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Maximizing Sustainability on the Harvard Campus

By USGBC MA Communications on 11/1/2017

Greenbuild 2017's Green Building Tours welcome you the Harvard University Campus for a walking tour of the sustainable facilities across the campus on Saturday, November 11 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Participants will engage with state of the art offices, classrooms, laboratories and dorms while strolling along the Charles River and through historic Harvard Yard. The tour will feature presentations from the Office for Sustainability, Green Building Services, and faculty highlighting how Harvard's campus serves as a living lab putting the latest sustainability research into practice. 

Harvard's Sustainability Plan aligns Harvard's decentralized campus around a holistic vision and sets clear University-wide goals and priorities in the areas of emissions and energy, campus operations, nature and ecosystems, health and well-being, and culture and learning. It also encourages students, faculty, and staff to continue piloting sustainability solutions throughout the University by using Harvard's cutting-edge research and teaching to tackle real-world challenges on campus.

Attendees of this tour will gain a comprehensive understanding of the myriad sustainability issues and competing priorities Harvard weighs in developing its campus. Guides will weave presentations from leading administrators and faculty into the tour portions to provide a deeper understanding than a series of individual building tours would allow.
The tour will provide a greater understanding of the policies, guidelines, tools and strategies developed at higher education facilities that help to ensure best practices in sustainability are integrated into capital projects and existing building operations. In addition, attendee will be able to explain how measurement and verification, energy management, and continuous commissioning processes can be used to ensure facility energy performance meets design goals and estimates. Join in to see how campus-wide resources can be used to maximize sustainability beyond the footprint of each individual building and establish processes that can be replicated worldwide.
This tour is one of many throughout Greenbuild 2017. Check out the conference schedule here and sign up for workshops, tours and more!

Sustainability in Higher Ed: Southland Science Tour

By USGBC MA Communications on 10/17/2017

The Southland Science Tour on Saturday, November 11 is a Greenbuild 2017 Green Building Tour you just can't miss! The day trip will bring attendees to two projects south of Boston that demonstrate how higher education institutions can minimize their environmental footprint despite their high energy use intensity. The objectives of the tour are to understand the key strategies necessary to achieve Zero Net Energy in a laboratory building and identify opportunities to simultaneously enhance occupant health and safety while reducing energy consumption. Upon completing this tour attendees will be able to discuss how historic preservation and modern state-of-the-art educational spaces can combine to create unique, sustainable opportunities and how the site, neighborhood and structure of an historic building can impact the sustainability story of a project, including remediation, preservation and meeting the tenets of LEED certified project.

The John J Sbrega Health and Science Building at Bristol Community College in Fall River, MA, is a 2017 AIA COTE Top Ten recipient, and is anticipated to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Designed as a Net-Zero Energy building, numerous strategies were employed to reduce the building's baseline energy use intensity, and cut fossil fuel consumption. The building realized a 67% reduction in hourly air changes and air-handling capacity. Additional strategies triggered a number of capital cost savings ranging from less ductwork and smaller air handling units to decreased floor-to-floor height and building envelope area. The John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building is as a shared resource occupied by multiple disciplines within the Sciences and Health Professions disciplines at Bristol Community College. The facility represents the translation of basic science to its application in the health professions. For the sciences, the building accommodates flexible instructional labs and support space for field biology, biotech, microbiology, and general chemistry.



The South Street Landing in Providence, Rhode Island, was an abandoned structure formerly occupied by the Narragansett Electric Company that now houses a statewide modern nursing education facility through a joint venture among three universities. The project team has worked to preserve historic features of the original power station including the large, 50-ton gantry crane and the Dynamo concrete pedestal. The site design features stormwater management best practices, and the 4-story dynamo block and hall where the generators churned electricity was reimagined into a commons. The core/shell and interior fit-out of the nursing education center are both targeting LEED-CS and CI Gold certification. The $220 million South Street Landing project represents a major transformation of the Jewelry District that will spur further economic growth and advance academic excellence in the capital city and across Rhode Island.


Greenbuild 2017 is just around the corner! Sign up for this tour and many other opportunities today! Greenbuild is the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. The ideals and passion of the green building community come alive at Greenbuild. The buzz is contagious. Greenbuild brings together industry leaders, experts and frontline professionals dedicated to sustainable building in their everyday work, and a unique energy is sparked. Participants are invigorated. Inspired. They find themselves equipped to return to their jobs with a renewed passion and purpose. Register today!

What Does "GOOD" Look Like?

By Communications on 10/17/2017

The Living Building Challenge asks us to imagine a building that answers the question: "What does good look like?"

As a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment, the Living Building Challenge (LBC) sets out to create buildings that are:

  • Regenerative spaces that connect occupants to light, air, food, nature, and community.
  • Self-sufficient and remain within the resource limits of their site. Living Buildings produce more energy than they use and collect and treat all water on site.
  • Healthy and beautiful.

Greenbuild is kicking off its Green Building Tours series with "Green Day Out" at 8:00am on Monday, November 6. Green Day Out will bring participants to see three buildings designed to meet the Living Building Challenge, and a fourth that uses the most advanced cross laminated timber construction in the United States! This tour will take you to Western Massachusetts, where you be able to see the application of and implementation of sustainable design frameworks that have resulted in cutting edge projects that are changing the building industry. Here's a sneak peek at the projects:

The R.W. Kern Center at Hampshire College, designed by USGBC MA Chapter Sponsor Bruner/Cott & Associates, is a 2-story, 17,000 SF registered LBC project & 2017 COTE Top 10 Award winner. It generates 100% of its energy on-site and reduces water consumption by 95%. To reach the desired self-sustaining goals, the eco-friendly center has been outfitted with solar panels, composting toilets and a rainwater harvesting system. The Kern Center now functions as a hub for student life with a “community living room” and cafe, and it also serves as a welcome center for parents and staff. Moreover, it also houses a learning and teaching laboratory for both students and visitors. This green building is aiming to bring Hampshire closer to its goal that is to be completely carbon-neutral in coming years.

The Hitchcock Center for the Environment is a single story, 9,000 SF environmental education center and registered LBC project. Designed to be a teaching tool, The Hitchcock Center offers free tours twice monthly to the community. The net zero energy building harvests and recycles its own water, uses composting toilets, and was constructed with responsibly sourced, nontoxic materials. The Hitchcock Center includes educational displays for Pre-K through adults, explaining composting toilets, potable rainwater harvesting & treatment, and greywater systems. The project supports a new approach to achieving environmental literacy in the 21st century.


The Bechtel Environmental Classroom, a 2,300 SF single story building designed as a field station for Smith College, was the fifth Certified Living Building in the world and first in New England. Designed by Coldham & Hartman Architects, the classroom is a wood-framed building that serves as a field station for a 233-acre forest and pasture property. It doubles as a classroom and seminar space. The building uses solar panels and an innovative septic system involving composting toilets to fit the consumption imperatives. Since the building’s opening in September 2012, students have monitored a range of data points of electricity and water usage to demonstrate that the building operated over its first year of occupancy as a net-zero facility. “The design and construction of this remarkable building has been a great way to engage our students’ cross-disciplinary abilities and put them in a position where they were making production decisions,”  said Drew Guswa, professor of engineering and director of Smith’s Center for Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability (CEEDS) in a press release. “The building has been, and will continue to be, an invaluable teaching tool.” 

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Design Building is a 4-story, 87,500 GSF building pending LEED Gold. Its heavy-timber wood structure demonstrates how the industry can address climate change by building with wood. UMass says its new Design Building is the largest modern wood building in the U.S. - and the most advanced cross-laminated timber (CLT) building in the country. Designed by Boston-based architects Leers Weinzapfel Associates, the $52 million building is among the first in the U.S. to use a wood-concrete composite floor system. The building saves the equivalent of over 2,300 metric tons of carbon when compared to a traditional energy-intensive steel and concrete building, says the university.


Join us! Monday, November 6 from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Meet at Tour Meet Desk (Lobby). This is a tour you just can't miss! Upon completing the tour, you will be able to discuss 1) why building with wood is critical for the building industry and addressing climate change; 2) the fundamentals of mass timber buildings and structural systems; 3) the basic requirements of the Living Building Challenge; and 4) the collaborative approach and engagement strategies used in Living Building Projects to ensure goals are met. 

Greenbuild is just around the corner. Register today and take a look at the schedule for all of the exciting events Greenbuild 2017 has to offer!

Massachusetts: A Spark in the Net Positive Revolution

By Communications on 10/17/2017

We are amidst a paradigm shift in the building sector-- a shift that is completely necessary in the face of our changing climate. One significant tool in the emerging design strategies toolbox for sustainable building construction and operations is the principle of "Net Positive". A positive energy building is one that produces more energy from renewable sources than it consumes.

Why is this significant? According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 40% of total U.S. energy consumption was consumed by the residential and commercial sectors in 2016. From space heating and cooling to electricity use, addressing energy consumption at the building level has the potential to make a significant impact on reducing total national energy consumption and thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Massachusetts is very much a part of this movement!

As a part of Greenbuild 2017, the Green Building tours program is showcasing Massachusetts net positive efforts in a full day tour on Monday, November 6 from 8:00AM to 4:00PM. The tour, "Net Positive Revolution" will explore LEED-certified, net positive and passive house buildings that clearly show revolution is afoot again in Massachusetts! Attendess will gain insight on the philosophy and design attributes of the Passive House certification system as well as the building site design, envelope, MEP and renewable energy systems that contribute to net zero building design. In addition, tour attendees will be able to better define how the use of wood as a sustainably-sourced and local material can enhance a project's sustainability.

The tour visits include: an office in Newton MA, with a passive and net positive design that confronts the challenge of retrofitting an existing building to meet Passive House standards; a passive house in Wayland MA which can be heated and cooled by the equivalent of a single burner on a stove; a net positive farmhouse in Lincoln, MA; and Walden Pond Visitors Center (image at right), a net zero energy building that also demonstrates what can be achieved with locally sourced materials and integrating a building into its landscape. Process and detail strategies will be shared by both design professionals and contractors responsible for these projects.

Green Building tours are one of Greenbuild's most popular and exciting features, providing the opportunity to explore green buildings ranging from higher education facilities to sports venues. In addition to the tours, Greenbuild has a whole week of exciting events (Nov. 6 - Nov. 10) including workshops, education sessions and networking opportunities. Be sure to check out the schedule and sign up today!

Greenbuild Legacy 2017

By Communications on 9/26/2017

The 2017 Greenbuild Legacy, Green building Tech Program had its first tradeshow demonstration of green building technologies Wednesday the 20th. 70 trade school students from Madison Park Vocational Technical High School attended this informative event.

Students were able to engaged with the vendors and experience a unique opportunity of how a trade show is run. Six vendors representing the HVAC, carpentry, plumbing, and facilities management industries set up a mini expo hall for the students to view demonstrations and learn about green building products.

The juniors and seniors were “very excited” to learn about career opportunities after high school. Students were particularly thrilled about the mentorship opportunity.

A raffle was held and four students received Dunkin Donuts gift cards as a thank you for their participation. After this event, nearly 30 students signed up for the first upcoming field trip to Cambridge's MLK School next week (a near net-zero school building).

Thank you to the companies that participated in the tradeshow: Conservation Solutions Corporation, CoolGreen Power, Water Energy Distributors, Tremco, Veritiv Corporation, and Stacks & Joules.


5 more sites you don't want to miss on Greenbuild Tours

By Rebecca Collins on 9/26/2017

We got a lot of positive feedback on our blog post 5 sites you don't want to miss on Greenbuild Tours, and we know that highlighting only five sights doesn't do the outstanding roster of 80 tour sites justice. So we've decided to highlight five more cool sites you don't want to miss on Greenbuild Tours.

The Howard Ulfelder, MD, Healing Garden at the Mass. General Hospital Yawkey Cancer Center

There is a growing body of research that shows that environments that promote a connection to nature reduce patient healing times. The Howard Ulfelder, MD, Healing Garden at the Mass. General Hospital (MGH) Yawkey Cancer Center is a meditation space that provides solitude among lush scenery.  The healing garden has served as inspiration for green roofs and healing garden development nationwide. This project demonstrates MGH’s leadership in championing high-performance healing environments. 

See the Ulfelder Healing Garden at MGH Yawkey Cancer Center on tour TS10 - Therapeutic Green: Helping People Heal sponsored by Perkins + Will.
Saturday, November 11, 1-5pm

The Sidney Research Campus

Cambridge is a hub for life science innovation, but designing energy-efficient laboratory buildings comes with a distinct set of challenges, especially when you have limited space to work with. The Sidney Research Campus illustrates how to effectively renovate existing buildings for not only energy efficiency but also to create a cohesive campus. 

See the Sidney Research Campus on tour TS08 - Sustainability in Cambridge’s Life Science Market
Saturday, November 11, 1-5pm

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Field Headquarters

The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Field Headquarters is Massachusetts’ first net-zero public office building, demonstrating that large-scale net-zero buildings can be created within a state budget. It also won the "Energy Efficiency" award at USGBC MA's 2016 Green Building Showcase. The headquarters overlooks a beautiful wildlife management area totaling 1,000 acres. Get out of the city for a few hours and see this magnificent building.

See the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Field Headquarters on tour TS05 - All Green on the Western Front.
Saturday, November 11, 8am-12pm

New Balance Headquarters at Boston Landing

Boston Landing is slated to become Boston's health and wellness district, and it's anchored by the New Balance Headquarters, which achieved a LEED Platinum rating and was winner of "Building of the Year" at USGBC MA's 2016 Green Building Showcase.

See the New Balance Headquarters on tour TM11 - Developers Changing the Status Quo
Monday, November 6, 1-5pm


Walden Pond Visitor Center

Massachusetts' leadership in sustainability and the strength of our green building community can be traced back to our deep roots in the conservation movement. Walden Pond is considered by many to be the birthplace of the conservation movement due to its association with Henry David Thoreau. The spirit of the movement has carried forward into the design of the visitor center, a net-zero building designed to harmonize with its beautiful surroundings. 

See the Walden Pond Visitor Center on tour TM03 - Net Positive Revolution sponsored by Auburndale Builders, ZeroEnergy Design and Thoughtforms.
Monday, November 6, 8am-4pm

This is just another taste of the tour offerings. All of the tours have interesting sites that demonstrate all of the different ways Massachusetts is leading in green building. For a full list of tours and to register visit


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5 Sites You Don't Want to Miss on Greenbuild Tours

By Rebecca Collins on 9/13/2017

While there's a lot to be excited about for Greenbuild, from Neil deGrasse Tyson, to the shared Greenbuild/ABX expo hall, to the many educational sessions, we here at USGBC MA are most excited about Greenbuild Tours. That's because we're proud of the plethora of sustainable and innovative buildings in Massachusetts, many created by our members and sponsoring partners, and we can't wait to show them off to green building professionals from around the world.

We know that the tour options (30 tours covering 80 sites) can be a little overwhelming, so we wanted to highlight a few of the coolest sites you don't want to miss on Greenbuild Tours.

Assembly Row

Assembly Row is a great example of urban transformation and revitalization. Once an abandoned brownfield, it is now a thriving mixed-use development that sees thousands of visitors a year. During the tour you'll learn how the public and private sector collaborated to make use of underutilized lands while keeping a holistic view of the sustainability and health of the community at the center of its design. 

See Assembly Row on tour TS11 - Some Assembly Required sponsored by VHB. 
Saturday, November 11, 1-5pm

Steelcase WorkLife Boston| Red Thread and Humanscale Boston Showroom

Interior design plays a large role in the overall sustainability of a building and has a direct effect on the productivity, well-being, and happiness of the building's occupants. The Steelcase Worklife Boston | Red Thread offices and the Humanscale Boston Showroom are two great opportunities on the same tour to see first hand how material transparency and interior design come together to create innovative workspaces.
See Steelcase WorkLife Boston | Red Thread and Humanscale Boston Showroom on tour TS04 -
                                                                                                  Seaport Interiors and Social Justice
 sponsored by Humanscale.
                                                                                                  Saturday, November 11, 8am-12pm

The John J Sbrega Health and Science Building

The John J Sbrega Health and Science Building at Bristol Community College is a 2017 AIA COTE Top Ten recipient designed as a net-zero energy building. It also won the Energy Efficiency Award at USGBC MA's 2017 Green Building Showcase. On the tour you'll learn how to design a net-zero laboratory space while simultaneously enhancing occupant health and safety.

See the John J Sbrega Health and Science Building on tour TS02 - Southland Science Tour.
Saturday, November 11, 8am-4pm

MassCEC Wind Technology Testing Center

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s (MassCEC) Wind Technology Testing Center is the largest indoor wind blade testing center in North America, able to test blades as large as 90 meters in length. On the tour you'll learn about the latest blade testing and prototype development methodologies as well as the careful engineering needed to support high blade weight and machine loads.

See the MassCEC Wind Technology Testing Center on tour TM07 - Clean Tech: Enabling the Future,
Monday, November 6, 8am-12pm

University of Massachusetts Lowell

Massachusetts is home to many higher education institutions leading the way in sustainability. U. Mass Lowell has experienced remarkable growth in recent years. At the same time, the University has reduced Green House Gas (GHG) emissions a remarkable 15% as a result of a clear and defined focus on sustainability. Tour the campus and learn how sustainability is at the core of their strategy for managed growth while transforming their campus.

See U. Mass Lowell on tour TM02 - Campus and Community Regeneration in Lowell.
Monday, November 6, 8am-4pm


These are just five of the 80 sites featured on Greenbuild Tours, but hopefully this gives you an idea of the diversity of green and innovative projects we're able to showcase. To see the full list of tours and to register for Greenbuild visit

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Announcing the second round of sponsors for Greenbuild Tours!

By Rebecca Collins on 9/12/2017

Our preparations for Greenbuild are kicking into high gear. The conference is now less than two months away! But we'd like to take a moment to thank our second round of Greenbuild Tours sponsors!

We are excited to add the following bronze sponsors: ZeroEnergy Design (tour TM03 - Net Positive Revolution), Perkins + Will (tour TS10 - Therapeutic Green: Helping People Heal), Gorman Richardson Lewis Architects (tour TF07 - Driving to be Green) and Humanscale (tour TS04 - Seaport Interiors and Social Justice).

For more information about our other Greenbuild Tours sponsors click here. For a full list of tours and to register visit If your organization is interested in joining our growing group of tour sponsors you can find more information on our Greenbuild Tours page!

Thank you to our current sponsors!

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Announcing our first round of sponsors for Greenbuild Tours!

By Rebecca Collins on 8/31/2017

Excitement is growing for Greenbuild, which is now less than 70 days away. USGBC MA is especially excited about showcasing the region's most innovative and sustainable buildings to an international audience during Greenbuild Tours! Massachusetts has such an amazing green building community and we can't wait to show it off. We've planned more than 30 tours that cover 80 sites in the region. But we can't do it all alone, so we'd like to take this chance to give a special thank you to our first round of Greenbuild Tours sponsors!

We'd like to thank our bronze sponsors Wright Builders (tour TM01 - Green Day Out), Auburndale Builders (tour TM03 - Net Positive Revolution), Bruner/Cott (tour TM01 - Green Day Out) and Miller Dyer Spears (tour TS07 - Education for Environmental Stewards).

And special thanks to our gold sponsors VHB (tours TM06 - Monstah Green, TF07 - Driving to be Green, and TS11 - Some Assembly Required), ICON Architecture (tours TF05 - Reshaping Communities with Sustainable Affordable Housing and TM05 - Platinum + Passive Multi-Family) and Nitsch Engineering (tours TF01 - Seaport Sustainability and TS01 - Harvard Green).

For a full list of tours and to register visit If your organization is interested in joining our growing group of tour sponsors you can find more information on our Greenbuild Tours page!


Thank you to our current sponsors!


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Neil deGrasse Tyson Announced as Greenbuild Closing Plenary Speaker

By Rebecca Collins on 8/25/2017


We are extremely excited to announce that acclaimed astrophysicist and cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson will be the Closing Plenary speaker for Greenbuild 2017 in Boston! 

While most popularly known as the host of the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and the podcast/television series StarTalk, Tyson is an accomplished scientist whose professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way. He was born and raised in New York City where he was educated in public schools through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia. He is the recipient of 19 honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given by NASA to a non-government citizen. Tyson is also the fifth head of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City and the first occupant of its Frederick P. Rose Directorship and he is a research associate of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History.

The Closing Plenary will take place 11:00am – 12:30pm on Friday, Nov. 10, at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The Closing Plenary is included in the 3-day and 4-day conference passes and the Friday day pass. To learn more and register for Greenbuild, visit

There are lots of exciting Greenbuild announcements being made. In case you missed it, The Revivalists were announced last week as the Greenbuild Celebration performers. Stay tuned for the announcement of the Opening Plenary speaker! And be sure to come to our Greenbuild Mixer with JLL on September 21 for networking and exclusive Greenbuild updates!

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