Congratulations to BE+ 2023 Sustainability Scavenger Hunt Winners!

Congratulations to BE+ 2023 Sustainability Scavenger Hunt Winners!

You are AMAZING!

This year was such a special Scavenger Hunt year because of YOU. We were blown away by the impact you all made with the 2023 mission submissions. It was heartwarming to see the good you all did for your community. This ranged from park cleanups and clothing donations to food pantry volunteering and so much more!

Of the 37 participating teams, 10 teams completed all of the 14 daily missions, but three teams stood out above the rest with exemplary submissions.

17 days - 1673 submissions

Huge congratulations to the first place winner, Team Artemis, from Arrowstreet. Kate Bubriski, Kathleen Chainey, Andrea Brue, and Jillian Lydon, truly expressed themselves in each submission, and we enjoyed keeping up with them during this year’s hunt! 

We had so much fun presenting the awards and prizes at the April 27th Earth Day Celebration at Cisco Brewers in Boston. We honored the top 3 teams, along with prizes for Top Submission, Top Individual, Community Impact, and more. 

We would also like to highlight the amount of teams we had from all around. Thank you for joining us from Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Washington D.C., and even Dublin!

Here is the full list of winners:

Top Team: Artemis (Arrowstreet)

The winning team received $400, 4 BE+ event entries, 4 BE+ memberships, 4 tickets to a Red Sox game, 1 team building event from Let’s Roam, and 4 Cisco’s gift bags.

Second Place Team: 3 Lines of Work (Linnean Solutions)

The winning team received 4 BE+ memberships, 4 pairs of Sea Grass sunglasses from Zeal Optics, and 2 date night and 2 family pack events from Let’s Roam.

Third Place Team 1: AST Dreamers (Arrowstreet)

The winning team received 4 bundles of CleanCult products (including hand soap, dish soap, and laundry detergent dispensers with refills for each bottle) and 4 Klean Kanteen water bottles.

Third Place Team 2: Green Dream Team (enviENERGY)

The winning team received 4 Klean Kanteen water bottles, 4 Bootstrap Compost vouchers for 1 month of service, and 2 gift bags from the Ministry of Supply.

Top Submission: EMigrants (Elkus Manfredi)
for high quality and creative submissions

The winning team received 4 reusable digital cameras from Lumentation and vouchers to have the photos developed and scanned, and 4 Cotopaxi backpacks.

Top Individual: Emeline Gaujac, May the forest B with you (PCA)

for completing almost all of the community impact missions even in the pouring rain 

The winner received a BE+ membership, a voucher for 2 free standard size box deliveries from Boston Organics, a voucher for 2 free meals and 1 free side from Chipotle, and Lil Bucks seasoning.

Crowd Favorite: IncoGREENo, Team FunGals (CMTA)

The winning team received 2 totes and 2 wallets from Nisolo, and Lil Bucks products.

Community Impact: Don’t Stop BeLEAFing (PCA)

The winning team received 4 $75 gift certificates to HiBAR, 4 annual memberships to Thrive Market, and Lil Bucks products.

Sponsored Awards

Bluebikes’ I’m Blue mission: AST Dreamers (Arrowstreet)

I’m Blue, 100 Points
Bluebikes offers 4,000+ bicycles around the Greater Boston area to help residents access healthier and more sustainable modes of transportation. Record a teammate on a Bluebikes bike (or any blue bike if you are outside of the Boston area) singing or bopping along to the song “I’m Blue” by Eiffel 65. 

The winning team received 4 annual memberships to Bluebikes, Bee’s Wrap lunch pack reusable wax wraps, 4 phone stands from ChopValue and 4 keychains from ChopValue.

Mitsubishi Electric HVAC Rap mission: LEEDers (NUSBO/Northeastern)

HVAC Rap, 50 Points
Mitsubishi Electric uses high efficiency heat pumps for commercial-scale decarbonization and electrification of HVAC/Ventilation/Domestic Hot Water Systems! Write and perform a short rap explaining what heat pumps are, the benefits of this innovation, and why we are all so excited to use them!

The winning team received 4 Buff CoolNet UV neck wraps and 4 $25 gift certificates to Marathon Sports.

Daikin Ice Bucket Challenge mission: EMigrants (Elkus Manfredi)

Ice Bucket Challenge, 150 Points
Daikin is currently advocating for policy change on the use of their R-32 next generation refrigerant that improves efficiency, reduces electricity consumption, and has a dramatically lower global warming potential. Show your love for cooling the planet by uploading a video of you or a teammate having a bucket of ice water dumped on them while explaining why you think we should make the leap to R-32.

The winning team received 4 $25 gift certificates to Saloniki Greek and 2 bundles of Lil Bucks products.

Thank you to our Event Sponsors!

Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US
Seaport by WS

Thank you to our generous Prize Donors!

Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi
Elkus Manfredi

We had so much fun with this year’s Scavenger Hunt that we already know we’re doing it all over again next year! Stay tuned to the event page for details on our 4th annual Sustainability Scavenger Hunt as they unfold. If you’re interested in sponsoring or participating, reach out to

HMFH Architects Implements Material Transparency Initiative at Bristol‐Plymouth

HMFH Architects Implements Material Transparency Initiative at Bristol‐Plymouth

The following post was provided by HMFH Architects.

In 2019 HMFH Architects signed on to the AIA Materials Pledge. Signing this pledge demonstrates our commitment to the ecosystem, human, climate, and social health along with equity and the circular economy when selecting products that go into the schools we design. Building on this commitment, HMFH is collaborating with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to develop a new standard for material transparency in K-12 public schools. Currently in design, the new Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School is serving as the pilot project for this program.

A healthy interior environment is foundational to a child’s education—by the time a student graduates high school, they will have spent more than 15,000 hours in a school, which is the second longest indoor exposure time after their home.¹ Therefore, it is essential that educational facilities provide the best possible environments to support student wellness, growth, and development. A key piece of this is understanding the impact of building materials on health and well being.

Drawing from over 50 years of experience designing K-12 public schools, HMFH is researching and vetting hundreds of materials to develop a baseline list of products that contribute to a healthy learning environment and are optimized for K-12 school architecture. The intent of this research is twofold: first, to provide a list of building materials to serve as a reference point for future projects, and second, to push manufacturers to disclose the chemical makeup of their materials and ultimately eliminate chemicals of concern in those products.

Based on the goal of identifying and specifying materials that fully disclose ingredient and manufacturing information, the Bristol-Plymouth team selected the Declare label standard and is prioritizing products that are free of LBC Red List chemicals. Declare is a certification for manufacturers to provide information on the chemical makeup of their products and compliance with standards such as the Living Building Challenge (LBC) Red List and LBC Watch List, which limit materials, chemicals, and elements harmful to human health and the environment.³

Focusing first on touch surfaces in K-12 schools—which encompass materials from furniture to door hardware—the Bristol-Plymouth team looked at commonly used products to confirm they do not contain harmful ingredients. The research showed many products do already meet the desired standard, but for those that do not, HMFH’s designers investigated non-toxic equivalent products that meet the same standards for function, durability, and accessibility. The materials and manufacturers vetted through this research are being used to develop a comprehensive list of touch surface materials that targets LBC Red List Free products (and Declared products where Red List Free is not feasible) for all HMFH projects moving forward.

The Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School will be a model for healthy schools in Massachusetts, establishing product standards for MSBA-funded schools. Our goal is to eliminate chemicals of concern from school building materials to ensure that all students across the State have access to healthy interior environments.

Decarbonizing Laboratory Design

Decarbonizing Laboratory Design

The following post was provided by Bala Consulting Engineers.

Energy intense labs present owners, developers, and designers alike with a unique challenge to balance functional lab design with new emissions reduction requirements and energy codes. Decarbonization of the building sector is being accelerated in New England by Boston’s BERDO 2.0 and new DOER Massachusetts Energy Codes which pose stringent building emissions limits and highly efficient energy standards. Now more than ever, converting offices to lab spaces requires new, more innovative, and future-focused design strategies.

Office to Lab Considerations and Challenges

Reducing operational carbon emissions in tandem with the conversion of an existing building into a lab requires a highly technical analysis as well as an understanding of laboratory and energy-efficient system options.  Bala Consulting Engineers understands the challenges of office-to-lab conversions and has resolved a variety of them on a recent office-to-lab conversion at 51 Melcher, where we are integrating strategies to decarbonize this laboratory design.

51 Melcher Street Decarbonization Strategies and Solutions

51 Melcher is an office-to-lab conversion project located in Boston’s Fort Point District. The existing building totals 9-stories and approximately 100,000 SF, with approximately 60% being converted to lab space and 40% staying as office space.

To meet future BERDO 2.0 emissions standards and requirements from Boston’s Planning and Development Authority (BPDA), Bala’s engineering design utilized system reuse where possible and highly efficient all-electric systems. While working with the owner, architect, and CM, Bala came up with a flexible approach to support future lab requirements and meet emissions/energy targets while also reducing the need for seismic upgrades.

Efficient Design Solutions

In the early phases of design, a series of energy models were performed to analyze the existing façade. Improvements to the exterior wall thermal performance were identified, yielding a significant reduction in energy consumption. A more efficient, and tighter façade resulted in reduced heating and cooling loads.

Integrating energy recovery from laboratory exhaust air systems and fume hoods was another effective project approach. Building heating and cooling systems were downsized due to energy recovery systems reducing the peak heating and cooling demands.

Reuse and Integration of Existing Infrastructure

Bala analyzed existing building infrastructure – a natural gas-fired system – for potential reuse alongside integrating new all-electric systems. Midway through the project design, the BPDA expressed that the project needed to reduce its fossil fuel usage by 90%. To significantly reduce fossil fuel usage, our team pivoted to use primarily all-electric heating and cooling systems.

This system approach demonstrated an annual fossil fuel use of only 3% for 51 Melcher – used as a backup in case of extreme temperature swings. The reuse of some existing building infrastructure, including the existing cooling tower and associated condenser water pipework, also decreased the embodied carbon of the project. Reusing existing systems eliminates carbon that would have been produced from manufacturing, transporting, installing, maintaining new systems, and disposing of the old building materials.

All-Electric Design Solutions

Air Source heat pump (ASHP) technology is the prevailing system we are incorporating into the building design for heating and cooling. Our project team’s final design incorporated a combination of air-cooled and water-cooled heat pump equipment for the building’s heating, cooling, and domestic hot water. The ASHPs provide heating/cooling for the main AHUs.

BERDO 2.0 Analysis

To ensure future readiness for 51 Melcher, Bala conducted an analysis to compare four design scenarios against long-term BERDO 2.0 emissions limits. We provided an analysis for the following design options:


  •  The ASHRAE 90.1-2013 baseline HVAC system
  • The original proposed design:  reuse of existing fossil fuel system
  • A carbon-neutral design with the use of district steam.
  • This has been split into two emissions projections as district steam can have an
    environmental impact if not produced from “clean” renewable energy sources.
  • An all-electric design

The first year of non-compliance with the BERDO 2.0 emissions limits has been circled for each of the design scenarios. The slope of these lines is dependent upon the grid decarbonizing over time and the proportion of electricity use versus natural gas or steam use.

Our analysis does not consider future potential upgrades, nor does it consider potentially more drastic grid decarbonization. It’s important to note that both of these factors will affect future compliance with BERDO emissions limits.

Developing a Future-focused and Adaptive Approach

To make decarbonization a reality, design teams should approach lab projects strategically. As seen with our 51 Melcher project, optimal strategies come from analyzing existing infrastructure and determining which systems can be reused and what needs to be supplemented to meet program requirements.

Bala is continuing to invest in internal research and development to identify forward-thinking, sustainable solutions.  With holistic evaluation and planning among architects, owners, CMs, design professionals, and manufacturers, decarbonized laboratory design that delivers sustainability, cost- effectiveness, flexibility, scalability, and overall value is possible.

Boston Leads Way Towards Green Buildings For All

Boston Leads Way Towards Green Buildings For All

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced on Thursday that Boston intends to adopt the state’s new specialized opt-in stretch energy code for new construction and major renovations. She also announced a new $10 million Large Building Green Energy Retrofits Program using American Rescue Plan funds to provide up to $50,000 per unit for deep energy retrofits for income-restricted affordable housing buildings with 15 or more units. These two big announcements demonstrate the city’s leadership greening both new buildings and existing buildings.

“Building a Green New Deal city means improving on our existing infrastructure as well as investing in future resilient development,” said Mayor Wu. “This new green building code will help ensure that we set the foundation for healthy, resilient growth throughout our neighborhoods.”

BE+ Executive Director Meredith Elbaum was invited to attend the press conference at the Brian Honan Apartments in Allston-Brighton, and Mayor Wu thanked Built Environment Plus, along with Passive House Massachusetts, the Sierra Club, and others who have advanced the decarbonization of Boston’s built environment.

“It was amazing to witness,” Elbaum said of her experience at the press conference. “Seeing Boston’s top leadership saying exactly what we’ve been saying for so many years, and seeing such meaningful action towards making healthy green buildings the standard for every resident in the city regardless of socio-economic status, it was kind of surreal.”

“To advance Boston’s Green New Deal, we are tackling building decarbonization from all different angles, using all of the tools at our disposal,” said Green New Deal Director Oliver Sellers-Garcia. “By both adapting existing buildings and setting new energy standards for new buildings, we are taking an all of government approach to reducing emissions in more buildings to ensure our climate’s health and our city’s quality of life.”

“The adoption of the state’s Specialized Stretch Energy Code is an important part of Boston’s work to decarbonize our buildings and reduce our carbon footprint,” said Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space.“ I’m grateful to be a part of a Green New Deal City where we prioritize affordable housing in our decarbonization work.”

Read the City’s press release here

Read the City’s RFP for its Large Building Green Energy Retrofits Program here.


Workforce Training Grants Driving Sustainability

Workforce Training Grants Driving Sustainability

Congratulations to all three Workforce Training General Grant consortiums that concluded in 2022: Prellwitz Chilinski Associates and HMFH Architects; Gensler and Arup; and Payette Associates and Saam Architecture. These three grants represent approximately $510,000 grant dollars used to provide over 1,100 hours of training for 630 unique individuals in our industry. And the results were impressive.

Built Environment Plus (BE+) participates in the Commonwealth Corporation’s Workforce Training Fund General Grant Program to improve the continuing education opportunities available to building industry professionals. The General Grant Program awards approved consortiums (companies that partner to apply for the grant) the opportunity to take up to $250,000 worth of training over a two year period. BE+ partners with companies in the AEC (architecture, engineering, construction) industry to develop a curriculum and apply for the grant and then we administer the grant once awarded.

In 2022, we administered four Workforce Training Fund General Grants, consisting of nine AEC firms who worked together in four consortiums. Three of the consortiums concluded their grant period in late 2022, and the fourth will complete their grant period in July of this year. Each of the three grants is made up of a consortium of two or three AEC firms of varying sizes.

As the grant administrator, BE+ curated a list of diverse trainings to enable the consortiums to develop their staffs’ skills in sustainability, leadership and management, and technology. By collaborating with instructors across 38 organizations, the training we provided for the three consortiums that concluded in 2022  covered topics ranging from green building rating systems and high performance building technologies to energy modeling, embodied carbon software, communication, and effective team building skills. All in all, 242 trainings were held with a total enrollment of 2,700.

The education provided through the grant courses advanced our teams’ knowledge and reinforced our firmwide culture of continuous improvement and learning.  The courses offered real-world education that contributed to talent attraction and retention, project wins, and competitiveness in a changing marketplace.

–Gensler Boston Office, 2020-2022 BE+ Workforce Training General Grant Consortium Partner

“As a result of the trainings, Saam’s productivity and performance has improved in numerous areas. For example, staff utilization for construction administration on LEED projects increased by 50%. Additionally, many of the staff now use Excel in much more efficient and advanced ways, allowing us to produce report graphics at a higher level.” 

–Saam Architecture, 2019-2022 BE+ Workforce Training General Grant Consortium Partner

BE+ would like to congratulate these firms for their successes and for all the hard work they completed over the past few years to offer training sessions to their staff. We look forward to collaborating with them in the future. Over the course of the grant, the consortiums tracked progress made at their individual firms in the form of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Below are examples of achievements that firms were able to celebrate at the end of their two-year grant period:


    • Completed 13 green building certified projects between 2020 and 2022.
    • 10% improvement in pEUI (predicted energy use reduction) across projects firmwide.
    • Increased the use of in-house energy modeling, daylighting, and sustainable material assessments on projects by 30%.
    • 50% increase in LEED Accredited Professionals on staff
    • 15% increase in the number of projects performing life-cycle assessments (LCAs).
    • Increased the number of energy modelers on staff by 50%
    • 35% increase in the number of projects using Revit
    • Increased the project win rate by 11% due to improved project performance and client relationship building. 
    • Achieved a 25% increase in the win rate of public projects due to improved leadership and management skills
    • Achieved a 50% increase in the staff utilization rate for construction administration on LEED projects.

BE+ would also like to thank all of the instructors we partner with who provide hours upon hours of high quality, informative, and engaging trainings. Needless to say, the past few years have been an adjustment for all of us, and we are proud to have worked through the challenges with all of our partner firms and instructors to be able to continue to provide trainings.

In 2023, we look forward to reporting back to you the results of a General Grant currently underway that ends in July, with a consortium consisting of DiMella Shaffer, Leers Weinzapfel Associates, and BR+A Consulting Engineers. We also look forward to announcing new General Grant consortium partners soon whose grant period will start later this spring, and we plan to submit two more General Grant applications later this year.

Participating in the General Grant Program is an effective way to provide valuable skills to your firm’s staff across all departments and experience levels. Additionally, BE+ offers public trainings which are open to anyone to take and are eligible for Workforce Training Fund Express Grant funding for Massachusetts firms. Review our Upcoming Course List and register for some trainings! Review our 2023 Training Priority List  and complete the BE+ Training Interest Form to let us know which specific training(s) you are interested in taking. If you are interested in being considered for a future General Grant, you can let us know that too on this form.

Welcome Spring 2023 Interns!

Welcome Spring 2023 Interns!

Join us in welcoming our Spring 2023 interns Lia Clark and Yasir Faisal! We are thrilled to have them on board for the spring semester to strengthen the BE+ community and advance our mission to drive the sustainable and regenerative design, construction, and operation of the built environment. They’re bringing exciting interests, passions, and skills to the table, and we can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together.

We can’t wait to see how their unique interests, passions, and talents will strengthen the BE+ community and our collective work.

Spencer Gorma

Lia Clark

Hello! My name is Lia Clark and I am excited to be interning with BE+ this semester and learning more about sustainable building practices. Currently, I am in my final semester at Tufts University where I am working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Environmental Studies with a focus on sustainability, policy, and equity. Ultimately, I am interested in pursuing a masters degree in urban and environmental planning, and hope to work in communities like the ones BE+ serves. I look forward to taking advantage of the experiences and opportunities interning at BE+ will provide me with and learning more about how the built environment can serve both the planet and community members to the fullest.

Yasir Faisal

Hello! My name is Yasir and I am delighted to be working with the BE+ team to help them fulfill their mission to significantly improve the sustainability of our built environment. I am entering my last semester at Western New England University, where I will earn a Bachelor’s degree in Civil engineering with concentration in environmental engineering . I am particularly interested in improving the efficacy of building and environmental conservation management. I very much look forward to contribute to further sharing of knowledge and spread of sustainable building practices within and outside the community.

Gwynn Klumpenaar
Carbon: The New Sustainability Metric

Carbon: The New Sustainability Metric

The following post was provided by Bala Consulting Engineers.

The building industry is transitioning from measuring a building’s “sustainability” based on its energy efficiency and energy use to a more comprehensive model that includes both the operational and embodied carbon from the building. Carbon has emerged as the new sustainability metric and is here to stay.

Often when the term ‘carbon’ is used, it is a general term for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions derived from the use of fossil fuels. With the building sector producing 39% of the total greenhouse gas emissions over the course of a year globally, the built environment has an immense impact on our climate future. Furthermore, building practitioners have an equally large opportunity in reducing this impact.

To effectively reduce emissions the best place to start is to measure. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” as they say, thus carbon accounting practices are the best place to begin. There are two major carbon accounting frameworks– the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment (WBLCA). The Greenhouse Gas Protocol aligns with ESG reporting methods, which many companies, outside of the building industry, are familiar with, while the WBLCA tool is specific to and growing in popularity across the built environment.

Greenhouse Gas Protocol

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol includes 3 scopes of emissions:


  • Scope 1 is direct onsite emissions primarily stemming from natural gas use, company vehicle use, and fugitive emissions from refrigerants and other gases.
  • Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions that come from other entities providing electricity, steam, etc.
  • Scope 3 emissions are indirect emissions from a company’s entire value chain, this can include product manufacturing, business travel, employee commuting, waste, and more.

The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is a widely used framework for companies with a portfolio of buildings. Corporations are being asked by their stakeholders and even now by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) to be transparent and consistent with carbon emissions reporting.  There are of course other ways in which companies can reduce total carbon emissions, however much of the work can be accomplished in built spaces through effective choices, strategies, and solutions from the design community. Building design has immediate and direct influence over scope 1 and 2 emissions through the design of efficient systems, HVAC systems, and fuel choices. Building practitioners can also influence building occupants’ choices, by designing on-site electric vehicle charging, which eliminates emissions from scope 1 and 3.

Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment

A Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment (WBLCA) digs into the stages of a building’s life, starting from raw material extraction through manufacturing of products, construction, occupancy, all the way to the demolition and disposal of the building’s materials. Considering the full life of a building is critical for net zero design and leads to better project and carbon outcomes.

Reducing operational carbon via energy-efficient design has been the focus of the building industry for years. It has often been thought of as a solely HVAC issue with MEP firms taking the lead in energy reduction strategies. However, as we start to view our built spaces more like the mini-ecosystems they are, we must recognize how all aspects of a design influence and modify other parts of the design. Energy efficiency, as with carbon, starts at the building’s conception with the site planning, orientation, and design of the façade and envelope and is continued with proper construction, commissioning, and operation. These design aspects directly influence the engineered internal systems which use energy and ultimately produce carbon that we are trying to mitigate.

Embodied carbon is the carbon emitted from the full life of the materials used in a building–starting at extraction and extending all the way through disposal. With such a vast lifecycle, material selection and management require collaboration and communication from parties during each stage of this cycle to best reduce carbon. Architects, owners, engineers, contractors, manufacturers, and more all have their part to play in this process.

Bala Consulting Engineers is increasingly seeing clients asking to measure carbon for their building designs, following either the Whole Building Life Cycle Assessment Approach or the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. An understanding of what to measure and the frameworks for doing so empowers the design community and our clients toward meaningful carbon reduction and positive action. When we get a handle on measurement, we can more effectively start to reduce emissions.

BERDO 2.0 Breakdown – The Path Towards Decarbonizing Boston’s Buildings

BERDO 2.0 Breakdown – The Path Towards Decarbonizing Boston’s Buildings

The following post was provided by Bala Consulting Engineers.

BERDO 2.0 is a landmark ordinance set to drive decarbonization in Boston’s building sector by establishing mandatory carbon emission standards and requiring yearly energy and emissions data reports. The design community and building owners need to prepare for the reporting requirements starting this year and consider strategies to meet upcoming emissions limits.

BERDO 2.0 sets upcoming carbon emissions limits and requires annual reporting for the following buildings:

  • Non-Residential greater than 20,000 SF
  • Residential greater than 20,000 SF or 15+ units

According to the city of Boston, 3,975 buildings in the city are subject to BERDO reporting starting in 2022. June 15th, 2022 was the initial deadline for all buildings over 20,000 SF to report their energy and water usage. However, December 15, 2022, is the extension deadline for reporting and verification, with over half of all buildings taking advantage of this extension.

Driving Decarbonization through Building Emission Limits

The most groundbreaking aspect of BERDO 2.0 is the upcoming building emissions standards. Beginning in 2025, buildings over 35,000 SF are required to include carbon emissions within their annual reports. Emissions will be calculated on a per-square-foot basis and measured against the city’s Emissions Standards (units are kg CO2e/SF/year) showcased in the table below. Emissions Standards vary by building use and become increasingly more stringent every 5-years until reaching carbon neutrality – zero carbon emissions – in 2050.

Buildings 20,000-35,000 SF will not need to comply with emissions standards until 2030, reporting emissions for the first time in 2031.  “Qualified Energy Professionals” must provide a Third-Party Data Verification for the first year of reporting and every 5 years after that. To avoid costly fines, building owners need to report accurately and on time, and if needed, implement building emissions reduction strategies to comply with the upcoming emissions standards.

The Path Forward for Existing Buildings

Since 2022 is the first year the reporting and compliance requirements of BERDO 2.0 are in effect, it can be difficult for building owners to know where their existing buildings stand and what the best course of action may be. As a result, Bala Consulting Engineers’ sustainability team developed a decision tree for building owners, laying out the path forward:

If a building is projected to exceed 2025 emissions standards, direct action to reduce energy consumption of the building is needed, such as conducting retro-commissioning or capital improvement projects. If a building is projected to fall under 2025 emissions standards, Bala recommends conducting a Building Carbon Compliance Planning Study to forecast building emissions limits over time and identify if and when to take specific actions. Having a proactive plan for BERDO 2.0 will lead to optimal end savings and avoidance of penalties for building owners.

As for reporting requirements, “Qualified Energy Professionals”, like Bala’s team, are equipped to help building owners navigate the data acquisition for emissions, energy, and water usage reports, as well as perform official Third-Party Verifications.

The Path Forward for New Buildings

Consideration of BERDO 2.0 and its emissions standards is also critically important for new building projects moving forward. Bala has already integrated preliminary analyses on projects in design, considering current energy codes and 2025, 2030, and 2035 emissions standards. While every building is different, a combination of reducing building energy loads, utilizing all-electric systems, and integrating renewable energy, are essential strategies we are implementing in our projects. To effectively reach building emission targets, engineering solutions should be explored and vetted through exhaustive modeling, calculations, and research, alongside iterative conversations with system manufacturers, the building owner, and the whole design team.

BERDO 2.0 is certainly presenting new challenges for building owners, managers, developers, and design teams. However, by prioritizing decarbonization into short- and long-term capital plans, the legislation is set to positively reshape the role of buildings in our environment and is an important tool for helping Boston meet its climate goals.

For more information on BERDO 2.0 visit the City of Boston’s Resource Page –

Health & Wellness Roundtable Discussion on Biophilia and Wellness

Health & Wellness Roundtable Discussion on Biophilia and Wellness

BE+ is happy to start blogging about some of our ongoing community roundtables with the help of our Fall interns. Thank you to Linh Mai for this blog entry on the Health & Wellness Community’s recent roundtable on Biophilia.

The November Roundtable dove into the different strategies, benefits, and challenges of biophilic design elaborated through the speakers’ rich portfolio of examples. Janice Goodman, the owner of Cityscapes, initiated the conversation by emphasizing that now is an exciting time for biophilic design with more interest in healthy and safe indoor environments than ever. According to Jan, scientific research, ROI, and data conducted through different channels (Green Plants for Green Building and Terrapin Bright Green) are key tools to convince the owners and developers to adopt biophilic design elements. Some measurable statistics of biophilic design benefits include: “15% Increase in productivity when biophilic design is present. 12% decrease in absenteeism…lowering stress hormones by 15%.” The MassMutual Headquarters was a collaboration between Cityscape and Elkus Manfredi spearheaded as a biophilic success in Boston’s Seaport District, raising the demand from clients and influencing upcoming projects. Thomas Kinslow, Senior Architect at Elkus Manfredi, discussed the concept of forests inside the city and the abstract illustration of the concept through bringing a variety of plants (moss, trees) inside the lobby, installing dappled lighting mimicking daylighting patterns, and reclaiming recycled timber as ceiling stretches. 

Erik Hegre, the Director of Behnisch Architekten, talked about the contrast between the openness of Flatiron Building’s operable windows and the closeness of current buildings. He believed that bringing nature into the building should start with natural elements (light, air, water, etc.) and the interaction between these elements and the architecture. How can buildings embody the ethos of your research culture? Lumen Building Institute for Forestry Research and Harvard University Science and Engineering Complex  provide their own answers to that question through natural daylight, indoor gardens, complex screen facades, and vegetated roofs.

The discussion continued with raised questions on the challenges of keeping plants alive in buildings and the resulting added cost. Thomas understood Elkus Manfredi’s mission as creating a terrarium for the tree, providing anything that the trees need to thrive. According to Janice, those conditions include the correct planting process, lighting, soil and planter depth, and ongoing maintenance. Further challenges lie in convincing, communicating, and making sure the owners are on board with the additional costs and monthly maintenance fees from early in the design process. 

Aside from plants, the speakers shared additional biophilic design strategies used by their firms. In terms of material, Erik pointed out that natural and healthier materials often have premium costs. His firm strategically reserved timber for seatings and staircases where users can have an immersive experience. Another method is making indispensable structural building components multifunctional. For instance, the Harvard University Science and Engineering Complex’s overhanging roof provides both shading and indirect light for the upper floor, acts as a green roof, and helps with water runoff. 

Another discussion topic is how biophilia improves indoor air quality. Although plants remove VOC, their impacts are miniscule compared to the overall mass of the building and the carbon produced through transportation and installation. 

The final message of this discussion is a call to rethink how we are designing and constructing buildings, so that biophilia and wellness are integral to the building design and not an addition.

Mass Timber at the Wellesley College Science Center

Mass Timber at the Wellesley College Science Center

The following post was provided by Turner Construction.

Turner Construction Company recently partnered with Simpson Gumpertz and Heger to educate staff on Mass Timber design and construction. Hosted at Simpson, Gumpertz, and Heger’s office in Waltham, MA, the first session included a technical presentation on Mass Timber structures. During the second session, attendees had the opportunity to tour the recently completed Mass Timber project at Wellesley College. The emphasis on Mass Timber at the Wellesley College Science Center is most notable in the building’s ‘Hub,’ a 15,000 sq. ft. area that serves as the focal point to the expansion. The Hub features Glue Laminated Timber (GLT), which is lumber bonded together with durable, moisture-resistant adhesives. The use of GLT creates not only an aesthetically pleasing space, but is a considerable contribution to our company’s sustainability efforts.

Turner featured the Wellesley project in their submission to the 2022 Green Building Showcase.

Mass Timber has become a leading design due its environmental and potential cost benefits. As a natural material, wood stores carbon making it an excellent building material choice when considering the environmental impacts compared to other traditional building materials. Recent advances in the digital fabrication tools have created new possibilities to fabricate intricate Mass Timber members, which previously were not feasible. The ability to prefabricate the material reduces the project schedule and eliminates waste, bringing overall cost savings to a project. Additional benefits include increased building occupant health and well-being associated with the use of Mass Timber design and the ability to leave the structure exposed while maintaining the aesthetic of a completed ceiling.

Turner is always looking for ways to embrace new innovative and sustainable construction methods, and the successful use of Mass Timber has only strengthened our commitment to being a green builder. Nationally, Turner has already incorporated more than 3,000,000 sq. ft. of Mass Timber on our construction projects, and will continue to champion it along with a more sustainable future for the industry.