beyond.


How To Go GREEN Like a New Yorker

featured April 20 on BONDNYMagazine.com

In honor of Earth day on April 22nd, we challenge you to GO GREEN like a real New Yorker! Unsure how to do that? Check out the options below!

1. Adopt a Street Tree!

Did you know that you could adopt a street tree in NYC? Our street trees provide shade in the summer, beautify our city and improve the air quality all year round. But they need care. Million Trees NYC offers workshops on how to care for trees. You can attend a tree-planting, request a street tree, or even pick up your own.

Find more info at: http://www.milliontreesnyc.org/

2. Go Green with Your Delivery (and Take-Out)

I’ll be the first one to admit, I get a lot of meals delivered. We are all busy New Yorkers. An easy way to go green is to ask for no plastic cutlery. Eat your food in style with your silverware, and cut down on the plastics that are produced. Many delivery websites also have a “go green” option that you can select, making this green step even easier!

...read full article

by Anjie Cho


Create Holistic Space with Feng Shui

hosted by Anjie Cho
Wednesday, February 29th, 2012 | 6:00pm - 8:30pm
at Sustainable NYC | 139 Avenue A (btw St.Marks & 9th St)

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FENG SHUI focuses on changing the flow of chi, the vital life force in humans and nature, to improve and transform lives.  Our approach is inspired and integrative, functional and intuitive, and kindles environmental and personal healing through adjustments in your home and office.

Feng Shui can help you with:

  • Family Issues, Growth, and New Beginnings
  • Wealth, Money, Self-Worth
  • Health and Overall Wellness
  • Bring Help to You, or Protection From Harm
  • Assist in Completion and Creativity
  • Self-Cultivation, Knowledge, Skill
  • Fame, Recognition, and Inspire Passion
  • Career, Finding your Path in Life, Wisdom
  • Relationships, Love, and Partnerships

by Anjie Cho

photo by Jimena Roquero