Alexander Landa's blog

Biometrics: Biology and Psychology Meets Architecture

By Alex Landa on 7/20/2017

Architecture isn't just building design - it factors in much more than that. Buildings reflect humans and the humans who make them, incorporating aspects from biology and psychology all the time. The best designs you see aren't just the results of wanting to make something look cool; rather, the best designs are strategically planned, looking through the lens of psychological motivations and subconscious undertones, mixed with the biological features that are hard-wired into every human's brain. Ann Sussman walked us through an hour-long presentation on Biometrics, or the measurement and statistical analysis of people's physical and behavior characteristics, and how this can influence a building's design.

Biometrics allows architects, designers, engineers, and others to really 'see' how a building ticks and operates, and what individuals look at. By using heat maps and eye-tracking software, we can analyze how individuals look at a building. Think of it - when you see a home, where do your eyes go first? Unlike a book, we don't read buildings in a Z formation - for buildings, you go for the windows or the most 'human' characteristics. Our brains recognize faces faster than almost anything else, and we subconsciously try to see faces in everything we do, including houses.

Thank you, Ann, for showing our community this amazing concept in architecture! Architecture isn't just architecture, as it's a reflection of who we are and what we need. For more on Ann's work, go to her website here.

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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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Announcing the Second Round of Sponsors for the Green Building Showcase

By Alexander Landa on 5/15/2017

It's a great way to start a Monday morning - by announcing our second round of Sponsors for the 2017 Annual Green Building Showcase on June 15th! These groups help make the event happen, and we want to thank them for joining us. This event isn't just our biggest one of the year, but it's the one where we get to show-off everything that our community has done in the past year. Everyone involved deserves a fun night to celebrate their achievements, and the Showcase is our platform for that. 

Please welcome Millennium Partners as a Gold Sponsor, and Bruner/Cott, Vanderweil, and Mitsubishi as Bronze Sponsors. 

Special shoutout to LendLease, National Grid, and Eversource for joining as Platinum Sponsors! More info on these partnerships coming soon.

They join Gerding Edlen, AHA, The Green Engineer, Finegold Alexander, and Elkus Manfredi. 

For more on Showcase sponsors, see our Sponsor page, and the first round of sponsors here.





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Meet Our Members: Blake Jackson

By Blake Jackson on 5/12/2017

I have been a chapter member since 2011, and over that time, I have been a regular participant in various networking events, the mentorship program, and have shown projects within the annual Green Building Showcase. In 2013, I attended GreenBuild – Philadelphia, and after attending their first a day-long summit on Healthy Materials, I was inspired to return and create a regional event in Boston on the same topic - pertinent given our critical mass of healthcare, research, and education institutions, as well as the pool of experts interested in pushing this ethos.

In 2014, I led our inaugural Healthy Materials Summit at Google – Cambridge. This event brought together all stakeholders (interiors, architects, owners, manufacturers, contractors, etc.) under one roof to discuss how each discipline could elevate their share of the materials procurement process within the built environment to better promote health, transparency, and sustainability. I am proud this has become an annual event and one of the chapter’s major fundraisers.

I also help the chapter through supporting professional education. I was one of the first WELL AP’s in MA and am a WELL Faculty, meaning I am a brand ambassador for the system. As such, I have led several WELL Exam Prep workshops where I blend in my personal experience from having worked on a WELL registered and certifying project to illustrate concepts within individual WELL Features.

I continue to endeavor in breaking down artificial barriers between organizations of similar focus, such as the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), in order to create shared events which promote all of our interests to broader, more diverse audiences. This is not only useful in work but is also a great outlet for making professional life fun!

I am an Associate with Stantec, where my title is Sustainability Design Leader. I am a shared northeast regional resource for projects where sustainability, wellness, and/or resiliency are paramount. Additionally, I am a prolific national speaker and author, am active within the BSA as co-chair of COTE and as VP of Advocacy, and I am an adjunct faculty at the Boston Architectural College (BAC) and at Mount Ida College. I am continually inspired by the density of passionate individuals who value sustainability, I am diligently preparing the next generation for more sustainable careers, and I am energized by the potential my new role holds within such a vast organization! To learn more, please refer to for more information.

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The EPMA Took Over the Charles River Cleanup on April 29th!

By Max Silverman on 5/4/2017

On Saturday, April 29th, EPMA teamed up with over 3,000 volunteers along the banks of the Charles River for the 18th annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup.  The Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup builds on a national effort as part of American Rivers’ National River Cleanup, which to date, has removed over 20.7 million pounds of trash from America’s waterways! 

EPMA had a great volunteer turnout was blessed with one of the nicest days this spring - 70's and sunny!  We met at the Esplanade and got our T-shirts and cleanup equipment at the steps of the Hatch Shell.  We were joined at the Hatch Shell by groups from PWC, Boston University Engineering, and several other organizations.  There were also individuals and families ranging from young children to seniors. 

Through a little bit of sweat, a few laughs and plenty of smiles, the volunteers on the Esplanade were able to fill bag after bag with garbage and floating debris that gathered along the water's edge during the winter.  We removed bottles, food wrappers, lots of disintegrated Styrofoam cups and even some hazardous items.  Runners, bikers, and walkers stopped to say thanks!  For all who enjoyed the event and anyone who did not attend but would like to get involved, you can check out all of the great events that we have coming down the pipe here:

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May 2017 Newsletter - Grey is Moving on, But the Mission is Going Strong!

By USGBC MA on 5/2/2017

See the full newsletter here!

What can I say? We're #1! We have #MoreGreenBuildings! We have more members, more sponsors, more volunteers and more engagement across the spectrum. It has been an honor to work for this community of practitioners who share my passion for transforming the building industry. I have only been a steward, standing on the shoulders of giants, helping cultivate the next generation of green building leaders in our organization's purview. I am happy for the opportunity to serve and looking forward to coming out as a volunteer to help with programs and advocacy. I know we will meet again.

I hope you are able to come to some of the great things we have planned this month! Check out the service project in JP, the gender bias program, or the tour of the MLK School. Definitely plan on being at the Green Building Showcase on 6/15! That is going to be awesome.

Take care and thank you for participating in our mission and supporting our essential work. It's exciting to think about what will come next. 
Thank you,

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