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Omni Ecosystems had a Blast at the Showcase

By Jesse Rosenbluth at Omni Ecosystems on 6/23/2017

Omni Ecosystems extends a heartfelt thanks to the USGBC Massachusetts team for organizing a great Green Building Showcase 2017 in the incredible space at ISEC. We are grateful to Grey Lee and Emily Kingston who introduced us to this wonderful opportunity to learn about the projects distinguishing Boston in architecture and sustainability and to meet the people who are pushing those fields forward.

Meeting articulate and motivated people from throughout the industry and seeing the collective ambition of those assembled reminded us how important and inspiring it is to strive for excellence and to further what is possible. We saw great examples of how design, architecture, and living infrastructure can address issues across the social, economic, and environmental spectrums.

It was an honor to win the Social Equity Green Building Market Leadership award and to be in the company of so many other worthy and wonderful projects. All of us at Omni Ecosystems are grateful for this award, and look forward to groundbreaking projects ahead!

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There was plenty to show off at the 2017 Showcase

By Alexander Landa on 6/14/2017

It's amazing how much can be accomplished in one year. Since the 2016 Showcase, dozens more sustainable, LEED or WELL certified, healthy buildings have been designed and developed, leaving a massive impact on the surrounding community and inspiring hundreds more to do the same. Last night proved why we do what we do, and all of the participants deserve the attention they received last night. 

It's Show(case)time!

Even though for other events with a start time of 5:30, attendees tend to start trickling then if not later. The Showcase is a totally different animal - we had eager folks lining up at 4:45 ready to get in, start networking, and spend as much time as they could there. It's always heartwarming to have people being so excited that they go out of their way to be there early.

After the first round of networking with old friends and new, and checking out project boards, Andrea Love (Director of Building Science at Payette, USGBC MA Board Chair) took the mic to kick things off and introduce the speakers for the night. Celis Brisbin (Acting Executive Director) gave a heart-warming speech about what it means to his family, and in turn to all of our families, the importance of green building and how it will impact our current generation and the future to come.

Special thanks to Kathy Spiegelman (VP/Chief of Campus Planning & Development at Northeastern) for letting us use the gorgeous ISEC for our event, and for giving some words on how the NEU supports our mission, and how the ISEC is a prime example of all of it. Jim Grossman (VP/COO of Suffolk) shared how Suffolk is dedicated to sustainability, and what it meant to him to be a part of the ISEC project. To wrap up the first round of speakers, Kimberly Cullinane (Senior Energy Efficiency Consultant of Suffolk) and Mark Stafford (Lead Account Executive of National Grid) amped up the crowd to set the tone of the night by highlighting how MassSave contributed to so many of the amazing project boards on deck. 

The next hour saw a packed room of sustainability enthusiasts circling the floor and voting in the Market Leadership Awards Program for what designs they felt best represented the award categories. Building of the Year boards and were also on display at the front of the room. This hour was the pinnacle of representation for our Chapter; our engaged community was enthralled by each project, finding inspiration from other firms rather than competition, while exchanging business cards with new faces and hugging old friends. 

Who won the big awards?

At 7, the massive crowd of over 300 attendees packed the first-floor auditorium. Oscar Mertz (Senior Associate of Elkus Manfredi) showed off the ever-evolving Union Point project just south of Boston. This is the future of development of design and smart cities. Thanks to Nicholas Iselin (General Manager of Lendlease) for stating the significance on why we all need to collaborate more - sustainability isn't just a one-firm job, and we all need to work together to make it happen.

The 2017 Green Building of the Year was awarded to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr School from Perkins Eastman. This contemporary project in Cambridge, MA consists of three schools on one single campus. The MLK school is 82% more energy efficient than the average elementary school, which is a remarkable accomplishment for Cambridge's green, net-zero effort. Students learn about the importance of green buildings through their own school's design, teacher's plans, and the school's rooftop garden. 

The Green Building Market Leadership awards went to 8 exemplary designs:

  • Health/Wellness- Roux Center for the Environment, Bowdoin College, Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc.
  • Site- The Eddy, Gerding Edlen
  • Water Efficiency - UMass Amherst Buildings, Nitsch Engineering
  • Energy Efficiency - Bristol Community College John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building, Sasaki
  • Beauty - Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center for Executive Education - Harvard Business School, Goody Clancy
  • Social Equity - Omni Green Roof Farm, Omni Ecosystems
  • Materials - UMass Amherst Design Building, Suffolk
  • Resilience - Resilient Futures: Boston Living with Water International Competition, Architerra

More information will be coming soon about the winning projects!


Back to the party

The party didn't slow down after the ceremony. For at least another hour, the ISEC was filled with food, drinks, laughter, and networking. This is what's so special about our events - yes we like to have fun, but it's all for the greater good. We're seeing architects meeting new building owners, and product manufacturers collaborating with building operators. It wasn't until almost 9:00 that the ISEC was emptying out, and everyone leaving in a good mood.

Special Thanks:

This wasn't just the staff making it happen. Thank you so much to Kathy Spiegelman and Maria Galarza at Northeastern for allowing us to throw the Showcase here - we couldn't have had a better venue for the night. Thanks to our team of volunteers helping with boards and registration - the event was fluid and smooth thanks to you! Our speakers were amazing and certainly were a huge reason for the packed room - you all rock. Special thanks to all of the wonderful Sponsors for making the event happen!

It's hard to imagine how we'll make next year's Showcase even better, but in the name of #MoreGreenBuildings, we'll make it happen.

See more pictures of the 2017 Green Building Showcase here!


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2016 Green Building Showcase Retrospective

By Jen Cole on 6/7/2017

As we gear up for our largest showcase yet coming up on June 15th, we want to take a chance to look back on our showcase from last year! One of the best parts of last year's event was simply being inside Boston Properties' beautiful 888 Boylston Street building that truly proves how far we've come with technology and innovation. Among the beauty of the building, there were also enlightening and energetic speeches by Bryan Koop, Liyang Wang, Mark Stafford, Austin Blackmon, Rick Fedrizzi, and Grey Lee.

The event is all about networking, exchanging business cards, meeting new people, and of course, desserts and drinks. The entire floor last year was filled with laughter, handshakes, hugs, and smiles all around. The best of all was the 2016 Green Building of the Year went to Elkus Manfredi for their entry of the LEED Platinum New Balance Headquarters in Allston!

Our Showcase last year was packed with amazing people and chapter friends that are changing Boston for the better by helping us to modernize our wonderful city. We hope to see everyone back at this year's showcase because the Green Building industry deserves to be in the spotlight!!

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Showcase 2016 Where Are They Now? The Green Engineer's BPL Renovation

By Chris Schaffner of The Green Engineer on 6/1/2017

Boston Public Library  - Johnson Wing Renovation

Winner of 2016 Green Building Leadership Award – Social Equity

Not Just a Green Building, a Symbol of Our City’s Resilience

We were thrilled when the Boston Public Library Johnson Wing Renovation was selected as the winner of the 2016 Green Building Leadership Award for Social Equity. We’re very proud to have been part of a talented team led by William Rawn Architects and the BPL, which transformed what Boston Globe Columnist Yvonne Abraham called  “a dark, hulking, foreboding place” into a vibrant, glowing public space open to the street outside, and the city beyond.   And it was all done while implementing the latest in energy efficiency and green building principles.

The building’s renovation sends a message about the kind of community we aspire to be.  At the very site where forces of ignorance and terror struck it responds with the message that we are not afraid to be an open society, valuing knowledge for all and inviting the community to come together.  As Cliff Gayley of William Rawn Architects put it in a recent interview: 

“There was a very strong directive that the city and the library were not going to react in a defensive way. The City of Boston wasn’t going to cower and hide behind a wall. It was going to remain open and celebrate the values that are at the heart of the city.”

To create this openness and transparency while improving the energy performance of the building required an integrated, iterative design process. The modeling team at The Green Engineer, Inc. worked through multiple iterations of façade and glazing options with the architects to identify design choices that would meet the need for daylight and transparency while still meeting the stringent energy requirements of the project.

The first step was to develop a model of the existing building conditions. This was then calibrated against utility consumption data, so that it accurately represented the library as it existed before renovation work began. Various energy strategies were then tested in the model to determine their relative effectiveness. These included conversion of the MEP systems to VAV, updated lighting and lighting controls, reduced hot water consumption through low flow fixtures, and of course the building envelope improvements. Together these measures are estimated to save the BPL more than $80,000 annually.   Our modeling was also used for calculating utility incentives from our friends at Eversource, and to demonstrate energy code compliance.  

A year after opening, as I reflect on the project, I believe it has achieved the goals that were established. Recently, I had a chance to visit the space and get a cup of coffee. Around me was a cross section of the community, families visiting the new children’s section, students looking for a place to study, tourists seeking information, and immigrants seeking to become citizens, or just find some news from home.  A podcast was being recorded in the WGBH studio incorporated into the renovation. And it was all open to, and integrated with, the life of busy Boylston Street. More than just a place to keep books, the library is a true community gathering space, and one of best civic spaces in Boston.       

Project Statistics: 

  • Opened July 9, 2016
  • 150,000 SF of renovation conducted in two phases
  • $78 million budget
  • Owner: City of Boston, Boston Public Library
  • Owner's Project Representative: PMA Consultants
  • Architect: William Rawn Associates, Architects, Inc.
  • Contractor: Consigli Construction Corp.
  • Landscape Architect: Reed Hilderbrand
  • Energy Modeler: The Green Engineer, Inc.
  • MEP Engineer: Cosentini Associates

To see more boards and amazing designs like this, attend the upcoming Green Building Showcase on June 15th and consider entering your own project board.

First photo credit to Liz Cerda of The Green Engineer; photos two and three by Bruce T. Martin.

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Announcing the Third Round of Sponsors for the 2017 Annual Green Building Showcase

By Alexander Landa on 5/30/2017

We're a little over two weeks until the 2017 Annual Green Building Showcase at Northeastern University's ISEC, and there's an amazing group of firms and organizations that are highly engaged in our cause. It's amazing to see how many groups and individuals in the Commonwealth share our desire for a net-zero future, and want to be involved as much as they can.

We want to thank the following firms for becoming the third round of sponsors for this year's Showcase. Thank you so much for coming on board, and we look forward to seeing you soon!










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Pictures from Grey's Farewell Party

By Alexander Landa on 5/26/2017

Last night was bittersweet, to say the least. We got psyched for Greenbuild coming up in a few months, but we also said goodbye to our Executive Director of almost five years - Grey Lee. We went out in style with good food and drinks, old friends and new, and a gorgeous venue courtesy of Robinson+Cole.

100 guests trekked through the pouring rain - a good sign of our engaged, devoted community - to attend last night. Robinson+Cole's office was attractive, modern, and part of a LEED Green building - what more can you ask for?

We all caught up for the first hour before convening for the night's speeches. Celis Brisbin gathered the crowd to set the tone for the night - a mixture of what's to come, and the commemorative farewell. Todd Isherwood of the Greening Greenbuild Committee gave an update on how far we're already engaging with the local community and it's great to see so many companies already excited for November! Thanks to Jerome Garciano of Robinson+Cole for sharing some words on your devotion to our cause.

Our Corporate Relations Manager, Emily Kingston, gave some sneak previews for Greenbuild that aren't publically available yet. Be on the lookout for more info in the near future regarding registration and scheduling! 

The end of the night saw Andrea Love and John Dalzell of our Board take the stage to introduce Grey Lee, to say their thanks, and to deliver his well-deserved gifts: A commemorative plaque, a framed 'Wicked Green' poster, and a photo album of his almost five years here.

Thank you, Grey, for being able to keep the energy alive for the night. We know that you'll always be a part of our community, and we will always be Wicked Green!

See more photos here.

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Throwback Thursday - Green Building Showcase 2014

By USGBC MA on 5/25/2017

With the 2017 Annual Green Building Showcase coming up on June 15th, we want to look back on our past achievements. It's amazing how much this event has changed since its inception. In 2014, it was still called the LEED Project Showcase and had 150 folks. Now, it's expected to be 300 people, and we welcome all building certifications like WELL or Living Buildings.

We still have happy memories of Genzyme hosting what would become one of our biggest events to date - at their LEED Platinum location, to boot!

There have been some amazing award winners over the years. In 2014, One Beacon Street won the Exemplary Building Performance Award, while the Waltham Watch Factory one for Innovation in Green Design.

Every Showcase delivers great speakers. 2014 had Genzyme's Lou Capozzi, National Grid's Mark Stafford, and NSTAR's Kim Cullinane.

Thanks to NEREJ for taking photos then (still available here), and see the recap video here.

We hope to see you on June 15th at Northeastern University's ISEC for the 2017 Showcase!


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Roxbury Community College to launch degree program for smart-building techs

By Jim Jones and Valerie Roberson on 5/23/2017

Boston is seeing fast growth and, with that, an increase in green buildings and sustainable design. Boston ranks fifth nationally in total LEED-certified space, outranking many of the greenest big cities.

All of that is good news for jobs in this emerging field, with growing demand for technicians to run and maintain buildings specifically designed to be environmentally responsible and make efficient use of resources. While job opportunities exist, employers across the region bemoan a skills gap that leaves them without an adequate pipeline of trained workers to accommodate this growth.

To address that gap – while also providing a pathway to good jobs – leaders from several local firms, led by officials from international construction company Skanska, approached Roxbury Community College to design an associate

degree program to address this shortage of skilled technicians to run and maintain high-performance buildings, often also referred to as green buildings or smart buildings. The program is now under development and is expected to be offered at RCC starting in 2018.

The demand for these skilled technicians is high and growing. A 2015 report by IDC Energy Insights predicted that spending across the US on smart building technology could advance at a compounded annual rate of 23 percent through 2019, with spending hitting $17.4 billion. The demand for smart building technicians is so strong in Boston that hundreds of graduates with an associate degree in this area would be needed to fill the anticipated openings in these high-paying jobs.

Major employers are learning that many of the green buildings built over the past decade don’t live up to their energy efficiency potential unless they are run properly, which requires a lot of training. These buildings are no longer the exception, they’re the rule, and a whole new generation of technicians who have the skills to run them at peak efficiency is critical. Without that skilled workforce, the buildings don’t provide either the environmental or the financial return on investment expected.

Every commercial building will eventually need these technicians, as will entities that develop, build and regulate high-performance equipment. That’s why a range of partners, including Skanska, Boston Medical Center, Automated Logic Corporation, the City of Boston, Building Technology Engineers, Inc., EMCOR Facilities Services, APA Inc., MIT, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, have joined RCC in the effort to train the workforce needed.

Massachusetts Maritime Academy will assist in the development of the curriculum and hands-on training that will focus on the building controls software that regulates the HVAC, lighting, fire protection, security, and elevator systems in smart buildings.  The advantage to this partnership is that students who complete the associate degree will have the opportunity to transfer seamlessly to Mass Maritime to complete a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field.

Other organizations, such as Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and YouthBuild, the national non-profit that brings at-risk youth into the construction workforce, have also participated to ensure that high school students and others understand the opportunities in this new career pathway.

Adam Jacobs, energy manager for the City of Boston and part of the consortium planning the new degree program, noted that developing a curriculum for this new career pathway involves a deep understanding of the complicated infrastructure of smart buildings.

“To run a new high-performance building with countless energy features like heat recovery ventilation and air-side economizers all tied to a single building automation system, the operators need to layer in an understanding of basic thermodynamics, energy economics, and a bit of systems thinking,” he said.

“But this isn’t just about training technicians,” Jacobs continued. “Building developers are making an investment in energy efficiency, and it’s important both for the environment and their bottom lines to make sure those investments are paying off.  If we plan to meet our ambitious emissions reduction targets at the state and local level, we need to make sure our workforce is ready to meet that challenge.”

RCC is also the perfect host for this program due to its own current renewable energy project that seeks to utilize the very technology that is used in other smart buildings across Boston.  The state-funded RCC energy project, which includes a new solar canopy above a campus parking lot and 115 geothermal wells 500 feet beneath it, will save the college an estimated $860,000 in energy costs annually.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center reported that in 2106, the state surpassed 100,000 clean energy workers for the first time.  The center also reported that clean energy economy employees account for 2.9 percent of the state’s labor market, a 75 percent increase since 2010.

More importantly for the students at RCC, these are also well-paying jobs. Almost 70 percent of the clean energy sector’s full-time workers earn at least $50,000 annually. The new program will help Boston residents who strive every day to pay their rent and feed their families to take advantage of these career opportunities and make their dream of joining the middle class a reality.

James Jones is senior director of business development at Skanska and board member of the US Green Building Council, Massachusetts Chapter. Valerie Roberson is president of Roxbury Community College.

Original article here via CommonWealth.

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EPMA May Meeting with Presentation by Jasmine on Wood Construction

By Lindsey Machamer on 5/22/2017

On Monday, the ever-expanding emerging professionals (EP) committee convened for our monthly meeting. We dug right into the logistics of planning upcoming events and chapter programming. We are particularly excited about our “Kick It By Eliza” with Alicia Tremblay event coming up on June 14th!

After refueling on snacks halfway through our meeting, we were regaled by a presentation from Jasmine, Co-Chair of the EP committee. Her excitement about the environmental, structural, and aesthetic benefits of the wood construction was infectious. She walked us through the details of the Design Building at UMass Amherst building which opened in January of 2017 after extensive collaboration through design and construction between all stakeholders. The project had support and input from of the UMass students and faculty, the MA State Legislature, the design team lead by Leers Weinzapfel Associates, and the contractor, Suffolk Construction.

Set in the hills of Amherst, the wood construction ties together the rustic roots of the historically agricultural school with the innovative research of the Building and Construction Technology and Architecture programs. We found ourselves inspired by how many synergies are offered by wood construction. The Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) used for the floors, walls, and stairs is an engineered product which reduces structural irregularities in wood, creating a strong and predictable building material which meets and exceed the requirements of the Fire Code. Since the CLT components are prefabricated and shipped to the site, it reduces the required storage space onsite and speeds up the construction process by allowing for simple assembly. Not only that, but the 70,000 CF of wood used in the building is hiding 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide from returning to the atmosphere for the life of the building!

Ultimately, Jasmine accomplished her goal of helping us all appreciate how much happier and healthier we can be in a wood building.

See her presentation slides here.

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Facades+ Boston Conference on High-Performance Building Enclosures 6/6

By USGBC MA on 5/16/2017

Facades+ returns for the second time to Boston on June 6th, 2017 with an expanded day-long program. Facades+ brings together top professionals from the worlds of architecture, design, engineering, fabrication, and construction to consider how high-performance envelopes contribute to and are shaped by Boston’s unique architectural priorities. 

The morning forum features industry leaders speaking on topics such as utilizing urban and building data for responsive design, creating new high-profile buildings that transform both the skyline and streetscape. Leading practitioners will also speak on best practices for improving building performance in retrofits and historical preservation projects.

The afternoon workshops continue the dialogue in a more intimate setting with experts working through deep-diving case studies on Performance Facades, Integrating Digital Workflows, and Emerging Technologies in Additive Manufacturing for Architecture.

We're excited to be involved with this awesome conference. The Chair of our Board, Andrea Love of Payette, will be one of the presenters at the Modernist Performance Retrofits Panel.

Hosted by The Architect's Newspaper and Brad Prestbo of Sasaki Associates.
See the full program and register today at

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