Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thank you to LDa Architecture & Interiors - a new sponsoring partner!

Thank you LDa - you rock!

LDa came into the Chapter Community during our LEED Project Showcase with three certified projects - two homes and a residential community at a college. Great examples of important green design work enabling Massachusetts to continue to be a leader in green building.

LEED Platinum - Weston Jesuit Community Housing at Boston College

LDa is committed to finding a meaningful balance between the traditions of New England architecture and the demands of contemporary living. For the last 20 years, their award winning projects have provided clients with thoughtful and inspired residential and interior design solutions rich in detail and craft with a focus on lasting value and sustainability. LDa engages clients in a process of collaborative, responsive design, resulting in comfortable, functional, and timeless spaces. LDa is a leader in sustainable design, having completed over a dozen LEED for Homes projects.

You can find more information about LDa at their website,

and on facebook,

and at their blog!

Thank you to Douglas Dick and Peter Nobile for connecting with us, and the Amanda Hanley for coordinating the relationship. We look forward to having you on board and working with us to make more green buildings in Massachusetts!

Riverfront Farmhouse in Concord, MA - LEED Silver

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Green Giants Are Here!

Congratulations to the Green Giants of the green building community in Western Massachusetts.

The West Branch of the USGBC MA Chapter has recognized outstanding contributors to the growth of our movement.

The winners were recognized at a joint USGBC MA West Branch & AIA Western Mass. annual dinner event on Dec. 4th, 2013. Over 60 people came out to celebrate the Green Giants and to hear from a series of presenters on local architecture and planning successes.

The following is a synopsis by Laura Fitch, the organizer of the Green Giants program:

Green Giants - 2013 Green Building Local Hero Awards Program
Sponsored by the US Green Building Council Massachusetts – West Branch (USGBCMA-West)

Committee: Laura Fitch, Aelan Tierney Jon Birtwell, Lawson Wulsin
Jury: Grey Lee, Sandra Brock, Phoebe Beierle, Stephen Muzzy

The Green Giants Award Program was created by our chapter to honor the work of trades people, educators, and owners/program directors who help build, teach about, envision and fund the green buildings in Hampshire, Hampden, Franklin, and Berkshire counties. This program is intentionally distinct from other building design awards in its attempt to look at and honor a wider range of participants behind the sustainable building movement in our region.

Buildings consume a huge percentage of our energy and resources and create a tremendous amount of waste. In this time of global climate change, the USGBC is actively promoting green buildings as part of the solution. This goal however is largely implemented by Trades People, Educators or Building Owners – the true unsung heroes in this critical movement.

We chose to award 7 people in 3 categories. The following summarizes the presentation made regarding these recipients at the awards event:

  1. Trades Category
The Green Giants Program sought to recognize individuals from any building trade or maintenance program who have gone the extra mile to ensure that a building (or campus) meets its sustainability goals.

Green Giants - trades

Honorable Mention - trades
Michael Broad, Construction Supervisor

Honorable Mention - trades
Tom Rossmassler, President and CEO of Energia in Holyoke

  1. Educational Programs Category
Green Giants sought to recognize any teacher or organization behind an innovative green building program that inspires and actively teaches the next generation of designers, engineers, and trades people who will in their turn advance our green building revolution.

Green Giant - education
for her work in developing the Sustainable Practices in Construction curriculum at GCC

Honorable Mention - education
Westover Job Corps Center, Chicopee
and Gregory Briggs, Carpentry Instructor

  1. Owner Category
The Green Giant program also recognized owners and institutions that envisioned and funded an exemplary green project, knowing that without their vision and money none of this would happen.

for Private Owner
Riverstone Development
for Two Pond Farm Land Co-op and Sustainable Neighborhood.

For Institutional Owner
Bement School

For two dormitory projects (as yet un-named)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

USGBC MA Chapter Co-hosts 2013 Meet Massachusetts Networking Event @ ABX

On November 20, 2013, the USGBC MA Chapter, in partnership with the Massachusetts Chapter ofthe American Planning Association, Boston Society of Architects, Boston Society of Landscape Architects, and the Massachusetts Association of Consulting Planners hosted the 5th annual "Meet Massachusetts" networking event. Neil Angus, Vice Chairman of the USGBC MA Chapter Board of Directors welcomed attendees and spoke briefly about the purpose of the event: to bring together planning, design and construction professionals. Green building is all about integrated design and no other event really brings together the multitude of disciplines that this event does. 

Neil Angus, Vice Chairman of the USGBC MA Chapter, welcomes attendees.

Over 50 planners, engineers, architects, landscape architects, interior designers, energy planners and contractors came together to talk about sustainable design and development, to share ideas and meet new people. This years' event was made possible through the generous support of the New England Chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association and Keith LeBlanc Landscape Architecture. This was the second time the event was held in conjunction with the ABX Conference. 

Neil Angus from the USGBC MA Chapter and Rob Henry from the New England Chapter of the International Furnishings and Design Association @ Meet Massachusetts.

Attendees at the 5th Annual Meet Massachusetts networking event.

We hope to see you at next year's event!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Green Building Update - Mid November

Green Buildings continue to become the standard practice in the real estate industry. Of course, we do have a long way to go, but that is our mission and that is where we're heading. Energy-efficient, high-performance buildings are good for users, managers and owners. LEED certification is one way to achieve a green building. The GSA has concluded that LEED saves the government money. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found LEED buildings, on average, use 25% less energy and cost 19% less to operate.

In the last two months, the state has seen 17 newly certified buildings including Dassault Systemes Boston Campus in Waltham which attained LEED Commercial Interiors: Platinum and One Beacon Street earned LEED Existing Building: Platinum through Cassidy Turley. The Northampton, MA, Police Department attained LEED New Construction: Gold as did Worcester Polytechnic Institute's Recreational Facility. Congratulations to the many teams that earned LEED certifications in recent weeks.

Let's welcome new USGBC member firms in the last two months: Green Footprints Commissioning, Inc.; Sustainability Roundtable, Inc.; The Princeton Review; G.C. McGowan Design, LLC; Sustainability Services Group LLC; Mashpee High School Environmental Club; Communications Design Associates, Inc.; Paul Lukez Architecture; Derosa Environmental Consulting. Thank you for being a part of the green building community.

The Massachusetts Chapter of the USGBC would like to recognize our new partnering sponsors Levi + Wong Architects, LDa-Architects, and Rubenstein Partners/CenterPoint Waltham. Together we are enhancing the real estate of Massachusetts.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ecodistricts Among Us

By Jim Newman, USGBC MA Board & Linnean Solutions

The annual EcoDistrict summit was held for the first time outside of Portland, Oregon this year, at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) in the city’s Innovation District. This area of South Boston’s waterfront, also known as the Seaport, has thrived because of elements most valued by the EcoDistricts organization, such as public-private partnerships, the entrepreneurial spirit, and an emphasis on collaboration. 

At the summit, more than 90 speakers shared their visions of vibrant, healthy, equitable neighborhoods, and how urban leaders can support these cutting-edge communities. From microgrids to green infrastructure to the sustainable transformation of London’s Olympic village, inspiration came from all corners. It was this very diversity that tied the summit together.

Diversity discussions focused on more than race and ethnicity, although major disparities based on zip codes were discussed in a poignant presentation from Bay Area educator and innovator Antwi Akom. As part of the same first-morning plenary, April Rinne's talk on collaborative consumption underscored how we stand on the cusp of a diverse new economy--sharing cars, tools, and decision-making about how we build communities. 

During the individual education-session periods, there was an equally exciting array of topics, for example, the Wednesday afternoon sessions covered how the world’s megacities are responding to climate change, EcoDistricts in the Innovation District (this featured Linnean Solutions’ work), social equity, resource boundaries, and district energy.

Both before and after the summit’s BCEC program, events took place around the city that allowed attendees to see how Boston is also embracing the EcoDistricts principles in diverse ways. The first event was a legacy project charrette in Dorchester’s Talbot-Norfolk Triangle (TNT)Eco-Innovation District, which has as its goal a LEED-ND Platinum rating. 

Following the summit, four site tours were held, as well as a training and research symposium at Northeastern University. The site tours explored the TNT, and also Jackson and Eggleston Squares in Jamaica Plain, Kendall Square and MIT in Cambridge, and a walking tour of the Innovation District. 

Each of these provided visitors with views of potential ecodistricts at various points in their evolution.

Ultimately, the diversity of people, places, and ideas represented at the 2013 Summit paralleled what makes a great EcoDistrict: many different individuals coming together with the common goal of building a vital, sustainable, and just community.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Congratulations to our new LEED Fellows in Massachusetts

We are proud to announce that two heroes of the USGBC MA Chapter have been honored as LEED Fellows in 2013. 

Congratulations to Leo Roy of VHB and John Dalzell of the BRA. Leo most notably worked heroically to bring Greenbuild to Boston in 2008 and is piloting LEED volume certification processes. John is a stalwart supporter of the MA Chapter and has helped guide to fruition our PACE Finance Forum and many other programs.

The LEED Fellows program recognizes exceptional contributions to the green building community as well as significant achievements within a growing community of LEED Professionals.

The two new LEED Fellows join existing members with this distinction Chris Schaffner of the Green Engineer and Steve Benz of OLIN.

More professional bio info on Leo and John:

Leo Roy: Roy has more than 30 years of experience, has led several sustainability-oriented committees within Vanasse, Hangen, Brustlin (VHB), and is directing the LEED EBOM certification process for the firm’s Watertown headquarters. Roy has worked on such exemplary projects in the past such as an award-winning waterfront redevelopment project for Columbia Point neighborhood in Boston— one of the first municipal planning projects in the country to encourage rooftop solar and/or roof gardens— and the development of USGBC’s Roadmap to a Green Campus. Roy also helped to develop the USGBC LEED Retail rating system and participated on the Market Sector Committee for Retail. He actively promotes sustainable development, and manages projects and programs in green building, ecosystem restoration, waste management, and renewable energy systems. Roy earned his Bachelors of Arts degree from Harvard University.

John Dalzell: At the BRA, Boston’s planning and economic development agency, Dalzell leads Green Building and Sustainable Development initiatives including public and internal sustainable development and green building policy development such as the January 2007 enactment of Boston’s Green Building Zoning regulations which made Boston the first major city to require private developers to build green to LEED standards. Dalzell represents the BRA on the City’s Inter-Agency Green Building Committee, organizes staff green building trainings, and provides sustainability and green building guidance to internal project planning and review teams. Additionally, Dalzell focuses City resources on sustainable development through community based area and district planning initiatives and programs in Boston’s neighborhoods.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Introducing one of our newest sponsors: Levi + Wong Design Associates

We are pleased to showcase a recent project completed by our newest sponsor, Levi + Wong Design Associates, a multidisciplinary design firm based out of Concord, MA. As part of the 18th Annual Canstruction Exhibition hosted at the BSA Space in Boston, architects and designers were called upon to create structures entirely out of canned goods that paid tribute to this year's theme: Cinema & Movies. No glue was allowed in the construction of these structures, and all the cans will be donated to charity at the end of the exhibition.

Our creative partners at Levi + Wong contributed this impressive piece dedicated to this summer's flick, Sharknado. The team built this structure completely out of tuna and canned tomato cans:

Source: Boston Magazine
Sharknado kept the movie scene interesting this summer, but SharkCANado: Take a Bite out of Hunger by Levi + Wong Design Associates makes the connection between coastal natural disasters and the work food banks have to do. The SharkCANnado is actually a tuna tornado, made entirely of different brands of tuna swirled with blood-red tomato cans.

Thanks Levi + Wong for contributing to such a creative and charitable event!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Networking with EnerNOC's Energy Network

What is going on with Building Energy Reporting & Disclosure in the City of Boston? What is the point of publicizing energy performance of buildings?

Last night, the Chapter partnered up with energy management leader EnerNOC to gather the community and talk about power. Gregg Dixon of EnerNOC and Grey Lee of USGBC MA both spoke briefly about their missions - to improve building energy performance on one hand, and on the other: "More Green Buildings!"

Brian Swett, Boston Chief of Energy and Environment, came to present on the BERDO - the energy disclosure law that takes effect this coming year in Boston. The City is taking comments on the draft regulations right now. The ordinance will help the City achieve its climate mitigation obligations through carbon pollution reductions. Buildings account for 70% of Boston's GHG emissions. As usual, it was a very useful presentation and it was great to hear him easily answer the many questions from the very informed crowd. Lots of curveballs.

What if an owner just doesn't want to cooperate? There will be fines, not major but enough to sting. The important mechanism is that non-compliant properties will be listed publicly and the "shaming" factor will probably motivate people more than the potential fines. One note is that just having an old building might not be reason to be afraid of the ordinance - New York's ordinance has resulted in data showing that one of the more energy efficient building types are those built in the 1920's and 30's, prior to mechanical systems. Designers availed themselves of passive heating and cooling techniques much more than in ensuing decades when mechanicals were available and energy was relatively cheap.

With the Ordinance, we'll have a lot of data to work with. As EnerNOC mentioned, data is a great tool to find solutions to complex problems: "We love data!"

Here are some facts about the ordinance:
  • All large and medium buildings or groups of buildings would be required to report annual energy use, ENERGY STAR rating (if applicable), water use, and greenhouse gas emissions through ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager or an equivalent mechanism.
  • The requirement would be phased in over 5 years and would ultimately apply to non-residential buildings 35,000 square feet or greater and residential buildings with 35 or more units.
  • Buildings with ENERGY STAR ratings below the 75th percentile and not meeting other exemption criteria (to be developed by the city, i.e. high performing buildings that do not qualify for any ENERGY STAR rating or that show continuous improvement) would be required to conduct energy audits or other evaluations every 5 years to identify opportunities for energy efficiency investment. Building owners would not be required to act on the audit.
You can read more about BERDO at the USGBC MA Chapter Advocacy page on our website, including a link to Brian's presentation from last night.

Thank you Brian and thank you to EnerNOC for hosting the program. About 75 people came out to learn and network. The City looks forward to people supporting the roll out of the ordinance and helping provide feedback on the regulatory language as they encounter novelties of the built environment that need to be responded to, such as rare building types, structures that are hard to define, and energy systems that are more complex than usual.

You can chime in: The Air Pollution Control Commission will hear public comment on the proposed regulations on November 12, at 9:00 AM in Boston City Hall, Room 900; written comments are also being accepted through November 15.

Please consider joining the Chapter as a Member - our community increases our power to transform the built environment toward higher performance. Thank you for participating in our work!

Thank you to Lisa Bolwin and colleagues at EnerNOC for organizing and staffing the program. Thank you to Carolyn Day of the USGBC for organizing the series of Networking Nights for the Chapter.

See you next time!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Massachusetts Green High Performance Green Computing Center (MGHPCC) Receive LEED Platinum Cerfitication

On October 29th, representatives from the USGBC MA Chapter traveled to Holyoke, MA to attend the LEED Platinum plaque ceremony at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Green Computing Center (MGHPCC). Norm Lamonde, USGBC MA Chapter Board Member, and Turner Construction Sustainability Manager, spoke on behalf of the Chapter and presented MGHPCC Executive Director, John Goodhue with the LEED Platinum Plaque. 

Left to right: Mike Malone, Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement, UMASS Amherst;
Mike Kearns, Director of Projects, MIT; John Goodhue, Executive Director, MGHPCC;
Alex Morse, Mayor, City of Holyoke; Norm Lamonde, Board Member, USGBC MA Chapter

MGHPCC is the first university research data center to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Beyond its building design achievements, the MGHPCC is a unique collaboration between five universities and the public and private sector. It's location is also unique as Holyoke not only offers low cost, renewable hydroelectric power, it also sits within the national fiber optic network connecting the Northeast to the world with optimal connectivity. Read more about MGHPCC and Holyoke here. For more on MGHPCC's LEED Platinum achievements, visit their blog

The day also included a tour of the facility and Hadley Falls Hydroelectric Dam. A large group from the USGBC MA Chapter West Branch attended as well as a number of folks from the the project team. Including representatives from Harvard Green Building Services, M + W Group, Turner Construction, and Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. 

MGHPCC is a terrific example of collaboration and revitalization. Congratulations to everyone involved. Here's to more LEED Platinum projects, and leading the front edge of the green building movement. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

ecoRI Article: Architects Design for an Unstable Climate

Check out this awesome article written by our friends as ecoRI News about how architects are designing new buildings like the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI to prepare for climate change

Photo credit: ecoRI News

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Planning for, and profiting by, pollution prevention

My last post dealt  briefly with the synergy between LEED and various ISO standards.  I thought that it might be useful if I delved deeper into creating an Environmental Management System (EMS).  An EMS is the central provision of ISO 14001.  It is a system to address environmental matters in a strategic fashion that follows the classic system for continual improvement pioneered by Quality Management Systems.  This is the PDCA or Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle or Deming cycle. 

Why would I do this?

Why should architects and designers be interested in this? Anyone involved the operation of building and the activities that take place within the building should be concerned about its environmental impact and related costs.  Architects, at the design phase, should be cognizant that the structure may benefit from having an EMS in place and this should be part of an integrated design process.  As this is largely a document and data driven endeavor, it is better to secure this vital information as early as possible. This is even more apropos for folks seeking LEED EBOM.  Why wouldn't you consider a building that is built in the best possible manner to also be operated and maintained to a similar high standard,and also, to have same high standards for the functions that occur within the structure. 

There are several convincing  business reasons for creating an EMS, reasons beyond just doing the right thing. These include market demands, regulatory compliance, demonstrating corporate core values, public perception, and of course, marketing.  I find that the  most compelling argument, from an environmentalist perspective and a business perspective is that identifying, controlling, and reducing an environmental footprint reaps financial as well as environmental benefits.  These include reduced costs, reduced overhead, more efficient processes, improved employee performance, reduced risk, and ensuring regulatory compliance. In some cases, regulatory agencies will provide incentives for adopting an EMS such as reduced frequency of inspections, technical assistance, and even modified regulatory requirements.  Also, the emergency preparation element of an EMS helps minimize threats to human and environmental health, as well as, minimize costs associated with mitigation and remediation.  

These benefits are cumulative and directly proportional to pollution prevention milestones. These are outlined in the white paper "Sustainability Nears a Tipping Point" by the MIT Sloan Management Review.  This paper shares that companies that were early adopters of rigorous sustainability programs  have now begun to harvest the benefits as a competitive advantage.  Furthermore many executives who embraced sustainability initiatives now consider the value of their programs not just in terms of corporate goodwill and theoretical costs avoided but as a profit center in and of themselves. One caveat, these benefits  are realized over time. According to the above referenced study, organizations that have less than 2 years of experience with a sustainability program are 50% less likely to report a profit from those activities than those with 12 or more years invested in their sustainability programs. An EMS can benefit any organization that is willing to commit to the process, regardless of size or business.  The range of entities that operate under an EMS include manufactures, office buildings, laboratories, small businesses, golf courses, and, athletic facilities. In short, any business that generates any environmental impact can have an EMS. If that impact represents waste or risk, then there is a compelling business interest. 

Step by Step

Obviously, a detailed procedure for establishing an EMS is beyond the scope of this blog article.  I will attempt to briefly outline the steps below. 

A critical step is creating an Environmental Policy.  This is an over arching statement of the entities intent, aspirations,  values and goals.  At the very least the policy must insure compliance with all local, state, and federal environmental laws. It must detail pollution prevention goals, preferably with quantifiable metrics , and it must detail managements commitment to continual improvement.  This policy needs to public and it must be communicated to the employees.  It is critical that the highest levels of management are invested and involved in this process and that they support this policy.  

Next would be an identification of all environmental "Aspects" and "Impacts". An Aspect is anything that can effect the environment and an Impact is the means and degree of that effect. An Impact may be positive as well as negative.  The list of Aspects and Impacts can be extensive and this is typically drafted by an EMS committee that is composed of relevant decision makers.  Unlike LEED, these Aspects need not be contained within the fence-line or project boundary.  For example, an Aspect may be the companies desire to only conduct business with other companies with an EMS or ISO 14001 compliance.  

Once the list of Aspects and Impacts is created. The next step is to prioritize those elements. Common means of prioritizing include a matrix with frequency of occurrence (high as daily commute to low like an unlikely emergency spill) , level of Impact, cost, benefits, legal risk, and employee and community concerns.  

Along with knowing what the environmental risks are and the potential consequences. The EMS needs to detail the legal and regulatory requirements surrounding those environmental issues. This establishes the baseline actions necessary.  

Once you know what the environmental Aspects/risks of your business are, and the potential Impacts that can result, and the minimum necessary actions - you can develop objectives and targets for all Aspects. Not every Aspect needs to have an objective beyond the minimum legal requirements. Low priority Aspects not addressed can be addressed through  the process of continual improvement at a later date.  The Aspect/Impact need not be mitigated in one fell swoop. It can be addressed incrementally over time. A goal that is unattainable or unrealistic is not valid objective.  Again, upper management needs to be involved from a resource commitment point of view.  Also it is wise to involve those "in the trenches" that will ultimately be responsible for the successful achievement of these objectives.  

Finally a formal program needs to be established and implemented. This sets up a consistent approach to achieve each objective.  This can include guidance, information, and references. It should include timelines, resources, and detail who is accountable and responsible for achieving the objectives and targets.  It should include necessary training to demonstrate competency of those involved in meeting each and every objective.  It should include procedures for communications and document control to insure that critical documents are maintained and updated and that important communications and records are logged.  Techniques, such as operational controls, administrative controls, or engineering controls should be detailed.  These can and should be amended as the program evolves.  Finally, mistakes will happen and therefore an emergency readiness and response plan needs to be formulated for each Aspect. 

Continuous improvement keeps rolling along

At this point the EMS should be developed and implemented. The management will be on board and will be supporting the efforts to meet the defined objectives.  The responsible parties will have been assigned and will be overseeing the ongoing efforts. All necessary personnel have been made aware of their respective roles and have received access to all training needed to insure their competence. 

 The next links in the PDCA cycle is check and act. This involves determining environmental performance, identifying corrective or preventive actions for situations where expected performance was not realized, auditing the systems to insure that all elements are functioning and up to date, and preserving any relevant records.   Management needs to review the effectiveness of the EMS on a periodic basis and needs to update goals, revise Aspects and Impacts, and address shortfalls uncovered by the review/audit.  Thus the cycle starts again.  

You are not alone

The process can can be a difficult and tedious ordeal. It is highly dependent upon investigation and documentation.   However, you are not alone. There are resources available.  Consultants can be hired that can guide you through the process. There are online services that will help draft a customized EMS from a stock template.  For those that wish to wish to do it themselves, the EPA has a wealth of information available. 

The most important thing is that the EMS process forces companies to think critically about their environmental impact.  This self reflection can lead to great rewards for themselves, their shareholders, their neighbors, and the planet.

Kevin Dufour is an Environmental Scientist with Viridis Advisors. He collaborates with Tom Irwin on creating greener greenscapes. The opinions expressed by member bloggers are their own and not necessarily those of the USGBC Massachusetts Chapter.

Friday, October 18, 2013

2013 Massachusetts LEED Project Showcase

Thank you to all who came out to the first inaugural Massachusetts LEED Project Showcase at Google's LEED Gold Office Space in Cambridge last night! 

The evening was a spectacular success with over 150 guests in attendance to celebrate the 200+ projects in MA that have achieved LEED certification since the beginning of 2012. It was great to see such a bright and passionate group of green building professionals gather together to support the mission of the USGBC to promote the design, construction, and operation of sustainable buildings and communities in Massachusetts. With all of your support, we are moving closer to our goal of making every building a green building within one generation!

Many guests expressed their interest in becoming new members of the Chapter!

A big shout-out to all of our wonderful volunteers and board members who contributed their time and energy to make this night such a successful event for the green building community!

USGBC MA Staff & Board of Directors.

This event would not have been possible without our volunteers who helped set up boards and greet guests throughout the night!

And a special shout-out to our Green Schools Program Manager, Steve Muzzy, for all of his support in putting this Showcase together. 

Steve Muzzy with Green Schools Fellow, Phoebe Beierle.

Finally, a big THANK YOU to Google for graciously hosting us in their new LEED Gold Office Space in Kendall Square. Thank you to our hostess Tiffany Colt for all of her help in putting together this event!

Tiffany Colt, our Google hostess.

The evening featured displays of around 65 LEED-certified projects with representatives of many project teams present to celebrate their amazing achievements. 

Bob Andrews of AHA Consulting Engineers with Kathy Arthur of NStar as well as Holly Miller and Meng Howe Lim of Gund Partnership.

Our friends from the New England Real Estate Journal were also present to conduct interviews with representatives from our sponsors about their featured projects.

Maxine Ramos from NEREJ interviews Mark Stafford, Account Executive Architect and Engineer Program of National Grid, our Platinum Chapter Sponsor.

The presentation portion of the evening featured project presentations from Google and 5 of our sponsors.

Our esteemed USGBC MA Executive Director kicking off the project presentations.
Tiffany Colt introduced us to some of Google's initiatives to save energy and reduce their company's environmental impact on a global scale.
Guy Campagnone, Director of Sustainable Practices at Chapman Design / Construction, highlights some of Chapman's latest efforts that align with their lifelong dedication to sustainable design.
Win Mallet, Principal of Tempietto Homes, spoke about the "necessity of diagonals" as part of their modern, solar-based designs.
Chris Alexander, Director of Business Development at Sterritt Lumber, spoke about his company's lifelong dedication to sustainability since its founding in 1841.
Mark Stafford, Account Executive Architect and Engineer Program, at our Platinum Chapter Sponsor, National Grid, spoke about ways in which his company is demonstrating their commitment to energy efficiency.
Architect Doug Rand of Dimella Schaffer introduces their latest LEED-certified projects such as the North Shore Community College Allied Health Building.

The evening wrapped up with a final word by Grey Lee thanking all of our Chapter member and encouraging all the guests to join the Chapter to ensure the continued growth of the green building community as we work together to make every building in Massachusetts a green building within one generation!

Here's a link to our SPOTLIGHT Feature in the New England Real Estate Journal: USGBC Project Showcase 10/17

Thank you everyone who came out to support the mission of the USGBC and we'll see you next year at our next MA LEED Project Showcase!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

ISO & LEED: A beautiful couple

One item that synergizes perfectly with LEED is the International Standards Organizations (ISO) environmental standards, yet, I find that many in the building trades have an imperfect or incomplete understanding of these tools.

The ISO membership is comprised of 160 national standards institutes and its standards provide practical tools for all three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, environmental, and societal.  These standards provide an internationally developed and recognized framework to ensure quality, ecology, safety, economy, reliability, compatibility, interoperability, conformity, efficiency, and effectiveness.  These traits facilitate trade and shared knowledge based best management practices.

Many of the standards, particularly those in the 14000 family of environmental management standards, harmonize with many aspects of LEED.  While LEED focuses upon the built environment, ISO focuses more on the organizations operations and management, thus it meshes quite nicely with LEED-EBOM.  These standards can build off each other and the strengths of each can complement the other to build a more sustainable whole.  With a small amount of planning and foresight, a company can occupy a LEED certified building and earn ISO certification without duplicating effort.  If they currently hold one certification, the other is more easily attained.

Why would an organization seek ISO certification?

Just as there are a myriad of justifications for seeking LEED certification, there are a host of reasons for pursuing ISO certification.  These include improved efficiency and effectiveness, contractual or regulatory compliance, customer or public preference, risk management, sales prospects and market access, cost savings/waste reduction, and finally, environmental stewardship.

It should be noted that while the ISO develops the International Standards, it is not a certification body.  Certification is performed by third party auditors. These “certification bodies” review the written documentation and audit the facility.  The documentation can include employee standards, training records, approved standard operating procedures, plans for non conforming events, quality verification, calibrations and test methods, document control procedures, and audits.  The purpose of this documentation is to ensure that the desired procedures are followed in a proscribed manner and that the PDCA, or Plan–Do-Check-Act, cycle is driving continual improvement.

ISO 14001 standard is unique in that one can opt for the traditional third party audit and certification or one can independently self-certify. The ability to self certify opens the standard up to many smaller organizations that may be daunted by the costs of a third party audit. 

ISO 14001 – Environmental Management Systems.

This standard is the bedrock of the entire environmental series. It establishes the requirements for an Environmental Management System (EMS).  An EMS is a standardized plan that defines the environmental impacts of an organizations activity and seeks to minimize those impacts that are within its control.  The system that quantifies and then minimizes these impacts follows the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.  In short this involves deciding upon a plan of action, implementing the plan, checking that the plan in effect and correcting any shortfalls, and finally, reviewing the results and improving the system.  Determining the impacts and designing the plans can be a daunting task; however, the ISO has many published documents to assist in the task.

If a company is certified to ISO 9001 standards, it is much easier to obtain ISO 14001.  ISO 9001 establishes Quality Management Systems.   A company that has a Quality Management System in place will have much of the framework required for an EMS. For instance, the will have records on raw materials and products used, a system for dealing with problems or incidents, internal and external audit procedures, and employee and management training.

Other standards within (and without) the 14000 family that can help

Many other standards within the ISO 14000 family of standards can be integrated into an EMS and can assist in the development of a comprehensive Environmental Management System.

ISO14004 provides additional guidance and useful explanations.  ISO 14031 helps an organization evaluate its environmental performance and can assist with selection of suitable performance indicators.  This is useful for accurate and truthful reporting on environmental performance.  ISO 14020 addresses a range of environmental labels and declarations, including eco-labels, self declared claims, seals of approval, and quantified environmental information about products and services.   ISO 14040 provide guidelines on the principles and conduct of Life Cycle Assessment of products and services.  ISO 14064 provides a set transparent and verifiable requirements for Greenhouse Gas accounting and verification.  ISO 14063 can assist with environmental communication to outside parties. 

Several standards are still in development. These include standards for eco-efficiency assessment (ISO 14045), material flow cost accounting (ISO 14051), Carbon footprints (ISO 14067 & 14069), Phased EMS implementation (ISO 14005), and, quantitative environmental information (ISO 14033).

There are several standards outside of the “environmental” 14000 series that can help. The 19011 is the auditing standard and it is useful for both Quality and Environmental audits.  ISO 50001 is the Energy Management System standard. While an Environmental Management System will contain sections that address energy usage, an Energy Management System under ISO 50001 requires energy performance monitoring and actual energy performance improvements.  It is akin to ongoing building commissioning but for all the processes that occur within an organization.

Data driven standards for continual improvement.

The interactions between these two great consensus driven international standards, LEED and ISO, can ensure the long term sustainability of an enterprise. A LEED certified building, especially if it then earns LEED-EBOM, will position the physical plant for an ongoing benefit. EBOM will ensure that the gains realized by the integrated design and thoughtful planning are not squandered and that the improvements are maintained. ISO standards can help the activities that occur within those buildings meet their environmental goals.  Building Designers and Facilities Mangers can work shoulder to shoulder to ensure not only a sustainable building at occupancy but throughout its life and throughout the course of the activities the building supports.  These distinct environmental benefits will yield tangible economic benefits and sustain the triple bottom line. 

Kevin Dufour is an Environmental Scientist with Viridis Advisors. He collaborates with Tom Irwin on creating greener greenscapes. The opinions expressed by member bloggers are their own and not necessarily those of the USGBC Massachusetts Chapter.