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Lorax Partnerships, LLC
1200 Light Street
Baltimore, MD 21230

443.449.6319

Ask Andrea

Lorax Partnerships 2016 NGBS Green Partner of Excellence

In December, Lorax’s very own Andrea Shoaf was named an NGBS Green Partner of Excellence for 2016. NGBS Green, which is based on the National Green Building Standard™ (NGBS), is a rigorous third-party certification program for single and multifamily residential projects. Andrea joins an elite group of program partners — one of 18 verifiers identified — who have been recognized for their dedication to customers, providing increased value, professionalism, and relevance in the marketplace through third-party verification services. 

This recognition was awarded to those who display leadership in innovation in building science, dedication to the residential construction industry, and significant commitment to green certification over the past year. Lorax Partnerships is committed to building an inventory of healthier homes that cost less to operate, are more comfortable to live in, and are part of a more sustainable lifestyle for their residents.

Lorax has certified more than 200 residential units under NGBS, and is currently working with design and construction teams on 2,000 new residential units as regional demand for sustainable multifamily development ramps up. 300 St. Paul Place, 2 Hopkins PlazaThe Woodberry, and The Enclave at Box Hill are some of the newest Baltimore City projects pursuing NGBS certification with Lorax’s accredited NGBS verifiers. 

300 St. Paul Place

300 St. Paul Place is a residential conversion of an existing office building in the heart of downtown Baltimore by developer PMC Property Group. The building was constructed in 1957 by Commercial Credit Corporation and has served as office space for a number of financial institutions since then, including Citigroup Inc. The new design will preserve the iconic façade while modernizing the interior spaces and adding amenities for tenants.

 

2 Hopkins Plaza

2 Hopkins Plaza is a mixed-use conversion by Berman Enterprises of the existing PNC Bank office tower in downtown Baltimore. The renovations will turn the top 11 floors to apartments and bottom floors to office space for several hundred employees of the Army Corp of Engineers. The building is home to one of the City’s new bike share stations and has direct access to new bike lanes that run from 29th street at Johns Hopkins University to Pratt Street downtown.

The Woodberry

2001 West Cold Spring Lane, also known as The Woodberry, is a mixed-use development project by Klein Enterprises and Manekin located in north Baltimore, at the… Continue reading

PACE 101: How It Works

At Lorax, we find, the largest barrier to adopting renewable energy systems for private property owners is the lack of financing options. Slowly but surely, counties in Maryland are adopting the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing method to make renewable energy a more feasible option.  Here’s how Tim explains the program:

The PACE program is a government financing policy. Its goal is to incentivize energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades on private property. It allows private lenders to fund the up-front capital cost of these upgrades, and recoup that money via property taxes. The payback period will be based on the life expectancy of the equipment- for solar panels it may be 20 years, for an HVAC system maybe 15 years. The interest rate on the loan will be in the ballpark of 5%.

Here’s an example of a project considering installation of a $1,200,000 solar PV array, rated at 700 kWp. Let’s assume the property owner secures $200,000 in incentives and rebates for their solar array. Through PACE, a lender would cover the remaining $1,000,000; the owner would pay it back like a 20-year mortgage at 5% interest.

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Their property tax bill would have a line item for the PACE-funded solar panels. In this example, they’d owe $79,200 annually.

Using some assumptions about solar panel output, we can estimate that the 700 kWp solar array will produce about 600,000 kWh of electricity annually. At rates of around $0.20 per kWh, that amounts to $120,000 in energy cost savings annually, more than the loan repayment amount. In this case, the owner would see an immediate positive impact on their net operating income. The 3, 5, or 7-year payback period people often discuss with these kinds of upgrades goes to 0. Of course, this is an idealistic scenario. Real projects will have many more nuances to consider, but this should give you feeling for the kind of cost-benefit analysis that PACE presents.

The PACE program has been running in California since 2010. Now in 2016, it’s active in 16 states. Maryland has adopted it, but each County must decide whether to opt in or not participate. So far, Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery, Queen Anne’s, and Garrett County are in. Many others are in the process of adopting or evaluating the program.

In Maryland, it’s available for commercial, industrial, and multifamily projects. It’s available for new construction and retrofits/rehabs. Government-owned… Continue reading

LEED v4 in 4 Minutes or Less

Lorax is all about collaboration, information sharing, and KNOWLEDGE BOMBS!  When Katie Stanford, Hailee Griesmar, and Tim Barranco passed their LEED v4 AP exams in April, they helped bring the rest of the team up to speed on the changes to v4 with the coolest Knowledge Bomb ever!  The three newly accredited professionals summarized the major changes in v4 within the Building Design and Construction (BD+C), Operations and Maintenance (O+M), and Neighborhood Development (ND) rating systems using this nifty presentation.

The rest of the crew found it so informative, fun, and fast (hence the title), that we decided to share it with you!

The presentation will scroll automatically; however, you can review the slides at your own pace using the controls found when your mouse rolls over the presentation below.  



For questions regarding LEED v4, or any inquiries about green building design and construction, please contact us here!  Our accredited professionals are always happy to help guide project teams through sustainability compliance in a range of codes, standards, and rating systems.

Engaging in Sustainability in High School Education

On April 15, 2016, Andrea Shoaf, one of our Senior Project Managers and our Energy Services Manager, was invited to speak at South Carroll High School about sustainability and green building design.  After her speaking engagement, we asked her a few questions about the event.

 

Katie: Hey Andrea, we heard you had a speaking engagement last week.  Why were you asked to speak at South Carroll High School? 

Andrea: A friend of mine, Kim Johnson, is the media specialist for South Carroll High School and is working with one of their talented educators who is teaching an elective class called Advanced Design Applications.  One of the teaching modules they are learning about is Sustainable Building Design. 

 

K: Who did you speak to? 

A: The class elective consists of 13 high school students, sophomores through seniors.

 

K: We heard the students are working on a big sustainability project.  What is the assignment and how are they addressing the challenge? 

A: They will be spending 3 to 4 weeks learning about Sustainability, different applicable rating systems, and current sustainable technologies.  The module will culminate with the students pairing up and designing their own sustainable house.

 

K: What were some of the most interesting questions the students posed? 

A: The students were very interested in the mechanical/HVAC side of sustainability, which was right up my alley.  They asked great questions like, “what are typical mechanical systems we see in design?”  They also were very interested in renewable energy and its applications.

 

K: How long have you worked in the sustainable design and construction industry? 

A: I have worked in the construction/sustainable design field for over 10 years.  I started off on the construction side before switching over to sustainability consulting.

 

K: How has your career path taken you to this point as a senior project manager and energy analyst at Lorax Partnerships? 

A: Having a BS in Mechanical Engineering, I have always loved the principles of building, physics, and material science.  That combined with how powerful of a tool Energy Modeling is for Sustainable design has really shaped where I am now.  I love working with teams to help refine and shape their designs around efficiency and energy savings.  The best part is that most of these decisions… Continue reading

VRF: Improved Comfort and Energy Efficiency

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With the recent influx in green multifamily residential projects coming down the pipeline, Lorax has seen a rise in sustainable strategies and technologies that are well-suited to residential projects.  One of the technologies that has been on the rise is Variable Refrigerant Flow or VRF HVAC systems.  As its name implies, VRF uses refrigerant as the heating and cooling medium and variable speed compressors. Weighing initial cost concerns, many of our clients recognized the benefits of VRF, especially in a multifamily residential application, outweighed any challenges.

Clients and building occupants have found that VRF systems improve the occupant experience and indoor environmental quality. VRF systems are much quieter than traditional HVAC systems, and therefore allow for better acoustical performance of the apartment space, making the residences more comfortable and effective in noise reduction from adjacencies.

Also, occupants feel more thermal comfort in residential units that utilize VRF since the system features several smaller air handlers that can be independently controlled and individualized.  VRF is even compatible with modern thermal controls like programming using a mobile device – great for the residents in their 20’s or 30’s that make up the majority of rented apartments. Furthermore, the system works well in corridors and amenity spaces because it is able to heat and cool simultaneously; therefore providing consistent comfort across all room types and floors, and results in less temperature fluctuation.

Utility bills are lower in buildings with VRF systems than for residents in other buildings.  VRF HVAC systems are energy-efficient because the variable-speed compressor runs only at the exact capacity needed for the current conditions, which means it runs less frequently and at a lower capacity. The systems are also designed to meet partial load conditions, rather than designed for rare peak heating and cooling conditions, which allows for significant energy savings

Impressively, the annual maintenance costs are low compared to water source heat pumps or four pipe fan coil units at only $0.60/SF, providing considerable operations savings.

Many designers also prefer VRF since it eliminates a lot of ductwork that many other HVAC systems require.  The newly available space allows for the design of exciting occupant spaces like roof top amenities!

VRF seems too good to be true!  So what could the hesitation be? VRF does have a marginally higher up front cost compared to some traditional HVAC systems.  Especially in the… Continue reading

Simple Box Model: It’s as Simple as it Sounds

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Recently, the Project Managers at Lorax have been driving some project teams to pursue the LEED v4 IP Credit Integrative Process as a v2009 Pilot Credit.  The credit seems to capture the essence of what LEED has been trying to do since its inception, creating cost-effective and sustainable outcomes through discipline collaboration.

The Integrative Process credit includes an early water and site analysis, but the most daunting part of this credit is running an early, “Simple Box Model.”   Turns out, the idea of running a Simple Box Model during the Concept or Schematic Design phase scares the pants off of most project teams!

A Simple Box Model is not nearly as elaborate or difficult as it sounds, we promise (that’s why they put “Simple” in the name)!

A Simple Box Model only requires very basic information about the building, and therefore can be run quickly without much work.  What is the gross square footage of the building?  Where could the building be located on the site? What is the basic shape and geometry of the building?  Iterations of the model are then run based on different basic design options and compared to one another.  There is no need for comparison to a theoretical baseline building or standard like ASHRAE 90.1-2007 or 2010, but rather contrast between alternate designs. 

The Simple Box Model allows the energy modeler to find out what the actual Energy Use Intensity (EUI) is for any basic design decision.  It can help answer questions like, “Will the building use more energy if we locate it in the shady area of the site, or in the sunny area of the site?” with a definitive answer based on data rather than assumptions.  Once the optimal EUI is determined, the appropriate HVAC system can be selected and sized appropriately.

Source: The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building – Redefining the Practice of Sustainability by 7group and Bill Reed

This process also keeps different design disciplines from acting in a siloed fashion.  By looking at the actual outcomes of different insulation options, for example, team members must work together to make the best selection.

The Simple Box Model essentially allows the building to act as a process load before an HVAC system is even selected.  The box model permits teams to optimize buildings through  decisions on site conditions,… Continue reading

Baltimore City Sustainability Requirements Lunch & Learn

 

Here is a chance to “Ask Andrea” any of your technical questions about Baltimore City’s Sustainability Requirements at her Lunch & Learn.  Get ready to compare and contrast the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) versus Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

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The International Green Construction Code (IgCC) was approved by the Baltimore City Council and signed into law as an optional compliance path in achieving green building requirements by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake this past November. This means there are more options than ever for sustainability in Baltimore City.  During the Baltimore City Sustainability Requirements Lunch & Learn Andrea Shoaf, LEED AP BD+C and NGBS Verifier, with Lorax Partnerships, and Stuart Kaplow of Stuart D. Kaplow, P.A., Sustainability and Green Building Attorneys will explore the IgCC sustainability requirements for new and altered buildings, and will also provide a comparison with the current Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Standard.  This session will improve clarity on the new requirements and allow for more informed choices when deciding which compliance path to pursue on future projects. 

For more information and consultation on the International Green Construction Code (IgCC), contact us here.  We are always happy to help you with your green building needs!