The 2019 EPMA Green Building Bike Tour took off from the
Roxbury Crossing station and covered over 9 miles of the woodsy, bike friendly,
community-garden-covered neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.
Jamaica Plain is often referred to as the greenest neighborhood in Boston. “Green” in this case refers to the large area of parks and vegetation, including many emeralds in Boston’s Emerald Necklace. However, after the Green Building Bike Tour, one could argue that the “green” designation also refers to the high concentration of sustainable infrastructure projects and green buildings nestled throughout.
The bike tour followed the Southwest Corridor Park down Columbus Ave where we met with the Assistant Director of the Reuse Center at Boston Building Resources.
Up next we rode to the Roxbury Community College (RCC) solar
parking lot and geothermal well field where the group got to meet with Kevin
Hepner, VP of Admin and Finance at RCC. Tour attendees learned how the Roxbury
Pudding Stone, the rock formation that lies under a large portion of Jamaica
Plain, is an excellent conductor for geothermal.
Next the tour attendees were delighted when after climbing Fort Ave Hill on their bikes, Evan Smith and Jay from Placetailor Architects had cookies and water waiting for them and educated the group on the details of their Passive House design strategies. Afterwards, Evan (a Fort Hill resident and president of Placetailor Architects) and Jay joined on their bicycles and rode along with the tour while pointing out the many energy positive and Certified Passive House projects in the Fort Hill area.
Afterwards the group continued down the Southwest Corridor
and visited Bikes not Bombs and toured the bike shop and learned about the community
programs offered to promote bicycling as a safe and sustainable mode of
Next the group rode over to the Hernandez Elementary School
to learn about the school’s stormwater infiltration system that was designed to
integrate into the landscape and play area as well as spark curiosity and serve
as an educational tool for the students. Frank Stone, a bike tour attendee and
a Hernandez School alum, provided the tour.
Around lunchtime the tour stopped by the City Feed and
Supply on Boylston Street and got to speak with Noah Bondy who manages the
Next the group took a self-guided tour of the Old Oak Dojo,
New England’s first Living Building Challenge Certified project. Tour attendees
got to sit peacefully in the community space (made entirely of salvaged and
re-purposed materials) as well as ride a rope swing over the Dojo’s abundant permaculture
The last stop on the tour was the JP Branch of the Boston
Public Library. Utile Architects designed many of the sustainable features of
the new addition. One of the highlights of the addition is the digitally
printed ceramic frit pattern applied to the large front facade, the pattern was
created using an analysis of the sun path across the façade in order to provide
optimal daylight as well as shade. The group happily stumbled upon an ice cream
fundraiser being held in the lower level. Tour attendees were happy to come
away with free ice cream and library books.
The ice cream was a much-needed fuel to energize riders for
the final few stops of the tour as we rode through the vibrant Arnold Arboretum
on our way to Turtle Swamp Brewery where we ended.
Thanks to Blue Bikes for donating the adventure passes and
to all those who contributed to make this year’s bike tour a huge success!
As the transportation of people and goods moves toward electrification, Massachusetts is offering some of the most generous utility and state electric vehicle (EV) charging incentives in the nation. Qualified commercial properties can take advantage of either Eversource’s $45 million EV Charging Program or National Grid’s $24 million EV Infrastructure Program. Both can then be paired with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) $3.5 million EV Charging Station Grant for even bigger savings. In this video, ChargePoint program experts walk you through how to navigate and leverage them in your EV charging strategy.
This past Thursday August 1st 2019, EPMA-ers gathered at the SW Corridor Park for an evening of good food and knowledge. Swapnil, one of our volunteers, did a fantastic job organizing the event complete with sumptuous food from Whole Heart Provisions and lawn games.
The highlight of the evening was getting to know the work done by David Meshoulam and his organization ‘Speak for the Trees’. David has been an educator for the past 15 years and is passionate about having new generations understand the deep links between science, culture, and nature. The main mission of Speak for the Trees is to improve the size and health of the urban tree canopy in the Greater Boston Area. They undertake various efforts for advocacy and outreach, but one of their main initiatives is to map, measure, and account for every street tree in the Boston area with the Tree Urban Teen Corps program (TUTC). For this, they properly train their “volun-trees” (that’s a good one) to identify and measure all attributes of the trees. They use their own software, ‘OpenTreeMap’, where anyone can see the street tree cover in their neighborhood, if it has been mapped. For anyone interested in participating in this and many other activities they do, please see their website https://www.sfttbos.org/. Two of our volunteers got a glimpse of the unique characteristics of the trees around us and how to correctly identify them.
Thank you to David and all the people who made it to the event.
EPMA would like to say thank you to Pare Corporation who generously sponsored this event. Lindsey Machamer was representing Pare Corporation. Pare corporation understands the value of urban open space and trees from the substantial effect they can have on stormwater management. Pare is working with some local sewer authorities to plan green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in available public open space. GSI can help to improve water quality by removing pollutants from stormwater, reducing flows into the combined sewer system, and mitigating flooding impacts.
Planning for unpredictable weather and climate patterns is important when determining ideal crop production. There are many farms throughout Central Massachusetts and in the past couple of years has been subject to harsh weather in the growing season. With the crop yields at risk due to drought in 2016 and heatwaves in 2018 farmers ought to prepare their crops for harsh weather in future seasons.
My map and research will explore resilient areas in order to prepare for better crop yields. Through analysis using NAIP satellite imagery, MassGIS Data: Digital Elevation Model (1:5,000), MassGIS Data: NRCS SSURGO-Certified Soils, MassGIS Data: Crop Evapotranspiration and Potential Evaporation Grids this will show how farmers can prepare. The process will primarily be to find fertile and barren agricultural land and to compare it with the soil type and other geographical features to determine the best areas to grow crops. The results will hopefully help farmers plan for more severe weather in the future in order to produce higher crop yields.
Alex Testa, a Project Manager at Siena Construction,
explained how she and her coworkers leveraged their industry skill sets to
construct an interdisciplinary exhibit that exemplified sustainable
She and a team of employees at Siena Construction combined forces with subcontractors, designers and scientists to build three geodesic spheres as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. The geodesic spheres were both aesthetic structures and interactive camera obscuras. The spheres were used as an exhibit to demonstrate how the human eye works. They played to a multitude of interests and ages–from kindergarteners to retired professors.
The 10-foot diameter structures were built using Red Grandis Eucalyptus, a sustainable, quickly regrowing tree from Uruguay. The team at Siena designed the spheres in-house, managed the construction with highly skilled millworkers, and created media resources to communicate the science and construction of the project to visitors. To learn more about the geodesic sphere’s history, building process, and materials, watch Siena’s exhibition video here.
Through active engagement and education, the spheres were
used to bring the core principles of green building to the public. Alex
explained how skills from the architecture-engineering-construction industry
can be applied to projects outside of everyday comfort zones, and how working
to engage community members outside of the construction industry can benefit
Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts (EPMA) hosted the “USGBC MA Advocacy Mixer,” a great networking opportunity event to connect the green building community with local advocacy groups last Thursday. The eight organizations briefly shared their sustainability missions, and how they engage and motivate our local community. There were opportunities to engage in discussions and sign up to volunteer before and after the presentations.
350 Mass is engaging in the “Better Future Project” which is a Cambridge-based organizing nonprofit to help the need for a grassroots climate network in Massachusetts. One of the important campaigns they executed to confront the climate crisis is “Road to a Green New Deal in MA” which were protests and street performances in clown costumes targeted at important decision-makers, such as major American banks, in order to stop investment in fossil fuel infrastructure.
Clean Water Action
Clean Water Action organizes strong grassroots groups and coalitions, and campaigns to elect environmental candidates to solve environmental and community problems. They are campaigning for legislation that would ban flame retardants in building materials, children’s toys, furniture, and other materials and products. Clean Water Action also worked closely with the USGBC MA on speaking at the hearing for this legislature.
MCAN (The Massachusetts Climate Network) works with and advocates for Massachusetts cities and towns to be the best in the nation at addressing climate change. MCAN recently reported that Massachusetts’ municipal light plants need improvement to meet the state’s clean energy goals.
CRWA (Charles River Watershed Association) was formed in response to concern about the environment and the health of the Charles River and its watershed through science, advocacy, education, and engineering. By CRWA and community’s tremendous efforts, the Charles River recently received a water quality report card grade A-, which is considered one of the cleanest urban rivers in the United States.
Mothers Out Front
The mission is to build their power as mothers to ensure a livable climate for all children. One of the big movements is to reduce the dependence of our system on methane, a potent greenhouse gas, by promoting the shift to clean renewable energy for heating and cooking in the built environment. They encourage people to use an electric stove instead of a gas stove. According to the research, using a gas stove gives us many disadvantages, such as increasing childhood asthma rates and releasing more energy and emissions.
Sunrise is a movement by young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. Representatives of the organization note that “we live in a climate change era” and that action needs to be taken to stop the effects of climate change. They are pushing for the “Green New Deal” along with other nonprofits, like Mass 350, and pressuring local candidates running for 2020 to support the “Green New Deal” and to not accept campaign donations from companies like Exxon.
Living Building Challenge
The Living Building Challenge envisions a thriving and diverse community working together for a living future. They are looking at how we build own homes like a forest; they are not only looking for reducing our carbon footprint, but also giving back to the surrounding environment. They challenge everyone who is involved in the creation of the home (e.g. customer, construction firm, materials vendor, etc) to work for the mission of Living Building Challenge.
City of Boston
Their mission is to enhance the quality of life in Boston by protecting our air, water, and land resources, while addressing climate change. They are continuously updating the city’s climate action plan to be carbon-free by 2050 and figuring out how to achieve this goal.
We would like to give a special thanks to the organizations in attendance as well as Boston Architectural College who provided a great event venue.