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the day, electricity consumers have two choices, they can either stick with dirty, expensive energy sourced from old, outdated infrastructure, or they can make the switch to clean electricity produced from cheaper, renewable sources.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]
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 Structure Tone and Gerding Edlen.
Don’t forget to buy a ticket or register your board for the event!
Jacobs – Submitted by Structure Tone
The building’s floor-to-ceiling glazing provides quality views and excellent access to daylight to nearly 80% of the regularly occupied interior.
When global AEC firm Jacobs relocated its Boston-area offices from Cambridge to Boston, they took the opportunity to set a high bar when it came to sustainability. With its new 46,000sf space, Jacobs was looking for multiple sustainability and wellness certifications, all within a tight project schedule. With such lofty sustainability goals in the plan, Jacobs called on the sustainable construction experts at Structure Tone to help them find a way to achieve them.
The building’s floor-to-ceiling glazing provides quality views and excellent access to daylight to nearly 80% of the regularly occupied interior. In open-plan and collaboration areas, Structure Tone installed sound masking to help with acoustic comfort by providing light background noise to help muffle auditory distractions. The office also offers two wellness rooms, which can be used for nursing mothers, meditation, prayer, napping, or just a quiet moment alone. This amenity helps staff feel comfortable and supported knowing there is a private space wholly dedicated to the wellness of its users.
The office also features large café area, various-sized huddle and collaboration rooms, showers and lockers, 100% sit-stand desks and a complex lighting package designed to meet the WELL Building criteria. In fact, Jacobs is seeking WELL Gold and LEED version 4 Gold for the space and has already earned Fitwel three-star certification, thanks both to the design and to the sustainable construction practices that Structure Tone partnered with Jacobs to foster.
The Eddy in East Boston: Submitted by Gerding Edlen
Through its Green Cities funds, Gerding Edlen’s Boston portfolio currently consists of The Eddy in East Boston, a LEED Gold certified new construction multifamily property
Gerding Edlen is a leading real estate investment, development and asset and property management firm recognized for its expertise in creating and owning highly sustainable, urban infill, office, residential and mixed-use properties. Founded in 1996, the firm engages a socially responsible approach to real estate by cultivating properties that strengthen communities, minimize impact on the environment and add profound value to residents and tenants.
Gerding Edlen’s efforts are guided by a set of criteria, known as the Principles of Place, where community plays a pivotal role alongside design, technology and sustainability in the success of their properties. This commitment has led the firm to become a recognized national leader of sustainable development, which includes more than 75 LEED certified or certified pending properties.
Through its Green Cities funds, Gerding Edlen’s Boston portfolio currently consists of The Eddy in East Boston, a LEED Gold certified new construction multifamily property; Neponset Landing, an acquired multifamily property located in Quincy which is pursuing LEED certification through the Arc platform; and Fenway Center, two multifamily towers currently under construction adjacent to Fenway Park.
Fenway Center is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification and features an array of high-performance building strategies, including a 75 kW co-generation plant that will generate electricity for the building and waste heat to help offset natural gas use for the building’s hot water system. The project also has an abundance of biophilic design strategies that serve to connect building occupants to the natural environment. As part of this health and wellness focus, Fenway Center is pursuing Fitwel certification, a standard that evaluates an array of health-related behaviors and risks associated with the building.
A particularly innovative building feature at Fenway Center is the use of View Dynamic Glass in the façade. When it opens, Fenway Center will be one of only a few multifamily properties in the country to feature windows made with View Dynamic Glass. Designed to tint automatically in response to ambient light levels throughout the day, View glass allows natural light into the building while keeping unwanted heat and glare out, without the need for blinds. This not only saves energy but creates a more pleasant indoor environment for residents who can enjoy full views to the outdoors throughout the day. Four shades of tint are available; residents can either allow the system to adjust automatically or they can adjust the tint to their personal preference via a mobile app.
Each of these properties is unique and each has demonstrable social and environmental benefits. Gerding Edlen is proud to design, build and manage properties that have positive and lasting impacts in their communities.
To learn more about Gerding Edlen, please visit www.gerdingedlen.com/social-impact/overview/.
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.
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!
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.
In 1984, the World Health Organization (WHO) coined the term “sick building syndrome.” That same year, a WHO Committee report suggested that up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings worldwide might be the subject of excessive complaints related to indoor air quality.1
As times change, so does the way people think about buildings. Today, the focus has shifted from concerns about sick buildings to creating healthy environments for buildings’ occupants. This focus on wellness was on display at last week’s USGBC-Massachusetts Healthy Building Summit. Advances in building science, more certifications that evaluate the life cycle impact of building products, and even shifts in workforce demographics are shaping how the AEC community approaches the relationship between a building and its occupants.
And while no one can predict the future with certainty, following are some predictions for how the healthy building conversation may continue to evolve in 2019.
- Increased Focus on the Occupant Experience – By their nature, buildings serve occupants engaged in varied experiences and with differing environmental concerns. For example in a hospital environment, privacy, indoor air quality, acoustics, and access to nature are being evaluated in context with patient experiences and even outcomes. Viewed in this context, insulation used in the enclosure should be considered in terms of its acoustic as well as thermal performance and ingredient composition. Acoustics and indoor environmental quality are also top concerns for school districts.
- A System Approach to the Building Enclosure – Strategic design and mindful materials will continue to converge into a system approach to the building enclosure. From below-grade garages to green rooftops and throughout the wall system–a system approach can manage the potential for moisture accumulation, meet energy expectations and support indoor environmental quality efforts. The system approach also applies to the life safety systems within the enclosure.
With nearly a half-century of experience, the Owens Corning® and Thermafiber® Insulation teams continue to be one of the pioneers in passive life safety systems. Thermafiber® recently became the first insulation to earn the SAFETY Act designation, providing powerful liability protection to architects, OEMs, fire stop contractors, building owners and other stakeholders in the unfortunate event of an act of terror.
- Green Without Compromise –In 2011, Owens Corning changed the manufacturing platform to remove formaldehyde from commercial and residential fiberglass insulation, replacing it with a bio-based binder, and continues to do so in the Thermafiber product line. As a product’s energy efficiency and environmental profile should not come at the expense of product performance, Owens Corning pledges that new products will perform at the same level or better than earlier versions. This philosophy is referred to as “green without compromise.” More information on this approach to sustainability is available here.
- Appealing to Generation Z – Competition for top talent is especially rigorous in a tight labor market. Generation Z workers just entering the market have a strong desire for authenticity, presenting an opportunity for manufacturers to provide transparency and describe products in terms of their life cycle impact. The recently launched Owens Corning Building Science Solutions Center’s “Sustainability” section makes it easy for AEC professionals to access research and white papers on product health and safety.
Owens Corning is proud to be a sponsor of the USGBC Healthy Building Summit. More information on Owens Corning’s commitment to sustainability – including an online learning center is available at the Building Science Solutions Center.
1 United States Environmental Protection Agency, Air and Radiation (6609J) Research and Development, Environmental Protection (MD-56) Agency February 1991
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