Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chapter Volunteer Phoebe Beierle Nationally Recognized

Phoebe Beierle, long-time Chapter volunteer and former Board President, has been recognized in the magazine gb&d - a 50,000 subscriber portal for all things in the green building & design world.

Congratulations to Phoebe for being acknowledged as one of five people, nationally, who are going above-and-beyond for green schools. THANK YOU for your work to help make the Boston School Department embrace environmental responsibility in their operations and in how they bring subject matter to the students. You are a fabulous example of the dedication, the insight, and the hard work it takes to transform organizations and our built environment. Kudos to you!

The Chapter depends on people like Phoebe to help bring about the major changes we need in order to attain our mission. We believe in the power of design to improve lives and we have a vision that every person will be able to live, work, play and study in a green building within a generation. Also congrats to another Massachusetts green building proponent, Bruce Coldham, for his work on the Living Building at Smith College.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BEUDO Passes in Cambridge

The City of Cambridge has passed the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance.

Read more about the vote here.

We have resources for learning more about BEUDO and building energy benchmarking in general on our advocacy resources page.

The USGBC MA Chapter is hosting a workshop on how to leverage this type of ordinance on Tuesday, August 12th, in Boston. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tuesday, September 30: The 2014 MA LEED Project Showcase

Are you ready for the biggest LEED show in New England?

That's right, the 2014 LEED Project Showcase is coming right up in 2 months.

This year we expect to be even bigger and better than last year. Did you catch that video we made? We anticipate over 75 projects on display and over 200 people in attendance. This is a great time to connect with people you've worked with on past projects, explore the creativity of our community, and connect with owners and property managers who need to see how we can meet their needs as they commit to better and better performance in their building portfolios.

The event will be from 5:30-8:30 on Tuesday, September 30th, 2014. Sponsorship opportunities are available - including video interview and at-event presentation packages.

We will convene at Genzyme at 500 Kendall St in Cambridge - this was the first building in Massachusetts to attain LEED Platinum certification, way back in 2005.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Weekly Bulletin to 7/25/14

It's been a busy summer so far with the Chapter. We had a great time at Spaulding Rehab on the 17th - take a look at the pics.

Then, on Wednesday, our wonderful Emerging Professionals (EPMA) put together a great "Oceanview Summer Social" at the Atlantic Beer Garden. Special thanks go out to Forbo Flooring Systems who were able to provide appetizers for everyone and a few minutes of a presentation on healthy building materials - which of course is something we all appreciate.

What is coming up?

The City of Cambridge may be voting on the Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO) this coming Monday. This is similar to Boston's BERDO and other energy benchmarking & disclosure ordinances throughout the country. The USGBC and our Massachusetts Chapter are strong proponents of these measures and have been lobbying hard to see a good ordinance pass in Cambridge. We will keep you posted.

On Tuesday, August 12th, we'll be hosting a related "Making the Best of BERDO" Forum from 8-10am at Atlantic Wharf in Boston. Thank you to our event sponsors Cadmus, we'll hear an excellent panel of heavy-hitters from Gerding Edlen, Boston Properties, National Grid and of course Cadmus. We'll learn how leading firms are using building energy benchmarking and reporting to beef up their property management processes and embrace whole-portfolio energy management for competitive advantage. Sign up now!

That same week, on Thursday the 14th, we have an in-depth morning workshop on Net Zero Energy design & construction. Taught by Eric Corey Freed, this will be an important opportunity for people from across our industry to delve deep into net zero design - the imperative of which no one can deny! Also in Boston. See you there.

Speaking of "going green," join the EPMA for the "Sustainable Bike Tour" of Boston's Back Bay and Fenway on Saturday, August 23rd. Starting from Central Square, Cambridge, the tour will last a few hours in the afternoon. Last year was a real hit, so we hope to see even more green building & bike ethusiasts this year.

Oh - and before I forget - big news - the 2014 MA LEED Project Showcase is coming to town on Tuesday, September 30th at Genzyme in Kendall square. We just settled the venue and the date. It's going to be great - over 75 project teams and over 200 guests from all ends of the industry. A major green building networking event to be sure. Don't miss it! Sponsorship opportunities are available. You will be hearing a lot about it over the next few weeks.

Last but not least: what the greenest building in this picture?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fun at the Summer Social!

On Wednesday Night, July 24th, the Emerging Professionals (EPMA) hosted another great evening event bringing together a wide range of green building professionals. We took over half of the Atlantic Beer Garden and had a good time making connections.

Yeah: #MoreGreenBuildings!

Special thanks to Forbo Flooring for sponsoring the delicious eats. We appreciated your presentation about healthy materials and biologically-informed design. Glad you could make it out to meet the future of the green building industry. Thank you Matt & Jeff.

Congratulations to the organizing team from EPMA - Jessica, Jenna, Kristen, Stephanie and Adrienne.

It was great to meet over 50 emerging professionals from architects, engineers, illumination specialists, materials scientists, builders, roofing, fenestration & access pros, retrofitters, state public servants and more! See you next time!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Spaulding Rehab Tour & More!

We had a great evening in Charlestown last Thursday night.

The view heading over to Charlestown from the Central Wharf Ferry

Thank you to AtSite for sponsoring the event. Thank you to Perkins+Will, TCI, and Copley Wolff Design Group for facilitating the amazing tours. Your dedication to this incredible project is noteworthy. Thank you to Deborah Rivers of P+W for organizing the tour leaders for us all.

Perkins+Will has a great suite of content related to the project at their website - with excellent aerial photos. 

There's a great article "Rethinking Rehabilitation" about the hospital at GreenHealth Magazine.

Here's the AtSite team with the project architect. Looking good, Alan Friedman, Steve Black, Olav Hegland and Jeffrey Keilman of Perkins+Will

Great group of over 75 professionals came out to hear brief presentations and then tour the building & grounds. 

More than a few Chapter regulars made it out to see and be seen!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Weekly Bulletin to 7/18/14

Thank you to all who came out to our monthly networking night at Spaulding Hospital yesterday. Thank you to event sponsor AtSite and to Deborah Rivers of Perkins+Will for organizing the tours of that amazing facility. More photos coming soon!

Coming up next week we have the EPMA "Oceanview Summer Social" at the Atlantic Beer Garden. This would be Wednesday, 7/23 from 6-9pm. There will be Mad Libs and free appetizers, courtesy Forbo Flooring. All are welcome - hosted by the Emerging Professionals but open to all!

I wrote a bit about upcoming events the other day - take a look to see what's in the works. There are some committee meetings listed in there too.

Don't forget to send a note to your state representative in order to endorse the PACE financing bill. We have a template letter you can use right here on the blog. Thank you for lending your support to this initiative!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Building Above Code - HERS Ratings (a note from Martha's Vineyard)

by Rose Ryley Courcier, NAR GREEN Designation, Sandpiper Realty

On a recent muggy July morning I walked up through some heavily landscaped hedge screening, typical of an Edgartown Village property, to find another usual summer site on Martha’s Vineyard: homeowners lounging poolside by their brand new guesthouse. They were enjoying late morning coffees while their golden retriever Stella pounced around the new decking and perfectly sodded lawn. I introduced myself, “Rose from Sandpiper Realty ... I’m here to meet with Ben and Heather.”

The homeowner excitedly jumped up and welcomed me into her home like any other friend stopping by to admire the recently completed, totally polished two bedroom guest house, complete with massive second story deck, and framed by a full tennis court. We glided effortlessly from the outside in. Upon nearing the floating steps leading down to the lower level, she yelled out, “Rose is here, she’s wearing shoes!”
“No shoes!” I heard from another voice that bounced off the walls below.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Progress on PACE Legislation

Last Thursday, the Massachusetts Senate voted to approve S.2255, which was previously known as S.177 "An Act to promote job creation through energy efficiency." 

The USGBC MA Chapter is thrilled that this legislation has moved this far this year.

Now it's time to push it to the House - we want a vote in the next two weeks, before the session closes.

Please send a letter, as soon as possible, using the language below, to 

Please customize the letter according to your position and your organization. You may refer to your affiliation in the Chapter and as a stakeholder in the USGBC, of course.

Thank you very much for your support!
-Grey Lee

July 14, 2014

Representative Robert A. DeLeo
Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
State House, Room 356
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Speaker DeLeo,
On behalf of the US Green Building Council, Massachusetts Chapter, representing over 5000 LEED Accredited Professionals and associated green building proponents, I write today in support of S. 2255 (formerly S. 177), An Act fueling job creation through energy efficiency – and for its passage on the House side. Filed by Senator Brian A. Joyce, this bill will create jobs, increase property values, encourage private investment, and reinforce Massachusetts’ role as a leader in energy efficiency and disaster resilience. I urge the House to pass this important measure which was passed in the Senate last week.

PACE financing provides property owners access to low-cost, off-balance sheet capital, by way of betterment lien placed on the property and payable like a property tax bill. Across the nation, successful PACE programs have provided a new and innovative way for property owners to finance energy efficiency upgrades, renewable energy projects, and water conservation measures. The Massachusetts legislation also will allow property owners to upgrade buildings with resiliency improvements, to reduce or eliminate damage caused by extreme weather events, similar to the Florida PACE program. The availability of this new tool for project finance will result in new projects which will mean more work for people in the renewable energy & allied industries of Massachusetts.

S. 2255 will make necessary improvements to the Commonwealth’s current PACE program, creating a streamlined, centrally administered PACE program that is capable of achieving economies of scale and will be easily adopted by municipalities. The new program will require lender consent and will focus on the pent up demand for energy efficiency and disaster-resilience financing in the commercial and industrial sector.

Passage of S. 2255 will fuel job creation and spur private investment, cementing Massachusetts' role as a leader in energy efficiency and resilience. As green building professionals, we look forward to the enactment of this legislation as it supports our mission.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

[your name & organization here]

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Weekly Bulletin to 7/11/14

Summer is now in full swing, but the green buildings haven't stopped rolling.

First of all, big news is that the property-assessed clean energy (PACE) finance legislation we have been working on with Senator Brian A. Joyce has PASSED yesterday at the Statehouse. Senate Bill 2255 (replaced S.177) earned unanimous approval on a roll call 38-0 vote. The bill goes to the House - so we still have work to do but it is looking like the rejuvenation of PACE in Massachusetts is moving forward. We can expect to see a lot more renewable energy, energy retrofits and resiliency investments in the coming years. I haven't found any news item on this yet, but we will report to you all as soon as we see something.

Newly LEED Certified Buildings since the beginning of July include:

  • 300 Concord Road in Billerica MA, certified LEED EB:OM v2009. This is a 378ksf office building. Congrats to Gary Thomas (LEED Project Admin) at CBRE and the entire team.
  • UMass Amherst - Hampshire Dining Commons (40,000sf) just attained Gold in LEED NC v2009. Congrats to Dee Spiro at Bergmeyer and that team on a great job.

The UMass Amherst Hampshire Dining Commons

Upcoming events for the USGBC Massachusetts Chapter:

  • 7/16 (Wednesday) at 4:30pm - Credential-maintenance webinar on Green Schools (and new construction) in Boston. The story of the Hood River Middle School. 
  • 7/17 (Thursday) at 5:30pm - Healthcare Focus Networking Night at Spaulding Rehab Hospital in Charlestown. Join our sponsor, AtSite, to hear about the facility, designed for resiliency, with our tour guides from the architects, Perkins+Will.
  • 7/23 (Wednesday) at 6pm - our Oceanview Summer Social in Boston - put on by our Emerging Professionals and open to all. Come for free appetizers from our event sponsor Forbo Flooring. It will be a great time!
Thank you for your support. See you soon.

Another picture at UMass Amherst: any guesses?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

To Net Meter or Not to Net Meter...

By Craig Foley, ReMax Leading Edge

H. 4185 "An Act relative to net metering and solar power" is a compromise between Massachusetts utility companies, the solar power industry, and the state regulating bodies that administer the SREC program, MA DOER, as well the state body that regulates utility rates, the the DPU.
The bill makes five changes to existing solar policies:
  1. Net metering would be unaltered and its cap eliminated.
  2. Virtual net metering customers would be reimbursed at a lower rate to cover their use of the distribution system.
  3. The solar renewable energy credit (SREC) incentive system would be replaced by a performance-based, declining tariff incentive.
  4. All utility customers would be subject to a minimum bill.
  5. Governor Deval Patrick’s ambitious target of 1,600 megawatts of installed solar capacity would become a legally binding mandate. (The 2007 goal of 250 MW of solar capacity, originally set for 2017, was reached in 2013; we now have over 500 MW of installed solar capacity in MA).
The main purpose for the bill is that the state's grid has approached the previous ceiling of a 3% cap on net metering relative to peak load of each of the Massachusetts utility companies. If your project does not qualify to be included within the cap, it cannot earn utility payments for the excess (net) energy it produces. Without expanding, or removing the cap as H.4185 would allow, the rapidly expanding solar PV industry in MA could come to a grinding halt. The bill trades removing the cap for allowing the DPU to find a suitable minimum bill for all utility customers in the Commonwealth to support grid reliability. It also replaces the SREC program with a new declining tariff incentive; both the specific details on the minimum bill charge and the tariff would be fleshed out at a later date.

The bill is complicated with many question marks about the specific details on how this would affect rate-payers left unanswered. There is no question, however, that removing thenet metering cap is seen as a priority by legislators, state commissioners, and the Governor. 

Given that the bill is as complex as it is, it is questionable whether it will be passed by the end of this legislative session at the end of the month. That being said, there is support of the bill by much of the solar industry, environmentalists, the commissioners at MA DOER and the DPU, and the utility companies - a rare blend of bedfellows.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Residential Committee Presentation on LEED v4 Changes from Will D'Arrigo

By Peter Sun, Residential Green Building Committee

During June 9th USGBC meeting Will D’Arrigo from Conservation Services Group gave members a comprehensive review of LEED for Homes v4. Many changes were made to the latest version of LEED for Homes and members had an opportunity to discuss these changes.

The effects of the adjustments to the LEED rating system has yet to be seen but overall LEED seems to be raising the bar on sustainable development compared to code driven development. For example, the Location and Transportation credit category now includes a prerequisite on floodplain avoidance; presumably, to address flooding and sea level rise. In category Location and Transportation (LP), prerequisite 1: prohibits building on FEMA 100 year flood plain unless the building is elevated. If the building is outside the United States then you must use a local equivalent program. The 100 year flood does not mean the frequency is every 100 years, rather it means that in any given year there is 1% chance of it occurring. According to FEMA, flooding is the most destructive natural disaster type in America. More recently, Hurricane Arthur not only delayed July 4th fireworks celebration but also caused flash flooding in Westport, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Freetown, Wareham, and Plymouth. Below is a flood map displaying flood zones in Boston.    

Another change to the LEED rating system was the Energy and Atmosphere category prerequisite: Minimum Energy Performance. The new prerequisite required newly built homes to meet Energy Star V.3. for Homes, have at least one Energy Star qualified appliance installed in each unit, and to thermally insulate ducts. The discussion on Energy Star Homes was lively, as member Caitriona Cooke from Conservation Services Group highlighted the fact that there has been a drop in Energy Star for Homes certification since it upgraded from v2.5 to v3 due to more stringent requirements. This is of importance to LEED because in LEED for Homes v4 Energy and Atmosphere credit category it requires Energy Star for Homes v3 & a HERS rating of 70. The discussion mentioned how builders reacted to the step up in requirements for Energy Star for Homes v3. Other changes mentioned include rating system selection and point floor structure.

Other changes to the rating systems were introduced and each member got an opportunity to express their views and opinions.  

The next Residential Green Building Committee meeting will be July 14th at 5:45pm at 281 Summer Street in Boston. See you there!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mini Grants Available for Green Apple Day of Service Projects

The USGBC MA Chapter will again participate in Green Apple Day of Service (GADOS) to advance healthy, sustainable schools in 2014! 

In 2013 Massachusetts had 50 projects registered across the State, including 15 Boston Public Schools. Projects ranged from a ribbon cutting ceremony to introduce a therapeutic walking path, to a Green Apple Week that surveyed the school for energy conservation opportunities. 

For 2014 the USGBC MA Chapter is offering mini-grants that will provide $400 for qualified GADOS projects. There are currently 6 mini-grants provided by NSTAR for energy saving GADOS projects and 1 from Capitol Waste Services for any GADOS project. See our GADOS Mini-Grant webpage for information about eligibility and to apply. 

Note that Green Apple Day of Service projects don't need to happen on September 27th – there is flexibility in choosing a day for your event. More GADOS information and resources can be found by visiting the USGBC MA Green Apple Day of Service webpage.

For questions about the GADOS Mini-Grants contact Steve Muzzy, Green Schools Program Manager at

Many thanks to our GADOS Mini-Grant Sponsors

Granny Smith