Written by Julie Salvatoriello
USGBC EPMA, alongside Net Impact Boston, took a tour of the Fenway Rooftop Garden lead by Jessie Banhazl from Green City Growers and Brendan Shea from Recover Green Roofs.
The 2,400sqft Fenway Rooftop Garden is in its fourth year of operation. It grows 30+ types of produce, and produces 6,000lbs of organic, food safe certified produce annually, making up approx. 35% of the produce used by the Dell EMC club (with overflow going to other places in the park food network, including the concessions stands). Everything in this rooftop container garden is grown in Vermont Compost Company soil who were generous sponsors of this event.
This garden gets exposed to 1/2 million people every year, including the 15,000 that take a Fenway tour each week. In fact, Fenway is the #1 tourist attraction in New England. Jessie noted that many tour goers have never seen urban agriculture systems in person and the rooftop garden inspires people to question, investigate and act upon their food sources and supply chains.
Green City Growers and Recover Roofs also showed us the adjoining Vineyard Vines Club. This open-air rooftop space was also built upon a previously underutilized rooftop space and transformed into a gathering and socializing area filled with edible landscaping. Center planters were planted with Kale and with some cucumber vines hanging over the side. Produce grown in the Vineyard Vines Club is donated to local food rescue: Lovin’ Spoonfuls, based in Brookline, MA.
If you love all of this, Jessie and Brendan also told us a bit about how we could create some of these systems in our own backyards and rooftops (if it’s sturdy enough and not too slanted). The Fenway Rooftop Garden is planted entirely in standard square milk crates lined with 13x13x13in square pot planter liners; all sitting upon an artificial turf roof. The milk crates are set up with a drip irrigation system with irrigation spikes to send water straight to the roots. The garden is highly productive, light and easy to move. The liners are filled with The Vermont Compost Company’s Fort Light mix and amended with their Compost Plus.
We learned from our tour that Fenway is committed to sustainability. It is the oldest ballpark in the country and the first ballpark to install solar panels. It was been lowering its electricity load over the past decade, reducing it by 11% since 2011.
The USGBC Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts are so grateful to Fenway for their sustainability efforts and for leading these tours. Thank you to Jessie and Brendan from Green City Growers and Recover Green Roofs for your work and the wonderful tour. This was my first tour of Fenway and now I absolutely have to go back and bring my family.
BY ALISHA PEGAN
After graduating college, Alisha Pegan really wanted to understand how sustainability initiatives were being pushed in city government. Who were making decisions and why did progress feel so slow? She joined the City of Boston’s Environment Department last September working on energy efficiency and climate resiliency, while also observing bottlenecks and leverage points within local government. She is now completing district scale studies, gathering resources to change zoning, supporting extreme temperature planning, collaborating with other departments on developing resiliency guidelines, and planning the future of the Climate Leaders program. Most things are in development, and few are completed. Alisha identified six potential bottlenecks.
First, people’s attention. When Bostonians are concerned and eager about a certain topic, e.g. coastal flooding during the winter, then there is more media attention on the department’s work. Leaders and employees in the department are more prone to respond with an action.
Second, grant cycles. A majority of the City’s initiatives are grant funding by the State or foundations. So, a lot of projects will complete a deliverable after a year.
Third, lack of in-house expertise. There are certain things City employees do not have in-depth knowledge on, e.g. engineering specifications for a raised road. Gathering that knowledge can slow down an action. Finding and hiring an expert is a 2-5 month process.
Fourth, divergent timetables. Most action items called out in the Climate Ready Boston report require collaboration with other agencies. Every agency has different projects and timelines, which can make it harder to coordinate.
Fifth, political turnover. When a mayor leaves, most of his/her chiefs and commissioners (the leadership) also leave. This destabilizes the department’s groove, and getting it back takes several months.
Sixth, the web of approval. In this system, any major action will need the approval of citizens, state agencies, foundations, businesses, partner agencies, the Mayor, department heads, and coworkers to convince.
Alisha highlighted that there is not a clear set of guidelines on how to be resilient. Figuring it out and doing it equitably takes time.
by Kelsey Margulies
EPMA’s Summer Picnic was a great success, gathering together young professionals from all backgrounds in the building industry. Guest speakers Lawrence Flicker, Steven Burke, and Michelle Moon joined us and lead discussions on integrating wellness into their everyday professional lives. Lawrence kicked off the afternoon with a group yoga session involving controlled breathing and coordinated body movements, easy to follow for both beginner and experienced yogis alike. Afterwards the group collected plates full of delicious food from Whole Heart Provisions and congregated to hear Steven’s experience as Sustainability Manager at Consigli Construction. Steve spoke about the challenges and responsibilities associated with his job, as well as his positive outlook on the construction industry’s continued efforts to include more wellness-centered activities. Michelle Moon then shared her passion for bicycle advocacy and improving bicycle infrastructure in Boston. As a dedicated cyclist herself, Michelle expressed the importance of getting as many people involved in the bicycle commuter lifestyle for increased awareness, as well as a few safety tips from her own experience.
Thank you to our event sponsor, Xquisite Landscaping for making this event possible.
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.
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.
Written by Aliza Vaida