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
This Earth Day the EPMA Committee organized an event with the Waltham Land Trust to help with the Charles River Cleanup between Moody and Prospect Streets in Waltham. The event was part of the comprehensive annual cleanup of the Charles River that extends into The Esplanade, with the help of other organizations and groups in the various regions touched by the river bank.
The cleanup began at 9am with the meetup location at the Carter St. train station in Waltham, as our energetic volunteers showed up ready to go bright and early! It was a wonderful day, with nice sunshine and cool weather. We handed out the supplies; gloves, t-shirts, trash bags and started our route at Moody Street along the path up to Prospect Street. We encountered a couple other groups on our journey, as we picked up plastic bottles, aluminum cans, foam plates, and other debris left along the way. The level pathway was easy to walk around and allowed for easy pickup of trash, plenty of benches allowed for key points to leave our trash bags once full for the Waltham DCR truck to pick them up. It was all a good collaboration between everyone involved, and the further up the path we walked we came across less debris to pick up, so once we hit Prospect Street we doubled back to make sure we didn’t miss anything we could get rid of.
After our work was done we met up with the event coordinators at the nearby Shaw’s parking lot, here we returned the supplies we didn’t use and then headed towards the picnic area to enjoy some great pizza and snacks, well deserved after a nice day’s work! Here we met up with volunteers from other groups and enjoyed the nice gathering for a good cause. Thanks to everyone who took the time on such a nice day and thanks to the Waltham Land Trust for locating our group within their region and for all their support / organizing the event!
Written by Julie Salvatoriello
After having to reschedule several times due to inclement weather, USGBC finally got its tour of the amazing new workspace of Jacobs’ Boston Office. Thank you to LAM Partners as well for sponsoring the event.
After being gathered in Jacob’s break space that had an amazing view of Copley Plaza (the window viewing a section of the Hancock Tower), we got a break down of the efforts Jacobs has put into renovating the space to suit not only LEED, WELL & FitWell building standards, but also the merging of their multiple office environments and locations. Thank you to Jacob’s Paul Tsang (Director of Engineering), Andrea Alaownis (Interior Designer), and Carolyn Auclair (Design Architect) for your presentations, as well as Glenn Heinmiller from LAM.
Biyin (Betty) Liu (Mechanical Engineer), EPMA member extraordinaire, was one of the tour guides for the evening, giving us a first-hand account of the inner workings of Jacobs. The space was designed with A LOT of high tech conference rooms to accommodate those staff that had come from a Jacobs office with a more closed floor plan. The tour included aspects in accordance with LEED, WELL & FitWell, such as standing desks, material and lighting choices, lots of daylighting and views, showers and cubbies for active lifestyles, and beautiful and diverse meeting and break spaces. Even the ingredients of the coffee machine had to be considered.
Jacobs was a generous host. Thank you so much for giving USGBC MA a closer look at the WELL & FitWell program and how it influenced the reality that is your amazing office space!
In the green building world, there aren’t just efficiencies to be found in the design or operation of buildings. There are also opportunities to create greater efficiency in the market, encouraging and allowing more building owners to go green. While many building owners see the value of solar for reducing energy costs and their carbon footprint, they can easily be put off by aggressive sales tactics and the time and effort needed to get multiple quotes from solar installers. NRGTree recognized this challenge and created the Own My Solar platform to create a transparent and streamlined process for finding a solar installer.
Own My Solar is a reverse-auction platform that allows building owners and project managers to compare side-by-side quotes from solar installers in one place. The installers all bid on the same solar design, making direct comparison easier. Not only does Own My Solar save time, but the transparent, competitive bidding process has been shown to lower the cost of solar installations by as much as 30%. Own My Solar is completely free, and it’s an easy way to explore the costs and benefits of adding solar panels. NRGTree staff will even walk you through your projected energy and financial savings, including the government incentives your project is eligible for.
For solar installers, Own My Solar greatly reduces acquisition costs. Instead of spending time and money on marketing and sales, installers can simply log in to review and bid on the available projects. NRGTree creates the solar design, meaning installers don’t have to waste time creating designs for prospects that may not give them business.
Solar is essential for the green building community’s shift from merely reducing impacts to Net-Zero and Net-Positive goals, and Own My Solar is a tool that will help this transition. For many commercial projects, solar is already a good financial investment, with payback periods less than five years in many cases and incentives sometimes being worth more than the cost of the system. Yet, there are still barriers to adoption. By providing a free, easy and transparent way to directly compare solar quotes, Own My Solar reduces inefficiencies in the solar market, helping to increase ROI and making it easier for more building owners to embrace solar.
For more information about Own My Solar or joining our network of solar installers, visit www.nrgtree.com
The Baker-Polito Administration recently filed legislation aimed at ensuring homeowners and prospective homebuyers have access to information about the anticipated energy efficiency characteristics of residences and recommended cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. The legislation, An Act Relative to Consumer Access to Residential Energy Information is an exciting transparency measure for the residential green building industry.
This legislation would require that a home energy scorecard and energy rating be provided to homeowners as part of free residential energy efficiency assessments, and after January 1, 2021, would require that home energy performance ratings be made available to potential homebuyers when one to four unit family homes are publicly listed for sale.This will increase transparency around home energy consumption, which is comparable to using MPG to measure the efficiency of a car. This way, residential consumers can make more informed decisions related to the energy efficiency of their homes, creating additional market pressure for more green buildings.
According to Governor Charlie Baker, “Massachusetts is a national leader in energy efficiency, and this first-of-its-kind legislation would provide energy performance data to homeowners and buyers to improve consumer information and promote home energy efficiency,”
The energy scorecard would be provided to homeowners who receive quality home energy assessments, including no-cost Mass Save in-home assessments and RESNET Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index evaluations. This scorecard would be an estimate of annual energy consumption, including factors such as the home’s architectural features, most commonly lighting, insulation and heating equipment.
Beyond the scorecard, MA residents will be eligible for financial incentives for efficiency measures, including insulation and energy efficient heating. Furthermore, Mass Save provides zero percent financing for qualifying improvements and equipment, as well as up to 10 K toward energy improvements, and rebates and loan products for renewable energy tech from MassCEC.
This new legislation is a welcome addition to help cement Massachusetts as a leader in green building nation-wide. Massachusetts has been ranked the #1 state for energy efficiency for the past seven years by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and upon passage of this legislation, would be the first state in the country to require home energy scorecards for residential homes to be made available to potential homebuyers.