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.
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’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.
Unveiled in 2017, the multi-purpose Bentley Arena was built to serve as the new home to the university’s NCAA Division I hockey team and prominent university events. In 2018, Bentley Arena added a LEED platinum certification, the highest possible rating, from the U.S. Green Building Council to its trophy case.
This year Bentley University was also presented with the USGBC Massachusetts Chapter’s Eversource Energy Optimization award during the Green Building Showcase and celebration of sustainable design and construction of buildings across the state.
Several projects from the Eversource electric and gas territory were considered, however, the Bentley team rose to the top for meeting the key criteria of a commitment to energy efficiency in an integrated and interdisciplinary fashion from the earliest stages and also having design aspects that are replicable by organizations undertaking similar projects.
When unveiling the arena and celebrating the LEED Platinum certification award, Eversource Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Penni Conner noted, “This arena project is special to the Eversource team because it was designed and built with both energy efficiency and solar-readiness in mind. This is an approach we often recommend to our customers who want to incorporate sustainable features into new construction projects.”
From the high-efficiency LED lighting and boilers, to the cutting-edge waste heat recovery systems and evaporation equipment, this arena is a national model for energy-efficient construction. The energy efficiency measures will deliver more than $46,000 in annual energy cost savings.
Standout features of the arena include:
- innovative technology that captures heat generated from the rink’s ice-making equipment to heat water throughout the building
- high-efficiency LED lighting with smart, motion-detecting controls that turn off lights when no one is present to sharply reduce electricity usage
- the highest-efficiency plumbing fixtures on the market, including waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, and low-flow faucets and showers to reduce the demand for water.
- The project also included a 504 kilowatt, rooftop solar array and 1,400 rooftop solar panels that will generate 40 percent of the building’s annual electricity needs.
And, a strong benefit of the new facility that shouldn’t be overlooked, students are able to use of the arena as a “living lab” where they will be able to analyze the building’s energy data, complete marketing projects, create sales plans for season tickets, and do other academic projects.