WinnCompanies and the District of Columbia today announced the completion of the District’s largest community solar project aimed at reducing energy bills for low-income residents throughout the nation’s capital.
Solar for All, a program of the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), seeks to provide the benefits of solar electricity to 100,000 low-income households and reduce their energy bills by 50 percent by 2032.
After being awarded a $1.3 million grant from DOEE’s Solar for All program, WinnCompanies installed the 651 KW (DC) community renewable energy facility on the roofs of Atlantic Terrace Apartments, making it the largest community solar project in the District. The company is working to bring additional community solar projects online throughout the District in the near future.
“Community solar projects prove that solar is not just a luxury for those that can afford their own panels, but that solar can also work for renters living in multifamily housing,” said Darien Crimmin, Vice President of Energy and Sustainability, WinnCompanies. “This project will benefit nearly 200 income eligible households over the next 15 years, helping to create jobs, improve local air quality and showcase the success of the Solar for All Program for District residents. WinnCompanies will continue working with DOEE and Solar for All to expand the District’s solar capacity and provide the benefits of solar energy to local communities, helping residents save up to $500 a year.”
The clean energy from rooftop solar panels installed at Atlantic Terrace will be fed into the District’s utility grid through an arrangement known as net metering. The savings will then be passed back to qualified low-income residents through credits reflected on their utility bills.
“Solar for All provides a tremendous opportunity for our residents to take advantage of renewable energy savings, and we’re excited to continue our work with WinnCompanies to expand the availability of solar energy for low- and moderate-income households,” said Tommy Wells, Director, Department of Energy and Environment. “This project brings jobs, clean energy and energy independence to the District of Columbia, and we hope our work serves as a model for success to communities across the country.”
WinnCompanies embraces environmentally responsible decisions, and is recognized in the multifamily industry as a leader in green development and the utilization of renewable energy. In the past decade, the company has invested more than $50 million in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects across its affordable housing portfolio, combatting climate change while saving money for residents and property owners.
The solar installation at Atlantic Terrace occurred as the company was completing a $69-million rehabilitation project at the community and its sister property, Atlantic Gardens. The two-year effort not only completed modernized 303 apartments but also preserved both communities as critically needed Project-Based Section 8 housing for 750 residents.
WinnCompanies acquired Atlantic Terrace in 1982 and has managed the property since. Built in 1964, it is comprised of 195 units in six three- to four-story garden-style buildings
For more information, visit SolarSavingsDC.com.
WinnCompanies is an award-winning national developer and manager of high-impact affordable, middle income and market rate housing communities. Supported by 3,000 team members, the company acquires, develops and manages affordable, senior, mixed-income, market rate, military and mixed-use properties. Founded in 1971, WinnCompanies is one of the nation’s most trusted multi-family housing managers with a portfolio of 100,000 units in 22 states and the District of Columbia. It is the largest manager of affordable housing and the second largest manager of privatized military housing in the U.S.
About DOEE’s Solar for All Program
Solar for All, a program of the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), was established by the Renewable Portfolio Standard Expansion Amendment Act of 2016 (The Act). The Act intends to expand DC’s solar capacity, to increase the amount of solar-generated within the District, and to provide the benefits of locally-generated solar energy to low-income households, small businesses, nonprofits, and seniors. Funded by the Renewable Energy Development Fund (REDF) and administered by DOEE, Solar for All’s specific targets are to provide the benefits of solar electricity to 100,000 low income households (at or below 80% Area Median Income), and to reduce their energy bills by 50% (based on the 2016 residential rate class average) by 2032. For more information about Solar for All, visit: http://doee.dc.gov/solarforall
EPMA Member Haley gave us an inside look at how implementing LEED looks from the construction management side with her work on Boston College’s new stadium.
The facility is being built above a high-pressure water main which supplies water to Boston. The construction includes 212 pressure injected footings for the foundation, a storm trap system under the turf and 16 steel trusses roughly 200 feet tall. The steel erection lasted about 6 months and had a steep learning curve, the first truss erection taking significantly more time than the final erection. Water control is one of the most important factors because it is in a watershed area and the water main provides water to the city of Boston. There cannot be any heavy equipment running over the main and vibrations of construction must be monitored.
Embodied energy is a concern to Haley. The steel coming from Wisconsin and the precast panels coming from Toronto, the question of “how much energy and gas did we burn getting this stuff here?” is a legitimate one. A building’s embodied energy is typically very high.
A large part of ensuring that LEED standards are met on the construction site include making sure waste and recycling are properly managed and disposed of. This requires the CM to make sure the subs are doing things properly.
QAQC is important to ensure the building is airtight and the mechanical systems are able to create a comfortable environment for the end users. Passive house emphasizes the importance of a tight envelope. It is also important to supervise the construction to make sure the right materials are being installed correctly. EPD memos (that prove that a manufacturer’s goods are coming where they are said to) are a difficult document to obtain.
The Emerging Professionals Committee’s first meeting of 2018 set us up for a great year! We were joined by the new USGBC-MA Executive Director Meredith Elbaum, a representative from the Boston Area Sustainability Group, and decided our new USGBC-MA Board Liaison, EMPA Co-Chair Jenna Dancewicz.
Starting with an empty calendar, our membership and leadership team came together and brainstormed loads of new events to support young professionals and grow our community. Look forward to more building tours, skill shares, and the return of favorite events like the annual bike tour this year!
Coming up in the next few weeks are the USGBC Annual General Meeting on January 31st, and the Invite to Ignite event being put on by the Boston Area Sustainability Group on February 8th. Later in February please join us at the Emerging Professionals Winter Warmer, hosted by the Boston Society of Architects on February 22nd as well as the Mentor Close Out/Green Building Leadership Institute Kick Off on the 27th.
Our presentation this week was given by our Social Media Manager Julie Salvatoriello, founder and CEO of soil remediation company Equiterra. Julie shared her expertise on grassroots soil remediation topics and their application to brownfield sites. Brownfields are properties whose development may be impacted due to hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. In cases where soil is contaminated, the standard procedure is to dig up and truck out several feet of dirt, an expensive and greenhouse-gas intensive procedure. We learned how three types of soil remediation could be applied to brownfields, bioremediation (microbial), phytoremediation (plant), and mycoremediation (fungi). By using natural processes in order to mediate nutrient load and draw pollutants out of the ground, these techniques can provide a non-invasive and attractive alternative to removing and replacing brownfield soil.
Equiterra was started as a resource for grassroots soil remediation products and education with a focus on mycoremediation. Turns out, fungi have some pretty impressive abilities to break down toxic materials. In addition to their usefulness as major decomposers, certain types of mushroom can remove a wide range of environmental and industrial pollutants, even DDT and petroleum! In order to empower individuals and local groups to perform their own soil remediation projects, Equiterra is developing products and educational materials that can be applied to urban brownfield sites.
Join us at the next USGBC EMPA Monthly Meeting on February 26th at 6:00 PM at 50 Milk Street.
We would like to welcome our newest Green Sponsor NRGTree. NRGTree provides a platform that helps lending institutions provide loans for solar by streamlining the financing and installation online. USGBC MA believes their product offerings are in line with our goal of a net-positive future in Massachusetts.
Their products include the Own My Solar private label platform, which enables the customers of lending institutions to own their solar system and end their electric bill. With this product, lending institutions are provided their own private brand online platform that will educate their customers about solar energy and their solar loan products. Own My Solar allows lending institutions to drive solar loan business while educating customers on the benefits of solar system ownership with interesting and environmentally friendly messages.
We are thrilled to welcome NRGTree to join our community of passionate green building practitioners as a sponsor of USGBC MA. If you would like to learn more about NRGTree, you can visit their website at www.nrgtree.com.
The Path of Sustainability
Meredith Elbaum may be our new Executive Director, but her path through life can be traced to show intersections with USGBC MA. Being a founding board member of USGBC MA, Meredith was one of a small group that tipped over the first domino of our organization’s history. Therefore it only fits that she has come full circle and is now leading the strategic vision of the organization.
When I sat down with Meredith to interview her, I easily saw how her early passion for science and design started forging her path. At a young age, she developed a passion for painting, creating artwork themed with foliage and swooping colors. Despite her love for nature, as Meredith grew older she saw the harsh dichotomy humans use to set themselves apart from nature. Because, while we are inherently irremovable from nature, we act as if we are separate and above it.
It was not separation, but rather the integration of nature and building that brought Meredith into green architecture. At Rice University in Houston, Texas, Meredith was introduced to sustainable design in a class co-taught by Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer, and Charles Tapley, a Landscape Architect. During this time Meredith was exposed to well known environmental staples such as Silent Spring, Our Common Future, A Sand County Almanac, and the Biophilia Hypothesis.
This path was further solidified when Meredith attended a Smart Growth Conference in Austin, Texas, where William McDonough gave a talk on the state of green building. In a line that would affect the direction of her career, McDonough stated, “If I were to describe my relationship with my wife as sustainable, well, that is not very good. Right now we are driving in a car talking about slowing it down when it is about go off of a cliff.”
Considering her delving into the intersectionality of architecture and the environment, it is not surprising that Meredith’s final project at Rice University focused on merging this dichotomy. Tasked with designing a community job training center, her team designed a garden. After all, the most sustainable solution in green building is to not build at all and teach people valuable skills while gardening.
Considering the time, it may not have been surprising the Dean did not know what to think of the project. The green building world was still just in its infancy. LEED was not a universal language and the environmental movement sported more tie-dye and Birkenstocks than today. Only a few employees of each firm may have been interested, making the movement fringe to the status quo.
From the Job Site to Education
Meredith then interned at Kirksey Architecture in Houston. While working on the project, Meredith asked an engineer if she could get an estimate on how better glazing would affect the building energy use. He couldn’t provide an answer. What seemed to be a reasonable question to ask ended up informing her future direction, leading Meredith to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue a Masters of Science in Architectural Studies with a focus on design and building technologies. A student once again, Meredith’s thesis, Bridge Green, aggregated sustainability tools and resources and provided a platform for people to access them. Her hypothesis was that designers wanted to build green, the tools existed and there was a disconnect that needed to be bridged.
It was around this time that Meredith would get involved with The Green Roundtable, the Massachusetts USGBC Affiliate. The organization would continue to foster the development of the Emerging Green Professionals Committee, which laid the foundation of USGBC MA.
After graduation, Meredith was able to extend her thesis at Sasaki. But instead of building an online tool, as the Director of Sustainable Design, Meredith embodied her thesis, bridging the disconnect between designers and resources for green design. While at Sasaki, Meredith confounded with her garden collaborator at Rice, Nellie Reid formerly of Gensler, and Building Green a network of Sustainable Design Leaders in Architecture and Design Firms.
Ten years later this network has been instrumental in accelerating sustainability in the built environment. Network participants have joined forces to advance important initiatives like the AIA 2030 Commitment, revamping AIA COTE Award requirements and the Health Product Declaration Collaborative. Meredith later founded the Elbaum Group, which educated and advocated for sustainability in the built environment. While at Sasaki Meredith taught “Thinking Green” at the Boston Architectural College and is currently an adjunct faculty member at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Meeting the Needs of the Present with the Future in Mind
Once a child herself concerned about the environment, Meredith now keeps an eye on the post-millennial generation, and specifically on her own children. Along with being the Executive Director of USGBC MA, Meredith is a proud mother of two children, 5 and 3 years old. Because of this, the green building movement to her is personal, as true sustainability is not about just about our current needs, but the needs of future generations.
In order to meet both future and current needs, Meredith aims to help our practitioner community revolutionize the built environment so that we can thrive within nature on this planet. Massachusetts has the knowledge base, the need, academics, professionals, building owners, occupants, density – everything it takes to accomplish this.
This goal can be reached through strategically focusing on advocacy and education. Firstly, educating the next generation of green builders and architects is necessary to provide a workforce equipped to further transform the built environment. Secondly, advocacy will be key in moving forward green building legislation. Though not all agree on exactly what needs to be done, consensus can be reached through a focus on the economic viability of legislation. Luckily, much of green building practice does align economically. Meredith believes strongly in the triple bottom line of sustainable.
At the end of the day, our current needs must be met, but the ultimate focus should be on those who will in inherit our planet; our children and grandchildren. And with this in mind, we come full circle again, from Meredith’s efforts in founding USGBC MA, to keeping an eye on future generations, we are eager to see where Meredith’s path leads USGBC MA.