Intern Spotlights: Meeting our 2018 Summer Extraordinaires

Ethan Vonderheide

Hi, I’m Ethan Vonderheide from Maine. Though not born there, It’s where I have my earliest memories. The connection to the wilderness of the region was always clear to me, there was a respect for the land, much of it untouched and wild. “Breathe easy you’re in Maine” was in a way, the statement that best characterizes the state for me, even though it was about tobacco-free public space. I see environmental care in the state as the main accelerator for my career and studies in sustainable design. As early as high school I decided that focusing on sustainability was not an option, but was a requirement for my future. I recently graduated from Wentworth Institute of Technology with a Masters degree in Architecture. My thesis topic, ecoLOGICAL Habitat, looked at using the integration of urban and natural ecologies as the generator of architectural form to reconnect people to their environments. My lasting question from this study year was if architecture could have a formal expression that reveals its connection to the ecosystem? I look forward to my time with the USGBC MA chapter to understand how leadership in the field of green building in Massachusetts is making a difference and hope to add value to the regenerative design and zero waste movements in my time here.

Dan Pham

My name is Dan Pham and I am the new intern at the USGBCMA. Since taking a graphic design course in high school, I have always enjoyed the creative and visual aspects of design. With this mindset, I studied at Wentworth Institute of Technology where I pursued my undergraduate and my master’s degree in architecture. During my thesis studies, I looked into how diverse communities can be better connected to create moments that celebrate diversity. In addition to my architecture background, I have also gained new knowledge and passion for lighting design and have worked lighting design firms to create beautiful but efficient lighting environments. From both education and in practice, I understood the importance of sustainability and its improvements in the quality of life in the built environment.  At the USGBCMA I am hoping to be able to utilize all of my experiences from the different fields to push for sustainability in building design and energy conservation. During my free time I enjoy tennis, photography and with my love for graphic design, pop culture, and video games, I am learning to become an illustrator.


Philmore Phillip  II

First generation born & raised in Boston, MA. Majority of my family is from the island of Antigua located in the West Indies or the Caribbean including both parents. As an Intern for the USGBC MA Chapter, I support a wide range of tasks from Technical Support, Data Management, Research Analysis as well as Event Management. I was introduced to sustainability from a book that was read to me as a kid. It was about a man who lived in one of the first sustainable homes ever built in his era. He harvested his own rainwater, grew his own food and was completely independent of the grid. Ever since then the thought of paying utilities makes me chuckle. While having a heated discussion in my Engineering class which I was studying at the time I realized what I was really most passionate about; although the field of sustainability and renewable energy were so new and underdeveloped that it was way ahead of its time, I felt like I had finally found my calling. So I took a chance and decided to start all over. Some people say that I “threw myself to the wolves”, little did they know that I would eventually come out leading the pack. My background now is in the Research and Development of Green Buildings, Renewable Energy and Sustainability. I hold a certification in Energy & Sustainability Management and am currently finishing up my undergraduate’s degree in Environmental Science and Master’s in Urban Planning and Community Development. I enjoy helping others and improving the lives of the people within my community which ultimately is my goal.



EPMA Meeting Recap: Resilience Through Public Art and Placemaking

EPMA Meeting Recap: Resilience Through Public Art and Placemaking

Written by Aliza Vaida
Every month at the USGBC Emerging professional meeting a member presents on a topic of choice. They are always diverse and fascinating. This week was no different.
Aliza Vaida did the short presentation:  Resilience Through Public Art and Placemaking. Her main focus was on the importance of collaboration throughout a community placemaking strategy. She revealed with case studies and statistics how public art and placemaking can be agents of change. And through community engagement, the benefits are significantly more lasting and impactful.
Aliza has put her passion for art and sustainable design to work through the non-profit NeighborwaysAliza is working with the City of Everett on street calming strategies. Neighborways works closely with the community to pick streets that will become part of a pedestrian and cycle-friendly network. An exciting piece of the Everett strategy will be a collaborative street calming mural.
As the presentation at the EPMA meeting came to a close the maps, pads of paper, markers, pens and color pencils came out. Aliza had the attendees break into two groups. First, they had to look at the map of Everett and draw out a network of streets they felt best-connected schools and the Northern Strand Bike Path. Once that was agreed upon they had to collaborate on a street mural. It was great to see all those creative juices flowing. Aliza suggested designing the mural in a way that avoided car tread as much as possible. Each group created a few designs and then brought them together into one master mural. Ocean themes reigned supreme! It was a fun night of learning and coloring!
Join us next month at our EPMA Committee Meeting on June 18, 2018 to hear about our upcoming events and volunteering opportunities, and hear from Ailsha Pegan about Renew Boston!
Building Tech Forum Sneak Peek #2

Building Tech Forum Sneak Peek #2

Presented by Joe O’Brien of View Inc.

View Dynamic Glass is a revolutionary building product that enhances the occupant experience of commercial buildings. View manufactures glass technology automatically tints through various shades, depending on the sun’s position and intensity. Tint 1 being the clearest state, Tint 4 being the darkest state. The glass works automatically to optimize natural light, but can also has an override feature that is controlled from a phone app or wall switch.

Occupants that sit and live behind View Dynamic Glass report reductions in headaches, drowsiness, and eyestrain, resulting in increased productivity. The technology is used in Office buildings, Hospitals, Airports, Higher Education, Multifamily, and other commercial buildings.

Presented by Malcom Sonnet of ReVision Energy

Fossil fuel independence is no longer a luxury for builders and homeowners with larger budgets. As Massachusetts continues to incentivize solar energy production, whether via community solar farms or a power plant on your roof, producing your own electricity is becoming more cost-effective each year. ReVision Energy is more than just a solar company, they are a “clean energy transition” company. ReVision can help not only reduce your electricity bill through solar, but also make your heating, cooling, hot water, transportation, and emergency power requirements energy efficient and renewable. In this presentation, the whole-home approach will be examined through the 15 years of experience and 7,000+ systems that ReVision has installed all throughout the Northeast, from projects like Dartmouth College’s 8 solar producing buildings to the many single family homes like the Hasselbeck’s in Rowley.

Presented by Beverly Craig of MassCEC

This presentation provides an overview of MassCEC programs as they relate to net positive buildings. We break down the Deployment and Innovation aspects of our mission to increase accessibility to clean energy and support the clean energy sector in Massachusetts. In this presentation, we will also touch on various rebate programs, including air source heat pumps, solar loan programs, solar hot water, and ground source heat pumps. Another program covered in this presentation will be MassCEC’s funding opportunities for clean energy startup companies.
Charles River Cleanup

Charles River Cleanup

This Earth Day the EPMA Committee organized an event with the Waltham Land Trust to help with the Charles River Cleanup between Moody and Prospect Streets in Waltham. The event was part of the comprehensive annual cleanup of the Charles River that extends into The Esplanade, with the help of other organizations and groups in the various regions touched by the river bank.

The cleanup began at 9am with the meetup location at the Carter St. train station in Waltham, as our energetic volunteers showed up ready to go bright and early! It was a wonderful day, with nice sunshine and cool weather. We handed out the supplies; gloves, t-shirts, trash bags and started our route at Moody Street along the path up to Prospect Street. We encountered a couple other groups on our journey, as we picked up plastic bottles, aluminum cans, foam plates, and other debris left along the way. The level pathway was easy to walk around and allowed for easy pickup of trash, plenty of benches allowed for key points to leave our trash bags once full for the Waltham DCR truck to pick them up. It was all a good collaboration between everyone involved, and the further up the path we walked we came across less debris to pick up, so once we hit Prospect Street we doubled back to make sure we didn’t miss anything we could get rid of.

After our work was done we met up with the event coordinators at the nearby Shaw’s parking lot, here we returned the supplies we didn’t use and then headed towards the picnic area to enjoy some great pizza and snacks, well deserved after a nice day’s work! Here we met up with volunteers from other groups and enjoyed the nice gathering for a good cause. Thanks to everyone who took the time on such a nice day and thanks to the Waltham Land Trust for locating our group within their region and for all their support / organizing the event!

Building Tech Forum Presentation Sneak Peek

Building Tech Forum Presentation Sneak Peek

Our Building Tech Forum is coming soon! In order to gear up, we will be publishing sneak peeks for presentations from our amazing group of sponsoring companies. Stay tuned for more, this week enjoy a peek from The Green Engineer, Zehnder America, and Auburndale Builders. To register for our Building Tech Forum, visit We hope to see you on May 24th!


Chris Schaffner, The Green Engineer Inc.

In our current political climate, businesses struggle to address sustainability. Some advocate for government regulation, while others believe the free market can be counted on to devise solutions. But there is a third way that has the possibility of advancing real change while growing the economy – the Benefit Corporation. A Benefit Corporation is a for-profit company that also has a mission and responsibility to the community beyond profit. In Massachusetts, the Benefit Corporation is a legal structure (like Inc or LLC). These businesses typically also certify as B Corps, a certification that is administered by B Lab, a global nonprofit organization. In this presentation, Chris Schaffner of The Green Engineer, Inc., a certified B Corp and Massachusetts Benefit Corporation, will present how B Corps might be one answer to sustainability goals in Massachusetts. He’ll highlight the B Corps community’s ongoing Inclusive Economy Challenge, which includes a specific response to climate change and its threat to underserved populations.



John Rockwell, Zehnder America

Net positive energy buildings often feature air tightness and advanced insulation. Because of this, these buildings may need advanced heat recovery and mechanical ventilation systems. The ventilation system within a net positive energy building may be one of the few points of air and heat exchange, making a system efficient enough to capture 80-90% of the heat recovery essential for cooling and heating. During this presentation, John Rockwell of Zehnder America will focus on the concepts and engineering of ultra-efficient mechanical ventilation systems and how they are a necessary part of any net positive energy building project.




Nick Falkoff, Auburndale Builders

In 2017, Auburndale Builders introduced an innovative education space, the Studio for High-Performance Design and Construction. As the green building industry continues to gain market share, there is a significant need for workforce training on the latest and greatest in building technology. To help serve this need, the Studio for High-Performance Design and Construction will be an open community learning space for green companies to host trainings. The space is retrofitted for Passive House, and also hosts an array of solar panels, making it an ideal space for teaching the standards and practices of green building technology. For more information, please visit


More presenters are joining every day – become a sponsor

LEED, WELL & FitWell Packed into One Office: A Tour of Jacobs

LEED, WELL & FitWell Packed into One Office: A Tour of Jacobs

Written by Julie Salvatoriello

After having to reschedule several times due to inclement weather, USGBC finally got its tour of the amazing new workspace of Jacobs’ Boston Office. Thank you to LAM Partners as well for sponsoring the event.

After being gathered in Jacob’s break space that had an amazing view of Copley Plaza (the window viewing a section of the Hancock Tower), we got a break down of the efforts Jacobs has put into renovating the space to suit not only LEED, WELL & FitWell building standards, but also the merging of their multiple office environments and locations. Thank you to Jacob’s Paul Tsang (Director of Engineering), Andrea Alaownis (Interior Designer), and Carolyn Auclair (Design Architect) for your presentations, as well as Glenn Heinmiller from LAM.

Biyin (Betty) Liu (Mechanical Engineer), EPMA member extraordinaire, was one of the tour guides for the evening, giving us a first-hand account of the inner workings of Jacobs. The space was designed with A LOT of high tech conference rooms to accommodate those staff that had come from a Jacobs office with a more closed floor plan. The tour included aspects in accordance with LEED, WELL & FitWell, such as standing desks, material and lighting choices, lots of daylighting and views, showers and cubbies for active lifestyles, and beautiful and diverse meeting and break spaces. Even the ingredients of the coffee machine had to be considered.

Jacobs was a generous host. Thank you so much for giving USGBC MA a closer look at the WELL & FitWell program and how it influenced the reality that is your amazing office space!

The Power of Market Efficiency

The Power of Market Efficiency

In the green building world, there aren’t just efficiencies to be found in the design or operation of buildings. There are also opportunities to create greater efficiency in the market, encouraging and allowing more building owners to go green. While many building owners see the value of solar for reducing energy costs and their carbon footprint, they can easily be put off by aggressive sales tactics and the time and effort needed to get multiple quotes from solar installers. NRGTree recognized this challenge and created the Own My Solar platform to create a transparent and streamlined process for finding a solar installer.

Own My Solar is a reverse-auction platform that allows building owners and project managers to compare side-by-side quotes from solar installers in one place. The installers all bid on the same solar design, making direct comparison easier. Not only does Own My Solar save time, but the transparent, competitive bidding process has been shown to lower the cost of solar installations by as much as 30%. Own My Solar is completely free, and it’s an easy way to explore the costs and benefits of adding solar panels. NRGTree staff will even walk you through your projected energy and financial savings, including the government incentives your project is eligible for.

For solar installers, Own My Solar greatly reduces acquisition costs. Instead of spending time and money on marketing and sales, installers can simply log in to review and bid on the available projects. NRGTree creates the solar design, meaning installers don’t have to waste time creating designs for prospects that may not give them business.

Solar is essential for the green building community’s shift from merely reducing impacts to Net-Zero and Net-Positive goals, and Own My Solar is a tool that will help this transition. For many commercial projects, solar is already a good financial investment, with payback periods less than five years in many cases and incentives sometimes being worth more than the cost of the system. Yet, there are still barriers to adoption. By providing a free, easy and transparent way to directly compare solar quotes, Own My Solar reduces inefficiencies in the solar market, helping to increase ROI and making it easier for more building owners to embrace solar.

For more information about Own My Solar or joining our network of solar installers, visit

Baker-Polito Administration Files Legislation to Improve Residents’ Access to Home Energy Information

The Baker-Polito Administration recently filed legislation aimed at ensuring homeowners and prospective homebuyers have access to information about the anticipated energy efficiency characteristics of residences and recommended cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. The legislation, An Act Relative to Consumer Access to Residential Energy Information is an exciting transparency measure for the residential green building industry.

This legislation would require that a home energy scorecard and energy rating be provided to homeowners as part of free residential energy efficiency assessments, and after January 1, 2021, would require that home energy performance ratings be made available to potential homebuyers when one to four unit family homes are publicly listed for sale.This will increase transparency around home energy consumption, which is comparable to using MPG to measure the efficiency of a car. This way, residential consumers can make more informed decisions related to the energy efficiency of their homes, creating additional market pressure for more green buildings.

According to Governor Charlie Baker, “Massachusetts is a national leader in energy efficiency, and this first-of-its-kind legislation would provide energy performance data to homeowners and buyers to improve consumer information and promote home energy efficiency,”

The energy scorecard would be provided to homeowners who receive quality home energy assessments, including no-cost Mass Save in-home assessments and RESNET Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index evaluations. This scorecard would be an estimate of annual energy consumption, including factors such as the home’s architectural features, most commonly lighting, insulation and heating equipment.

Beyond the scorecard, MA residents will be eligible for financial incentives for efficiency measures, including insulation and energy efficient heating. Furthermore, Mass Save provides zero percent financing for qualifying improvements and equipment, as well as up to 10 K toward energy improvements, and rebates and loan products for renewable energy tech from MassCEC.

This new legislation is a welcome addition to help cement Massachusetts as a leader in green building nation-wide. Massachusetts has been ranked the #1 state for energy efficiency for the past seven years by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and upon passage of this legislation, would be the first state in the country to require home energy scorecards for residential homes to be made available to potential homebuyers.


Public Listening Sessions from Mass Save

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) has scheduled six listening sessions to provide the public with an opportunity to offer their comments on the design of energy efficiency programs and to provide input for the 2019-2021 Energy Efficiency Plan.

The times and locations for the meetings are listed below. Please mark your calendars!


– Great Hall at Codman Square Health Center
– 6 Norfolk Street, Boston (Dorchester), MA 02124
– Wednesday, February 28, 6pm-8pm

South Coast

– Bristol Community College
– 777 Elsbree Street, Room C111, Fall River, MA
– Thursday, March 8, 6-8pm

North Shore

– Marsh Hall, Salem State University, Petrowski Room (2nd Floor)
– 71 Loring Avenue, Salem, MA 01970
– Wednesday, March 14, 6-8pm

Cape Cod

– Mashpee Public Library
– 64 Steeple Street, Mashpee, MA 02649
– Monday, March 19, 6 -8pm

Central Mass

– Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
– 8 New Bond Street, Worcester, MA 01606
– Thursday, March 29, 6-8pm

Western Mass

– University of Massachusetts Center
– 1500 Main Street, Suite 260, Springfield, MA 01103
– Thursday, April 5, 6-8pm

A date for an additional session in Lowell is forthcoming and will most likely take place in April. We will update this page as soon as the information is available.

To learn more about DOER, please visit

If you have questions about the listening sessions, please contact Matt Rusteika at [email protected] or by phone at 1-617-626-7340.

The Energy Intensive Industry of Healthcare

The Energy Intensive Industry of Healthcare

Written by Leandro Molina

As we officially roll into Spring, Monday March 19th was yet another collaborative meeting between the Emerging Professionals group of Massachusetts.

Nathan Kingery-Gallagher took the floor and gave us contradicting evidence of the negative impact of health care on the environment; wouldn’t you presume the two industries would somehow be synergistic in achieving human wellbeing? In actual fact, far from it.

Nathan’s background reflects a well rounded professional with ample experience in the life sciences sector and most recently an Environmental Management graduate.

After the presentation, members of the EPMA are aware changes must be made in order for Biomedical research to fit into the sustainability scene. It is now clear the lab culture makes it extremely difficult to shift paradigms with the aim of achieving sustainability within healthcare. It turns out the challenge lies that the industry is highly resource intensive requiring vast amounts of energy and materials paired with a lab culture resistant to changing behaviors needed to contribute to environmental welfare. Cold rooms and freezers are expected to reach
temps below -20Celcius to -240Celcius, and lab equipment has high energy demand. Put this into perspective, office spaces occupy 42% of total square footage in the Boston area, with an approximate 30% of total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) output. Hospitals occupy 11% of total square footage and contribute 25% of total GHG’s.

A shocking statistic revealed that hospitals in MA produce an estimated 82 Million tons of biohazardous waste per year, not including waste from lab, pharma or doctors offices. Research facilities do have environmental protection however rank low on the priority list.

The energy and material waste challenges are further exacerbated due to lab culture with minimal emphasis on sustainable practices. Some specific challenges revolve around the extent of time needed to operate equipment with already high energy intensity, limited space dedicated to recycling & hazardous waste stations and the researchers habit to always leave the equipment on for a more efficient workplace.

It’s quite clear changes must be made in the three pillars of energy, material waste diversion and culture shifts, the question is if these challenges are too much of a ‘challenge’. Since the Building Energy Recording and Disclosure Ordinance started collecting data, lab space in Boston has been able to reduce its GHG contribution by 10% on average; hospitals only 5%. The challenge of materials and energy consumption can be solved through structural and behavioral change.

Nathan has recently launched Wicked Green Research, a sustainability in life sciences group with a mission to empower biomedical research and healthcare communities of Massachusetts to define and achieve their sustainability goals. The consulting service will seek to remove barriers to sustainable improvement with primary focus on energy efficiency, waste management and culture shifting.