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.
About WinnCompanies 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
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.
Each year, approximately 2,000 energy management professionals come to the Northeast for the annual GLOBALCON conference and trade show to network with their peers, share best practices, and learn about the latest industry developments. It has been presented by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) for the past 29 years – making it one of the longest-running events for business, industrial and institutional energy users. This year the event is scheduled for March 21-22, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA.
“Our members recognize and attend events like GLOBALCON because they bring together the top experts in all areas of energy management, power, buildings, and clean technologies.” Stated Bill Kent, Executive Director of AEE. “These are the individuals that are discussing and defining the paths to improved energy efficiency, facility optimization and sustainability.”
Presented by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE), GLOBALCON showcases a powerful schedule of events covering energy management, power distribution and generation, buildings and facilities, energy services and commissioning, and sustainable development, which also includes the latest developments and strategies for clean, green and renewable technologies. Keynote speaker and Energy Company Partner, National Grid’s Jeannette Mills, Senior Vice President of Safety, Health & Environmental will discuss, “Leading the Clean Energy Transition”. As the energy industry is changing and evolving at an unprecedented pace, politicians, regulators, customers, and communities look for affordable solutions to the climate change challenge, leadership in energy is more important than ever.
In addition to the opening session, GLOBALCON offers a multi-track conference program where attendees are able to explore sessions across four categories: Leading Edge Initiatives, Energy Manager’s Summit, Data Analytics & Energy Services and Advanced Energy Solutions. Many of the sessions help facility managers and building owners identify creative ways to reduce their energy consumption.
“It’s also the additional opportunities at the event that interest our members, such as networking receptions and AEE chapter events. The in-line expo allows end users to interact face to face with over 200 vendors, many of them local to the Boston and the northeast energy marketplace. They get to explore the latest products, technology and services in a dynamic, interactive environment” Continued Bill Kent “These are what make GLOBALCON a shared community for all involved, and Boston is at the forefront of sustainable energy developments, so it will be an ideal location for anyone looking to grow, invest and connect.”
Join commercial, municipal, industrial and institutional energy users at the leading energy conference and technology expo in the Northeast. Visit the products and services on the show floor – free of charge, network with your peers, attend luncheons, workshops, tours and much more.
For full details, visit www.globalconevent.com.
With Hanukkah coming up soon, I wanted to throw out an idea that occurred to me last Earth Day. The idea I had is “Eco-Hanukkah” (there is very likely a better name) or in other words adding environmentalism as one of the holiday’s themes using home energy use.
It struck me that the main miracle of the Hanukkah story is how menorah oil used in the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Maccabees was only suppose to last for a single day, but ended up lasting for 8 days. Hence the 8 nights and 8 candles of Hanukkah. Maybe not the most fantastic of miracles but from a certain modern perspective then the Hanukkah miracle is essentially one of fuel efficiency! The menorah of the Second Temple was 800% more energy efficient than competing menorahs, giving it I am sure a high Energy Star score.
Jumping off of that, my idea was about how Jewish families, individuals, and communities could potentially add a new way to celebrate the holiday that tackles more modern problems; namely climate change, environmentalism and what we can do to reduce our ecological impacts and carbon footprints.
The way people can celebrate this version of “Eco-Hanukkah” is to aim to use 1/8th of their typical daily energy consumption during the holiday. Much like the oil in the Hanukkah story, the goal is to consume the amount of water, electricity, heat, disposable trash waste, etc, you typically use in a day, spread over the course of the whole 8 days. The typical American emits about 36,000 pounds of greenhouse gases a year, or about 98 pounds per day. That includes consuming 31 kWh of electricity and 551 kBTUs of fossil fuels per day! Do you think that you can take the Green Hanukkah Challenge and make that last for 8 full days.
Eco-Hanukkah could be a good way to teach kids and adults about their environmental impacts. Furthermore it could encourage people to benchmark and track their normal daily energy consumption so as to figure how to cut it to 1/8, which is important knowledge to have in and of itself. Most people won’t be able to meet the goal of cutting energy consumption down to an 1/8 (its a pretty high bar), but that alone would be an important lesson in itself on the hard work needed in truly reducing our environmental impacts. Boston has a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 which will require us as a city to go beyond just the Eco-Hanukkah challenge.
Its just an idea, but I believe there is a value in the work of updating and reinterpreting past traditions to serve modern needs. The purpose of holidays like Hanukkah shouldn’t just be about giving kids gifts and gelt. It should also include teaching people of all ages valuable lessons about their place on this fragile world and what they can do to live more sustainably.
As an education and advocacy nonprofit, USGBC MA staff are very familiar with teaching roles within the community, and our new Executive Director, Meredith Elbaum, demonstrates this quality. Along with her wealth of experience as past Director of Sustainable Design at Sasaki, she currently teaches a sustainable architecture course at Wentworth Institute of Technology. This past Wednesday the USGBC MA staff became students themselves and hit the streets of Boston to join Meredith’s class on a tour 888 Boylston Street.
888 Boylston is a high rise office building owned by Boston Properties and located at the Prudential Center in the heart of the Back Bay Neighborhood. The LEED BD+C CS 2009 Platinum Certification project contains 425,000 feet of mixed-use office space, some of which is occupied already by some of the most iconic brands, including Tesla Motor Inc. and Under Armour.
Ben Myers, Boston Properties’ Sustainability Manager and USGBC MA Board Director, was our tour guide. Myers helped us navigate through 888 Boylston’s impressive array of engineering feats, which help the building achieve an energy reduction by roughly half compared to other buildings in its class. Viewable from the street, onlookers can see 888 Boylston’s rooftop renewable energy power plant, which is composed of 14 vertical access wind turbines and a series of solar photovoltaic panels, leading to a 134-kW production capability.
The building’s high-performance envelope is composed of double-paned insulated glazing that provides an impressive 13’-6” clear view of the Back Bay, Charles River and Cambridge to the north. The curtain wall glass was designed to maximize thermal performance and natural daylight. The large window-wall ratio reduces artificial lighting runtime by 60%. At many points on the tour, Myers pointed to the chilled beam HVAC system, which uses 100 percent fresh air instead of re-circulated air, reducing energy costs and improving occupant comfort. When pressed on the importance of fresh air within indoor office spaces, Myers cited studies exploring the importance of air quality for the cognitive function of building occupants.
Stats aside, my impression of the building was largely visceral. I was most impressed by how all of these engineering innovations translated into livable experiences, rather than abstract mathematical concepts, making 888 Boylston an architectural experience that you can feel.
Having to work in an office for most of the day, I am entirely used to the experience of artificial light, a staple that illuminates our workspace but also offers a fairly different experience than sunlight. When touring the 11th floor of 888 Boylston, floor to ceiling windows scattered sunlight across the room and made me feel distinctly more awake and aware in the way that only sunlight can. Foliage sprung up in many locations throughout the building, including a living plant wall in the lobby and rooftop garden. In combination with the building’s chilled beam HVAC system and daylighting, the space felt more open with an almost outdoor quality.
In my mind, the most impressive feat of 888 Boylston is not only its technological feats but the way in which someone potentially without an engineering or architectural background could feel the difference of the entire building experience. Whether the fresh air, ample sunlight, or aesthetically beautiful greenery (aka biophilia), 888 Boylston reminded me that green building can be an experience as well as a practice.
The EPMA committee met for an energetic monthly meeting ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Although Greenbuild/ABX 2017 had passed, the excitement continued as members carried on with the “ALL IN” commitment to advancing the green building movement. Every seat in the room was filled as the committee gathered to share their Greenbuild experiences and reflect on the wealth of information shared over the week’s long event. For those seeking to continue learning, member Ben Silverman is planning to form a study group to prepare for the LEED AP BD+C credential exam.
This month’s meeting kicked off planning for 2018 as the committee aims to launch the next phase of the Green Classroom Renovation at Tech Boston Academy in Dorchester as well as the early concept Leadership Institute. While planning for 2018 will continue at the December meeting, the EPMA also looks forward to a few great upcoming events this month including the WiD and KAD Art Show on 12/6 and the EBC 19th Annual Winter Garden Party on 12/7. If you missed this month’s meeting be sure to attend the next monthly meeting on December 11th.
This month’s feature presentation was delivered by EPMA member Oliver Bautista and focused on the process of prefab residential architecture. Hailing from the Dominican Republic, Oliver has led an exciting career working on mixed-use, office, and retail projects both in the United States and abroad. He currently is a Designer III at Turkel Design – a Boston based designer and manufacturer of modern prefab homes and the topic of his presentation. Turkel Design offers clients the option to select a standard home design, modify a standard home design, or create a custom home design. Depending on the design type chosen the budget and schedule may vary, but the prefabricated approach is maintained.
The prefab approach to design and construction offers multiple advantages to owners and builders over the traditional building approach. Prefabricated building items are built in a controlled shop which improves quality, can reduce waste, and eliminates delays related to weather conditions. Perhaps the most significant advantage to the prefab approach is the substantial reduction in the construction schedule. Following design approval, fabrication can begin in the shop while site preparation and foundations are in progress. This allows for completed building components and modules to be shipped to the job site and simply erected instead of constructed in the field, greatly reducing on-site construction time.
To illustrate the building process, Oliver shared a visual timeline of a sample project which was completely assembled in just 100 days. The timeline presented a fantastic visual of the accelerated pace of construction provided by the prefab approach. In 54 days the entire home had been completely framed and the core and shell assembly was completed just 46 days later. The modern home, situated on a beautiful coastal lot, featured floor-to-ceiling windows facing the water with two balconies allowing the owners to enjoy the view both indoors and outdoors. Due to new building codes, the home was constructed on a raised foundation consisting of 11ft concrete piers with breakaway basement wall panels to allow water to flow beneath the home in the event of coastal flooding.
For more information visit turkeldesign.com and be sure to explore the Turkel Design Axiom Series provided in partnership with Dwell Magazine.