James Robe's blog

Energy Consumers and Utilities Come Together at the 2018 GLOBALCON Energy, Power & Facility Management Conference & Expo

By USGBC MA Chapter on

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.



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Greening Hanukkah

By USGBC MA Chapter on

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.


888 Boylston: Sustainable Design You Can Experience

By USGBC MA Chapter on

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.

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November EPMA Meeting with Oliver Bautista

By USGBC MA Chapter on

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. 


More Than 24,000 Attendees and 700 Exhibitors Convened for Greenbuild and ABX 2017

By USGBC MA Chapter on

Today, Informa Exhibitions, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Boston Society of Architects/AIA announced the results of the 2017 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo and the Architecture Boston Expo, held last week at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston, Massachusetts. The week-long events included an overall attendance of 24,731 and 703 exhibiting companies participating in 169,000 square feet of exhibit and display space on the trade show floor.

The Greenbuild-ABX education programs cumulatively featured more than 300 sessions, tours, summits and workshops in the robust education program and throughout the week, with nearly 100 sold out sessions. Attendees of each show were eligible to attend education sessions at both events.

“This year, we celebrated ‘Together in Boston’ to aptly describe the communal spirit of the week and the co-location between Greenbuild and ABX that formed the mega-event last week. We are so grateful to our community of attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and partners who brought such energy, excitement, and momentum to this year’s event," said Lindsay Roberts, Greenbuild group director, Informa Exhibitions. “It was an incredibly successful week celebrating the entire building and design community as well as the green building movement in the beautiful, historic setting of Boston.”

Greenbuild-ABX 2017 featured several key events, such as:

  • Plenary, which featured the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton
  • Celebration, held at the Boston Museum of Science, with a special concert by The Revivalists
  • Closing Plenary, which concluded the week with American astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson  
  • Combined Summit Closing Plenary with Bill McDonough, who spoke on advancing sustainable communities through the Cradle to Cradle© mission
  • Master speakers Scot Horst, CEO of Arc Skoru; Dr. John Warner, President and Chief Technology Officer of Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry; and Stephanie Meeks, CEO, National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • USGBC Leadership Awards Luncheon, which annually recognizes outstanding efforts to advance green building design and construction
  • Communities & Affordable Homes Summit, WaterBuild Summit and International Summit
  • Women in Green Power Breakfast, which celebrated the strength of our democracy and women’s role in shaping change
  • Women in Design Symposium, a day-long event that encourages success and leadership for women in the design community
  • Greenbuild Legacy Project, the creation of a Green Building Tech Program at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in Boston
  • Eleven alumni events hosted by area universities and associations
  • Happy Hour in the Hall, which provided a lively atmosphere for networking

“The theme for this year’s Greenbuild was “All In,” which encompasses the breadth of the sustainability and green building movement and the commitment we feel to our community, to our mission, and to our world,” said Kate Hurst, senior vice president, Conferences & Events, USGBC. “With Greenbuild’s platform expanding to India and China in addition to Boston in 2017, we are growing our green building knowledge and shared expertise across continents—while scaling the breadth and reach of global market transformation for the built environment.”

Attendees also spent significant time discovering and enjoying the historical city of Boston. The USGBC Massachusetts community led the official host committee of Greenbuild 2017 with 30 tours throughout the week, exploring sustainable sites, prominent local universities, commercial buildings and the seaport.

The expo hall again showcased the leading products and services available to professionals within the sustainable building industry and had several notable areas, including:

  • World’s only Net Zero Zone, a 9,000 square foot pavilion powered by alternative power collected on-site at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
  • Five new content-specific Applied Learning Areas which featured extended Q&A from sessions in the education program, exhibitor-led lunch & learns and whitepaper discussions
  • Seven sponsored Education Labs with CE accredited education on the show floor
  • 212 exhibitors who scored a 75 or higher on the Greenbuild Mandatory Exhibitor Greening Guidelines Survey, including overall winners
  • Design Technology Throwdown, where teams of 4 competed against each other to design the best solution to a mutual design problem
  • Immersive Visualization, an interactive A/R and V/R display that featured over 10 companies
  • Learning Stage which featured free presentations every hour
  • The Quad, an annual social space exhibition area
  • Open Architecture Collaborative, which featured images and models of projects from the Boston chapter and hosted 2 interactive sessions on the show floor
  • MakeTank demonstration pavilion
  • Central Park landscape pavilion, which featured a charging pelaton and allowed attendees to charge their phone by riding stationary bicycles
  • Braindate lounge that allowed all participants to connect and meet face to face on specific topics of their choice

Josiah Stevenson FAIA, principal at Leers Weinzapfel Associates and 2017 BSA President noted:

“Every year during ABX, the BSA/AIA looks forward to learning the unexpected from interesting seminars, speaking face to face with product reps and running into seldom seen old friends. This year ABX was especially exciting because we co-located with Greenbuild. We were delighted to share the quest for design excellence and the power of knowledge with our Greenbuild colleagues during our time ‘Together in Boston’.”

Greenbuild 2018 is scheduled for Nov. 14-16 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill. More information can be found at greenbuildexpo.com. The Call for Proposals and Reviewers for Greenbuild 2017 is now open and the deadline to submit a proposal is Jan. 5, 2018.

ABX 2018 is scheduled for Nov. 28-29 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in Boston, MA. More information can be found at abexpo.com. The Call for Proposals for ABX 2018 will open Dec. 1 and the deadline to submit a proposal is Mar. 31, 2018.

A Message from USGBCMA:

I attended Greenbuild for the first time ever this past week and was amazed by the seeming ease and professionalism an event hosting 25,000 people could operate with. But it is important to remember that behind the success of Greenbuild is a small army of people whom throughout months of preparation are able to pull together a seamless integration of volunteers, outreach, sustainability, tours, and even the fostering of the future generation of green building practitioners. Their efforts underpin the success of the event and even the success of the green building industry in Boston. 

We owe special thanks to Judy Nitsch of Nitsch Engineering, who was recognized for her efforts at our Local Chapter Welcome Party and lead the host committee efforts. 

Jessie Miller of Opterra and Andrew Breiter-Wu of Breiter Planet spearheaded the volunteer's effort, gathering roughly 350 student volunteers from the local community and abroad.

Todd Isherwood of the Green Project Manager and Christina McPike of Winn Development lead the Greening of Greenbuild project, which aimed to promote sustainability through all aspects of the conference. The Greening Committee also aimed to educate Greenbuild 2017 attendees on recycling and waste management by equipping student volunteers with the appropriate background knowledge and expertise.

Kate Bubriski of Arrowstreet and Mike Browne of Advanced Building Analysis lead the Local Partners and Regional Outreach Committee. The goal of Local Partners & Regional Outreach Committee is to create and strengthen relationships with local and regional governments, educational and cultural institutions and nonprofit organizations to ensure Greenbuild 2017 is an amazing and lasting experience for all.

Jenn Taranto of Structure Tone and Cynthia Curtis of JLL lead the Ambassadors Committee, which ensured that USGBC (National) and USGBC MA were connected to the region’s sustainability VIPs, cultivates relationships, and delivered sponsorships for Greenbuild and Chapter-related Greenbuild activities.

Beyond the expo hall at Greenbuild, many tours occurred in the background of the entire event, showcasing Boston to the international audience. The arrangement of tours was managed by Jana Silsby of Perkins Eastman and Jeremy Caron of DCAMM, whom we owe a debt of gratitude. 

Before Greenbuild we also hosted a Local Chapter Welcome Party, and all proceeds from this event went to our Legacy Project. The Legacy Project to foster growth in the green building sector by providing internships to the students of the Madison Park Technical Vocational High School in green building relevant jobs. Paul Gusmini of the Federal Reserve Bank and Kristen Fritsch of Elkus Manfredi Architects made this possible through the constant commitment to the program and fostering the next generation of students. 

Lastly, we would like to thank Co-Chair Bryan Koop of Boston Properties and Co-Chair Agent Ben Myers of Boston Properties for their support and work within the Greenbuild Host Committee.

Undoubtedly there are many others that have contributed to making Greenbuild possible that we may not have mentioned, and we recognize that with an event so impactful to Boston, many people worked tirelessly to make this happen. The experience was incredible to all of us at USGBC MA, and we are eager to help continue to foster the momentum and passion we saw at Greenbuild. 

All in: A Recap of Greenbuild 2017 in Boston

By USGBC MA Chapter on

I witnessed a lot of hugging. In my career, I’ve been to varied conferences - serious meetings of people presenting projects from behind the security of that black hotel tablecloth fabric and fake woodgrain podium. Suits and polished shoes trying to get that pesky embedded video to play. While these are the reliable immutables at every conference, Greenbuild always feels different to me.

In November, more than 20,000 people came to Boston to attend Greenbuild and Architecture Boston Expo (ABX). It had the feel of a family reunion, seeing past and present friends and collaborators and meeting new family members. It’s a tribe in the most convivial and life-passion sense, hence the rampant hugging. With dangling conference lanyards akimbo, we catch-up and scheme about our little piece of The Mission.

The theme this year was “ALL IN” − which is meant to reinforce the commitment and optimism needed to confront climate change head-on. The global green movement is literally saving lives and is unstoppable. This commitment means every project, every day, starting with you and me.

My conference highlight was hearing President Bill Clinton’s plenary along those same themes. It was a sincere pep talk of sorts, from a man with decades of global environmental and political perspective. He underscored how we are the lucky ones, to be “present at the creation” of a whole new green economy. Playing to the local crowd, he referenced Harvard professor and legendary environmentalist, naturalist, biologist and author E.O. Wilson. Echoing Wilson’s work, President Clinton cited that the most successful organisms on earth that collaborate are honeybees, termites, ants, and humans. While there is a lot of work to do, we need to celebrate the fact that millions of people are cooperating to solve global problems. Scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers, and designers are sharing and collaborating like never before.  

The leadership force of women was also evident throughout the conference. While there were sessions like the Women in Design Symposium highlighting the specific achievements of women, it was more organic than that. At the risk of singling out one of the several deserving USGBC Leadership Award winners, please google Dorothy Stoneman. As the poverty-cycle busting founder of YouthBuild, she is my new personal hero. Judy Nitsch is a well-known local advocate for women in the engineering professions and was a tireless organizer for Boston support of a successful Greenbuild. Mary Ann Lazarus (Chair of National AIA Committee on the Environment) and Dr. S. Atyia Martin (City of Boston Chief Resilience Officer) and Gensler’s own Kirsten Richie were other women leading by example at Greenbuild−and too many others to list here. In their keynotes, Bill Clinton and the perpetually-smiling USGBC President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam cited the debt we owe to women leaders. In the recent best-selling book Drawdown, Paul Hawken notes that “climate change is not gender neutral”. Educating and empowering women and girls around the world is among the top imperatives that will have the most impact on the climate crisis.

Gensler had a strong showing at Greenbuild again this year, with David Briefel presenting healthy materials and biophilia lessons from the Living Building Challenge petal certification of Etsy’s Headquarters in Brooklyn. Len Sciarra outlined important changes to ASHRAE 90.1, and Kirsten Richie reviewed how to guide healthy and safe building material decisions. Amanda Langweil was a behind the scenes volunteer helping to select speakers and review session topics. I was particularly proud of our Boston based team of young designers who won the “Quad” competition to create a Sustainable Social space. Gensler took first place among 60 competition entries with an inventive wood structure built on the ABX floor.

I attended Greenbuild when it was in Boston in 2008, and it is interesting to see how far we have come in those nine years. Among the most notable aspects of many of the sessions was the evolving role technology and big data (of course) within the broader green building movement. The number of websites, databases, and online tools have exploded, and each is trying for the tri-partite holy grail of reliability, scalability, and user-friendliness. Smart cities, health and wellness, materials transparency, and transportation are being transformed by easy access to free data.  

Another recognizable thread in the conference was Net Zero energy, water, and waste. Nine years ago we heard Net Zero goals and intentions. Now we are seeing the built projects and the data, still with some nagging asterisks that will hopefully disappear as the data fidelity and transparency improves. It left me wondering what the landscape will be in another nine years as machine learning and artificial intelligence help us solve the world’s most complex problems.  

Noted astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson closed the conference with a predictable cosmic view. He talked about light hitting the earth in various ways, from the urban heat island effect on city roofs to sunsets in the canyons of New York City and the arches of Stonehenge. Dr. Tyson noted our “atmosphere thickness is to earth, as the skin is to an apple” and our everyday actions matter. He ended with the photograph of earth from the Cassini spacecraft as a “pale blue dot,” noting that the entirety of human existence as we know it - all the generations, wars, elections and triumphs occurred wholly on this spec in the universe.

This left me encouraged in our future, reminding me that despite the noise and political disagreements, there are millions of people who are ALL IN, like me. It’s personal and it’s real. We need to collaborate more than ever before and even if you’re not a hugger or aren’t sure where to start- that’s OK- there’s room for everyone in this movement and on this pale blue dot.


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RGBC Meeting with Rick Nortz

By USGBC MA Chapter on

The Residential Green Building Committee gathered on November 13th, 2017. We had a guest presentation from Rick Nortz, Manager of the Utility and Efficiency Program at Mitsubishi Electric.

Rick gave an overview of advantages of ductless vs. ducted heat pumps and dove into the health and environmental benefits of such appliances. Rick explained that just as we saw the switch from incandescent light bulbs to CFLs, we will now experience ductless heat pump swaps as the next low hanging fruit to increase efficiency in our buildings.

Generally speaking, a heat pump absorbs heat from outside and discharges it inside, as opposed to an air conditioner which reverses the process by absorbing the heat inside and discharging it outside. With a ductless heat pump, it actually acts as both a heating and cooling unit. The distinction between ductless and ducted heat pumps has to do with the refrigerant distribution. Dispersing the refrigerant through thin pipes with a ductless solution can be more efficient than through ductwork. With ductless systems, you can distribute heating or cooling to different zones within a building, without having to supply the same temperature throughout the entire building, thus improving efficiency. Of course, if the building already has ductwork, it makes the most sense to swap in a ducted heat pump, but for new homes without ductwork, ductless air pumps are highly recommended.

As heat pumps use electricity for the refrigerant distribution, Rick explained that some places consider heat pumps to be a form of renewable energy, and especially if the building already pulls from a renewable energy source such as solar PV.

Mitsubishi is a market leader as a supplier of both ductless and ducted heat pumps, and particularly, the Cold Climate Heat Pumps. Rick explained the evolution of heat pump operations, as they formerly only functioned up to 32 deg. F with the need for backup heating, and now they operate at -13 deg. F. These Cold Climate Heat Pumps are commonly deployed as the primary heating system while keeping the existing heat in the home as a secondary source. However, they can be the primary source depending on how much heat the building needs.

We all learned a lot from Rick’s presentation. Please join us at our monthly chapter meetings to hear more from experts in the green building space, and get a chance to mingle with like-minded individuals! See you next time!

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How To Network At Greenbuild Event Recap

By USGBC MA Chapter on

With Greenbuild approaching, the USGBC BU chapter thought it would be helpful to enlighten students and volunteers on how to network and navigate the conference world. Our recent event, “How to Network at Greenbuild and Build Your Career in Sustainability,” brought together USGBC Students, the Emerging Professional group of the USGBC MA chapter, and students from the Boston area. Throughout the night, improvisation coach Marcus Hunter, walked us through what it looks like to network with confidence and start and sustain organic conversations. Check out our quick recap below:



  • Maintain eye contact when conversing
  • Make a point of learning the names of people you engage with
  • Make business cards
  • Create a LinkedIn account
  • Dress professionally
  • Ask questions that draw out your conversations and show interest
  • Know what sessions you’d like to attend


  • Hand out your resume in the place of a business card
  • Talk over the person you’re speaking with
  • Fidget while in conversation
  • Talk solely about yourself


Make a point of reaching out to people in roles that you are interested in pursuing
Specify where you met the person you’re following up with and how their work aligns with your goals
Ask for an informational interview or more general info on how to pursue certain avenues
Connect with other volunteers and stay in touch
Attend Emerging Professionals meetings with the USGBC MA chapter

How to Network PDF


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New Balance HQ Earns LEED Platinum Certification

By USGBC MA Chapter on

New Balance, the athletic shoe and sports gear company, earned LEED Platinum certification for its new world headquarters in Boston, MA where natural stone played a vibrant role in defining its sustainability and engagement with the local community. Part of the larger Boston Landing project revitalizing a former industrial area and stockyard, the 475,000 sf mixed-use design offers a blend of retail space, offices, restaurants and a state-of-the-art sports complex - there’s even an ice skating rink that has attracted the Bruins, dubbing it the Warrior Ice Arena.  Natural stone contributed to the project’s enhancement of Boston’s urban heritage, situating it within the fabric of its lasting tradition of using granite in urban landscaping and the built environment, but with a fresh new take on the material. Quarried in nearby Riviere-a-Pierre, Quebec by premier quarrier of world renowned North American natural stones, Polycor provided two granites for the design. Titanium Pearl and Saint Sebastien granite, both quarried and produced within a 500-mile radius helped the project earned MR Credits 5.1 & 5.2 for Regional Materials. The local granite was employed in a variety of different finishes for interesting textures in the pavers, wall veneer cladding, column bases, stairs, planters and curbs.

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By USGBC MA Chapter on

I just finished reading “If Only Green Homes Could be Sold like Breakfast Cereal”, a blog from Martin Holladay’s “Musings of an Energy Nerd”. Although a seemingly big stretch from marketing boxed cereal to a green home, Martin says the bottom line is all about acknowledging what’s important to the shopper, and their level of interest in whatever the marketer is using to sell the item or service. Holladay noticed that some sweet sugary cereals are sold, touting their ‘g of fiber in every serving’. In this instance, the shopper knows what a “g” is and that the grams of fiber content justifies the purchase. Sure, why not! I can eat this mostly non-nutritive cereal and still do something good for myself. Go figure. So, the quandary for us as sustainable builders is, if shoppers are savvy enough to know what a “g” is on a cereal box, can’t we assume they would know what HERS ratings, LEED and ENERGY STAR certification are and what a sustainable home means to your energy savings? No, we can’t! What we and others have found is that home owners don’t care so much about green and/or sustainable, but more about COMFORT!

Wright Builders has been known for more than 20 years for its commitment to and execution of green and sustainable building; the use of energy efficient systems including state of the art minisplits, triple glazed windows, double stud walls, HERS ratings below code minimum, ENERGY STAR and LEED Certification. That’s all well and good, but what Holladay and others are asking is, what about the comfort! According to Dr. Helen Ryding, only governments care about energy efficiency; homeowners care about comfort. And said differently by the author of “People Don’t Care about Energy Efficiency”, Leland Teschler says “Energy efficiency just isn’t a priority for the vast majority of consumers.” ‘People are concerned about the predictable matters like the aesthetics of their homes and comfort.” Here’s that word again. C-o- m-f- o-r- t! Okay, we can do this. We can talk about comfort first, then sustainable construction and weave the 2 together using any of our sustainable building attributes. Triple glazed windows as an example, now more often used in new green home construction and required in zones 7-8. With these windows comfort equals reduced sound transmission, excellent resistance to condensation problems, decreased relative heat loss resulting in positively impacting your energy bills, security enhancement, as the thicker area will be harder to break in if someone wants to do some property damage, greater energy savings when compared to regular and double glazed windows, and in certain circumstances, installing triple glazed windows is equivalent to upgrading walls and ceilings from R-20 to R-40. That’s all about year-round comfort when heating or cooling.

Comfort in a sustainably built home comes in many flavors and connecting the dots between comfort and sustainably built is easy. Lower indoor room temperature fluctuation; low operating costs achieved through ENREGY STAR compliance, low HERS rating and state-of- the-art building envelope design, and satisfaction of knowing that a long-term investment, enjoyed every day is also treading as light as possible on the planet. That all spells C-O- M-F- O-R- T. Here’s an idea: Have your marketing materials show beautiful interiors, with lounging happy home owners, comfortable in their new home as a Nor’ Easter blows through! With their double stud walls and R-35 wall insulation and triple glazing with a U .17, the windows aren’t moving and the curtains aren’t blowing in the breeze! And when the power goes out, knowing their home is minimally vulnerable during power outages as these homes hold their temperature for an extended period of time is just another plus. We’re looking forward to winter! How about you?

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