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SGH, a Chapter Sponsor of Ours, Doing Big Things!

By Ryan Duffy, Communications Fellow on 9/16/2016

We are thrilled to report that bronze-level Sponsor Simpson Gumpertz & Heger (SGH) received the 2016 Gold Engineering Excellence Award from The American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts (ACEC/MA). This award was for their work on the China Pavillion Expo at the 2015 Milan Expo held in Milan, Italy.  The Expo was themed “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” and focused on sustainability and agriculture. 

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger was the structural engineer and consulted on the schematic building enclosure design for China Pavilion. The pavilion celebrates the Expo's theme, "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” by focusing on sustainability and the coexistence of nature and city. The structure's 4,000-sq-m undulating roof transitions from sharp angles on its northern side replicating the urban skyline, to flowing curves on the southern side symbolizing China’s rolling landscape. 

ACEC/MA President David Vivilecchia said: “The winning projects exemplify ingenuity and professionalism and represent the breadth of engineering’s contribution to our everyday lives”. “They are outstanding examples of how engineers connect communities, provide safe and reliable water and energy, and make our buildings safe and efficient. The professional engineers and their colleagues at our member firms are dedicated to working on quality infrastructure, which wouldn’t otherwise exist. These outstanding projects are but a few examples of the quality work designed by Massachusetts (and Rhode Island) engineering firms.”

See more about SGH on their website.

Photos taken from SGH's website. 

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USGBC's Founder Re: Human/Planetary Loss and Opportunity Costs of Environmental Degradation

By Ryan Duffy, Communications Fellow on 9/12/2016

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 6-- Sustainable Development-- of Greenthink: How Profit can Save the Planet, by USGBC's co-founder and current CEO, Rick Fedrizzi. The preceding section of the chapter discussed China's unilateral turn to cleaner energy as well as the historic climate announcement between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. This section discusses environmental damage in different parts of the developing world.

Global environmental devastation is upending the macroeconomic fundamentals not only in China, but also throughout the developing world. It's easy to see why. Just like in China, pollution now has a measurable impact on the economies in developing nations.

In India, for example, 80 percent of the country's sewage flows right into its rivers, including its main sources of drinking water.  Air pollution in India is 6 times worse than it was in 2000, and it kills an estimated 620,000 people each year. Researchers at the World Bank estimate that the environmental damage cost India about $80 billion in 2009, the equivalent of 5.7 percent of its GDP.

As you might imagine, the situation is just as dire elsewhere.  Throughout the 2000s, the World Bank published a series of Country Environmental Analyses (CEAs), each of which looked to quantify the effect of environmental devastation on an individual country's economy.  And while the data comes from all around the world, and came across multiple years, the results are shockingly--horrifyingly--similar. 

A 2006 report states, "In Colombia, lack of access to clean water, poor or nonexistent sanitation services, and indoor air pollution are among the principal causes of illness and death, predominantly for children and women in poor households.  The effects of these principal causes of environmental degradation are estimated to cost more than 3.7 percent of Colombia's GDP." 

Meanwhile, that same year, Pakistan's CEA reported, "Conservative estimates presented in this report suggest that environmental degradation costs the country at least 6 percent of its GDP."

The following year, the CEA for Ghana stated, "Recent estimates of the cost of natural resource and environmental degradation suggest that the equivalent of 9.6 percent of GDP is lost annually through unsustainable management of the country's forest and land resources and through health costs related to water supply and sanitation, and indoor and outdoor air pollution." 

The 2008 Nepal CEA reads: "these environmental risk factors have resulted in premature death and disease, especially among the poor and vulnerable groups, and are placing increased health costs and a significant economic burden on the country, estimated at close to US$258 million or nearly 3.5 percent of the country's GDP." 

I could keep going, but you get the idea. Pollution is directly impacting prosperity in parts of the world where prosperity is desperately needed. And the scale of the impact is terrifying.  There are nearly 200 countries in the world. Imagine adding up the global cost of pollution and environmental devastation--an analysis that, to my surprise, no one has yet performed.  We can easily guess the outcome.  The tally would be trillions of dollars--dollars that are literally going up in smoke. 

It's clear that the old model of economic growth is no longer viable. In fact, in aggregate, the old model is a measurable drag on growth that essentially amounts to a global environmental depression

But imagine for a moment that these costs don't exist.  Imagine that we've eliminated millions of unnecessary, pre-mature deaths. Imagine that black smoke and yellow smog became clear blue sky, that industrial chemicals are cleansed from the water, that a century of carbon emissions are sucked out of the air. Imagine a world in which bull markets can throw off the yoke of pollution and run even faster. Imagine that people around the world can breathe clean air and drink clean water, not just some days, but every day. Imagine how these people--no longer being poisoned and sometimes killed by pollution-- will need goods and services and jobs and businesses to provide all three.  Never mind the environmental transformation.  Think about the human transformation. Think about the economic transformation: trillions of dollars of economic stimulus, just by eliminating pollution

A world without pollution is a world in which opportunity is our must abundant natural resource-- a world in which everything is going full speed because the light is always green. A decade ago, this might have been a fantasy, a pipe dream. But not anymore.  The world is changing.  And while a pollution-free future is a long way off, a significantly cleaner, healthier, and even more profitable future is not. 

Developing countries have every right to grow, to prosper, and to meet the urgent needs of their citizens. Pollution has been the by-product of this growth--an acceptable by-product, you might argue, considering that growth wouldn't have existed without it.  Today, however, the equation is shifting. Pollution is increasingly a barrier to growth in the developing world.  Sure enough, political leaders in developing countries are slowly awakening to the fact that profit and the planet are no longer mutually exclusive-- that they're symbiotic, part of the same ecosystem. 

In the wake of COP21, and with sustainable and energy efficient technologies becoming rapidly more cost-effective, scalable, and profitable, this is a particuarly prescient and confident statement.  You can buy the book on Amazon new for $12.99. Fun fact: each copy of the book is made after the order is placed so as to reduce waste and ineffiency!

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WELL Exam: Have you started preparing?

By Ritchie Lafaille, Office Associate on 8/25/2016

Don't let your goal of becoming a WELL Accredited Professional get pushed back! There's still time to get ahead of the curve by getting certified with the newest building standard.

Wednesday, September 14 from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm
50 Milk Street, Boston ("Hemingway" Conference Room , Floor 18)

Register here or below.

In this full-day course, we'll be going over topics you'll see on the AP exam, and you'll meet local professionals with whom you can form study groups. A light breakfast, full lunch, and snacks will be provided throughout the day, and a hard-copy exam study guide will be provided to all students.

We also have other dates for WELL Exam Prep sessions, if this doesn't fit your schedule! Check out our Eventbrite page!


Other helpful links:
WELL Intro + Discussion
What is WELL? What does it mean for the building industry? Is it worth your time? Get all your questions answered at our introductory session!

WELL AP Exam Registration

Learn more about WELL


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Happening Tomorrow: Eco-Districts Workshop!

By USGBCMA Communications, More Green Buildings! on 8/15/2016

Interested in creating resilient, sustainable, and socially just neighborhoods? Come to our workshop! 

Tuesday, August 16 from 8:30am to 10:30am
"Woolf" Room, 18th Floor, 50 Milk Street, Boston

Register here or below.

Our speaker, Eric Corey Freed, is an envoy for Ecodistricts. Join us as we get the latest on how the program is expanding, supporting improved communities and the neighborhood scale. 


  • discover a new process for bringing together community leaders, developers, architects and planners to develop sustainable neighborhoods
  • find ways to plan and incorporate district scale, net zero energy and water systems
  • develop a roadmap for planning goals, development targets and methods to galvanize support for your community




Image source:

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Who will win Green Building of the Year?

By USGBCMA Communications, More Green Buildings! on 8/10/2016

See if your building has what it takes! Every year at our Green Building Showcase, we choose a Green Building of the Year (GBOTY), the building that best exemplifies the Chapter’s passion for sustainable design and stands out against its competitors.

If you've recently worked on a project that fits the bill, enter the contest now! Make sure it fits the following requirements:

  • Met a third-party green building recognition or standard (LEED, LBC, Energy Star, etc)
  • Whole building, not components or portions of a building
  • Complete and have a certificate of occupancy by 9/21/17
  • Located in Massachusetts

It costs $250 to enter, and all entrants must have a display board for judges to see. Entries are due by September 8th, 2016

Judges will be on the lookout for a standout project. Previous winners have gone above and beyond expectations: their innovative projects helped pave the way to a more sustainable future.

For inspiration, check out last year's winner! The Green Engineer Inc. won GBOTY 2015 for their project, Summer Star Sanctuary. Read about it on our blog!

If you're looking to enter a contest more focused on specific aspects of your project, consider entering the Green Building Market Leadership Award Series. This award is designed to highlight the leading firms across various market specific sectors and acknowledge their impressive individual strides towards sustainability. Potential award categories are as following: Health/Wellness, Energy Efficiency, Site, Beauty, Materials, Water Efficiency, Resilience, Social Equity.

Winners for each category will be determined by the crowd, so make sure to impress viewers with easy-to-read information to increase your chances of winning.

It costs $250 to enter, and all entrants must have a display board for the crowd to see. Entries are due by September 8th, 2016.

Click here for our Contest Details Page.

Remember to get your tickets and to register your project boards for Green Building Showcase! Click here for our event page.

See you there!

In the meantime, check out this promotional video for the Showcase!

Video of Showcase

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Residential Green Building: 8/8/16

By Molly Cox on 8/10/2016

The Residential Green Building Committee met on August 8th, 2016. We started off with announcements of events coming up, and some advocacy news from Craig Foley. Some highlights include the signing of the Energy Omnibus Bill by Governor Baker on 8/8, and although the energy audits at the point of sale in MA did not pass, we were still able to see improvements such as Commercial PACE finance. There is still much to be done, but this is a step in the right direction!

We had a guest speaker, Michael Chavez, who is an Enterprise Rose Fellow on Greening the Fairmount Corridor. Michael is working with the Fairmount/Indigo Line CDC Collaborative in an effort to improve economic opportunity for residents, and focus on the benefits that this Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) will bring along this 9-mile commuter rail. The line runs between South Station and Readville through neighborhoods such as Hyde Park and Dorchester, so the goal will be to develop more affordable housing in these neighborhoods and take advantage of the proximity to public transit.  

Michael presented on his work thus far, and focused on the Cottage Brook project in Dorchester, which includes energy efficiency improvements for all 147 units spread across multiple buildings. The buildings are owned by the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation (DBEDC), and Michael and his team initiated this mod-rehab, with the end goal of saving money but also increasing energy efficiency. They were able to redo the roof and install new windows, along with reducing airflow through the doors and windows. They actually installed new windows within the existing window frames of the building, which ended up being a reliable watertight solution. Additionally, they wanted to reduce heat loss through the walls, so they installed insulation between the exterior walls and the heating units. CLEAResult, the consultant on the job, will perform HERS ratings for 3 of the buildings. The tenants who will rent these units will receive continued education on incentives for continuing to improve energy efficiency in these units, through LEAN or MassSave programs for example. Feel free to read more about Michael Chavez and the project (biography found HERE, read PowerPoint HERE)

We then continued our RGBC meeting to confirm our goals for the next few months. We have some exciting projects coming up, so stay tuned for our progress!

Keep an eye out for some events coming up: Our next committee meeting on September 12th, where we will have another guest speaker, so stay tuned on who it will be! Also, the Green Building Showcase is coming up on September 22nd (Register HERE).

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Eversource Greens Office Space with Sustainable Office Design Program!

By USGBCMA Communications, More Green Buildings! on 8/10/2016

Eversource, a Silver Sponsor of USGBC MA, has been working hard on their Sustainable Office Design (SOD) Program! This program provides high-performance lighting solutions to the leased commercial office market. Qualifying projects receive an incentive of $1 per square foot.

Eversource has already worked with ARC (Architectural Resources Cambridge) and Cimpress on improving facilities and reducing energy costs. As a result, the ARC office space will save 34,592 kWh (or 17 tons of CO2 emissions) every year, which is estimated to be about $5,189 annually. The Cimpress office space will save 399,540 kWh (or 196 tons of CO2 emissions) every year, which is estimated to be about $59,931 annually. Read the case studies here and here.

Click here to learn more about the Sustainable Office Design Program!

Sustainable Office Design Benefits

For Building Owners:

  • Saves on operational costs (where lease permits)
  • Improves building values and rents
  • Helps attain LEED® or ENERGY STAR® certification
  • Improves customer service to tenants and enhances sustainability branding in market

For Tenants:

  • Saves on operational costs (where lease permits)
  • Helps achieve corporate sustainability goals and improves brand image
  • Contributes to LEED ID+C: Commercial Interiors credits
  • Improves quality of space and boosts employee comfort and productivity

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We're hosting Greenbuild 2017... Get Excited and Get Involved!

By USGBCMA Communications, More Green Buildings! on 8/9/2016

Let's get ready for the biggest networking event in green building worldwide: right here in Beantown!

The Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, launched in 2002, is the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. Greenbuild features several days of inspiring speakers, industry showcases, specialty workshops, tours of the host city’s green buildings, and invaluable networking opportunities. The event has been hosted in major cities across the U.S. and Canada, including Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.

Boston hosted Greenbuild 2008, which brought in 28,224 registered guests, 807 exhibitors, and people from 85 different countries. In November 2017, Greenbuild is coming to Boston for the second time, and USGBC MA Chapter is serving as the host chapter!

Reasons to get excited:

It will be hosted in a newly-certified LEED Silver building!
The Boston Convention and Exposition Center (BCEC) just got certified LEED Silver on May 25th of this year for Existing Buildings Operations + Maintenance (EB O+M). 
Congratulations to Vanderweil and SGH (a Bronze sponsor of ours) on this terrific feat! Read more about the BCEC here.
(Bonus: SGH designed the marquee structure at the Summer Street entrance)

It will bring visitors and business to Boston!
We had over 28,000 guests last time, so this is a great opportunity to showcase our city's committment to green building and design.

image source

How you can get involved:

Join the Host Committee (apply here!)
The Host Committee is led by two Co-Chairs who are the primary leaders of our Greenbuild efforts.  The Host Committee Chairs help to plot our overall vision and work with subcommittees to set and ensure they are meeting their goals and timelines. This Committee will also be populated by the Co-Chairs of each subcommittee, the USGBC MA Executive Director, and a board liaison. Read more about the Host Committee and the subcommittees here.
Apply now to be a member of the Host Committee.

Can't wait for Greenbuild? Register for 2016!

Greenbuild 2016 is in Los Angeles! (October 5 - 7) Register now.

We also have housing accommodations! Reserve your spot now.

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Advocacy Update: The Energy Bill is Signed

By Grey Lee, Executive Director on 8/8/2016

[Note: join our Advocacy Committee on Thursday 8/11/16 at 5:30-7pm at 50 Milk St. RSVP:]


Over 200 people gathered this afternoon on the lawn at the Kennedy Statue at the Massachusetts State House for the signing of the 2016 Energy Bill.

Political figures from all corners of the legislative process gathered to share responsibility for the bill, H 4568, which as of approximately2:09pm this afternoon was signed into law by Governor Baker.

Comments reflected the consensus across both chambers of the General Court - that this bill will help assert Massachusetts' leadership in energy policy, in procurement, and in financing new energy efficiency projects.

This last note is in reference to the PACE provisions of the bill. Lt. Governor Polito particularly pointed out how the program will enable MassDevelopment to provide bond funding to small and medium businesses who can use the financing to improve their buildings and make their operations more efficient. PACE wasn't exactly a hot topic just a month ago - good thing it moved up on the agenda!

Senator Downing was lauded for his role as a conferee and for his general leadership on energy policy. He was thanked profusely by his colleagues as he will not be seeking re-election this fall. He spoke to our continued need to promote energy efficiency first, optimization of use second, reductions in fossil-fuel generated supply third, and then the build-out of new renewables.

Prior to the Governor signing the bill, Energy & Environmental Affairs Secretary Beaton spoke to the balance, thoughtful, competitive and regional nature of the package. It was important that the legislation "be fair to ratepayers" - although there was no elaboration on what that meant really. It probably means keeping rates from growing rapidly. Good to know that is one of his priorities! He especially highlighted the provisions to promote energy storage technology development where we have leaders in industry and academia. 

Governor Baker was able to share how the legislation will enable the Commonwealth to make good on its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to diversify the energy sources used in Massachusetts. This was noted as important considering the retirement of the Plymouth nuclear plant in just 3 years, which has 680 MW of generating capacity. That would be a lot of wind turbines (or efficiency improvements)!

Many hard working people in the sustainability community were there including Austin Blackmon of the City of Boston and Ken Pruitt of the Environmental League of Massachusetts. Congratulations to the many advocates, legislative staff, expert testimony providers and others who helped the elected officials create legislation that, while lacking in some regards, will help us more forward toward a better energy future in Massachusetts.

We will be back in full force for the next session to continue to promote energy policy which will benefit citizens of Massachusetts. We will push for residential PACE and energy transparency, increased requirements for renewables in the electricity grid, more aggressive standards for building performance, and more funding for cleantech innovation for our built environment. 

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Celebrate MA Green Buildings at our Showcase!

By USGBCMA Communications, More Green Buildings! on 8/8/2016

Join us for our annual Green Building Showcase, where we showcase and celebrate all the green buildings conceived, designed, built & operated by our community of practitioners over the past year.

Over 100 projects will be on display. More than 300 leaders in our industry will be in attendance for this open bar reception and entertaining collection of green buildings.

Thursday, September 22 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm
888 Boylston Street, Boston

Get your tickets here or below!

We also have sponsorship opportunities for companies and firms in the green building industry! The packages include exposure of your company, contest entry, event tickets, chapter memberships, and more. We provide an audience of people in the green building industry eager to hear about your efforts, see your products, and admire all of your accomplishments.

For more information about the Showcase, click here.

To get your tickets, click here.



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