Tag Archives: High Performance Buildings

Building Energy for Resiliency

Caitriona Cooke took some time out of her schedule to extol the benefits of better building design during an era riddled with more extreme weather patterns and to inform us of a great conference, Building Energy 2014, happening right around the corner in Boston.


Will you allow me a brief rant, if I share uplifting tales below? Here’s our problem: Mistakes are inevitable . . . but we have no excuses for repeated muck-ups. 

As complex systems within an even more complex system—the environment—building designs are prone to lots of mistakes. I find it hard to understand why so many professionals make the same mistakes repeatedly. Why this resistance to change? We have the information to avoid many of the mistakes that have proven so costly to our fellow citizens and the environment.

Resiliency “doesn’t just happen.”


A case in point: all the talk about reconstruction after superstorm Sandy. Rebuilding, in spite of evidence that both the frequency and intensity of storms is increasing— should at least make us consider whether it might be better to keep certain areas undeveloped. If we must rebuild, can’t we at least learn from our mistakes?

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NEEP Buildings Team Welcomes Two New Staffers

Darren PortDarren Port, Energy Codes Manager 

NEEP is pleased to welcome Darren Port, Energy Codes Manager, who joined the staff in January. Prior to joining NEEP, Darren worked as the Green Building Administrator for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Codes and Standards, where he provided technical assistance, analysis and policy recommendations related to green/high performance buildings, codes, program initiatives and legislation.

Nationally, Darren served as an appointed member on the International Green Construction Code (IgCC) 2012 edition Consensus Committee and is currently serving on the 2015 IgCC Consensus Committee as well as serving on the 2012-2014 ASHRAE Standard 189.1 membership committee, with a focus on updating Standard189.1 for the design of high-performance, green buildings. Darren also serves as a regional Ambassador for the Living Building Challenge, a project of the International Living Building Institute. His primary areas of work will include energy codes, building energy rating and multi-family. Darren can be reached at dport@neep.org. Welcome, Darren!

Brian BuckleyBrian Buckley, High Performance Buildings Associate

Also brand new to the team is Brian Buckley, High Performance Buildings Associate. In 2013, Brian graduated from the Vermont School of Law with his Juris Doctor, Master of Environmental Law & Policy, and Energy Law Certificate. He has passed the bar exams in New York and Massachusetts.

Brian has spent time working with the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG) and the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC). At VPIRG he supported implementation of Vermont’s Property Assessed Clean Energy program and Wind Works Campaign. At VEIC he helped plan for the launch of a public purpose energy services company subsidiary and offered analysis related to energy project finance, taxation, permitting, and regulation. Before launching into law and policy, Brian spent several years in the building trades.

Brian’s primary area of focus will be schools, public buildings and building energy rating with a specific focus on benchmarking publically owned facilities. Brian can be reached at bbuckely@neep.org. Welcome, Brian!

NE-CHPS Paves the Way Forward for Schools

When you think back to your days spent in school what do you remember?

Was it a favorite teacher? The countless trips to the vending machine between classes? A visceral rush of excitement after your crush unexpectedly sat next to you in biology?  I recently asked a colleague to recount her high school experience and received a surprising answer in return.

“My school was like a prison!”

Not because it was strict but because the architect who designed it also happened to design prisons.

Schools and prisons, go figure…

The school was dark with little natural light, had the ventilation of a prehistoric cave, the ceiling tiles were covered with stains and often had  overlooked, unusual growths – the list went on. If a student compares school to prison, that comparison should reflect the student’s displeasure for getting out of a cozy bed rather than the design of the school itself.

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New O&M Guide, Pushing Schools and Public Buildings to Higher Levels of Efficiency

NEEP’s Buildings Team is pleased to announce the release of the “Regional Operations & Maintenance Guide for High Performance Schools and Public Buildings in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic: Strategies for creating green, healthy & energy efficient existing buildings in your state or local government.” Navigate to the report, on NEEP.org, by opening the cover below.

Click Me!

Click Me!

The guide is an updated version of NEEP’s Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Operations and Maintenance Guide, which focuses on guidance for school buildings, to include strategies for all public buildings.

The Guide contains operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures that will help buildings reduce their operating costs, as well as lead to healthier indoor air, improved student and staff comfort, reduced water consumption, improved environmental stewardship, and overall improvements in the learning environment.

Carolyn Sarno, Senior Program Manager, High Performance Buildings

Carolyn Sarno, Senior Program Manager, High Performance Buildings

O&M procedures targeted at energy efficiency can save 5 to 20 percent on a building’s energy bills. These savings can total up to hundreds of thousands dollars annually, and many can be achieved at no to little cost.


NEEP’s Regional Leadership Group Advances Multi-Family Progress

Energy was high at NEEP’s Multi-Family Regional Leadership Group meeting, held February 27 in the “Civil Action” Court Room at EPA Region One’s Federal McCormack Building and via webinar. Stakeholders from Maine to Pennsylvania to Washington State came together to learn and share knowledge about multi-family energy efficiency opportunities and barriers. Speakers included Efficiency Maine Trust’s Rick Meinking, HR&A Advisor’s Candace Damon, and NYSERDA’s Mike Colgrove. It didn’t end there though.

Break-out sessions on Building Energy Rating, Market Barriers, and Funding and Financing encouraged discussion and brainstorming, which were shared with the rest of the 58 attendees. Dave Carey of Harcourt Brown & Carey Energy & Finance, for example, developed a great visualization that showed us what financing was available and to whom. MIT’s Alex Marks explained the benefits of building energy rating and disclosure, sharing the Peter Drucker quote, “things that are measured, are improved.”

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Boston’s New Building Energy Disclosure Law Boosts Property Portfolios

On February 22, the Boston Globe published an article on Boston’s new building energy disclosure ordinance. Here is NEEP’s response, submitted as a letter to the editor:

“We, at NEEP, were delighted to see the article regarding Mayor Menino’s proposed building energy reporting ordinance [Menino takes on Boston buildings' energy use, 2.22.2013] featured on the front page of the Globe. We couldn’t agree more with the mayor’s commitment to high performance buildings and building energy disclosure as a means to tackle aggressive energy and GHG reduction goals. This law is a huge win for everyone and will make Boston’s real estate portfolio even more attractive and lucrative to investors. Continue reading

Back to school in Massachusetts: Participate in a Green School Event Sept. 27 – Oct. 4

Wellesley High School. Photo: SMMA

Roll up those sleeves and join the Green Schools Committee of USGBC MA for one (or three!) Green Apple Service projects over the next two weeks. Tour a newly built high performance MA-CHPS school or join us at Boston Latin Academy for some green rejuvenation! Help our communities support healthy, sustainable schools by participating in these free events. Continue reading

Road trip to New Hampshire’s latest high performance school

NEEP and CHPS staff outside the entrance to Lebanon Middle School

NEEP’s Regional High Performance Schools Working Group hit the road this July to gather at the newly constructed Lebanon Middle School in New Hampshire for their annual in-person meeting.  Working group members got a sneak peak of the high performance school, which was designed to the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools (NE-CHPS) protocol. The grand opening of the middle school is scheduled for August 25th. Continue reading

Building Energy Rating and Disclosure picks up steam in government and corporate policies, Boston announces policy

Join the conversation in Stamford, CT on June 13th, 2012 at the NEEP Summit 

Building energy rating and disclosure policies are gaining steam as a mechanism to drive the market for energy efficient buildings and to reduce impact on the environment. Like food labels or miles-per-gallon ratings on cars, building energy rating and disclosure makes energy use transparent so that buyers, sellers, and renters know what they’re getting. When we know how much energy buildings consume, we’ll start to place more value on ones with efficient systems and lower energy costs, like we would cars that get lower gas mileage.  If we get a “low” rating on our home or building, we’re more likely to take action to make it more efficient, which could drive the retrofit industry, create jobs, and change occupant behavior for the better. Continue reading

Roadmap to Zero Net Energy report now available, calls on the public sector to lead the charge

Developed by Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships and informed by stakeholders from around the region, the “Roadmap to Zero Net Energy Pubic Buildings” presents 5 steps states and municipalities can do now to make zero net energy public buildings (ZNEBs) a reality across the region within 15 years.

Mass Gov. Deval Patrick at this May's dedication of the John Olver Transit Center in Greenfield, Ma - the country's first zero-net transit facility.

These critical steps are:

  • Develop a Path to Highest Performance of Exemplary Public Buildings – A comprehensive public campaign is needed to convey a consistent message to the broadest public audience.
  • Promote the Continued Development of Exemplary Public Buildings – States should continue to construct ZNE buildings each year.
  • Prioritize Measurement and Reporting of Public Building Energy Performance – The region needs to establish a standardized system for measuring and reporting building energy performance.
  • Implement Stretch Building Energy Codes – States should establish a performance –based stretch energy code for public buildings.
  • Create a Mechanism to Provide Capital for Energy Investments – Lack of capital funding is probably the single most important financial barrier to greater investment in efficiency and renewable energy.

The roadmap calls on the public sector to lead the charge toward ZNEB specifically because of its unique longer investment horizon outlook.  ZNE investments provide the greatest opportunity for immediate action with the added benefit of substantial long term energy and costs savings. As the market for higher performance buildings matures, the public sector can serve as an incubator for new technologies and alternative design and construction prices.

For additional resources on zero net energy public buildings, click here.