Thursday, January 30, 2014

Annual Meeting: Survey Results

One of the fun things we announced at the Annual Meeting were the results of our Action Plan Survey. Thank you to all 148 of you who were able to complete the survey this year. We feel this is a good sample of our most active participants. Adrian Charest, Chair of our Membership Committee, was thrilled to hear the results (below).

Neil Angus, our Vice Chair, summarized the findings as follows. Thanks Neil!

2014 Chapter Survey - 2014 Action Plan

Feedback and Input from you our members on existing programs, offerings and advocacy – what is working and what is not or needs improvement.

What direction should we be going in the future – what you, our members, would like to see - educational programming, advocacy, communications, networking.

Great response rate - over 140 responses (thank you!!)

We're still analyzing details but here’s a few highlights of preliminary findings:

Main Reason for Joining: Networking, support the Chapter mission and learn more about green buildings and communities.

Great feedback on events we currently put on and level of interest for new events we are considering – even some great recommendations on how we might improve our current offerings

Huge interest in: Net Zero and Positive energy building.

Lots of interest in higher level training in NC and interest in EB and ND

Wanted: new programming on energy management, green products and LEED vs other sustainability rating systems

Great feedback on the timing, duration and delivery methods of our programming. People wanted to see programs on climate change, building resiliency & affordable green buildings for everyone!

Excellent feedback on our existing communications tools (website, LinkedIn twitter, facebook) and suggestions for improvements to those tools.

Many respondents are LEED APs or GAs and are interested in GBCI continuing education credits – we are working on improving our programming offerings to include more GBCI approved programs so stay tuned!

Thanks again for all your feedback – it truly will help us provide more value to you and further our mission of green buildings and communities for all!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The 2014 Massachusetts Green Building Awards

We want you! Actually, we want your buildings and your green building innovations!

We have streamlined the process and the categories of our event. We hope to see dozens of entries in both the Green Building of the Year award and the Green Innovation award. The contest will culminate with our Earth Day Gala on April 17th, 2014. We look forward to seeing you there!

Since 2008, USGBC Massachusetts has recognized the most innovative green buildings, products, processes and technologies in the Massachusetts real estate community. Past winners have demonstrated ingenuity, replicability, and scored well on the triple bottom line - an important concept in sustainability that considers the building’s overall impact on economic prosperity, environmental quality, and social equity.

This year’s entry deadline is March 15, 2014 and winners will be announced in April 2014.

2014 Entry Categories:

Why Should I Enter?
  • Local Recognition: submissions will be put on display at the Earth Day Gala as well as at various USGBC MA events. Award entrants will be highlighted on the USGBC MA website and in the media surrounding the Earth Day Gala.
  • Regional Recognition: one existing building will advance to a regional EBie competition held in NYC in June 2014
  • Feedback: the submissions will be judged by a panel of 3-5 judges and a  summary of responses will be available to entrants upon request.
  • Inspiration: the awards are designed to highlight Massachusetts’ innovation in green design and operations. They recognize buildings that best live up to their green design potential and help raise the bar for future buildings.

What are the Entry Criteria?
Click here for the 2014 Massachusetts Green Building of the Year Award.
Click here for the 2014 Massachusetts Green Innovation Award.

If you have any questions after reading the criteria, please contact the Awards Committee.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Living Buildings are On Their Way

The Living Building Challenge (LBC) raises the bar on the level of sustainability pursued in green building projects.

The Chapter hosted a presentation on the LBC by Shawn Hesse of emersionDESIGN. Shawn is a Living Building Challenge Ambassador and member of the Cambridge Net Zero Taskforce. He is also a loyal member of the USGBC MA Chapter! Thank you to Shawn for presenting and to Laur Fisher for organizing the event, held at the MIT Center for Collaborative Intelligence in Kendall Sq, Cambridge.

About 25 people came out to hear the in-depth introduction to the Challenge. There was a considerable contingent from Harvard University...could there be something in the works? Maybe, as an organization, we can support a friendly little contest between a few of the campuses around here. There is already a Living Building coming together at Williams College in Berkshire County. Others came from architecture practices, the City of Boston, the State of MA, and other institutions. Thank you to all who could make it, even with the "snow emergency" bells ringing.

The Living Building Challenge is a philosophy, advocacy tool, and certification program that addresses development at all scales. The one hour introduction by Shawn reviewed the seven performance areas, the certification process, and reviewed project examples. What if every single act of design and construction made the world a better place? It is really an inspirational system.

The USGBC MA Chapter looks forward to working with the LBC community to facilitate greater adoption of the principles of the Living Building Challenge into our industry. Let us know if you are interested in learning more, and/or advocating for more Living Buildings!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cape Cod Materials Dinner: Cost Effective Selections For Everyday Construction Projects

The USGBC MA Cape & Islands Interest Group (USGBC MA Cape) co-hosted an event last night in Hyannis with the Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Cape Cod (HBRACC) where a panel of founders from USGBC MA Cape presented "Cost Effective Green Materials for the Everyday Construction Projects". 

The event drew the largest crowd HBRACC had seen in years with over 110 attendees. The crowd network for the first half hour, and then sat down for the full dinner and presentation.

After a preliminary introduction to USGBC MA Cape and its goals from Adam Prince, the expert panel of material suppliers discussed what defines green materials, how they are beneficial, and easy opportunities for integrating green materials into typical construction projects.

Presenters included:
Craig Fischer, Shepley Wood Products Architectural Window Specialist, provides Andersen window expertise to builders and architects from design to project completion on Cape Cod.  Shepley Wood Products has been providing quality lumber, building materials and services to building professionals since 1978.  Shepley is a certified FSC material supplier for Southeastern Massachusetts.
Nicole Goldman, founder of 'g' Green Design Center, has been an entrepreneur in the design industry for thirty years, now serving a growing community throughout the Cape, Islands and Southern coast of Massachusetts providing interior design, green materials and a vast array of healthy products for residential and commercial renovation and construction.
Richard McLaughlin, owner of Fresh Interiors in South Yarmouth, has been working to provide design oriented interior finish options for kitchens, baths, flooring and finishes that promote a healthy living environment for residential and commercial projects, working from Boston to Provincetown, for the last 5 years.

USGBC MA Cape is working now to plan future events, content, and tours, which typically happen every two months. Be sure to visit our website for notifications or contact to request to be on the Cape & Islands mailing list. You can read more about the group at their webpage.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

MPG Ratings for Homes? They're coming!

This entry written by Michael Sigmon, Communications Coordinator for the Residential Green Building Committee

Alissa Whiteman and Ben Pignatelli from the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (Mass. DOER) made a presentation to the Residential Green Building Committee on their pilot program on the Home MPG (Home score card). It was a well-attended meeting with over 20 people arriving to connect on the topic. As soon as the first slide was up, the rowdy bunch was firing off questions and making their own analyses of the project. Alissa and Ben were great, very able to handle the "shark tank" of residential energy efficiency sharpshooters in the room. All in all it was a great discussion and everyone learned something new. Hopefully, the group was able to provide some useful feedback as the DOER looks at expanding the program to other areas of the state.

The pilot took place in the Springfield Mass. area and surrounding towns. The data collection took place in conjunction with the free MASSAVE energy audit that all rate payers of public utilities can ask for. The pilot was funded by the U.S. DOE and is taking place in 9 geographic locations across the US. Read about the pilots across the country here.

The idea behind the pilot was to create a straightforward way for the average consumer to identify the important components of a home based on apples to apples comparison. Using a prescriptive method, the DOER identified HVAC systems, domestic hot water systems and envelope insulation values for formulating their scoring system. Their thought was that by using this metric they could make a fair comparison across dwelling unit types. This also leads to consumer education that is crucial for good decision making in selecting energy efficiency measures for a home.

After getting their audit and initial score card, the plan is to render a second score after weatherization and equipment upgrades have been completed. A part of the score card is a projection of a home’s carbon rating which can inform the occupant even further about the impact of their house's energy performance.

Organizations that cooperated with the pilot are the Center for Eco Technology and the Pioneer Valley Planning Council.

The program results are for the Springfield area:
2116 Score cards
799 Retrofits

Thanks again Alissa and Ben!

The Residential Green Building Committee holds a meeting every month, usually on the second Monday of the month, at the USGBC MA offices in Boston. Each meeting has a presentation on a relevant and timely subject from experts in the field. Then various aspects of committee business are attended to, such as our advocacy work, communications, creating resources for the community at large, and other work which supports the Chapter's mission. Feel free to come check us out - our next meeting is Feb. 10th.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Welcome New Sponsoring Partner AtSite!

Thank you AtSite for becoming a Silver Chapter Sponsoring Partner. We are thrilled to work with our new partner to help make more buildings go green. Coming to us from their base of operations in Washington DC, AtSite is committed to delivering building management expertise to enable facilities to embrace efficiency and sustainability.

AtSite guides building owners, occupiers and operators with the design, construction, operation and optimization of buildings and spaces. The company utilizes Smart Building Technologies, Energy Management Tactics, Sustainable Best Practices and Integrated Buildings Strategies to deliver high quality, low cost and environmentally responsible buildings. By combining its talented building experts, open technology platforms and best-in-class global industry partners, AtSite delivers measurable results to building owners across many sectors, including healthcare, commercial, education, and a number of other uses.

AtSite has some great content on their website regarding Building Performance Management and you can read about more of their work through their blog - take a look here

Thank you Davor Kapelina and Lisa West for reaching out. We are eager to help you all build your presence in New England. There is a lot of opportunity for USGBC MA to support solution provision in the building management space. I believe Steve Black, of AtSite, will be at the Existing Buildings meeting on Friday - and so we'll get cracking!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

West Branch of the USGBC MA - 2014 Recap - Lots of great programs in Western Mass. last year!

Letter from Chairs Past and Present
Dear colleagues,
The New Year 2014 has come in with blasts of cold and ice, but it would take a lot more than that to temper the passion of local volunteers who are focused on promoting "the design, construction, and operation of sustainable buildings and communities in Massachusetts"!
The USGBC MA - West Branch had its best year ever in 2013 and we are all ready to launch another successful year of green building education programs, networking events and service projects!
For those of you who couldn't make it to all of the excellent programs we provide, We thought we would prepare a short list of highlights from 2013:
We had a variety of Education Programs!  The LEED Green Associate Exam Prep course attracted approximately 45 students and utilized a team based learning classroom at UMass to facilitate discussion among students and professionals.  We held two Green Eggs networking and education events - the first at David R. Northup Electrical Contractors, Inc. on Point of Use Technology presented by John DeGray of Point Energy Solutions, and the second at the EcoBuilding Bargains Store on Energy Modeling presented by Benjamin Todd of Strategic Energy Group and Ted Mendoza of UMass Amherst.
Our Summer Social in June attracted almost 30 members and included representatives from NESEA and the Westover Job Corps.

Green building researchers from UMass Amherst presented a map of LEED buildings in Western MA, featuring 27 LEED certified buildings and 60 more projects undergoing registration - a remarkable achievement for our region!

UMass Green Building Council Students Group was founded in partnership with the West Branch and is committed to promoting sustainability, innovation, and a basic foundation in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design both on and off campus.  They provide campus wide initiatives and education for the public on green building practices.  Eight student members attended the GreenBuild 2013 conference in the fall!  A team of students worked with NStar to survey residential halls and educating students on saving energy by distributing 5,000 LED light bulbs.

3 Green Apple Day of Service events focused on engaging local schools took place in September and October: a Green Building Tour of 4 UMass LEED facilities and rain gardens for students from Westover Job Corps; a tour of Tan Brook for students at Wildwood Elementary school in Amherst, and a public tour of the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke, a LEED Platinum Building.  We have also committed to provide LEED Support for the Common School in Amherst.

Thank you for your support,
Ludmilla Pavlova, Immediate Past Chair
Mark Dunn, 2014 Chair of USGBC MA West Branch Steering Committee

[[ Congratulations to all the volunteers who have helped to make this success possible! We all look forward to a great 2014 and more useful and fun programming to support the green building community in Western Massachusetts. ]]

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Creating a Neighborhood Development Working Group

by Bob Weiss LEED AP ND

Here's and example of "before" good neighborhood planning 

If you are reading this, you probably already think about how your lifestyle fits in with a sustainable planet. That’s what neighborhood development is about: living, working, doing business and conducting daily life in a way that sustains our world. It’s not a new concept but the past decades’ interest in our environment takes all that we have learned about green buildings to the next level: the places where we put those buildings, what elements make up those places and how do we put them together. To this end, the Chapter’s new working group advances neighborhood development and smart growth in Massachusetts communities.

And here's "after" good neighborhood development planning

Many organizations around the globe value district scaled development. The Congress for New Urbanism, Enterprise Green Communities, community development corporations and EcoDistricts are among them. The USGBC recognized the benefits development on a neighborhood scale when it crafted its LEED ND rating system. Now, with LEED ND as a guide, the Mass Chapter of USGBC is assembling a Neighborhood Development Working Group, a sub-committee of the Residential Green Building Committee, to examine the nature of sustainable neighborhood development and to promote its implementation in Massachusetts.

Last year the Chapter invested significant staff and volunteer time to work with a wide range of organizations creating a Host Committee to present the 2013 EcoDistricts Summit in Boston in November. (The growing EcoDistricts framework is globally recognized as one of the key movements promoting neighborhood development as the means to leverage the best practices of sustainability.) The new Neighborhood Development Working Group will join its fellow EcoDistricts Host Committee members in continuing the spirit of neighborhood development in Massachusetts with several happenings in 2014. The Boston Redevelopment Authority will kick things off with its February 4th "Innovations in Sustainability and Resiliency" event in the Innovation District, at District Hall.

Our working group will plan an exciting LEED ND event for the Chapter, scheduled for the late spring. We'd love to hear your ideas on what should be included, and who we should highlight. You can join the Chapter’s Mike Davis and Neil Angus to help so we can follow up on the original LEED ND New England pilot projects and bring our community up to date on the state of the art, demonstrating how the rating system has grown into a practical tool for sustainable neighborhood development.

Mass Chapter’s Neighborhood Development Working Group is still on the ground floor and we look forward to convening a team composed of the widest spectrum of disciplines and industries. If you can help us build a successful LEED ND event you will help us build the new group! For more information on the Chapter’s Neighborhood Development working group contact Bob Weiss at or 617-653-0948.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Welcome to the Chapter, Electric Film! A New Chapter Sponsoring Partner

We are celebrating our most recent Chapter Sponsoring Partner - Thank you for becoming a Bronze Chapter Sponsor, Electric Film, LLC.

Take a look at their website:

From Kevin Dibasitis at Electric Film:

ElectricFilm is a unique light harvesting technology that has been developed and advanced over the past quarter century. The lightweight, flexible film has been engineered to capture indoor, or low light (50 to 2,000 lux) with high efficiency. The film is manufactured of low cost materials with a roll to roll process that allows for custom sizes to work with multiple applications.

This harvesting solution converts light from anywhere into electricity that can power numerous Smart Building devices from automated, motorized window shade systems to block heat gain, to smart thermostats that reduce energy consumption to motion detectors/cameras and electronic door locks that can enhance building security. The ElectricFilm harvest solution allows these devices to be wireless, reducing the cost of hardwiring and allowing for greater installation flexibility.

ElectricFilm greatly extends the battery life for all of these devices reducing O & M costs for primary batteries (and having to dispose of those batteries in the environment), and the labor time and inconvenience of having to change batteries.

ElectricFilm is based in Newburyport, MA which includes all of our research & development along with our new production plant which is under construction and due to come on line by the end of Q1 2014. All production will be performed here in the USA, so while we are a Green building technology, we are also Red, White & Blue!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Review - Reprint from the NEREJ

It [was] a great year for the green building industry. The state of Massachusetts was recognized as having the best energy efficiency and renewable energy policies and incentives in the country by ACEEE (the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy) with Boston recognized as "most energy efficient city" on account of the many programs that have been implemented lately to encourage and achieve significant energy savings. This includes the Greenovate Boston community-engagement brand, the Renew Boston program, and the building energy reporting & disclosure ordinance. As these policies move through the market, they will enhance asset values and improve the end-user experience, attracting better businesses to our region.

124 buildings were LEED certified in Massachusetts this year, of a total of 829 overall. In the past two months, we've seen 15 more projects attain LEED, including 150 Second St. in Cambridge which earned LEED CS Platinum with the help of Chapter sponsor The Green Engineer. We've seen 117 firms renew or newly join the USGBC as national member firms, including RDK Engineers and Paul Lukez Architects. And the green building movement continues: the Chapter was proud to support Boston Properties' LEED-Platinum targeted Boston Garden Project at a recent Boston Redevelopment Authority hearing.

Thank you to our many sponsors and to our many volunteers. We will be hosting our annual Volunteer Recognition event during our Annual Meeting at EnerNOC on January 29th in Boston. We have lined up a smorgasbord of green building gurus to bring a variety of quick presentations to us that they delivered at Greenbuild in Philadelphia in November. You can find more details on our website's event calendar:

There are many ways to stay abreast of the burgeoning green building industry through the USGBC. Take a look at our YouTube Channel (USGBC MA) to find a series of short videos describing exemplary projects in Massachusetts such as Grousbeck Hall at the Perkins School and the North Shore Community College - the State's first "Net Zero" academic facility. You can follow us on facebook & twitter. Are you keeping up with the discussions on Linkedin? We have a lot going on with our advocacy work and our events.

Thank you again for your work to make our region a better place for all by creating more green buildings.

Grey Lee, MSc, LEED AP, is the executive director of the USGBC Mass. Chapter, Boston and is a monthly contributing author for the New England Real Estate Journal's Green Building section.