The Wintergreen Awards for Excellence in Green Building is always an exciting evening for the Lorax crew; new and sustainable venues to explore, interesting projects to learn from, excellent networking and mingling, and the nervous anticipation of the award ceremony. Every year, it warms our collective hearts to see our partners and clients honored and feel many of our projects lauded. We even had the opportunity to learn from the sustainable choices made throughout the design and construction of the new Exelon Building in Harbor Point. But this year at the 12th Anniversary Wintergreen Awards ceremony, Lorax Partnerships had a lot to celebrate!
Prior to the Wintergreen Awards this year, unbeknownst to us, a longtime friend and partner, nominated Lorax Partnerships for the USGBC MD Leadership Award for demonstrating leadership in sustainable design, environmental impact, social benefit, community involvement, and achievement within green building rating systems. Simultaneously, we nominated Baltimore City Public Schools, our partner in the Baltimore City Schools Construction Program, for the very same Leadership Award. When the list of finalists was published, we realized we were competing against them in the Leadership Category. Nothing like a little friendly competition!
Shock and Disbelief
As Sabrina Bachman, the Executive Director of the USGBC MD Community, began the award ceremony, Lorax settled in for a potential loss to our friend and competitor, Baltimore City Public Schools. Sabrina kicked off the award ceremony with the President’s Choice Award, the most competitive award, as all of the nominees – project and leadership – are eligible to receive it. We were all stunned when Sabrina announced “Lorax Partnerships!” We all looked at each other in shock as we were cajoled to the podium to accept the plaque and honor of receiving the President’s Choice Award!
Below is an excerpt from the award address:
“Let me share a little bit about Lorax Partnerships:
- Since its inception, Lorax has helped clients reach their sustainability goals, including through the completion of 188 green building projects.
- Lorax is deeply involved in USGBC Maryland as members, committee volunteers, and through past service on our local board of directors. Their expertise has benefited our USGBC network and other organizations and agencies looking to analyze the best use of rating systems and codes.
- Locally owned and operated from its base in Baltimore, Lorax provides sustainability and green building consulting… Continue reading
Last week Katie and Tim attended the DC Sustainable Energy Utility office’s presentation on Discovering and Financing Energy-Saving Opportunities in Your Building. The facilitators of the forum were representatives from Urban Ingenuity, a DC based Financial Services Organization that “provides innovative solutions to develop and finance advanced energy projects, building retrofits, and state of the art clean energy infrastructure.” Urban Ingenuity focused on the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing method, specifically its usage throughout the District of Columbia and the many opportunities for the program’s expansion.
Tim is already an expert on Maryland’s adoption of PACE (read more here!), but these Loraxians wanted to learn how DC’s more established program was operating and how it could apply to our current and future DC projects.
Eligibility remains the same across state borders- both new construction and existing buildings qualify, but it applies only to commercial (office, institutional, multifamily, industrial, or non-profit), with government and single-family residential projects excluded. Many case studies that are currently financing building upgrades with DC PACE were discussed, and the presenters noted that PACE funding has been used on a wide range of project sizes, from $100k up to $2 million.
PACE helps take the ever-present question of financially prioritizing sustainability out of the equation. With its proven benefits for both long and short term owners (think: increased property value, decreased utility bills and lower operations and maintenance costs) PACE allows them to stay relevant in today’s competitive market.
As many of our projects pursue rating system certifications, we were excited to learn that standard PACE improvements and upgrades align well with many of the rating systems requirements of LEED, IgCC, and several others, therefore streamlining the application process for the PACE assessors. But, note that the program is adaptable to assess projects independent of green building certifications.
Contractors interested in working on PACE projects must be registered with the program, but the process is very straightforward- simply fill out an application here.
Congratulations to our clients and friends who were selected as finalists for the US Green Building Council Maryland Chapter’s 12th Annual Wintergreen Awards! The Wintergreen Awards Ceremony will be held on January 26, 2017 from 6:00 pm- 9:00 pm at Exelon Baltimore Headquarters.
We wish to extend a few special congratulations to those in the running this year:
First and foremost, congratulations to Baltimore City Public Schools and the COPT Sustainability Committee… our fierce competition for Wintergreen’s Leadership Award! This award honors organizations and firms that have demonstrated leadership in sustainable design, environmental impact, social benefit, community involvement, and achievement within green building across Maryland. Lorax is thrilled to have qualified for this prestigious recognition and wishes the best of luck to all!
We also want to highlight Verde at Greenbelt Station for qualifying as 1 of the 3 finalists for the Residential Project Award! Verde will not only offer housing that is highly energy efficient, water efficient, and solar powered, but tenants will benefit from numerous sustainable amenities, such as preferred parking for fuel efficient vehicles, convenient access to DC’s public transportation, and plenty of green outdoor space for work and play. The three building complex is anticipating achievement of LEED BD+C: New Construction v2009 Gold in winter 2017. Working with Atapco Properties and The Dolben Company on this project has been a pleasure.
We look forward to celebrating all of the “Exelont” advocates of Maryland green building next week!
USGBC Maryland’s Wintergreen Awards for Excellence in Green Building celebrates projects, businesses, members and partners demonstrating excellence in high performance and healthy building design, environmental stewardship, community impact, and more. Network over great food and drinks with key green building professionals and sustainability supporters in our region!
Winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony and event attendees will vote for the recipient of our People’s Choice Project Award! Details & Registration
On December 1, 2016, GBCI adjusted the LEED registration and certification fees for the first time since 2010. LEED registration provides your team with access to LEED Online and now access to the fully integrated arc platform. LEED Online allows you to track LEED credits and strategies and facilitate LEED certification from start to finish.
In order to lock in current LEED certification rates, projects must complete certification or pre-pay certification fees before March 1, 2017. All new registrations are subject to the adjusted prices.
Key changes include:
- $300 increase for project registration (for commercial projects)
- New minimum thresholds introduced for fees
- All currently registered and certified LEED projects will have automatic access to arc as of December 1, 2016
- Optimized pricing considerations for large scale projects, portfolios, campus and volume program participants
Please see the new pricing chart on the USGBC website, here. These updates apply to all Lorax projects scheduled to submit design or construction for review after March 1, 2017. For questions regarding the price increase, please reach out to your Lorax Partnerships Project Manager.
For Marylanders, there are several barriers to entry for renewable energy usage through solar panel installation. For example, renters might not be allowed to install solar on their homes, some buildings might have too much shading for solar to be feasible, others might not be able to front the installation cost. Luckily, Maryland is testing a community solar pilot program to make solar energy a possibility for those who would not otherwise have access. Here’s how Hailee explains it:
The Community Solar Program is pretty much what it sounds like: Participants buy into a large solar array that may or may not be on their land, and get a portion or all of their energy from the array.
Essentially, here’s how it works: Someone finds a good place to put solar panels (an apartment rooftop, a warehouse roof, top of a parking garage, empty field, over a landfill, unused farmland, etc.) and installs an array there. The power gets run back to the utility, and allocated to certain residents or buildings that are subscribers to the program. The subscribers pay a reduced rate for the allocated solar power relative to the utility’s standard rate.
It is especially beneficial to low-income housing or apartment rental buildings, because the people occupying these spaces wouldn’t have the money or physical space or ability to install panels on their roof otherwise. This offers them an avenue to purchase clean energy AND lower their electric bills. To put this in perspective, low-income households have utility bills comparable to middle and high income households, so they pay a disproportionate and burdensome amount of their income on energy.
For scale, a 2MW array is the maximum size in most state’s programs. That would require about 10 acres of land, and provide power for 1,200 homes. The installations of community solar arrays are still eligible for state and federal tax incentives for solar installation.
Below are details for the Community Solar programs in Washington, DC and Maryland:
- No cap on amount of power that can be installed
- Panels can be installed on a building, either by the owner, or by a third party through a Power Purchase Agreement and the electricity can be allocated to another building or specific people
- Excellent SREC market in DC that helps this program
- DC requires a certain percentage of their utility power to… Continue reading
Congratulations to our client, Wexford Science and Technology! Wexford recently won The Talking Walls award from the North Carolina chapter of USGBC at the Green Gala and Sustainable Business Awards for Building 60 in Winston-Salem, NC. This award recognizes a successful integration of sustainability standards in the category of existing building renovations.
Building 60 is part of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. This state of the art district is home to a variety of academic institutions and companies, and fosters research and education in biomedical science, IT, clinical services, and digital media. Building 60 adds over 300,000 square feet of additional laboratory and office space in a major renovation of a historic building, and care was taken to maintain the historic integrity of the existing structure.
Building 60 targeted a very high level of sustainability and is expected to earn LEED Platinum certification. They have reduced both their energy and water use by over 40% for dramatic savings in both. They also reused 96% of the existing usable walls, floor and roof, and recycled over 90% of their construction waste.
Wexford targets a high level of environmental stewardship in all of their buildings and developments. For example, the three other projects in the Innovation Quarter, Wake Forest Biotech Place, Inmar/525 @ Vine Street, and 625 @ Vine Street all achieved LEED Gold or Platinum.
Congratulations once again to Wexford Science and Technology on their outstanding achievement!
This June, Lorax had decided to participate in the 30×30 Nature Challenge. The 30×30 Nature Challenge was originated by the Wisconsin Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council to encourage people to live healthier lives, however, we were challenged by the Maryland Chapter of the USGBC to participate and drive each other to get outside! And we are hitting the ground running!
The challenge is to spend 30 minutes in nature, each day, for 30 days in June. The 30×30 Nature Challenge starts today, June 1st!
We thought that the challenge would be a good excuse to soak up the sun and the nice weather in June, but it turns out there are so many more benefits to being outside than just getting a tan!
We learned that average Americans spend more than 90% of their time indoors and more than 6 hours per day in front of screens. This mass indoor epidemic has caused many symptoms both personal and professional, including stress, obesity, heart disease, asthma, depression, reduced productivity, lower job satisfaction, and higher rates of absenteeism. But how do we undo these ailments? The answer is simple: get outside! We have learned that just being outside has a whole range of benefits.
Did you know:
- Nature breaks and green time reduces stress.
- One hour in nature can boost attention span by 20%
- Four days away from electronic devices can increase creativity by 50%
- Just two minutes in nature can reduce stress, muscle tension, and blood pressure.
- One hour in nature can improve memory and attention span by 20%.
- More than two days in nature can boost cancer fighting white blood cells by 50%
- Gardening reduces the stress hormone cortisol.
How do we plan to meet the challenge?
The 30×30 Nature Challenge is a great opportunity to examine your daily routine- some people may find they’re getting 30 minutes of outdoor activity each day without realizing it, perhaps walking or biking to work, taking the dog out, gardening, or running errands. Others may use it as a chance to rethink their schedule, swapping an episode of the latest Netflix series for some quality time in the great outdoors. At Lorax, we have each developed a plan to achieve our goal!