Monday, June 30, 2014

Losing Ground: Planning for Resilience (5th Edition) by Mass Audubon - Report Released

The USGBC MA Chapter has participated in the publication of the latest "Losing Ground" report from Mass Audubon.

Take a look at this great resource (download the full report).

Congratulations to Mass Audubon for producing this valuable document and maintaining the ongoing survey. We hope to continue to partner to advocate for sustainable communities throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.

We have more resources regarding sustainable neighborhood development at our main website. 

Fast Facts

Losing Ground: Planning for Resilience (Fifth Edition)

Patterns of Development and Their Impact on the Nature of Massachusetts

2005 – 2013

  • From April 2005 to April 2013, approximately 38,000 acres of forest or other undeveloped land were converted to development in Massachusetts, translating to a pace of 13 acres per day through this 8-year period. Nearly 50,000 acres of forest were lost during this time period, some developed and some cleared. Open land, including bare land, low vegetation, and agriculture, increased by approximately 10,000 acres.
  • The rate of development is down from the rate of 20 acres/day reported in the fourth edition of Losing Ground (1999-2005), and 40 acres/day reported in the third edition (1985-1999).  However the current period of analysis includes the years of the Great Recession when development slowed dramatically.  New housing permit data suggest that development will be trending back up towards previous rates.
  • Nearly 41 acres/day were protected in the same time frame, totaling 120,389 acres or nearly 10% of all land that has ever been protected in MA.
  • More than 3 acres of land were protected for every acre developed between 2005 and 2013.  This is up from a 2:1 ratio from 1999-2005.
  • 1.1 million acres of the state are now developed, or roughly 22% of the state. Over 1,250,000 acres are now permanently protected in MA, or just over 25% of the land area of the state. More than 2.8 million acres, or 53% of the land in the state, is neither developed nor protected.  Of this, over 1.5 million acres (30% of the state) have been identified as being of high conservation value inBioMap2.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Envelope Renovation Energy Modeling Comparison Presentation

By Mark Dunn, USGBC MA West Branch

Chapter members and guests gathered in Boston to hear from Nariman Mostafavi & Soroush Farzinmoghadam, Green Building Researchers at UMass AMherst. They presented their work to compare modeling exercises recently performed at UMass.

Three building analysis software tools, DOE-2 eQUEST, IESVE Revit Plug-in and Autodesk Green Building Studio, were used to quantify the predicted energy savings of a scheduled envelope retrofit on a UMass Amherst dormitory (Grayson Hall). The presentation included investigating the potential energy savings created by the removal and replacement of all original windows and exterior non-structural infill brick panels coupled with installation of supplementary insulation materials between the new brick panels and the interior CMU walls. The rehabilitation takes place in four 78,000 GSF seven-story residence halls originally constructed in 1965.

Analysis of the retrofit proposal was carried out by comparing the results of each retrofit design alternative against the baseline and assessing carbon dioxide emission reductions resulting from the proposed retrofit process. Advantages and disadvantages of each modeling tool were also discussed. The basic conclusion: for purposes of accurate modeling and ease of use, eQUEST continues to be the winner. It does not have the best-looking interface, but it turns out to be better to use, from their perspective. They will be comparing actual post-renovation energy use to their predictions this fall, and we anticipate a follow-up presentation on new results.

Thank you Nariman and Soroush!

Stay tuned to the USGBC MA as we bring you more presentations of academic research into the science of building performance.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Green Building Tour at UMass Amherst

On Wednesday, June 25th, the USGBC MA West Branch, in coordination with the Western MA AIA, hosted a Green Building Tour of the UMass Amherst campus.

UMass has seen a major investment in new buildings in the past few years.

The tour focused on 3 facilities: 1) the new Integrated Learning Center, 2) the scholars center residential complex, and 3) the Hampshire Dining Commons

Thank you to the UMass Amherst Campus Planning Department and members of the USGBC MA West Branch, especially Ludmilla Pavlova, and Lorin Starr of the Western MA AIA for organizing this tour.

Below: the Integrated Learning Center - which will hold 20% of the campus' classes next year. It is on track to meet LEED NC Gold and correspond with the state's LEED Plus program.

Thank you to Jeff Quackenbush for leading the tour of the facility. Here is a link to read more about the ILC.

The ILC has a great green roof - very well established plantings already.

Next, we went to the Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex. This will be a landmark component of UMass Amherst welcoming ambitious students from the entire state university system.

The Honors Complex has numerous sustainability features and you can read more about it at Sustainable UMass.

We ended the tour with a dinner at the Hampshire Dining Commons which has recently been renovated to be a state-of-the-art facility linking local food production to the dining experience on campus. We heard a few brief presentations and enjoyed a great meal. This place takes the concept of a college cafeteria to a whole new level!

Thank you again to to the UMass Amherst Campus Planning Department, members of the USGBC MA West Branch, and Western MA AIA for organizing this tour.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Climate Co-Lab Contest is Open

By Javier Burgos

How can we empower the public and communities to build awareness and demand for green buildings?
Buildings remain one of the key producers of greenhouse gases, consuming up to 40% of the world’s energy and contributing up to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Green buildings can mitigate the negatives of traditional buildings and climate change contribution, but stakeholders defining the green building conversation have largely been industry groups and governments. Here is YOUR chance - to help the green building conversation go mainstream!

Through a partnership with the MIT Climate Colab contest, the WGBC seeks your ideas to create public demand for green buildings that can meet the values of the occupants and empower the public to enter the conversation of how buildings are designed and created for them.
The size of our current built environment will double in the next 30 years and most of those buildings will be in developing nations. There has never been a better time to get this right.
Two Key Issues
Building design decisions are generally made with little to no input from the actual people that inhabit these buildings.  We want to overcome the barriers to a greater demand for greener, efficient buildings -- by:
1)   improving awareness and
2)   empowering communities to create impact
-- on sustained public participation in the demand for better, more efficient healthier buildings.
Specifically, we seek proposals to build awareness in the following areas:
· How can we inspire the public to think about the spaces they inhabit, things they would like in these spaces and voice their suggestions?
· How can we empower communities to enter the conversation about the design of buildings that are being built and designed for them?
· How can we create a mainstream conversation that will ultimately lead to greater demand for green buildings by communities and the public?
   How can we convert the values and desires of the public into real changes in the global building stock?

How can you and your community take a lead role on the green building conversation and increase your access to greener, healthier, more efficient buildings? Visit contest page

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Weekly Bulletin to 6/20/14

Coming up next week:

We have an imported "Green Tea" from the USGBC MA West Branch. On Thursday, 6/29/14 at 5:00pm, we'll be hearing from two Green Building Researchers from the UMass Amherst campus. They will present a comparison of energy modeling software. Check it out!

Calling all Volunteers!

Jump In – Make a Difference

There are many opportunities for volunteer engagement remaining this year. Look forward to expanded educational opportunities around our Education@USGBC Education Partner status. You can help lead a program for the "Green Breakfast Club" or a "Green Tea" evening session.

We have also created a new "Education Partner" opportunity for firms to participate in the creation of LEED CEU content with us. 

Also coming up for volunteer opportunities is the Green Apple Day of Service as well as the planning and execution of our LEED Project Showcase. In short, there are more opportunities than ever before.

Many of our members have made key connections, expanded their business and made a huge difference in the community through their experience as a chapter volunteer. Whatever your interest, we have something for you, like our Funding & Finance or Sustainable Neighborhood Development working group and our collaboration with the Living Building Challenge. Jump in! The world needs you.

Again, I extend a huge thank you to our Chapter Sponsoring Partners, our members, and our volunteers for their generous contributions, dedication and commitment to our continued growth and success.

More Green Buidlings!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Tools for LEED v4 O+M

USGBC just released a series of new tools for people to use on O+M projects - templates and frameworks of best practices to achieve the LEED Certification more easily.

LEED is more than a set of requirements, it’s a comprehensive program supported by a suite of tools and resources. With LEED v4, in addition to working on the rating systems, USGBC also focused a great deal of attention on the customer experience - that would be us, the users of LEED. And the development process did not end with LEED v4 being launched. USGBC is still looking for new ways to add support for project teams.
Plan and policy templates 
The mothership created templates for the plans and policies required in the LEED v4 Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M) rating systems. These templates serve as examples of plans and policies that meet the requirements of the credits. They enable you to implement the operations and maintenance best practices in your building and be confident that those practices meet the LEED requirements. A similar set of templates for use with the existing buildings rating system in LEED 2009 is coming soon (although you should just get going with v4 already!).
The plan and policy templates are available free of cost in the credit library for all project teams to download, elaborate on and customize for your building, and ultimately, submit as part of your project documentation:

Learn about other updates to LEED resources and tools:
Thank you to Megan Sparks, USGBC Manager of Program Integration, for the original posting

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

LEED Showcase is Coming! Save the Date 9/18/14

Each year, the USGBC MA Chapter gathers our community to celebrate the achivements of LEED Project Teams and the certifications they've attained.

This year we will celebrate the over 200 projects that have gone for LEED in the past year and a half.

Here's a great little video of our program from last year.

If you have been involved with a project this past year, please get in touch so you can participate in the Showcase this September!

Thank you,

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tour with the EPMA: LEED Gold Boston Public Library, East Boston Branch

We had a great time getting together as Emerging Professionals last Thursday evening in East Boston. Thank you to our tour guide Christine Schonart, Branches Manager of the Boston Public Libraries, and the designer team from William Rawn Associates, Sindu Meier and Carla Ceruzzi (who is now at Sasaki) for organizing the tour. The Green Engineer, project consultant, had representatives on hand - Marie Nolan, Ryan Montoni and Matt Smity - to help interpret some of the technical aspects of the building. Thank you to all - esp. the large contingent of Chapter members who attended who are from East Boston - I felt like we were about to start another regional group all of the sudden.

Loving the undulating, light-enabling ceiling:

Looks like another emerging professional to me!

Matt, Marie, and Ryan found something amusing in the mechanical room:

Here's a nice article in the Boston Globe about the project. The place really has a lot going for it, beautifully designed, engineered for real savings and efficiency, and a cool view through the Bremen Street Park (and old rail right-of-way) of Downtown Boston:

Thank you again to EPMA and the project team for organizing this great tour. We had a great pub-crawl around Eastie afterwards, but that is another story entirely. Hello KO!

See you all at the next EPMA event on July 24th. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Weekly Bulletin to 6/13/14

All eyes are on next Thursday:

We have three things going on at the same time. I know, not the best form, but it's really three partnering organizations who are working with us where each wound up needing to hold forth next Thursday. I hope you find one that you like and can benefit from.

Many of our upcoming events & programs were just announced in our June Event Email - take a look because we are all over the place!

6/19/14, Thursday, and actually all day on Wednesday 6/18/14, the Northeast Building & Facility Management Show & Conference will rally facility management professionals from across the region to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. There are a lot of educational programs and some of our members will be presenting, including Matt Shortsleeve of RGS Energy and Brian Salazar of Entegra Development & Investment. See you there!

At 1pm, 6/19/14, USGBC MA and the BSA's Committee for the Advancement of Sustainability are hosting a Sustainability Public Policy Forum: Community Strategies for Sustainable Development at Atlantic Wharf in Boston. You will hear presentations from Jim Newman of Linnean Solutions, Ludmilla Pavlova from UMass Amherst Campus Planning, David Straus of A Better City, and others.

Later that evening, from 5:30-7:30, 6/19/14, we are hosting the Regenesis Group's Bill Reed (presenting with Jim Newman, actually) and an introductory presentation on The Regenerative Practitioner. Come join us to build out a group to focus on regenerative development and take our efforts toward sustainability to the next level. It will be a very good program.

We also have a trio of webinars next week:

        6/17/14 at 12:00pm in Amherst, LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C Materials & Resources

        6/18/14 at 4:30pm in Boston, LEED v4 BD+C 252 Indoor Air Quality
        6/19/14 at 6:00pm in Worcester, LEED v4 BD+C 252 Indoor Air Quality

Don't you just love this fabulous lighting piece?

But here is "what to watch" according to some experts:

Other experts would have you watch this (apparently over and over):

And yet still others would have you watch this:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Transparency Tool from Perkins+Will

We hosted our latest Networking Night on Tuesday evening, June 10th, at the Boston offices of Perkins+Will on Franklin St at Post Office Square.

Thank you to the team at Perkins+Will for hosting us and especially to Juliette Bowker for presenting on their Transparency Tool. This is a tremendous resource for the many folks who are working to find materials and components of designs which will have better health effects on us all.

As we know, LEEDv4 offers points for reporting on materials through health product declarations and environmental product declarations. Many product vendors are racing to be relevant in this new marketplace where transparency into their processes and materials will become clearer.

Juliette led us through a great presentation about why we should care about environmental effects of materials in buildings, about how we can figure that out, and how we can then use that information to make better choices as designers and building creators so our communities are safer, healthier and stronger. She mentioned how she was really learning a lot about chemistry and health.

One stunning concept was "We are sharing this with everybody - there's no competitive advantage for us to hold onto this information" - so take a dive into the tool and learn more about materials and their impact on health!

Some of the staff at Perkins + Will were on hand to chime in about the tool and how they are using it to enhance the sustainability of their designs. Also, how it is helping their product vendors figure out how to be more relevant when selecting materials becomes more rigorous than just function, appearance and cost.

Juliette referenced the old "rubber duckie" and how examining that innocuous seeming toy could lead to an exploration of human health effects of common materials. And that we want to get to where the duckies really are cute and innocuous.

One of her quotes was from Dr. Claudia Miller, a renowned immunologist and a dean at the University of Texas School of Medicine: "Architects have a greater ability to improve public health than medical professionals" - due to the capacity of designers to remove health-threatening components from our buildings and thus reduce popular exposure.

Overall, it was really good to get the overview and to have an introduction to the transparency tool. Kudos to P+W for putting it out there - this will help our practice as an entire community. And we can all help by adding to it as well. It was good to meet so many people who are new to the Chapter, from out of town, from firms we don't often connect with, and of course also many of our old friends and colleagues (you know who you are).

Perkins+Will has this great infographic related to their transparency tool:

Thank you again  P+W, we'll see you soon! (Nice view of Post Office Square, too)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Member Spotlight: Jenna Dancewicz

USGBC MA EPMA Member Spotlight Jenna Dancewicz

Let's get to know Jenna who's another of our active EPMA members!

USGBC MA: What is your current job and how does it differ from past jobs in Sustainability?

JENNA: As an Assistant Project Manager at Suffolk Construction, I am currently working on the historic renovation of the Filene's Burnham building in Downtown Crossing. I contribute to the project in many ways; including managing the financials, quality control, document control and workflow of several trades. Prior to working the construction industry, I attended Brown University. My current line of work relates more to sustainability and green buildings because my previous jobs included being a math tutor and coaching several elite ice hockey camps!

USGBC MA: When did you first become interested in Sustainability?

JENNA: When I started at Brown University, I was interested in majoring in engineering but I was unsure what track to pursue. I have always loved animals and had a dream to work with animals as a Vet. Therefore I pursued the bio-medical track. However, when I spoke with my adviser, he suggested that I try something different and take a class in Sustainability and Green Buildings. Thank goodness for that suggestion because that class made me fall in love with green buildings and steered me towards majoring in civil engineering. Buidings with sustainability in mind just made sense to me because green building is efficient, creates a healthier indoor environment and ultimately helps reduce our impact on the exterior environment! The engineer in me is always geared for efficiency and the athlete in me is always game for being healthy. It's a win win! To this day, I am always trying to find out new information about how people are making buildings green and how I can be more sustainable.

USGBC MA: Why are you a member of the MA chapter and how did you get there?

JENNA: When I moved to Boston from the Chicagoland area, I joined EPMA group to find out more about Boston's sustainable initiatives and hoped to be a part of those initiatives! I am also curious to learn more about green buildings int he area and why they are green. I also wanted to build connections with people who had similar interests Sustainability.

USGBC MA: How are you an environmental steward?

JENNA: At work I bring my own cup for water and coffee instead of using water bottles or paper cups. I take the T to work and usually walk or take the T everywhere in Boston unless I have to drive. I strive to reduce printing by looking at drawings and documents on my computer or iPad. Even though I live in an apartment and cannot change my appliances and light fixtures, all my lamps have energy efficient light bulbs. I hope someday, through sustainable actions, I can help the construction industry have less of an impact on the environment.

USGBC MA: How do you help raise environmental awareness?

JENNA: I am part of the Green Team at Suffolk Construction and we strive to promote environmental awareness within the company. I also hope that my actions at work and with friends will inspire others to be more green. If I see someone not recycling, I will call that person out. I am still learning about sustainable technologies, particularly relating to buildings and hope I can use my knowledge to raise environmental awareness in the near future.

USGBC MA: If I needed to find you on a Saturday afternoon, where would it be?

JENNA: On nice saturday afternoon, I enjoy outdoor activities such as biking or kayaking. I also like to venture into Boston and walk around the city. A recent hobby of mine is photography and I enjoy taking photos with my DSLR camera. In the winter months, I may be out on the pond playing hockey!

By the looks of it, Jenna is a serious ice hockey player! You go girl!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Sustainability Superstition

by Shawn Hesse, emersionDESIGN

There’s a superstition within the sustainability movement; that codes, budgets, schedules, clients, 
consultants, or some other unseen thing controls the outcome of our work. “That” is the reason we aren’t achieving the ambitious sustainability goals we all have for our projects. Whether it is net zero energy, LEED Platinum, Living Building Challenge, or something less flashy but just as important like lighting upgrades and system-wide change.

Boston was named the most energy efficient city in the US by ACEE last year, yet each day, I ride the T to Central square, and look up to see the platform lined with 8’ long, 2 lamp T-12 fluorescent fixtures. Then looking down the tunnel, I can see the same fixtures lining the tunnels, all on 24/7. Lighting upgrades are the lowest hanging fruit; how can we be in the most energy efficient community with a major piece of infrastructure using such outdated technology? It’s like we are trying to run a marathon but have a hard time tying our shoes. 

In response, I’ve begun work on a volunteer project called, “LED the T”. With a system-wide swap (approximately 70,000 fixtures) to LED’s, the MBTA could save thousands of dollars a month in energy costs, and hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon. So why hasn’t anyone done this yet? They’ve already swapped signal lights to LED fixtures, with a payback of less than 4 months. 

I’ve spoken with several representatives at MBTA, and it occurs to me they’ve fallen victim to the Sustainability Superstition, that there are things outside of their control that are stopping them. A full-system swap of lighting fixtures throughout the MBTA system is achievable. It is fiscally responsible. It will reduce carbon emissions. The success of the “LED the T” project will demonstrate that we are a community that is ready to tackle the serious challenges of sustainability and resilient infrastructure; that we’ve moved beyond low-hanging fruit of lighting upgrades, and are ready to work towards a sustainable and regenerative community. Most importantly, the success of “LED the T” will disprove the Sustainability Superstition, and show that there is no such thing as “outside our control”.

Ready to give up your superstitions?

Shawn Hesse RA, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, USGBC Faculty


45 Prospect Street | Cambridge, MA 02139 | P 617 682 0262 |

Shawn is an architect and sustainability consultant, and leads the Cambridge office of emersion DESIGN; a multidisciplinary firm driven by advancing clients that advance society. If you would like to get involved with “LED the T” email him at:

Friday, June 6, 2014

Weekly Bulletin to 6/6/14

Next week is a triple-header for us - a lot of great opportunities to connect as a community of green building practitioners.

One of the great things about the USGBC is that we are on a mission. Many professional societies and trade associations are committed to excellence in achievement and the growth of their industries. So are we. However, we take it to the next level with our commitment to our mission. We want green buildings for all within a generation. This is what brings us together. Working together, across the spectrum of real estate-related professions, we can help change the market, change the built environment, improve our communities & society and maybe, we'll even "save the world!"

Thanks for being a part of our work.

Come on out next Monday, 6/9/13 to hear about how LEED for Homes will change as LEEDv4 comes into play. The Residential Green Building Committee will meet from 5:45-8pm at 281 Summer St. Will D'Arrigo of Conservation Services Group will present.

Tuesday, 6/10/14, we'll have our Networking Night in Boston. This will be a special presentation from Juliette Bowker of Perkins+Will to hear about their Transparency Tool.

And if you still haven't had enough of the green building mojo, come on out with EPMA to attend our green building tour of the East Boston Branch Library on Thursday evening, 6/12/14. This will be a great chance to meet members of the project team and go behind the scenes in a great new public facility. And when was the last time you made it to East Boston?

See you soon!

And, because pictures are great to add to a blog entry:

How many green buildings can you see in this picture?

Erik Ruoff of the Green Engineer showing his true colors....

How many green buildings here now?

Here we have some folks at the Quarterly Combined Committees Gathering on Tuesday, brainstorming about membership and how to grow our organization - thanks to all who came out to work together on improving our Chapter! Did I mention we moved up the membership rankings from #40 to #17 out of the 75 USGBC Chapters from 2012 to 2013. Let's see where we go this year!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cape Cod LEED Learning & Networking

By Andrea Baerenwald, Cape Associates, Inc.

The USGBC Cape & Islands Interest Group recently hosted an evening of LEED-learning and networking, focusing on both residential and commercial buildings. First 25+ attendees toured the new Cape Associates offices at 325 Massasoit Road in Eastham. The recently completed mixed use office building includes two apartments on the second level, and is targeting LEED-NC certification. Information was provided by Cape Associates (the builder), Brown Lindquist Fenuccio & Raber Architects, Inc. (the architect) and ZeroEnergy Design (the mechanical designer, energy & LEED consultant). 

Additionally, a virtual tour of a Brewster residential project targeting LEED for Homes certification was also available. The new home had been the subject of a previous USGBC MA Cape & Islands tour while under construction, and was now complete and finalizing certification. Chris Harris from Jill Neubauer Architects presented photos on a large screen, shared material samples, and reviewed a LEED checklist to describe the measures implemented. 

Outside the office building attendees noted the preferred parking for car pooling and low emitting vehicles, as well as the air source heat pumps, and large solar electric system. A crowd gathered in the basement as ZeroEnergy Design’s Adam Prince explained the building’s heating, cooling, ventilation, and domestic hot water systems. Infographics were on display around the building describing the LEED credit process as well as many of the design and material specifics that went into the construction of the new office building. 

A variety of people attended the free event, including realtors, architects, engineers, and green professionals. Thank you to Jill Neubauer Associates and Cape Associates for sponsoring this event.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Quinn Middle School - Green Building Tour

In Hudson, Massachusetts, in the evening of May 29th, the USGBC MA Central Mass Committee convened an amazing tour of a recently finished super-green school. Quinn Middle School demonstrates the kind of care and concern for the "crystalized pedagogy" that all schools can be. At any given moment, students and others in the school are exposed to great lessons on how they relate to the greater world. The building went for the LEED innovation credit to provide educational signage throughout, and the teachers and staff are committed to using the school's green features as an educational tool.

Over 40 people, many of them students, showed up for the evening tour. We went through to different parts of the building to explore features representing the different LEED credit categories. One of the students was taking notes in order to write up an article for their school newspaper - we'll try to get that connected to this blog in the future.

It was a great to see the Central Mass Committee working together on this tour - I think we're all looking forward to the LEED Plaque ceremony sometime this fall for a mini-reunion.

Thank you to the project-related sponsors who put together and facilitating the tour, especially David Harris from OMR Architects for leading the event.

The sponsors were:

Thank you to the sponsors: