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5 Sites You Don't Want to Miss on Greenbuild Tours

By Rebecca Collins on 9/13/2017

While there's a lot to be excited about for Greenbuild, from Neil deGrasse Tyson, to the shared Greenbuild/ABX expo hall, to the many educational sessions, we here at USGBC MA are most excited about Greenbuild Tours. That's because we're proud of the plethora of sustainable and innovative buildings in Massachusetts, many created by our members and sponsoring partners, and we can't wait to show them off to green building professionals from around the world.

We know that the tour options (30 tours covering 80 sites) can be a little overwhelming, so we wanted to highlight a few of the coolest sites you don't want to miss on Greenbuild Tours.

Assembly Row

Assembly Row is a great example of urban transformation and revitalization. Once an abandoned brownfield, it is now a thriving mixed-use development that sees thousands of visitors a year. During the tour you'll learn how the public and private sector collaborated to make use of underutilized lands while keeping a holistic view of the sustainability and health of the community at the center of its design. 

See Assembly Row on tour TS11 - Some Assembly Required sponsored by VHB. 
Saturday, November 11, 1-5pm

Steelcase WorkLife Boston| Red Thread and Humanscale Boston Showroom

Interior design plays a large role in the overall sustainability of a building and has a direct effect on the productivity, well-being, and happiness of the building's occupants. The Steelcase Worklife Boston | Red Thread offices and the Humanscale Boston Showroom are two great opportunities on the same tour to see first hand how material transparency and interior design come together to create innovative workspaces.
See Steelcase WorkLife Boston | Red Thread and Humanscale Boston Showroom on tour TS04 -
                                                                                                  Seaport Interiors and Social Justice
 sponsored by Humanscale.
                                                                                                  Saturday, November 11, 8am-12pm

The John J Sbrega Health and Science Building

The John J Sbrega Health and Science Building at Bristol Community College is a 2017 AIA COTE Top Ten recipient designed as a net-zero energy building. It also won the Energy Efficiency Award at USGBC MA's 2017 Green Building Showcase. On the tour you'll learn how to design a net-zero laboratory space while simultaneously enhancing occupant health and safety.

See the John J Sbrega Health and Science Building on tour TS02 - Southland Science Tour.
Saturday, November 11, 8am-4pm

MassCEC Wind Technology Testing Center

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Wind Technology Testing Center is the largest indoor wind blade testing center in North America, able to test blades as large as 90 meters in length. On the tour you'll learn about the latest blade testing and prototype development methodologies as well as the careful engineering needed to support high blade weight and machine loads.

See the MassCEC Wind Technology Testing Center on tour TM07 - Clean Tech: Enabling the Future,
Monday, November 6, 8am-12pm

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Massachusetts is home to many higher education institutions leading the way in sustainability. U. Mass Lowell has experienced remarkable growth in recent years. At the same time, the University has reduced Green House Gas (GHG) emissions a remarkable 15% as a result of a clear and defined focus on sustainability. Tour the campus and learn how sustainability is at the core of their strategy for managed growth while transforming their campus.

See U. Mass Lowell on tour TM02 - Campus and Community Regeneration in Lowell.
Monday, November 6, 8am-4pm


These are just five of the 80 sites featured on Greenbuild Tours, but hopefully this gives you an idea of the diversity of green and innovative projects we're able to showcase. To see the full list of tours and to register for Greenbuild visit

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Announcing the second round of sponsors for Greenbuild Tours!

By Rebecca Collins on 9/12/2017

Our preparations for Greenbuild are kicking into high gear. The conference is now less than two months away! But we'd like to take a moment to thank our second round of Greenbuild Tours sponsors!

We are excited to add the following bronze sponsors: ZeroEnergy Design (tour TM03 - Net Positive Revolution), Perkins + Will (tour TS10 - Therapeutic Green: Helping People Heal), Gorman Richardson Lewis Architects (tour TF07 - Driving to be Green) and Humanscale (tour TS04 - Seaport Interiors and Social Justice).

For more information about our other Greenbuild Tours sponsors click here. For a full list of tours and to register visit If your organization is interested in joining our growing group of tour sponsors you can find more information on our Greenbuild Tours page!

Thank you to our current sponsors!

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Announcing our first round of sponsors for Greenbuild Tours!

By Rebecca Collins on 8/31/2017

Excitement is growing for Greenbuild, which is now less than 70 days away. USGBC MA is especially excited about showcasing the region's most innovative and sustainable buildings to an international audience during Greenbuild Tours! Massachusetts has such an amazing green building community and we can't wait to show it off. We've planned more than 30 tours that cover 80 sites in the region. But we can't do it all alone, so we'd like to take this chance to give a special thank you to our first round of Greenbuild Tours sponsors!

We'd like to thank our bronze sponsors Wright Builders (tour TM01 - Green Day Out), Auburndale Builders (tour TM03 - Net Positive Revolution), Bruner/Cott (tour TM01 - Green Day Out) and Miller Dyer Spears (tour TS07 - Education for Environmental Stewards).

And special thanks to our gold sponsors VHB (tours TM06 - Monstah Green, TF07 - Driving to be Green, and TS11 - Some Assembly Required), ICON Architecture (tours TF05 - Reshaping Communities with Sustainable Affordable Housing and TM05 - Platinum + Passive Multi-Family) and Nitsch Engineering (tours TF01 - Seaport Sustainability and TS01 - Harvard Green).

For a full list of tours and to register visit If your organization is interested in joining our growing group of tour sponsors you can find more information on our Greenbuild Tours page!


Thank you to our current sponsors!


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Neil deGrasse Tyson Announced as Greenbuild Closing Plenary Speaker

By Rebecca Collins on 8/25/2017


We are extremely excited to announce that acclaimed astrophysicist and cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson will be the Closing Plenary speaker for Greenbuild 2017 in Boston! 

While most popularly known as the host of the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and the podcast/television series StarTalk, Tyson is an accomplished scientist whose professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way. He was born and raised in New York City where he was educated in public schools through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia. He is the recipient of 19 honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given by NASA to a non-government citizen. Tyson is also the fifth head of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City and the first occupant of its Frederick P. Rose Directorship and he is a research associate of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.

The Closing Plenary will take place 11:00am – 12:30pm on Friday, Nov. 10, at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The Closing Plenary is included in the 3-day and 4-day conference passes and the Friday day pass. To learn more and register for Greenbuild, visit

There are lots of exciting Greenbuild announcements being made. In case you missed it, The Revivalists were announced last week as the Greenbuild Celebration performers. Stay tuned for the announcement of the Opening Plenary speaker! And be sure to come to our Greenbuild Mixer with JLL on September 21 for networking and exclusive Greenbuild updates!

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August EPMA meeting recap - BERDO with Benjamin Silverman

By Nathan Kingery, EPMA Committee on 8/23/2017

Our August Emerging Professionals Committee meeting was brimming with activity! We welcomed new members, made progress with event planning for autumn, and enjoyed an enlightening presentation about the City of Boston’s continued efforts to improve building efficiency. We hope to see you soon at the Annual Bike Tour in Allston/Brighton this Saturday, and stay tuned for information about the Boston Medical Center Rooftop Farm Tour in September!

This week we were joined by City of Boston Program Manager Benjamin Silverman, who shared his work on the Building Energy Reporting and Disclosure Ordinance, or BERDO. Enacted in 2013, BERDO requires all buildings of sufficient size to submit a report on their energy usage via their utilities information. Currently covering all residential buildings and non-residential buildings above 35,000+ sq ft, this accounts for 35% of all built space in Boston. Through a combination of education, outreach, and on-site visits, Ben and his team have managed a stunning 87.8% response rate across the city, with the goal of hitting 90% by October 1st. This program is not only helping individual building managers and owners track their energy usage, it’s also providing a previously unheard of amount of raw data to better understand our city’s building energy footprint. 


Having been in effect for four years, BERDO moves into its next stage in 2019. After a building has qualified for BERDO for five years, they are required to show either a 15% reduction in total energy usage, or perform an ASHRAE Level 2(or equivalent) energy audit. A defining feature of ASHRAE level 2 energy audit is a cost-benefit analysis addressing specific energy-use reducing behaviors, helping our Boston buildings save cash by going green! This second phase is hopefully going to help the push for the Boston Climate Action Plan’s goal of 25% energy use reduction by 2020.

The next EPMA meeting will be on September 18th at 6:00pm at 50 Milk Street. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to sign up to volunteer at Greenbuild, November 8-10!


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Greenbuild Announces Rock Band The Revivalists to Headline Annual Celebration

By Rebecca Collins on 8/17/2017

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and Informa Exhibitions just announced that American rock band The Revivalists will perform at the 2017 Greenbuild Celebration, sponsored by Kohler, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 9 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Museum of Science in Boston. 

While you may not know this up and coming band by name, you've probably heard their hit "Wish I Knew You," which reached No. 1 on the Alternative Songs chart back in May. The Revivalists were formed in New Orleans in 2007. The group's sound has been described as "a Crescent City-rhythm spin on jam-band jubilee." The band released its latest album Men Amongst Mountains in July 2015, via Wind-up Records, and in March 2016 was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of "10 Bands You Need to Know." 

Tickets to the Greenbuild Celebration are included in the purchase price of a four-day conference pass, three-day conference pass, Thursday day pass or can be purchased separately by members of the sustainable building community for $75 - $100 each, depending on when they are purchased (early bird deadline is September 7!).

We can't wait to party at the Greenbuild Celebration and we hope you'll join us! In the meantime, we hope you join us at our September Greenbuild Mixer with JLL on September 21. More Greenbuild announcements are being made every week so stay tuned for even more Greenbuild updates!

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Indoor environmental quality and LEED v4

By Taryn Holowka, USGBC National on 8/17/2017


At Greenbuild 2017, get the info you need on IEQ credits for LEED v4.

At USGBC, we always say that every story about LEED is a story about people. When USGBC set out to create the LEED standards, we wanted to build something that helped people and made their lives better. After all, we spend 90 percent of our time indoors, whether at work, school or home. Knowing this, wouldn’t we want those indoor spaces to be the healthiest and most comfortable places possible?

Better buildings, better productivity

There is also a business case to be made for healthy indoor environments, one that employers, investors, building developers and owners are discovering. A better indoor environment is better for people—and people are the most valuable resource in most organizations, typically accounting for 90 percent of business operating costs. Even a 1 percent improvement in productivity or in reduced absenteeism can have a major impact on the bottom line and competitiveness of any business. A 2012 study found that companies that adopt more rigorous environmental standards are associated with higher labor productivity, by an average of 16 percent, over non-green firms.

LEED has an entire credit category dedicated to the indoor environment: Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ), which includes prerequisites and credits for design and construction projects, interiors, homes and existing buildings.

The EQ credit category in LEED rewards decisions made by projects teams about indoor air quality and thermal, visual and acoustic comfort. Green buildings with high indoor environmental quality protect the health and comfort of building occupants, enhance productivity, decrease absenteeism, improve a building’s value and reduce liability for building designers and owners.

A holistic system for IEQ results

To have a high-quality indoor environment, you need a high-quality building—one that is holistically developed using a system like LEED. You can’t have a high-performing indoor space if the building itself is wasting energy, water and other resources. You can’t ensure health in a building that is constructed on land unsuitable for development. You can’t ensure well-being in a building that is not optimized for the systems inside. You can’t have a more comfortable indoor environment in a building that is contributing to the heat island effect. All of these components contribute to the LEED rating system and what ensures a high-performing building from the inside out.

The relationship between the indoor environment and the health and comfort of occupants is complex. Local customs and expectations, occupant activities and the building’s site, design and construction are just a few variables that make it harder to measure. However, there are many ways to quantify the direct effect of a building on its occupants. LEED balances the need for prescriptive measures with more performance-oriented credit requirements. For example, source control is addressed first in a LEED EQ prerequisite, and a later credit then specifies an indoor air quality assessment to measure the actual outcome of these strategies.

The EQ category also combines traditional approaches with emerging design strategies. Traditional approaches include ventilation and thermal control, while the emerging design techniques involve advanced lighting metrics, acoustics and a holistic emissions-based approach.

Here is the breakdown of the LEED EQ category for existing buildings:

  • Prerequisite: Minimum indoor air quality performance
  • Prerequisite: Environmental Tobacco Smoke Control
  • Prerequisite: Green cleaning policy
  • Credit (2 points); Indoor air quality management program
  • Credit (2 points): Enhanced indoor air quality strategies
  • Credit (1 point): Thermal comfort
  • Credit (2 points): Interior lighting
  • Credit (4 points): Daylight and quality views
  • Credit (1 point): Green cleaning—custodial effectiveness assessment
  • Credit (1 point): Green cleaning—products and materials
  • Credit (1 point): Green cleaning—equipment
  • Credit (2 points): Integrated pest management
  • Credit (1 point): Occupant comfort survey

To learn more about LEED, indoor environmental quality and human health, join us for Greenbuild 2017, being held this year in Boston, India and China.

In Boston, you won't want to miss USGBC’s session D14, dedicated to LEED credit strategies for healthy spaces:

Course: LEED Credit Strategies for Healthy Spaces

Thurs., November 9, 1–2 p.m.

In LEED, the Indoor Environmental Quality category addresses design strategies and environmental factors—such as air quality, lighting quality, acoustic design and control over one’s surroundings—that influence the way people learn, work and live. LEED subject matter experts will review the credits, discuss how teams can prioritize their time and present strategies for implementation.

Register for Greenbuild

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Grand Central on the fast track to sustainability with help from Excel Dryer

By Rebecca Collins on 8/17/2017

Spanning 48 acres in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, Grand Central Terminal hosts approximately 750,000 visitors daily, 10,000 of which are lunchtime diners. In addition to housing 68 shops and 35 restaurants. Esteemed for its Beaux-Arts architecture, the high-profile venue also holds another distinction: busiest train station in the country.

Given its popularity and historical significance, it’s hard to fathom that the terminal was once in danger of being destroyed in favor of a high-rise office complex. Through a preservation campaign led by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States, Grand Central was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and declared a historic landmark in 1976.

With the building and its rich history preserved, the first of many restoration projects commenced. Over time, as new technologies emerged, thoughtful planning was given to upgrading systems and integrating energy-efficient and sustainable products. “Everything we do, we must look at with sustainability in mind. We’ve made a number of upgrades to Grand Central Terminal over the years, including updating the electrical, plumbing and lighting systems led by our sustainability team,” said Steve Stroh, assistant deputy director of electrical and mechanical maintenance.

An area receiving particular attention were the restrooms throughout the facility. Originally outfitted with paper towel dispensers, restroom floors were often strewn with errant waste, and the sinks and toilets, clogged with improperly disposed of paper towels, despite routine cleaning and maintenance. To eliminate these problems and other issues associated with paper towels like the inherent labor, maintenance and waste, hand dryers were considered as a sustainable solution. An added challenge, however, was finding a product that could meet performance needs without compromising the integrity of the original architecture.

While at a rest stop, Stroh experienced the XLERATOR® Hand Dryer, produced by USGBC MA sponsoring partner Excel Dryer. Impressed with its performance, he and his boss researched the product and surmised it could meet all of their objectives relative to performance, reliability and sustainability. “We thought if they could hold up to the abuse of a public rest area, they would be a great option at Grand Central,” said Stroh. “With the XLERATOR, we don’t have to worry about paper towels ending up outside the garbage cans, clogging toilets or plugging up on our sewers. It’s eliminated the need for paper towels in our restrooms,” he furthered. “We dug around and researched the XLERATOR and saw that it also had a lot of green certifications.”

Ultimately, XLERATOR Hand Dryers proved to be the perfect solution at Grand Central, with 24 units replacing paper towels throughout the public and office spaces of the terminal. The XLERATORs provide more benefits than cleaner restroom environments; touch-free, sensor-activated technology reduces touch points and significantly improves hand hygiene. “Visitors don’t want to touch something that hundreds of other people have touched,” Stroh said.

“XLERATOR changed the standard for performance, reliability and customer satisfaction,” explained William Gagnon, vice president of marketing and sales at Excel Dryer. “We knew it would be put to the test at Grand Central with their tremendous amount of traffic. If the XLERATOR can make it here, it can make it anywhere.”

Working with Stroh and understanding the unique needs of the facility, custom covers were recommended and ultimately selected. Offered in a plethora of colors, textures and finishes, Stroh had no trouble selecting one to fit in with the décor. An added benefit was the vandal-resistant coating and finish. The XLERATOR Hand Dryers “take a lot of abuse,” he said. “The new covers are great for our application because we can scrub them to get rid of graffiti and keep them clean.”

Others have taken notice of the newfound cleanliness of the restrooms; since the installation of the XLERATOR Hand Dryers, Grand Central Terminal restrooms have been nominated among America’s best public restrooms.

Matching the décor and meeting desired performance and energy-efficiencies, XLERATOR Hand Dryers support the sustainable transformation of the Grand Central Terminal. Iconic in their own right, the XLERATORs provide a new train of thought on performance, reliability and sustainability.

For more information about Excel Dryer or its product line, visit

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The Annual Bike Tour Is Approaching!

By Rebecca Collins on 8/15/2017

Another year, another fantastic chance to tour some of Boston's most innovative and sustainable building projects by bike! This year's bike tour is scheduled for August 26, and participants will have the pleasure of touring green building projects in Allston and Brighton. Allston/Brighton is very much a place in transition with various climate exposure risks that need to be considered in the development process.  Come view how some projects are getting that right, and be prepared for a highly informative exploration of landscape architecture along our bike tour stops. You can sign up here.

Organized by the Emerging Professionals (EPMA) Committee, the annual bike tour is one of our most popular events. What's better than fresh air, exercise, and Green Buildings? 

Bring your helmet for safety, a bike lock for when you go in the buildings, water for hydration, and, as always, good vibes for this fun event. Sign up now and stay tuned for more updates!

Thank you to NB Development Group for their generous sponsorship of this event!


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August 10 Greenbuild Mixer - Excitement for Greenbuild is growing!

By Rebecca Collins on 8/11/2017

Around 100 green building professionals gathered Thursday, August 10, to mix, mingle and get updates on the Road to Greenbuild. Guests networked while enjoying food, drink and a lovely view of Atlantic Wharf. USGBC MA was proud to host this event in partnership with Boston Properties.

There were brief remarks from Celis Brisbin, Executive Director of USGBC MA, thanking attendees for coming to the event and for helping forward the mission of USGBC MA through their professional and personal dedication to green building. Emily Kingston, Corporate Relations Manager for USGBC MA, gave a presentation highlighting updates on the road to Greenbuild, including the July 25 Cultivation Luncheon, the legacy project bringing education for green building maintenance to Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, and other updates from the Greenbuild committees. After thanking attendees and Greenbuild Committee volunteers, Ben Myers, Sustainability Manager at Boston Properties, commented on the positivity among green building professionals and the importance of working together to promote green building in Massachusetts.

It was clear that all of the attendees are excited for Greenbuild – now less than 90 days away! USGBC MA hopes to keep that excitement growing through the coming months, so stay tuned for upcoming events and announcements on the road to Greenbuild!

Click here to see all of the pictures from the evening.

Thank you to Boston Properties for hosting this event!

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