EPMA February Presentation Recap: Battery storage is the path to a 100% renewable energy future

EPMA February Presentation Recap: Battery storage is the path to a 100% renewable energy future

Written by Aliza Vaida

February’s EPMA presentation delve into the key terms and concepts necessary to understand battery storage and how battery storage is vital for renewables, like solar and wind, to become the dominate energy source for the world. 

The first part of the presentation reviewed the key metrics and economics to understand and consider when thinking about battery storage coupled with solar energy for the residential and commercial market. When looking into a storage solution, one needs to consider how much energy the battery can discharge, how long it will last and other key elements. Besides having a lot of new concepts to consider, another challenge with battery storage today is that it is quite expensive, ranging from $10,000-$20,000 for residential, and usually only lasts around 10 years. There are benefits to getting battery storage today, like if you live in storm prone areas or have time-of-use rate plans. In general however, battery technologies are just too expensive for most people.

But times are changing! Battery storage is expected to drop significantly over the next 10 years making it a possibility for more home owners, businesses and utilities. Currently solar only works when the sun is shining, when batteries become the norm the world will be come a much more resilient place. We will be able to power the built environment with renewables during the day and fill up the storage as well. And then during the night hours batteries will be able to power the built environment, closing the loop. Storage will allow redundancy so resiliency within our current energy grid. Imagine a world where if the grid goes down because of a natural disaster, key institutions like hospitals, fire departments and schools, can link up together and still be powered by solar plus storage. Individual’s homes will be able to be islanded off from the grid, because of solar plus storage, allowing autonomy during a grid failure as well.  Storage is the piece that will enable a clean energy future.

EPMA Presentation Recap: Water Management and Resilient Communities

EPMA Presentation Recap: Water Management and Resilient Communities

Written by Kara Slocum

The presentation focused on different aspects of water management and its importance in Sasaki design of the built environment. This brief intro into water management featured two case studies which highlight Sasaki’s cross-disciplinary and analytic approach within different development types and design phases.

The Sarasota Bayfront Master Plan guides future improvements to a 53 acre waterfront park as a cultural and economic legacy for the region while ensuring open, public access to the Bayfront. The sites program and design were developed in parallel with a detailed analysis of sea level rise and storm surge. By applying this analysis to concept level planning, we could root our design decisions in resilient thinking.

The Hoosic River Flood Chute Revitalization is a concept plan to address the existing, but aging, concrete chutes that protect North Adams, MA from historic flooding. The Sasaki team worked to examine how to restore the river, enhance public access to the water’s edge, and rethink the flood protection strategy. The restoration strategies celebrate the Hoosic River, while maintaining or exceeding the existing level of flood protection.

The EPMA group was active with questions and eager to understand how water plays a role in design. We were able to connect, collaborate, and explore on the topic of water and the importance of resilient design.

EPMA Meeting Recap: Walden Pond Visitor Center

EPMA Meeting Recap: Walden Pond Visitor Center

Written by Kelsey Margulies

At last week’s USGBC EPMA meeting I presented three works by Maryann Thompson Architects. MTA’s portfolio specializes in architecture that is sustainable, regionally driven, and that attempts to heighten the phenomenological qualities of the particular site. These three projects especially demonstrate how environmentally-friendly principles become another layer in the overall human experience.

The Walden Pond Visitor Center, built in 2016, is a net-zero consumption building that implements passive solar principles. The wooden structure blends seamlessly into the surrounding landscape while solar panels over the nearby parking lot provide year-round energy. Geothermal House, built in 2006, also shows how passive solar principles can be integrated in contemporary residential design. The activities within the house follow the path of the sun throughout the day, beginning on the East-facing kitchen and concluding on the West terrace. Zero Energy House, also built in 2006, was the first LEED certified single-family residence in Massachusetts. The 3-bedroom, 3-bath, open floor plan home reveals how new construction can be accomplished within a reasonable budget.

Sustainability is not necessarily only about energy consumption and material resources, well-designed structures also create a sense of permanence. Whether a single family home or a program open to the public, most buildings are intended to last at least a few generations. Constructing well-loved spaces with a lasting positive experience is an essential consideration in sustainable design.

EPMA Presentation Recap: Spreading the Benefits of Solar Access to All

Hello, my name is Andrew Breiter-Wu and I recently presented at the USGBC MA Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts meeting in October and discussed how my firm Breiter Planet Properties is Spreading the Benefits of Solar Access to All. It was a pleasure to have a packed room of the great network of friends, connections, and new members.

My firm, Breiter Planet Properties is a socially conscious energy consulting firm that has a goal of providing solar access to all. We empower property owners and ratepayers across the globe by educating and consulting with them on their best solar options, connecting them to the best solar developer and contractor, and demystifying a very confusing and cluttered industry. We help commercial, residential, utility, non-profit, residential, and community clients.

The challenge that our firm is helping to address is the fact that 80% of Americans cannot install rooftop solar due to being a renter or condo owner, tree shading, unqualified roof conditions, or having a low credit score. I faced this on a regular basis when I was previously employed by the larger enterprise level solar companies and was tasked with notifying customers of their property being unqualified based on one of these factors. The majority of the major solar companies stay focused on the 20% of homes that are qualified for solar.

Breiter Planet Properties focuses on helping and providing solar access to 100% of electric ratepayers. We believe that clean energy has the ability to drive social, economic, and environmental changes and benefits to millions of communities across the country. We believe that people want choice in deciding where they purchase their electricity from. We believe that it’s wrong that millions cannot afford their electric costs. Ultimately, we believe that everyone should have the right to purchase clean energy.

The solution that we help many of our clients with is community solar. It allows people to reduce their electric costs by subscribing to electricity produced from local solar farms. Instead of “Eat Local” or “Shop Local,” its “Power Local.”

The process of how community solar works is straightforward and is explained in the infographic below. There is no need to change any wiring, install equipment on your property, or go through a long construction process.

At the end of the day, electricity consumers have two choices, they can either stick with dirty, expensive energy sourced from old, outdated infrastructure, or they can make the switch to clean electricity produced from cheaper, renewable sources. What would you choose?

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly via email at [email protected]

EMD Serono SagaMORE wins Green Building of the Year

EMD Serono SagaMORE wins Green Building of the Year

EMD Serono’s Project SagaMORE has received both the 2018 Green Building of the Year and the Market Leader in Health and Wellness Awards from the USGBC Massachusetts.  It is a 30,000 SF expansion to EMD’s R&D campus in Billerica. The existing office building and addition have jointly achieved WELL Gold certification for New & Existing Construction from the International Well Building InstituteTM (IWBI).  It is the first New & Existing Building WELL Certified Gold project in the US and only the second in the world.

In 2015, Project Sagamore renovations transformed an existing manufacturing plant on the campus into 24,000 SF of new office space for 200 researchers.  Guided by EMD’s Four C’s of Choice, Comfort, Collaboration, and Challenging the norms, the company aspired to provide a best-in-class workspace to retain and attract industry talent .  That project achieved LEED Platinum certification and incorporated many goals of the WELL certification program, which did not exist at the time. Major design features included promoting the use of stairs rather than elevators, natural daylight and outdoor views, ergonomics, and a sense of place.  This renovation quickly became the most popular research office space on campus.

As a result of the project’s success, and the need for even more office space, Ellenzweig and Intec designed an addition that more than doubles the 2015 office renovation.  Named Project SagaMORE, its design challenge was to further improve on the design successes of Project Sagamore while achieving both WELL and LEED certification.

As a pharmaceutical company, EMD is committed to health regeneration.  That ethos inspired a biophilic design solution that both physically and metaphorically manifests itself in the new addition.   As a result, health and wellness features and amenities are found throughout the project. Central to the new facility is the Lobby Commons that sits between the original and new office buildings.  It features a prominent “river” of planting that wends its way from the exterior entry plaza into, and through, the space.   Alongside that planting, a prominent stepped seating staircase invites walking to the second floor rather than opting for the elevator.  A café, alcove and countertop seating, as well as huddle rooms round out the wide variety of collaborative and quiet gathering spaces that surround the commons.  All of these spaces are naturally day-lit in combination with circadian rhythm LED lighting.

Fundamental to both the lobby commons and other neighborhoods in the building, is visual connection to the outdoor landscape, and access to a wide variety of workspace environments.  For instance, people can be extroverted or introverted; some tasks require isolated concentration, others spirited collaboration. As result, SagaMORE includes dedicated open-office sit-stand desks, private hoteling offices, telephone rooms, huddle rooms, conference rooms, banquet booths, quiet rooms, and outdoor workspaces.  This humane variety of spaces that focus on well-being has demonstrably increased overall employee engagement.

Deeply integrated into the interior, as well as exterior entry elements, is the lively incorporation of EMD’s Merck corporate branding graphics that are based on a visual language of monochromatic cellular shapes and bright accent colors.  Complimentary to the biophilic forms of the building, they are incorporated into the walls, portals, and flooring to further reinforce the health regeneration mission of the company.

The SagaMORE project incorporates low-VOC emitting interior furnishings and finishes; high-efficiency LED interior lighting that promotes proper circadian rhythms; planters full of natural vegetation.  The campus does not provide, or make available, any food or beverages containing Trans Fats or with a high or sugar content (such as soda or junk food) within the facility or its vending machines.

The design and construction team for EMD’s Project SagaMORE understood that the products and materials specified and installed would eventually need to pass performance verification to achieve WELL certification.  As a result, everyone understood that all planning decisions would influence the project’s potential to become a certified building. To that end, its successful passing of the performance verification was an accomplishment not only for the design team, but also for the occupants.

WELL goes beyond designing healthy spaces – it drives building operators to facilitate occupant exercise and behavior.  Projects that provide outdoor gardening space and support, or provide alternative commuter facilities (i.e. bike storage and showers) and organizations that incentivize physical activities are just a few of the ways WELL works to improve building occupant health.  The implementation of WELL features demonstrate how buildings can, and should improve occupant health. WELL v1 is organized into 7 concepts: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort, and Mind, and certification is performance based. 

The SagaMORE project at EMD Serono is currently pending LEED NC certification.  It is expected to achieve a Gold rating with 42% water use reduction, 30% energy cost reduction, and 82% reduction in construction waste.