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  • Sunday, June 13, 2021 7:28 PM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)

    We emit too much carbon. As I write this, the greatest nations in the world are addressing this issue by launching the G7 Industrial Decarbonization Agenda, committing to emission reductions in all sectors: power, transportation, agriculture, and building. The building sector represents 39% of these emissions. This number will only go up, with the building stock slated to double by 2060. To mitigate our carbon the way we need to, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has recommended incremental steps toward carbon neutral buildings by 2030. This is usually accomplished in two steps: reducing operational carbon as much as practical, and producing enough renewable energy to take the remainder off fossil fuels.

    Let’s start with Operational Carbon, which is what it takes to run a building. For every gallon of gasoline, kWh of electricity, or therm of natural gas used, there is an equivalent amount of carbon. Convert each of your energy bills to carbon, add that carbon up, and you have your operational carbon. A great way to reduce this number is to follow Passive House principles. By utilizing lots of insulation, airtight construction, and high-efficiency equipment; buildings of all types are able to drastically reduce their energy use, and therefore the carbon emitted. This is the most important and cost-effective step.

    Then, you make sure the remaining energy used is not sourced from fossil fuels. Sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, or biomass are all considered carbon neutral. The simplest solution (for the building sector) would be if the grid was 100% renewable, but that may not happen anytime soon, so most of us have to look at production on site for the moment. If you followed passive principles, then you likely just need to add solar panels to the roof to make up for the small amount of energy your project uses. If you don't have a renewable grid and cannot install renewables on site, you can install on another site you own, join forces with your neighbors, or buy Renewable Energy Credits (REC's). Some projects have a tougher time meeting this threshold than others, but the idea is to have enough carbon-neutral production to make up the difference. Homeowners, businesses, and even entire downtown districts in major cities are making the carbon neutral commitment. This is all very encouraging, but it's only half the picture.

    Embodied carbon is what it takes to build a building, which may be as much as all the operating costs over the life of a building combined. Every wood stud, nail, brick, bag of concrete, and roofing shingle used on a project is extracted, manufactured, transported to the site, installed, maintained, and eventually replaced. The amount of carbon embodied in all that is assessed by a third party in what’s called an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). Multiply each EPD by the amount of each product used, do this for each product, add it all up, and you have the project’s embodied carbon. We like to use a program called Tally in our office, which is connected to a reliable database of EPD’s and takes material volumes right off our virtual design models. Once you know your projects embodied carbon, you can use this materials palette to learn how to reduce it. You'll see familiar "soft" concepts have quantifiable advantages in your model: salvaging and reusing materials, using more wood, using less cement, using less XPS, using less PVC - it all suddenly makes a visible difference in a forehead-smacking proof-of-concept. The USGBC helped bring these calculations into the mainstream with the inclusion of a “Whole-Building Life-Cycle Assessment” as a credit option in LEED V4. With the characteristic rigor and reward a LEED credit brings, demand for this service is sure to follow.

    If the project owns enough renewable energy to make up for both operational and embodied carbon - that is a true zero-carbon building. The AIA has set incremental thresholds towards carbon neutrality for us to follow, and a standardized reporting mechanism so we can share successful strategies along the way. We have a long way to go, but the path is clear, the demand is mounting, and we have all the tools we need to get the job done.

    See you in the field,

    Doug Shilo, USGBC NH Chapter Chair

  • Friday, February 05, 2021 9:00 AM | Kim Pyszka (Administrator)

    On Monday, January 25th, Granite State ASHRAE held a webinar about solar energy in New Hampshire with Madeleine Mineau, the Executive Director of Clean Energy NH. Madeleine dove right into Clean Energy NH’s mission and advocacy for the state, stating that solar is one of the fastest growing renewable energies, yet New Hampshire has the lowest numbers in New England. Maine is undergoing a solar energy boom due to policy change and is expected to grow solar significantly over the next few years while New Hampshire grows at a moderate rate.

    Despite New Hampshire being last in New England for solar energy, the state created $3 million in CO2 benefits in 2019, removing the equivalent of 6,000 cars from roadways. From 2014 to 2019 New Hampshire saved $83 million from solar. New Hampshire is working for a more solar future but not at the same rate as neighboring states. Massachusetts, clearly a leader in solar energy saved $513 million from solar from 2014 to 2019.

    Mineau stated that New Hampshire set a goal to be 25% renewable by 2025. The ISO New England, the grid operator for the entire New England grid, is projecting that New Hampshire will have 19.3 MW of annual total solar for 2021. Mineau mentioned there is very low operational costs for solar compared to other types of renewables.

    Wrapping up the webinar Mineau went beyond the solar discussion to mention the opportunities ongoing in the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) which is undergoing development for 2021 to 2023 and more opportunities for heat pump conversions through rebates. Clean Energy NH is working to improve overall energy savings.

    Check out Granite State ASHRAE's website. 

    Check out Clean Energy NH's website. 

  • Saturday, December 05, 2020 1:13 PM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)

    What a year it has been! We had virtual chapter meetings, virtual educational opportunities, and, well, are you sensing a pattern? Our distance didn't stop us from having some fun last Thursday evening for our Annual Chapter Meeting!

    After some catching up, James Scott Brew joined us from Japan, and he taught us all about the real value of sustainability, the people factor. Fun fact: it was the next morning in Japan, so we were basically time traveling. 

    I then talked about the recent Chapter happenings, including our partnership with Green Advantage, our letter to Governor Sununu, and virtual educational opportunities on our calendar. Despite everything, our Chapter has been busy! Then came the introduction of our board members. Please reach out to any one of us in the coming year if you'd like to get something on the Chapter Agenda!

    Then, we presented the USGBC NH Chapter Building of the Year Award to the the NHRANG Hooksett Field Maintenance Shop. This exemplary project earned 58 LEED points (including all available energy efficiency points!) and negotiated a difficult site sustainably to achieve LEED Silver Certification. Joseph Campbell accepted the award on behalf of the project team (really enjoy the Star Wars collection in your background, Joseph!). Congratulations to North Branch Construction, the New Hampshire Army National Guard, and Smith Alvarez Sienkiewycz ArchitectsKeep an eye out for a tour (whenever we do that sort of thing again)! 

    Finally, we'd like to talk a little about our beneficiary, the Capitol Center for the Arts, which we raised $260 for with our raffle drawing! If you haven't already, please take a look at their This is Only Intermission campaign. Our very own Kim Pyzka presented the "Covid-19 Gift Basket" (we gotta come up with a better name...) raffle prize, and the winner was none other than John Pietroniro! Congratulations, John!

    And to all our members, stay warm this winter! Until next year, this is your chair, signing off.


  • Wednesday, November 25, 2020 10:15 AM | Kim Pyszka (Administrator)

    This year’s Greenbuild was expected to be in San Diego however it was held virtually, due to the covid-19 pandemic. There were live virtual educations sessions and a virtual expos hall. These covered topics such as electrifying all buildings, embodied carbon in building operations and providing more transparency in construction materials. On-demand sessions will be available for those who need to catch up on continuing education hours for the next 30 days.

    On Day One, there was an informative Opening Keynote from Christiana Figueres and Mahesh Ramanujam. They spoke to attendees through the virtual format about LEED positive buildings by 2050, limiting competition between rating systems and the new USGBC ALL IN equality strategy. Christiana Figueres spoke about how the decade of 2020 will be the most important decade for humanity regarding the environment. She begged the question - do we reach our green goals by 2030? The future is always under construction and humanity must build it appropriately.

    Day Two’s Keynote starred three female designers, Julia Watson, Kotchakorn Voraakhom, and Catherine Huang. These women embrace the concept of a sustainable future using successes from the past. After each designer spoke about their inspirations, they held a round table discussion between the women about what how many new technologies and developments have shifted our symbiosis with nature. 

    To wrap up the conference, at the Leadership Ceremony, awards were given out the project teams and individuals that deserved them the most in an hour-long ceremony that was very well done.

    Overall Greenbuild keeps pushing us to make the planet a greener place for future generations by bringing together the latest education and industry. It is up to the green building professionals around the world to continue a green mission.

  • Thursday, October 08, 2020 3:45 PM | Kim Pyszka (Administrator)

    Check out our board member's Work From Home desks!


  • Tuesday, October 06, 2020 2:57 PM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)

    A sustainable building is not only about energy use and occupant health. It's about resiliency. Buildings should be able to withstand what is thrown their way. Here in NH, it's snow. In California, it's earthquakes. On the coast, it's rising sea levels. In 2020, COVID-19 has exposed vulnerabilities and shortcomings.

    As is always the case after disaster, it's time to improve. Fortunately, we know how, and we reached out to Governor Sununu last month to offer advice. There has been no word back yet.

    USGBC NH Chapter - COVID 19 Suggestions.pdf

    ECN_November_ 2019.pdf


  • Tuesday, October 06, 2020 2:19 PM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)


    The first half of this year has been a roller coaster. We started with a bang - a full line-up of tours in the most sustainable buildings in NH, a partnership with Green Advantage, and much more. This all went on hold as our collective focus turned to a pandemic. 

    As we gathered (virtually) to share our experiences this summer, there was a common thread: we miss each other. We miss having shared experiences, seeing great buildings, meeting informally to see where a discussion takes us. Education, jobs, mentorships, and friendships are all taking a huge hit. The best internet connection in the world cannot replace what we are missing.

    With the outside world closed, our chapter has looked to see what else we can offer. We can still video conference with chapter members, as we did for our summer social! We can work with other organizations to provide virtual education opportunities, as you see on our calendar! We can also advocate, as we in our letter to Governor Sununu this year!

    So, keep your head up. Take a look at yourself in that webcam mirror and ask what you can still do. Sign up for that next activity and get out there, even if it is virtually. You are still making a difference, and we would love to hear about it. So, send an e-mail my way if your have something to say.

    Miss you all,

    Doug Shilo, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

    Your USGBC NH Chapter Chair

  • Monday, March 09, 2020 10:35 PM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)

    This year, we celebrated our chapter's 10th anniversary at the new Bank of NH Stage in Concord!

    It is a beautiful venue, and we were happy to announce our event with a proper downtown marquee! We were even more excited to see such an exemplary urban revitalization project by Milestone Engineering. 

    Chapter members and curious passers-by trickled in to network with some food from the Coop and local brews on tap.

    After everyone settled down, we took a couple trips down memory lane. First, I took us back to a couple of our favorite tours from the past year.

    John Pietroniro, our chapter's esteemed chair alumnus and current historian, took us through a history of our chapter. What a trip it has been.

    Then, it was award time!

    This year, we are thrilled to give our "Building of the Year" Award to the William Boyce Thompson Field House. This extraordinary facility not only showcases Philips Exeter Academy's athletic program in quality daylighting (though it does do that quite well). It also halves its impervious surfaces by stacking the track and fields on top of parking. The remaining impervious surface, the roof, is completely covered in solar panels. Peter Reiss, Architect at ARC, spoke to these sustainable features and more, showing our state what we hadn't seen before in a field house. Keep an eye out for a tour this summer!

    To cap off the night, Sam Evans-Brown, host of NHPR's Outside-In, regaled us with Possible Energy Futures. In a whirlwind presentation inspired by experiments around the globe, we had wake-up calls, reality checks, and a call for all hands on deck as we head towards our carbon-neutral goal.

    As I recall this year's 10th anniversary, I also recall the Paris climate accords, which say we have 10 years left to get to carbon neutrality. Never has our mission been more urgent, and never have I been more inspired. It will take everyone: visionaries like Sam, designers like Peter, builders like Milestone, and organizations like Philips Exeter Academy.

    I can't wait to see what you come up with this year,

    Doug Shilo, USGBC NH Chapter Chair

  • Tuesday, December 03, 2019 9:55 AM | Deleted user

    The USGBCNH group was having a discussion on ventilation systems recently, and we thought it would be a good topic to share here. 

    Now that winter is almost here and everyone's windows are staying shut for the next 4-6 months, the question about indoor air quality becomes a lot more relevant.  We all know how important mechanical ventilation is for our health and for the health of our buildings, but in the building industry it is still a relatively foreign concept. 

    This is especially true in single family residential design, where the building code is behind where it should be on ventilation requirements.  Homes are now being built pretty air tight thanks to building code improvements, but an air tight home isn't a great solution for the occupant if no fresh air is getting inside. 

    A poorly ventilated home leads to high humidity and mold growth, lack of oxygen, and toxins from materials and household products being trapped in the home.

    So what do we do about it?! 

    I think we are all in agreement that providing balanced ventilation systems is the way to go.  We want to bring fresh air inside the building at the same rate that we exhaust stale air.  But that doesn't go far enough to answer the question.

    There are still plenty of options for providing a balanced ventilation system in a home.  I'm in the process of designing a residential art studio with one main room and a small bathroom, and I had the question, 'What's the best way to ventilate this space?'

    ERVs and HRVs

    We know that using an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) or a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) is a good solution because these units recover heat (and moisture if using an ERV) from the conditioned air to help temper fresh, cold outdoor air before being released in the home.  This helps reduce energy burdens.  

    But now we need to decide if we're using an HRV or an ERV!  In our cold climate, an ERV needs to turn off intermittently so that frost doesn't build up on the unit.  Is this the best approach?  An ERV helps keep some humidity inside the home that our cold, dry winter air doesn't bring in.  Is that benefit worth mitigating the frost issues?  

    Ducted vs Non-Ducted

    And then, as in the case of my small art studio, we need to decide if the fresh air should be ducted through the whole space or if a single distribution system such as the Panasonic WhisperComfort would make more sense.  I asked this question to the group, and it turns out that this type of system doesn't function when it's very cold out.  The Panasonic unit turns off completely when outdoor air dips below 20 degrees F.  

    For a home, a ducted system seems to be the best approach so that fresh air is getting into every bedroom, but is there a method that works well for a large open space (such as a studio apartment over a garage) that doesn't require ducting?

    After some discussion with the energy experts in the group, it looks like the art studio is going to go with a ducted ERV so we can retain some moisture in the winter and distribute fresh air easily throughout the space.  Is this the best method?

    What Would You Do?

    What is your approach for residential mechanical ventilation?  Let us know in the comments below.

  • Wednesday, August 14, 2019 3:34 PM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)

    Awards Tour, Part II

    River House, Hanover


    The Architect, USGBC NH Chapter Member Sloane Mayor, led the tour by starting outside. There, we took in the beautiful River and surrounding wetlands, a serene environment demanding protection.

    Unapologetically modern and durable, but modest, materials are used here: galvalume for the standing seam roof, cement fiberboard for the siding. The overall building has been intentionally de-emphasized through simple colors and details, keeping the focus on the beautiful landscape. You may notice one of our members busily tracking the ethereal qualities of the site (light, wind, air quality, I'm sure much more as well - make sure to ask her about it at the next meeting!).

    One of the pieces of testing equipment. This one looks like it's measuring air speed.

    Another piece of testing equipment. I was told, but still do not understand, quite what this does.

     LED "pucks" light up the owner's beautiful artwork and custom furniture. Everything inside seems to be a sustainable product, from the wood to the counters to the paint.

    Yes, the all-important HRV (or ERV?). Crucial in a tight, high-performance house like this to ensure fresh air without a big hit to energy efficiency.

     Even the basement was given special consideration. The finishes and great natural light almost fooled me into thinking we were on the first level.

     With 52 LEED points, and a shared award for last year's most sustainable building, this residence stands out as a success story in NH, making us all think a little harder about how we build our homes. 

    Thanks to both Owner and Architect for the inspiration. I hope many follow suite.


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