Friday, February 28, 2014

Member Spotlight: Neil Angus

You may know Neil Angus, one of our Board member from various Chapter events. He helps man the Education Committee. Neil hosts Wednesday afternoon Webinars. This week we get to know a little more about Neil.

1. What is your current job and how does it differ from past jobs in regards to Sustainability?
I am an Environmental Planner with the Devens Enterprise Commission to oversee the development of a former military base outside of Boston in Devens. I act as a Town Planner but in a unique position since the Commission I serve is a regional and joint board that oversees planning, zoning, historic, local health and conservation-all under one roof! Devens is also redeveloping as an eco-industrial park (one firm's waste becoming another firm's raw material resource-maximizing efficiency and minimizing waste). I assist with the operations of the Devens Eco Efficiency Center as well. This is a unique non profit organization that provides education and technical assistance to businesses and organizations in Devens and the surrounding region to help them incorporate more sustainable business practices in their day to day operations.

2. When did you first become interested in Sustainability?
In my undergraduate program at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I majored in Geography and environmental studies and was always interested and fascinated in natural systems and how they function. I also have a creative side that was interested in architecture and design. Once I graduated I enrolled in a professional design degree program in Environmental Planning at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.There I learned to combine my knowledge of natural systems thinking with human development patterns and sharpened my skills as a land use planner. My first job was in Connecticut as an environmental planner where I wrote the Town's first plan for Conservation and Open Space. From there I new I found my niche incorporating more sustainable approaches to traditional land use, planning, methodologies and practices.

3. Why are you a member of the MA chapter and how did you get there?
I wanted to learn more about the green building movement as it was directly in my line of work. I joined the education committee of the Mass. Membership Forum at the Nexus Green Building Resource Center in Boston. From there I began to learn about LEED and the planning, design, operations and maintenance that goes into sustainable building design. I earned my LEED BD&C credential. As the Green Roundtable evolved into the Chapter, I decided to take a more active role as a Board Member and represent the Planning community. I have been workign to bring together the planning and building disciplines, since I joined. The launch of LEED for Neighborhood Development has also helped bridge the gap between planning and the development community.

4. How are you an Environmental Steward?
I still drive a little too much but I try to practice what I preach. I have minimized my own carbon footprint and in my own family through energy efficiency, recycling and re-use measures in my home, office, in my wife's offices and at my parents' home. I am always looking to minimize waste and maximize the life of the products I use. Some may call that frugal but I think we have become a disposable society that has greatly contributed to the situation we are in today with climate change and poor air quality in lots of regions. This coupled with my day to to day work as an environmental planner contribute to my environmental stewardship.

5. How do you help raise Environmental Awareness?
As a member of the Education Committee, I help organzie green building and LEED ND events that help educate others. I also try to share my knowledge and experiences when I can present to my colleagues and the general public on more sustainable approaches to land use planning and development.

6. If I needed to find you on a Saturday afternoon, where would you be?
Depending on the time of the summer you will find me surfing in Rhode Island, in the Spring and Fall you might find me mountain biking up north and in the Winter, you would find me on the ski slopes searching for my own fresh powder. Needless to say, I love the outdoors. I think that helps me feel even better about what I do-knowing that my day to day activities ultimately help to preserve the natural environment and some of the places I love spending time in or at!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

EPMA Soiree! Good times with the Emerging Professionals

By Adam Kreitman, EPMA
The 2014 EPMA Soiree (held at the Baseball Tavern on 12/20/14) was a great success, thanks in part to our incredible attendees and Lee Kennedy Co., Inc. for sponsoring! 
The night was full of networking, trivia and our first ever "EPMA Baggo Madness Tourney." Even though the event was rescheduled, due to the never ending weather curve balls, we were able to meet many new faces and draw in several new members!

The night concluded with a giveaway of multiple raffle prizes such as gift cards to Starbucks, Evoo, Henrietta's Table and the Fireplace. Our winners of the "Baggo" Tournament were Scott Balboni (Chapman Construction) and Tyler Murphy (Suffolk Construction). We saw a lot of good moves on the floor during Baggo.

As is usual at our EPMA networking events, we had free appetizers (from the Tavern) and drinks were underwritten by Lee Kennedy. Though there were a lot of "regulars," about half the crew were fresh faces and we made a lot of new contacts. In fact, LinkedIn reported a significant jump in connections the next day due, in part, to our event. 

But seriously, one of the reasons these EPMA events are so cool is that people are coming from a lot of different companies - we have construction, architecture, engineering, retrofits, schools, and many more backgrounds. If you go to your standard industry thing, you are just surrounded by your (friendly) competitors. At the USGBC and EPMA events, you connect across the industry.
Thank you all who made this night so enjoyable! 
[Editor's Note: special thanks to the EPMA leadership team - Stephanie MacNeil (HMFH), Javier Burgos (Navigant), Kristin Malyak (Gensler), Jenna Dancewicz (Suffolk Construction) and especially to Adam Kreitman for organizing this event and securing the sponsorship from...Lee Kennedy.]

Monday, February 24, 2014

USGBC Member Spotlight-Interview with Bill Holland

Bill Holland heads up our Residential Green Building Committee. I sat down with him for a few minutes to chat about work, life and sustainability.

Bill, what is your current job? How does it differ from past jobs in regards to Sustainability?
In my current position as the Mass Dept. of Housing and Community Development, I support local housing authorities in developing capital improvement plans for preserving state-assisted low income housing. Sometimes this work is simply re-roofing buildings to prevent building damage. Other times it may involve adding insulation, upgrading windows, replacing toilets with low flow models or installing high efficiency heating systems. In rare situations that involve projects with new construction we design to high performance standards. Although I have handled LEED certification on commercial projects in the past, this work is the first time that preservation and improved building performance have been the center of my team's efforts.

When did you become interested in Sustainability?
Back in the 1960s and early 70's there was a lot of interest amoung young designers and the counter-culture in designing with Nature rather than disregarding it. The technology was not so developed then as it is now but the ideas developed at the time provided much of the underpinning of today's green technologies. I was attending architect school at MIT at the time and became quite interested in the possibilities highlighted in such publications as The Whole Earth Catalog.

Why are you a member of the Mass. Chapter and how did you get there?
I am a member of the Mass. Chapter  because I believe that making buildings better is an essential part of achieving a sustainable culture. I also believe the consensus model and inclusion of all stakeholders are important elements for the transformation of our environment. Before there was a Chapter I joined a group of other design professionals working with the Green Roundtable (GRT) in Boston to create a Massachusetts Membership Forum which was the precursor to the Chapter. With support form the GRT we incorporated, set up our first Board of Directors and became the USGBC Massachusetts Chapter. I was Vice Chair of the Board in our first year. More recently I took up the Chairmanship of the newly formed Residential Green Building Committee which is in its third year.

How are you an Environmental Steward?
I try to live lightly, minimizing waste, eating meat only rarely, recycling whatever I can, composting, walking, bicycling, using public transportation and installing a high efficiency boiler in my house. I recently added photovoltaic panels on the roof of my house, with the expectation that they will be able to generate an amount of electricity equal to that my wife Meg and I consume.

How do you help raise Environmental Awareness?
I use Facebook and emails to highlight environmental issues with friends and family members scattered throughout the country. I also participate in the environmental discussions among the members of the First Unitarian Society of Newton, which has a Green Sanctuary committee to promote environmental issues.

On a Saturday afternoon, where would we find you?
I might be taking a walk or doing house projects with Meg, chopping vegetables for one of my super salads or taking a nap. However two weeks ago, I was visiting my son in Amherst MA and helping with his car. Last week, I was in Raleigh NC "rallying" for a more equitable world. This week, by contrast Meg and I are on a vacation relaxing in Florida!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Congratulations to USGBC MA New Officers

On Thursday, 2/20/14, the Board of Directors of the USGBC MA Board of Directors elected, through the consensus-based process of Dynamic Governance, a new slate of officers. 

  • New Chair of the Board: Jim Newman (Linnean Solutions)
  • Continuing Vice Chair: Neil Angus (Devens Enterprise Commission)
  • Continuing Secretary: Sandy Brock (Nitsch Engineering)
  • New Treasurer: Carolyn Day (DBA-W Architects)
  • and new representative to the Upper Northeast Regional Council: Conor McGuire (Columbia Construction)
  • Greg Sampson (Robinson & Cole) will remain on the Executive Committee as Past Chair
Thank you to the departing officers: Phoebe Beierle who is stepping down as Past Chair to take on the Green Apple Day of Service subcommittee of the Green Schools Committee, and Emily Greenstein, who is leaving us to pursue other interests beyond green buildings, after having served us as an amazing Treasurer for the past 6 years. Thank you Phoebe and thank you especially to Emily for your major contribution in time and effort to get this organization off the ground and into an established 501c3. You've done a truly outstanding job for the USGBC MA!

Some of the new officers shared their thoughts about the new group, which will form the Executive Committee of the Board for 2014.

From Carolyn Day: "I believe in the organizational mission so I decided to get involved at the early stages. The Chapter is the organization bringing people together for cross-pollination of knowledge and ideas in order to elevate the level of sustainable design happening in the commonwealth and beyond. This year I look forward to greater engagement from a more diverse membership, and extending our reach."

From Conor McGuire: “I’m looking forward to learning from our USGBC Chapter Members, so I can best represent our Massachusetts values and progress to the Upper Northeast Regional Committee and USGBC National.  See you all at our Networking & Educational events, and Award Ceremonies!”

Congratulations, thank you, and I look forward to working with you all. Chapter 
Members: feel free to reach out and send them your best wishes. Thank you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Introducing Julia Mejia, new on staff at the USGBC MA Chapter

Julia Mejia is the new Outreach & Communications Manager for the USGBC MA Chapter. She will be responsible for coordinating our outward messaging to prospective members and sponsors. 

Julia obtained a Bachelors degree from Mount Ida College and developed an expertise in community engagement, marketing and communications. Julia’s previous employment includes Communication/Engagement Strategist at the Center for Social Policy at UMass Boston where she designed and implemented messaging strategies to promote their efforts. 

Prior to that Julia served as the Campaign Manager for MTV Networks where she successfully launched a national multi-media grassroots effort for political engagement. Julia also wrote, produced and developed creative content for MTV’s hit series True Life, My Super Sweet 16, MADE as well as various award-winning news and documentary specials. 

In addition to MTV, Julia has also worked on national marketing campaigns for numerous companies such as the Advertising Council, Proctor & Gamble, Miller Lite, Verizon Wireless, Frito-Lays, Paramount, Sprint and many others.

Julia’s remarks:
“I bring my experience both in the private sector and in community based work to this endeavor. This results in new thinking about how to engage others, and how to effectively identify and build on their interests and needs.  In addition, marketing and public relations naturally involves community outreach and engagement; these are skills I have honed over the past fifteen years.  I look forward to working closely with our membership to inform, influence and inspire others to be innovative with intent."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

USGBC Member Spotlight-Adrian Charest

Adrian Charest is head of our Membership Committee.  I took a few moments to sit and talk with him regarding life, work and sustainability. Here is what he had to say.

What is your current job? How does it differ from past jobs in regards to Sustainability?
I am a Construction Engineer at RSMeans. I research the construction process, provide consulting services and instruct seminars on estimating. With this job, I have the opportunity to be involved with new building technologies and construction techniques in the industry.

When did you first become interested in Sustainability?
I caught the bug in college and have had some involvement with environmental responsibility ever since.

Why are you a member of the MASS chapter and how did you get there?
Becoming a member was the next logical step after receiving (LEED) accreditation with the intent of growing my professional network, taking advantage of the many educational opportunities and having fun!

How are you an Environmental Steward?
On a personal level, I make my environmental contributions through a lot of little things that we all do: recycling, reusing and keeping a level of environmental awareness related to my actions. Professionally, I have had the opportunity to promote green buildings by researching and analyzing green construction trends through the development of the RSMeans Green Square Foot models and supporting the upcoming Earth Day event.

How do you help raise Environmental Awareness?
By encouraging membership in the USGBC Massachusetts Chapter!

If I needed to find you on a Saturday afternoon, where would it be?
I would be taking part in one of three activities: walking the local Conservation Lands with my wife and daughter, throwing tennis balls with my dog at the park or browsing beer recipes at the local brew shop. Cheers!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Deep Energy Retrofits with Brian Butler and the Residential Green Building Committee

By Rose Brakesman

What better time to talk about Mass Save Deep Energy Retrofit than a cold February evening with the Residential Green Building Committee. Brian Butler walked us through how Boston Green Building does a Deep Energy Retrofit (DER).
Some DER “rules of thumb”:
1.5 air changes per hour (ACH)
R5 windows
R10 basement slab
R20 foundation walls
R40 walls above foundation
R60 in the roof/attic
DER is documented and looks for a reduction in energy use between 50-90%, so the process starts with determining a baseline on energy use and a blower door test to document the number of air changes per hour (ACH) in an existing older house. Many of these houses are what Brian calls “gushers”. They’re houses that leak air and energy at an alarming rate. One house that Boston Green Building is tackling for DER just went through a blower test and had 9 ACH. (DER is 1.5 ACH).  9 ACH is equivalent to leaving a two foot by two foot hole in the exterior wall year round! 
Jokes abounded… “Did you leave the bathroom window open during the test?” Nope, double checked. Many older houses are just that leaky from gaps around the windows and doors, leaks where the basement meets the frame, and so on. This is the kind of house that can most benefit from a Deep Energy Retrofit, and there are many, many like this. 
Additionally, most of the current housing stock in Boston will still be here in 2050, so building better new homes won’t help nearly enough. Happily enough for Brian and his cohorts, it doesn’t look like they’ll run out of work anytime soon! Even nicer is the DER “guidebook”- the Mass Save Deep Energy Retrofit Builder Guide. Instead of a long process of repeated submittal, and revision, and re-submittal, the guidebook streamlines the process. Hopefully more builders will jump on board and provide some DER competition!

After addressing the building envelope there are typically additional complications and hazards that go along with “tightening things up.” One such issue is indoor air quality. In the original leaky building there’s a “stack effect” where supposedly “fresh” air starts in the basement (along with mold and mildew) then moves upward through the house via temperature stratification. Once the building envelope is at 1.5 ACH or less, there is no stack effect. Facilitated ventilation is required and that is a very good thing! Now stale air can be taken from one area of the house moved through heat recovery ventilation (HRV). A high efficiency HRV unit is the best way to go and can have an efficiency of 90%, which means stale air at 72o is exhausted and fresh air is drawn in at around 65o.
In the end, Brian and Boston Green Building are “dragging poorly performing homes kicking and screaming into the 21st century and hopefully addressing all the issues to keep from killing the occupants.” Originally, only one utility company participated in Mass Save DER, but now there are six participating utilities. Conspicuously absent from the list is NStar…. but there is some carbonated bottle shaking going on to hopefully bring them back on board.

See you at the next Residential Green Building Committee meeting on Monday, March 10th at 5:45pm at 281 Summer St, Boston!

Monday, February 10, 2014

LEED Exams Change-over to LEED v4:

This just in from USGBC National:

The LEED Green Associate and LEED AP exams will evolve for the LEED v4 rating system in June. The last day to take the credential exams with LEED v2009 content will be June 15, 2014. The first day to take the exams with the new LEED v4 content will be June 30, 2014. No tests will be administered in between these dates.

For the first time, LEED project experience competency will be assessed within the LEED AP exam. Practitioner experience is critical to the LEED AP designation, and as such, proficiency will be tested objectively within the LEED AP exam itself. The requirement to submit proof of LEED project experience at the time of application is no longer required as of June 30. However, GBCI strongly urges candidates to gain meaningful project experience prior to taking the test, as it is critical to successful exam performance.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Innovations in Sustainabiltiy & Resiliency

We had a great program in our EcoDistricts series. Thank you to event sponsors: EnerNOC, the City of Boston and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, and to District Hall for hosting us!

From the Boston Redevelopment Authority:

On Tuesday, 2/4/14, the BRA and the Massachusetts Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council(USGBC) hosted an Innovations in Sustainability and Resiliency panel discussion. Panelists representing the finance and tech industries as well as government came together to discuss the development of EcoDistricts and the role of resiliency in Boston's Innovation District and beyond. The EcoDistricts framework emphasizes sharing energy solutions amongst area stakeholders. Over 100 attendees participated from a broad cross section of the sustainability community, including architects, engineers, developers, financial consultants, and federal, state, and local government officials

The first keynote speaker was Kairos Shen, Chief Planner at the BRA, who emphasized that the biggest challenge facing the creation of Eco Districts is partnerships. Shen stressed that the technological solutions already exist, but it's the partnerships that will allow them to be effective.
The second keynote speaker was John Aubrecht, President of the Longwood Medical Energy Collaborative, who represents Boston's greatest concentration of medical institutions, including over 2000 hospital beds. The concentration of critical energy users in the Longwood Medical Area (LMA) rely on the Medical Area Total Energy Plant (MATEP) for heating, cooling and electrical services. Aubrecht's presentation focused on building partnerships between LMA institutions, financial institutions, and energy markets. He also discussed the challenge of finding organizational strategies for the multiple stakeholders in an Eco District.

The panel on Eco Districts was moderated by Galen Nelson, Director of Market Development at the Mass Clean Energy Center. Nelson discussed his time in Hamburg, Germany where an old grain silo was used to create an energy bunker that now produces enough heat for 3000 households and electricity for 1000 homes. Other panelists included: Karthik Rao from EnernNOC, who discussed how each individual building can contribute to local energy markets; Bruce Douglas, Vice President of Natural Systems Utilities, who discussed the use of waste heat in sewer systems and capturing underutilized sources of energy throughout the city; Matthew Gardner, Director of SustainServ, who discussed emerging technology used to measure the energy of a city and showed how it was applied in the Innovation District; Charlie Reed, Director of Boston Global Investors, who discussed his company's planning strategy for district energy in the Innovation District.

More panels discussing EcoDistricts beyond energy technology are forthcoming, including EcoDistricts in the context of water and organizational models. Stay tuned via the BRA EcoDistricts page.

Photos by Grey Lee