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  • Wednesday, September 22, 2021 4:30 PM | Kim Pyszka (Administrator)

    The COVID-19 pandemic is just one of many threats that must be addressed by healthcare construction workers whether in hospitals or in long-term care, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Protection of workers, patients, staff, and the public during construction activity from minor repairs to new construction is of utmost concern. In addition to protection from COVID and other biological risks, workers need to be familiar with state-of-the-art best practices to reduce risks from disasters, fire equipment and systems, utility services, noise, vibration, odors, delivery/handling/storage of supplies and materials, waste management, and ventilation.

    To help mitigate the risks of healthcare construction, renovation, demolition, maintenance and repair, The Joint Commission, the organization that accredits over 22,000 U.S. healthcare organizations, requires a comprehensive protocol known as a Pre-construction Risk Assessment (PCRA). An Infection Control Risk Assessment (ICRA), which is part of the PCRA process, is also required by The Joint Commission. Accredited healthcare organizations are required to develop a PCRA for all planned and unplanned healthcare construction from minor repairs to major construction.

    Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, in "Environment of Care News", a publication of The Joint Commission, five authors advocated for more stringent requirements for PCRA/ICRA. The authors called for all construction personnel participating in pre-construction, maintenance, and construction activities on healthcare facilities to demonstrate their competence by possessing an ANSI/ASTM-accredited PCRA/ICRA credential.

    To evaluate the impact of this credential nationally, the University of Nevada, Reno, Public Health Training Center was commissioned by the Nevada Office of Minority Health and Equity to pilot a workforce development project. Since currently Green Advantage, a non-profit organization, offers the nation’s only ANSI/ASTM-accredited Pre-construction Risk Assessment/Infection Control Risk Assessment (PCRA/ICRA) Certificate Program, project participants were solicited from those trained in the Green Advantage program. Below are excerpts from the evaluation’s conclusion:

    The Green Advantage PCRA/ICRA certificate training is a successful program in improving the knowledge of PCRA/ICRA best practices. ….. Construction industry workers who were enrolled in the program were surveyed and assessed to demonstrate their pre-certificate and post-certificate confidence and knowledge while working in health care construction, as well as the readiness to protect themselves and others from increased risks and infection exposures. The survey results demonstrated that this knowledge and readiness improved among participants in the PCRA/ICRA certificate program ….. Based upon the survey analysis, it is advised that the Nevada Office of Minority Health and Equity put forth policy guidance on PCRA/ICRA certification for health care construction industry workers.

    Public protection remains paramount in healthcare construction. In particular, the frequency and intensity of risks from infectious disease and disaster are on the rise and must be continually addressed. ANSI-accredited personnel credentialing offers an important tool to ensure that construction workers are trained and have successfully demonstrated their competencies to reduce these risks.

    Green Advantage is the only organization that offers a PCRA/ICRA Certificate Program that meets these requirements. Note: The PCRA/ICRA Certificate Program has been approved by GBCI for 12 CE Hours.

    The PCRA/ICRA Certificate Program prepares construction personnel to address the serious risks posed by healthcare construction. Learning objectives include:

    •    understanding the need for PCRA/ICRA
    •    knowledge about key concepts related to      infection control during construction
    •    recognition of the pathogen transmission factors related to construction processes
    •    awareness of the unique construction challenges represented by the hospital environment
    •    familiarity with the regulatory context for healthcare facility construction
    •    application of PCRA to healthcare facility construction activity
    •    cognizance of the details of the PCRA process
    •    awareness of construction impacts on building systems
    •    familiarity with PCRA procedures
    •    familiarity with Interim Life Safety Measures
    •    knowledge  of approaches and best practices to ensure health & safety during healthcare facility construction

  • Wednesday, September 08, 2021 8:30 AM | Kim Pyszka (Administrator)

    As the summer moves to fall our chapter visited the William Boyce Thompson Field House at Phillips Exeter Academy. The building won our 2019 Building of the Year Award by reaching LEED Silver.

    It was very important to the school that the original gym be remembered in the new building. They were able to save an original piece of stone that rests above a narrative sharing who William Boyce Thompson was. In addition, in a room on the second floor there is reclaimed flooring from the original Thompson gym.

    There is a parking garage below the gym that gives the school 100+ more parking spaces than it had with the old gym. Currently, the EV chargers are free to anyone who uses them. The rain garden located right outside the main entry allows runoff rainwater a place to go without flooding the campus or nearby sports fields.

    Walking up to the building one would have no idea that 1,552 solar panels are on the roof. Surprisingly this is a concern for the school, they have plans to do student tours of the building since the students have no idea that the building can produce most of its own electricity. The solar panels on the roof provided enough electricity for 80% of the building in 2019 and in 2020 they provided 135% of the building’s energy. The school has their own substation, so energy was distributed to neighboring buildings.

    The main part of the gym does not have any air conditioning instead there are large fans that circulate the air depending on the air temperature at the floor and at the ceiling.

    Be sure to check out our Facebook and Instagram accounts to see photos.

    We look forward to seeing you on our next tour!

  • 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

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