GBS ’18 Sneak Peek

GBS ’18 Sneak Peek

As we approach our Green Building Showcase on the 25th, we will be releasing a series of project spotlights that will be shown at the event! Check out two from our friends at HMFH, and Goody Clancy.

Don’t forget to buy a ticket or register your board for the event!

Goody Clancy: LEED Gold-certified Integrated Sciences Complex

The 225,000 GSF, LEED Gold-certified Integrated Sciences Complex brings together all university departments involved in laboratory research in a dynamic, new environment for teaching and research. It raises the bar for the design of a sustainable laboratory, and sets a new precedent at UMass Boston for integrating architecture and landscape. The existing circa-1974 campus buildings are elevated on a concrete parking podium, separated from both the natural ground-plane and the water’s edge. By contrast, the ISC embraces its waterfront site and restores a former brownfield (the entire campus is built on a former landfill) to a natural harbor island habitat. Two plazas on either side of the building’s atrium connect activity indoors and out. An outdoor amphitheater allows teaching to occur out in the landscape adjacent to the physics labs, while a Science Walk now leads from the Boston Harborwalk at the water’s edge through the project site to the campus plaza. A meadow and constructed sand dunes deploy indigenous plant species requiring little or no irrigation. These site elements become educational opportunities, as the pedestrian pathways in the meadow form a Botanical Walk with plaques highlighting the geology and botany of the site.

HMFH: Emergency Housing, Cambridge MA

During the late 19th century, a stately two-family home was erected at 859 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. The handsome building was subsequently converted into offices and, unfortunately, stripped of its period detail. Things began to look up again when the City of Cambridge purchased the property and engaged HMFH Architects to restore the dilapidated building and convert it into emergency housing for up to 30 occupants. As part of this conversion, the building systems and exterior envelope were completely rebuilt to meet the City’s new guidelines for net-zero construction, and the architects worked with the Historical Commission to recreate the original exterior detailing and materials as closely as possible.



Careers In Sustainability Recap: The Evolution of the Sustainability Professional

By Andrew Breiter-Wu October 9, 2018

Last week, the USGBC MA Chapter’s Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts committee (EPMA) and the Boston Architectural College (BAC) came together to co-host the second Careers in Sustainability panel event entitled The Evolution of the Sustainability Professional. The event was well attended with a diverse group of emerging professionals, individuals switching careers, and students.

The panel was moderated by Andrew Breiter-Wu, the President of Breiter Planet Properties, a commercial solar energy consulting firm based in Massachusetts. He worked closely with the EPMA event team to compile a rockstar panel of six speakers: Carrie Havey, Senior Project Manager at The Green Engineer, DiAnn Mroszczak,  Project Architect & Sustainability Leader at Prellwitz Chilinski Associates, Ellie Hoyt, Sustainability Consultant at Linnean Solutions, Jennifer Taranto, Director of Sustainability at Structure Tone, Oliver Bautista, Designer III at Turkel Design, and Wendell Joseph, Neighborhood Planner at the City of Cambridge.

The event was structured around four questions that each panelist went down the line to answer. I have summarized some of the highlights from each of the speakers below. If you have any questions for the speakers, definitely attend future USGBC MA events where you may run into them or other members within our network with similar backgrounds.

It was great having Carrie, a USGBC MA board member, bring her experience of being in a similar place that many of our audience members are at and discuss how she landed at The Green Engineer, a sustainable design consulting firm. She discussed a few of her projects, such as a school in Worcester that she is working on. The biggest point she drove to the audience is to be your own advocate. We will all face adversity and challenges throughout our career but it’s crucial to be your own advocate and sell yourself to your future or current employer, to a customer, or even to the world.

DiAnn is also an EPMA alum and she helped emphasize the importance of communication, collaboration, curiosity, and drive. All of them are skills that she developed as she evolved in her career. Communication and collaboration was a common thread emphasized among all of the panelists. You can have an impressive educational background with a resume full of experience, but if you can’t effectively communicate your ideas, present your project, or articulate your value, you will have a difficult time in the business and professional world. On the point about collaboration, it was great to see that DiAnn and Wendell were collaborating on a project together. With the network of the MA USGBC, there is a lot of human capital available to learn from and work on projects throughout the region.

Ellie agreed with the importance of communication but also chimed in on the importance of self-motivation and not being “pigeon-holed” with your career. Go out and try as much as you can while you are young and find your passions and interests. This allows you to set your goals to align yourself with your interests and will keep you self-motivated to direct your life and career in a direction you are excited to live.

Jennifer brought a much-appreciated perspective of a seasoned sustainability professional. She spent the early portion of her career working for a West Coast Developer and was very money driven early on and worked extremely hard. She eventually needed to take some time off in Europe but was able to find her new firm Structure Tone which brought her back to the states. She advocated for sustainability within her firm and was able to get their commitment to invest into sustainability and allowed her to create her own role as Director of Sustainability. Now, every project they work on, they are always looking through a sustainability lens which has been much appreciated and even asked for by their clients.

Oliver discussed how his early interests for architecture came from seeing his father work as an active engineer for his whole life. Oliver also discussed a high-level overview of a few of the projects he is working on at Turkel Design where they create high quality modular prefabricated panels for new homes. He discussed how policy is driving a lot of the projects in California with their new legislation requiring solar and other energy efficient elements of new construction buildings.

Finally, Wendell’s story was a great story that many in the audience could relate to. When he graduated architecture school around the time of the economic recession, he had challenges with finding a career or employment opportunities related to his education. He took the initiative to skill up and went to graduate school. By interning and going to grad school, he was able to make himself attractive to his current employer and landed a career in the public sector. It shows the importance of always being adaptive to your environment and being willing to change courses in your career.

We finished the night off with food, drinks, and networking. For me, it was great to engage directly with a number of people from our audience and give some advice on next steps into their own career. I enjoy helping emerging professionals at every stage of their career because I know how confusing life can be and receiving different perspectives and advice is always helpful when taking your career to the next level. Thank you to everyone that attended our event and we look forward to seeing you at future EPMA and USGBC MA events!

Excel Dryer partners with Boston Latin School and EcoImpact to develop groundbreaking sustainability course curriculum for students

Excel Dryer partners with Boston Latin School and EcoImpact to develop groundbreaking sustainability course curriculum for students

Massachusetts-based Excel Dryer has long expressed its commitment to environmental sustainability. One way to perpetuate that commitment is by educating students on greening initiatives and approaches to reducing their own carbon footprint.

In collaboration with Boston Latin School and EcoImpact Consulting, Excel Dryer developed a curriculum of study for grade school and high school students. In addition to real-world sustainability lessons, the innovative project offers hands-on experience in field research, energy auditing, project management and more. The curriculum features two worksheets for student use.

A leading purveyor of products that help facilities qualify for the most LEED® v4 Credits of any hand dryer, as well as Green Globes and other essential certifications, this initiative was an opportunity for Excel Dryer to demonstrate its commitment to furthering education on sustainability.

The perfect partner for Excel’s educational endeavor was a mere few hours east in Boston Latin School, a centuries-old yet forward-thinking secondary institution. Administrators and students at the school took part in developing the initial run of curriculum and provided feedback to fine-tune worksheets.

Students at Boston Latin School in the YouthCan Program recently completed the curriculum, through which they calculated the environmental and financial savings of switching from paper towels to high-speed, energy-efficient XLERATOR® Hand Dryers in two high-traffic restrooms.

The curriculum was just one of the many sustainability initiatives implemented by Boston Latin School in the recent past. The institution notably collaborated on plans for a Shared Green Roof and Community Learning Center, which would place vegetation areas, wildlife habitats, renewable energy installations and more on the school’s rooftop.

For more information about the course curriculum, visit

Edge Conditions: Valuing the Marginal – A Living Shorelines Case Study

Edge Conditions: Valuing the Marginal – A Living Shorelines Case Study

Written by Aminah McNulty

The edge effect is one of the twelve principles of Permaculture Design, or the designing beneficial relationships. Originally termed as an ecological phenomenon, the edge effect describes the increase in biodiversity in a region where two adjacent ecosystems overlap. Species exist here from both ecosystems, as well as unique species adapted to this transition zone. We see this effect manifest throughout the built and natural environments, as well as our social and financial systems.

The edge effect is one of the twelve principles of Permaculture Design, or the designing beneficial relationships. Originally termed as an ecological phenomenon, the edge effect describes the increase in biodiversity in a region where two adjacent ecosystems overlap. Species exist here from both ecosystems, as well as unique species adapted to this transition zone. We see this effect manifest throughout the built and natural environments, as well as our social and financial systems. A state-funded project along the Massachusetts’ North Shore is a product of the edge effect. The project address both the deteriorating shoreline and the overlap of social groups and political organizations. It is likely that this project will support a living shoreline demonstration, making it the first state-funded project of its type to date. Living shorelines are a system of soft or “green” engineering that utilizes natural reinforcement and strategic plant communities to buffer and stabilize estuarine coasts. Through a system of partial seawall reconstruction, rock and coil log edge buffers and low and high tide wetland planting, our team hopes to build precedent for natural shoreline treatments in the face of rising sea levels and climate change.

*Image credit: Florida Living Shorelines

Miss our Bike Tour? Check out our Photo Tour!

Over mighty hills and across coursing rivers, the 2018 USGBC EPMA Bike Tour rode from sustainable site to sustainable site across Somerville Saturday, August 25th. Our multi-generational band of bikers rode all morning and into the afternoon to visit several sites through the city, starting in Davis Square and ending at Aeronaut Brewery. If you weren’t able to make it this year, please enjoy this virtual tour through our route. 

The route started along the Somerville Community Path, a mixed-use path and part of the growing bike-friendly infrastructure of Somerville. 

Our first stop was at the Saint Polycarp Village apartment complex, built and managed by the Somerville Community Corporation. SCC CEO Daniel LeBlanc spent some time with us and offered his insights as a long-term Somerville resident and 30-year veteran of Massachusetts not-for-profits. The Saint Polycarp Village complex has been developed by the SCC as sustainably constructed low-income housing. This LEED Silver certified housing complex not only made use of sustainable construction materials, its energy and water efficient design directly supports SCC’s mission by keeping utility costs down for their residents.

Next we visited the Blessings of the Bay Park and spoke with Landscape Architect Kate Kennen, Owner of Offshoots Inc. In partnership with The Mystic River Watershed Association Offshoots Inc is designing an ambitious revitalization plan for the park, informed by a comprehensive a community engagement including public meetings, surveys, and knocking on doors to directly contact community members. Kate walked us through their future plans to reduce the impact of invasives, include plantings that support bioremediation of the shoreline, and develop better river views and river access for the community.

After a very enjoyable ride through the Mystic River Reservation, making use of their well developed bike paths and community spaces, we stopped to visit the Capuano Early Education Center. The first Somerville public school to pursue ambitious sustainability goals, the CEEC made extensive use of recycled materials in its construction, houses solar panels that cover 10% of its energy needs, and uses a rainwater collection system to irrigate its school fields. Somerville has continued its support of sustainable schools with the East Somerville Community School and Somerville High School.

We ended our tour visiting Artisan’s Asylum and their neighbor the Aeronaut Brewery. At Artisan’s Asylum (also known as A2), EPMA’s own Aliza Vaida gave a tour of the largest makerspace on the east coast. Tired and sweaty, our riders relaxed at Aeronaut for food, beverage, and conversation.
Many thanks to BlueBikes for supporting the tour with vouchers for free rides, and Aeronaut Brewery for hosting our end-of-tour reception.