EMPA Event Recap: Virtual Summer Picnic

Written by Kiersten Washle

The evening of July 9th everyone gathered round their computers to enjoy a virtual summer picnic with several guest speakers to discuss ideas around the theme of “How to Green Your Life.”

The first guest speaker, Sarah Oakes, spoke about how she vermicomposts in her backyard. She shared some practical tips for how anyone can compost, even without a backyard. For instance, she suggested keeping compostable scraps in a bag in your freezer until you can drop them off at a compost point.  

The second speaker, Thea, discussed her goal of having a wardrobe that isn’t environmentally harmful. She has developed a vetting practice for the brands she works with and purchases from to make sure they have truly sustainable practices versus greenwashed marketing. Check out her YouTube channel here

The last speaker, Prachi Dhavale, showed us how she created her own urban garden on a petit apartment balcony. Her space featured many brightly colored flowers and edible plants as well as a hummingbird feeder to really bring a touch of nature to an otherwise completely urban apartment. Check out more on her instagram @theperennialgreenlab

From these speakers and the conversations thereafter, here are some ideas on how to be more sustainable in your own life:

  • Compost
  • Avoid single use coffee cups by bringing your own or asking for your drink to be “for here” 
  • Air drying your clothes rather than using a dryer
  • Purchasing food with as little packaging as possible
  • Try growing your own food, some vegetables can be grown from scraps
  • Walk instead of drive
  • Shop locally
  • Use things until their end of life

Lastly, be sure to join us at the next EMPA meeting to get to know like-minded young professionals and grow the sustainable network!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts (EPMA) Committee is a community of ascending professionals cross the green building industry and allied fields helping drive sustainable and regenerative design, construction and operation of the built environment. The committee provides professional support, development and advocacy tools through active networking, monthly programming and community events.

EPMA Event Recap: The Power of Networking

Written by Kavita Karmarkar

Attendees take notes on their phones while Julie goes over networking tips.
Attendees take notes while Julie goes over networking tips.

On November 21, EPMA organized a fireside chat event–‘The Power of Networking’, as part of EPMA’s ongoing efforts to help young professionals further their careers and learn new skills.  

This roundtable discussion focused on tips and tricks to be better at networking, either for job, business, or personal development. Our guide and coach for the event was Julie Nasser. Julie is the director of business development at Marguiles Perruzzi Architects, an award-winning architecture and interior design firm located in downtown Boston. Julie has more than ten years of experience in business development, A/E/C recruiting, sales, and real estate leasing. Our venue host for the evening was Perkins Eastman. Perkins Eastman, an architecture firm with seventeen interdisciplinary offices around the globe, designs for a sustainable and resilient future, and to enhance the human experience through the built environment.

Julie Nasser laughs and addresses attendees
Julie Nasser addresses attendees

Julie coached the group on a variety of subjects such as developing networking skills, striking up easy conversations at events, finding the correct networking groups, following up after meeting at seminars and conferences, and balancing professional and business development at events. 

One of the common questions shared by the team was dealing with the nervousness of going to an event, especially if you don’t know anyone or do not have a friend to accompany you. Julie guided the group through some common tricks like starting a conversation about everyday things, such as the weather and holiday/summer plans, to break the ice. A casual introduction about yourself, without focusing heavily on your work, can get the conversation flowing as well. Another very important tip is to carry your business cards with you: if you make an acquaintance with someone and get their business card, you can write to them with a few ‘possible follow-up’ topics depending on the conversation. 

Making contacts and building networks should ideally be done throughout your career as you progress, and not only when you are in a job seeking or developing your business. Also, finding the correct networking groups, depending on your interests and field of work, is very important: searching on Google, asking your professors, or connecting with your colleagues and peers will give you an idea of what organizations you should consider joining. Volunteering is one of the ways that you can meet new people and build networks, while contributing in a meaningful way. Volunteering can be especially useful for job seekers and young professionals for events which might be too expensive to get into otherwise. 

Julie discusses networking tips with attendees.
Julie discusses networking tips with attendees.

Another networking tip is determining how and when to follow up after meeting people at events and conferences. Reaching out through LinkedIn and by email are a few of the best ways to make contact after a couple of weeks. You can refer back to the event or conference in the message, and ask the acquaintance if they would like to meet again and discuss a topic, such as the acquaintance’s field of work. It is considered acceptable to reach out one more time if there is no response, usually in a couple of weeks. Generally, when you make a new acquaintance, it’s better not to talk about your job seeking or business development situation directly. Instead, you should get to know more about the work done by your contact. Asking people for ‘informational interviews’ is a good way to better understand people and their work. It can be especially helpful for job seekers to learn more about a company and the work culture. 

The event gave participants a chance to talk about these questions openly and learn from each other’s experiences. At the end of the session, all participants got an opportunity to exchange cards/LinkedIn profiles and make new contacts. 

The entire team at EPMA would like to thank our coach, Julie Nasser, for her words of wisdom and our host, Perkins Eastman for providing venue and refreshments. 

Careers in Sustainability: Charging into a Career in Renewables

Panelists for the Careers in Sustainability Panel in the middle of a discussion
Panelists discuss how to aim for a career in sustainability.

Written by Andrew Breiter-Wu

Last month, EPMA organized their annual panel discussion called Careers in Sustainability: Charging into a Career in Renewables. The event was moderated by Andrew Breiter-Wu, the President and Investment Manager of Breiter Planet Properties, who has a very extensive background and has experience with the renewable energy industry. 

The panelists included Alexandra Gadawski from HMFH, Emily Powers from DOER, and Kshitij Chopra from Breiter Planet Properties. 

The discussion interweaved the panelists’ personal and professional experiences across their careers while eloquently layering future trends across the renewable energy industry. 

The audience was very engaging and we were able to ensure the content of the panel catered to what everyone wanted. We thank all who attended and spent the evening speaking with us. 

The purpose of the Careers in Sustainability series is to educate everyone on the different career paths that one can take in the sustainability industry through the use of different people’s experiences and journeys across their careers. There is not one “right” path to take, but learning from other people’s failures and successes is the best way to efficiently chart your path towards a career in sustainability. 

Finally, we thank Boston University for accommodating us for the event and allowing such an important conversation to transpire on their campus.

For follow up questions about the event or about hosting a similar event on your own campus, email [email protected].  

EPMA Meeting Recap: Walden Pond Visitor Center

EPMA Meeting Recap: Walden Pond Visitor Center

Written by Kelsey Margulies

At last week’s USGBC EPMA meeting I presented three works by Maryann Thompson Architects. MTA’s portfolio specializes in architecture that is sustainable, regionally driven, and that attempts to heighten the phenomenological qualities of the particular site. These three projects especially demonstrate how environmentally-friendly principles become another layer in the overall human experience.

The Walden Pond Visitor Center, built in 2016, is a net-zero consumption building that implements passive solar principles. The wooden structure blends seamlessly into the surrounding landscape while solar panels over the nearby parking lot provide year-round energy. Geothermal House, built in 2006, also shows how passive solar principles can be integrated in contemporary residential design. The activities within the house follow the path of the sun throughout the day, beginning on the East-facing kitchen and concluding on the West terrace. Zero Energy House, also built in 2006, was the first LEED certified single-family residence in Massachusetts. The 3-bedroom, 3-bath, open floor plan home reveals how new construction can be accomplished within a reasonable budget.

Sustainability is not necessarily only about energy consumption and material resources, well-designed structures also create a sense of permanence. Whether a single family home or a program open to the public, most buildings are intended to last at least a few generations. Constructing well-loved spaces with a lasting positive experience is an essential consideration in sustainable design.

EMD Serono SagaMORE wins Green Building of the Year

EMD Serono SagaMORE wins Green Building of the Year

EMD Serono’s Project SagaMORE has received both the 2018 Green Building of the Year and the Market Leader in Health and Wellness Awards from the USGBC Massachusetts.  It is a 30,000 SF expansion to EMD’s R&D campus in Billerica. The existing office building and addition have jointly achieved WELL Gold certification for New & Existing Construction from the International Well Building InstituteTM (IWBI).  It is the first New & Existing Building WELL Certified Gold project in the US and only the second in the world.

In 2015, Project Sagamore renovations transformed an existing manufacturing plant on the campus into 24,000 SF of new office space for 200 researchers.  Guided by EMD’s Four C’s of Choice, Comfort, Collaboration, and Challenging the norms, the company aspired to provide a best-in-class workspace to retain and attract industry talent .  That project achieved LEED Platinum certification and incorporated many goals of the WELL certification program, which did not exist at the time. Major design features included promoting the use of stairs rather than elevators, natural daylight and outdoor views, ergonomics, and a sense of place.  This renovation quickly became the most popular research office space on campus.

As a result of the project’s success, and the need for even more office space, Ellenzweig and Intec designed an addition that more than doubles the 2015 office renovation.  Named Project SagaMORE, its design challenge was to further improve on the design successes of Project Sagamore while achieving both WELL and LEED certification.

As a pharmaceutical company, EMD is committed to health regeneration.  That ethos inspired a biophilic design solution that both physically and metaphorically manifests itself in the new addition.   As a result, health and wellness features and amenities are found throughout the project. Central to the new facility is the Lobby Commons that sits between the original and new office buildings.  It features a prominent “river” of planting that wends its way from the exterior entry plaza into, and through, the space.   Alongside that planting, a prominent stepped seating staircase invites walking to the second floor rather than opting for the elevator.  A café, alcove and countertop seating, as well as huddle rooms round out the wide variety of collaborative and quiet gathering spaces that surround the commons.  All of these spaces are naturally day-lit in combination with circadian rhythm LED lighting.

Fundamental to both the lobby commons and other neighborhoods in the building, is visual connection to the outdoor landscape, and access to a wide variety of workspace environments.  For instance, people can be extroverted or introverted; some tasks require isolated concentration, others spirited collaboration. As result, SagaMORE includes dedicated open-office sit-stand desks, private hoteling offices, telephone rooms, huddle rooms, conference rooms, banquet booths, quiet rooms, and outdoor workspaces.  This humane variety of spaces that focus on well-being has demonstrably increased overall employee engagement.

Deeply integrated into the interior, as well as exterior entry elements, is the lively incorporation of EMD’s Merck corporate branding graphics that are based on a visual language of monochromatic cellular shapes and bright accent colors.  Complimentary to the biophilic forms of the building, they are incorporated into the walls, portals, and flooring to further reinforce the health regeneration mission of the company.

The SagaMORE project incorporates low-VOC emitting interior furnishings and finishes; high-efficiency LED interior lighting that promotes proper circadian rhythms; planters full of natural vegetation.  The campus does not provide, or make available, any food or beverages containing Trans Fats or with a high or sugar content (such as soda or junk food) within the facility or its vending machines.

The design and construction team for EMD’s Project SagaMORE understood that the products and materials specified and installed would eventually need to pass performance verification to achieve WELL certification.  As a result, everyone understood that all planning decisions would influence the project’s potential to become a certified building. To that end, its successful passing of the performance verification was an accomplishment not only for the design team, but also for the occupants.

WELL goes beyond designing healthy spaces – it drives building operators to facilitate occupant exercise and behavior.  Projects that provide outdoor gardening space and support, or provide alternative commuter facilities (i.e. bike storage and showers) and organizations that incentivize physical activities are just a few of the ways WELL works to improve building occupant health.  The implementation of WELL features demonstrate how buildings can, and should improve occupant health. WELL v1 is organized into 7 concepts: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort, and Mind, and certification is performance based. 

The SagaMORE project at EMD Serono is currently pending LEED NC certification.  It is expected to achieve a Gold rating with 42% water use reduction, 30% energy cost reduction, and 82% reduction in construction waste.

Energy Efficiency and Teamwork Earn Additional Awards for Bentley University

Energy Efficiency and Teamwork Earn Additional Awards for Bentley University

Unveiled in 2017, the multi-purpose Bentley Arena was built to serve as the new home to the university’s NCAA Division I hockey team and prominent university events. In 2018, Bentley Arena added a LEED platinum certification, the highest possible rating, from the U.S. Green Building Council to its trophy case.

This year Bentley University was also presented with the USGBC Massachusetts Chapter’s Eversource Energy Optimization award during the Green Building Showcase and celebration of sustainable design and construction of buildings across the state.

Several projects from the Eversource electric and gas territory were considered, however, the Bentley team rose to the top for meeting the key criteria of a commitment to energy efficiency in an integrated and interdisciplinary fashion from the earliest stages and also having design aspects that are replicable by organizations undertaking similar projects.

When unveiling the arena and celebrating the LEED Platinum certification award, Eversource Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Penni Conner noted, “This arena project is special to the Eversource team because it was designed and built with both energy efficiency and solar-readiness in mind. This is an approach we often recommend to our customers who want to incorporate sustainable features into new construction projects.”

From the high-efficiency LED lighting and boilers, to the cutting-edge waste heat recovery systems and evaporation equipment, this arena is a national model for energy-efficient construction. The energy efficiency measures will deliver more than $46,000 in annual energy cost savings.

Standout features of the arena include:

  • innovative technology that captures heat generated from the rink’s ice-making equipment to heat water throughout the building
  • high-efficiency LED lighting with smart, motion-detecting controls that turn off lights when no one is present to sharply reduce electricity usage
  • the highest-efficiency plumbing fixtures on the market, including waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, and low-flow faucets and showers to reduce the demand for water.
  • The project also included a 504 kilowatt, rooftop solar array and 1,400 rooftop solar panels that will generate 40 percent of the building’s annual electricity needs.

And, a strong benefit of the new facility that shouldn’t be overlooked, students are able to use of the arena as a “living lab” where they will be able to analyze the building’s energy data, complete marketing projects, create sales plans for season tickets, and do other academic projects.