Sustainability stalwarts merge

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Though visitors to 100 Terrace St. in Roxbury could be forgiven for not knowing that the Building Materials Resource Center and the Boston Building Materials Co-op are different entities, the two soon will be one and the same, under the name Boston Building Resources.

“We are making this change to make it easier to explain who we are and what we do,” said Matthew St. Onge, Boston Building Resources executive director. “The public has often seen us as a single organization because our names were so similar, and because the work of both organizations often overlaps."

Building Energy 11

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As you know, I've shifted my focus from the part of sustainability that many think of as green to the part that addresses obesity and food addiction. But I still have great fondness and concern for those topics.

When I was actively pursuing them, I found no greater source, or concentration of information, than at the annual Building Energy show put on by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association.

Passive House 2

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Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Passivhaus Institut in Germany and co-originator of the Passive House concept, will be the featured speaker at a second annual gathering of Passive House building enthusiasts around Greater Boston.  

Paul Eldrenkamp, the Newton-based builder and building-efficiency leader who helped bring about the first gathering last year, said time, place, and registration fee have not been set, but the site will be near Boston, he says. The fee will pay for Feist's travel expenses.

Icon of design

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Congrats to Icon Architecture. It won awards for two of its affordable housing projects, Egleston Crossing in Roxbury and Maverick Landing in East Boston.

The latter is "Massachusetts’s first green, affordable multi-family housing development, adhering to “healthy homes” principles and achieving LEED certification. [It] is a model for projects funded through the Federal Housing and Urban Development HOPE VI program."

Superinsulation workshop

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I'm still catching up on events from the food-addiction summit over at, and tomorrow I'm leaving for another week away (I'll be blogging in a third place for that, and though I know it sounds beyond dorky, I can't say where). But I did want to get in this mention from Paul Eldrenkamp about an "insulation slam" that's being given by a handful of local contractors at 7:30 p.m. on May 14 at 3 Church St., Cambridge.

MIT and sustainability

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My grandfather, who didn't go to college but nevertheless started a business in 1929 that thrives today, had a sign on his desk that said, "don't ask me, I didn't go to Harvard."

Well, I didn't go to MIT and I'm pretty sure I never will, at least not above the level of conferences, museums, and Edgerton Alley, a portion of a classroom building hallway devoted to luminary Harold "Doc" Edgerton, inventor of the stroboscope and the "E" in EG&G, who has been an influence on me since I saw him in a Junior Explorers Club session at Boston's Museum of Science when I was 12 or so.

But I am learning from MIT nevertheless, and another such opportunity is coming up on April 24, a one-day conference on sustainability. I regret that I won't be able to attend, but you can, I'm envious of your opportunity.

State picks two zero net energy projects

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The state has decided to move ahead with two of the three zero net energy projects recommended last week by the Zero Net Energy Task Force.

I reported previously that the governor had asked for one such recommendation, and that the task force had recommended three, in Westborough, Danvers, and Lowell, so this step is both a doubling of the state's original commitment and short of the panel's recommendation. 

The Westborough project is the headquarters of the Department of Fish and Game's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. It is about 34,000 gross square feet.

LEED controversy

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Note: I wrote a follow-up to this post. It's here.

I mentioned NESEA’s public forum Tuesday night in advance of it, but haven’t been able to report on it until now. It was, depending on your outlook, a spirited discussion, a rant, or a mugging.

The topic was Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, the green-building rating system administered by the US Green Building Council. It is, without doubt, the winner thus far in the race to establish a nationwide standard for green building. Others exist, but there’s really only one in the public consciousness, which includes the actions by more than a dozen municipalities to incorporate LEED standards into building codes.

The question was, does it warrant its status? Judging from occasional hoots and shouts from the crowd of about 200, and a couple pointedly angry comments during the audience portion of the event, a good portion would have answered no.


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