Alex Testa, a Project Manager at Siena Construction,
explained how she and her coworkers leveraged their industry skill sets to
construct an interdisciplinary exhibit that exemplified sustainable
She and a team of employees at Siena Construction combined forces with subcontractors, designers and scientists to build three geodesic spheres as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. The geodesic spheres were both aesthetic structures and interactive camera obscuras. The spheres were used as an exhibit to demonstrate how the human eye works. They played to a multitude of interests and ages–from kindergarteners to retired professors.
The 10-foot diameter structures were built using Red Grandis Eucalyptus, a sustainable, quickly regrowing tree from Uruguay. The team at Siena designed the spheres in-house, managed the construction with highly skilled millworkers, and created media resources to communicate the science and construction of the project to visitors. To learn more about the geodesic sphere’s history, building process, and materials, watch Siena’s exhibition video here.
Through active engagement and education, the spheres were
used to bring the core principles of green building to the public. Alex
explained how skills from the architecture-engineering-construction industry
can be applied to projects outside of everyday comfort zones, and how working
to engage community members outside of the construction industry can benefit
Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts (EPMA) hosted the “USGBC MA Advocacy Mixer,” a great networking opportunity event to connect the green building community with local advocacy groups last Thursday. The eight organizations briefly shared their sustainability missions, and how they engage and motivate our local community. There were opportunities to engage in discussions and sign up to volunteer before and after the presentations.
350 Mass is engaging in the “Better Future Project” which is a Cambridge-based organizing nonprofit to help the need for a grassroots climate network in Massachusetts. One of the important campaigns they executed to confront the climate crisis is “Road to a Green New Deal in MA” which were protests and street performances in clown costumes targeted at important decision-makers, such as major American banks, in order to stop investment in fossil fuel infrastructure.
Clean Water Action
Clean Water Action organizes strong grassroots groups and coalitions, and campaigns to elect environmental candidates to solve environmental and community problems. They are campaigning for legislation that would ban flame retardants in building materials, children’s toys, furniture, and other materials and products. Clean Water Action also worked closely with the USGBC MA on speaking at the hearing for this legislature.
MCAN (The Massachusetts Climate Network) works with and advocates for Massachusetts cities and towns to be the best in the nation at addressing climate change. MCAN recently reported that Massachusetts’ municipal light plants need improvement to meet the state’s clean energy goals.
CRWA (Charles River Watershed Association) was formed in response to concern about the environment and the health of the Charles River and its watershed through science, advocacy, education, and engineering. By CRWA and community’s tremendous efforts, the Charles River recently received a water quality report card grade A-, which is considered one of the cleanest urban rivers in the United States.
Mothers Out Front
The mission is to build their power as mothers to ensure a livable climate for all children. One of the big movements is to reduce the dependence of our system on methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by promoting the shift to clean renewable energy for heating and cooking in the built environment. They encourage people to use an electric stove instead of a gas stove. According to the research, using a gas stove gives us many disadvantages, such as increasing childhood asthma rates and releasing more energy and emissions.
Sunrise is a movement by young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. Representatives of the organization note that “we live in a climate change era” and that action needs to be taken to stop the effects of climate change. They are pushing for the “Green New Deal” along with other nonprofits, like Mass 350, and pressuring local candidates running for 2020 to support the “Green New Deal” and to not accept campaign donations from companies like Exxon.
Living Building Challenge
The Living Building Challenge envisions a thriving and diverse community working together for a living future. They are looking at how we build own homes like a forest; they are not only looking for reducing our carbon footprint, but also giving back to the surrounding environment. They challenge everyone who is involved in the creation of the home (e.g. customer, construction firm, materials vendor, etc) to work for the mission of Living Building Challenge.
City of Boston
Their mission is to enhance the quality of life in Boston by protecting our air, water, and land resources, while addressing climate change. They are continuously updating the city’s climate action plan to be carbon-free by 2050 and figuring out how to achieve this goal.
We would like to give a special thanks to the organizations in attendance as well as Boston Architectural College who provided a great event venue.
Every year for Earth Day, the Charles River Watershed Association mobilizes an average 3000 Bostonians to organize the annual Charles River Cleanup, which stretches from the downtown Boston up to Milford/Hopkinton in the suburbs. It is a part of the nationwide ‘National Rivers Cleanup’ organized by American Rivers – a national advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and conserving rivers. Now in its 20th year, the Charles River Cleanup has had tremendous success in the past, winning the ‘Most pounds of trash collected’ award for collecting about 100,000 pounds of trash and the ‘Most volunteers mobilized’ award last year.
This year, the EPMA committee, along with other organizations, were tasked with cleaning up the riverbank at Lederman Park, next to the Massachusetts General Hospital. Located in the heart of Boston, this park is heavily used by the community and easily accessible by public transport.
The day started with all volunteers meeting up at the riverbank by 9.00 am. The volunteers signed in and were given gloves and trash bags to start. We scoured the area for anything that did not belong, picking up cigarette stubs, metal pieces, coffee cups, straws, plastic, and paper. A lot of the trash going into the river often ends up entangled and collected within the rip-rap stones. The volunteers had to climb down on the rip-rap to collect trash from the crevices, which made the work harder, but even more fulfilling. The Charles River Clean Up Boat made an appearance and collected trash at various spots in the river. After about 3 hours of work, the results were starting to show as the area looked cleaner.
These events offer a great opportunity to give back to the river and to mother Earth, while meeting like-minded people who share our passion. The EPMA team wishes to thank all volunteers who showed up on this cold, windy, Saturday morning to make a difference.
Electrical vehicle (EV) owners will experience one less obstacle as they hit the road in Massachusetts thanks to Eversource and National Grid. During the Building Tech Forum, the two companies discussed their EV charging infrastructure offerings.
The goal of the statewide initiative is to
facilitate the installation of more than 4,000 new charging stations by paying
for the electrical infrastructure improvements needed beyond the meter to
support EV chargers, an expense of thousands of dollars traditionally borne by
the site owner. Eversource has a goal of 3,500 chargers by 2020, and National
Grid has a goal of 600 chargers in their Massachusetts service territory by
“It’s forecasted that by 2030 there will be nearly 600 electric vehicle models,” said James Cater, Eversource. “One of the leading deterrents to adoption, though, is ‘range anxiety,’ or the fear of being stranded without a charging station nearby. With the EV charging infrastructure programs, both companies, Eversource and National Grid, are working with businesses and municipalities across the state to increase public charging access and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by installing electric vehicle service equipment.”
How does the initiative work?
Building owners, managers, or operators apply to become site hosts. Once approved, Eversource and National Grid, cover all of the infrastructure costs and implementation needed to install the charging stations – which generally accounts for 50-90 percent of total costs associated with installing EV charging stations. The site host is then responsible for purchasing and installing the charging stations. However, some site hosts take advantage of Massachusetts Electric Vehicle Incentive Program Grants to offset or completely cover the costs of the charging stations.
If a site is within an eligible Environmental Justice Community, the companies will also pay for the chargers and their installation. Both Eversource and National Grid have earmarked 10 percent of sites to be in Environmental Justice Communities.
Who is an ideal site host?
Businesses or municipalities with large parking areas or where people are likely to be parked for a while such as public parking spaces, apartment complexes, places of employment, universities, and hospitals are ideal site hosts. The initiative also supports the installation of a limited number of Level III “DC Fast” chargers along travel corridors.
Are new construction projects eligible?
Yes! Planning for EV charging access at the
construction phase of a new building makes it easier to make the needed
electrical infrastructure improvements and counts toward LEED v4 Green Building
At our recent Emerging Professionals meeting, we were treated to a presentation by Roland Jenkins called “Bringing Sustainability to Life.” Roland Jenkins is currently an Assistant Project Manager of B.W. Kennedy & Company located in Arlington, Massachusetts and his presentation was on the LEED certification for the lab and biotech facility located on 828 Winter Street in Waltham.
The featured facility is a 144,000 sq. ft. core and shell building specifically designed for life science and would be attached to a four-tier parking garage covering over 155,000 sq. ft. that would seat over 500 cars total.
For the construction, a submittal process was necessary. The submittal process helps with the procurement of building materials. There was also the need for monitoring of the job site operations in order to conduct site reports, which would all go towards compliance confirmation of the construction phase. All of these steps were tracked and documented throughout the procedure.
The final phase involved the LEED verification and certification. A compilation of LEED documents were compiled together for the final steps. All of these documents would be used for the final project that was submitted to GBCI, who would conduct their final review decisions. Once the decisions were made, a final LEED certification was implemented for the building through an end-user program.
At the end of the day, the new lab and biotech facility scored a total of 51/110 for LEED certification requirements. Thus, the building earned a Silver LEED certification overall. Roland explained how the building met the National Grid and Eversource requirements for energy conservation and through the MEP energy modeling and reductions, they were able to provide significant rebates to the clients. Other than that, there were also considerable energy savings over the life of the building itself.
Some of the value engineering that took place helped reduce equipment components and defer equipment installs was well. Some of the other plans that were in place included the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), Construction Waste Management Plan, and the Indoor Air Quality Plan. All of these factors were considered when utilizing the LEED certification model for the new lab and biotech facility on 828 Winter Street.
Thanks again to Roland Jenkins for the informative presentation on the new life sciences building in Waltham. It was great to see the building earn a silver LEED certification for sustainability.
February’s EPMA presentation delve into the key terms and concepts necessary to understand battery storage and how battery storage is vital for renewables, like solar and wind, to become the dominant energy source for the world.
The first part of the presentation reviewed the key metrics and economics to understand and consider when thinking about battery storage coupled with solar energy for the residential and commercial market. When looking into a storage solution, one needs to consider how much energy the battery can discharge, how long it will last and other key elements. Besides having a lot of new concepts to consider, another challenge with battery storage today is that it is quite expensive, ranging from $10,000-$20,000 for residential, and usually only lasts around 10 years. There are benefits to getting battery storage today, like if you live in storm prone areas or have time-of-use rate plans. In general however, battery technologies are just too expensive for most people.
But times are changing! Battery storage is expected to drop significantly over the next 10 years making it a possibility for more home owners, businesses and utilities. Currently solar only works when the sun is shining, when batteries become the norm the world will be come a much more resilient place. We will be able to power the built environment with renewables during the day and fill up the storage as well. And then during the night hours batteries will be able to power the built environment, closing the loop. Storage will allow redundancy so resiliency within our current energy grid. Imagine a world where if the grid goes down because of a natural disaster, key institutions like hospitals, fire departments and schools, can link up together and still be powered by solar plus storage. Individual’s homes will be able to be islanded off from the grid, because of solar plus storage, allowing autonomy during a grid failure as well. Storage is the piece that will enable a clean energy future.