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  • 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.


  • Wednesday, August 14, 2019 3:17 PM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)

    Today, there are so many green building standards to choose from, including CHIPS, LEED, Passivhaus, Energy Star, Living Building Challenge, … too many to even try to list them all. So, what’s the right standard for your building? Well, that depends on what story you want your building to tell. Let’s take a look at a couple examples.

    • ·         Do you want to cut down on your energy bills? Well, the EPA’s Energy Star and Watersense programs are a great place to start. Get appliances with these labels, and you’re already doing better than most. Check for “Most Efficient” to get the really good stuff. But why stop there?
    • ·         If you want to go really low-energy, then Passivhaus is the way to go. When you get this efficient, you can downsize the equipment you get, and potentially start realizing savings immediately. You can even use Passivhaus as a way to make your building “net-zero ready”.
    • ·         If you add solar panels to that roof, and succeed in producing as much energy as you use, the DOE’s Net Zero, Living Building Institute’s Zero Energy, or LEED’s Net Zero programs would all be great fits for your project.

    Thanks to energy models and accurate data, designers can easily make a compelling economic case for high-performance buildings. Building owners are savvy to this, and are mandating these standards (if not always for environmental stewardship, then at least for their pocketbooks!). For those that remain unconvinced, building codes are requiring more and more efficient buildings as a baseline. In fact, NH’s energy code will be updated next month. This is all encouraging news, and I hope this emboldens designers and building owners alike to create high-performance buildings. 

    So, what’s next? Are we done? No way! LEED consists of 57 possible credits. Most of these have nothing to do with what we’ve talked about so far. In fact, if you remove all the credits that have to do with water and energy efficiency, it’s still possible to get LEED Platinum certification. Don’t believe me? Here’s a theoretical scorecard for you! So, there’s a lot left to explore, and the next step is convincing building owners there’s money in all these other credits. It’s easier than you think!

    For example, let’s focus on the Indoor Environmental Quality credits. You can use daylighting, acoustic isolation, low-emitting materials, indoor air quality, ergonomics, and thermal comfort to boost productivity in measurable ways. All told, you can expect a 16% productivity gain in green workplaces vs. non-green workplaces. As new research about these gains comes to the fore, it becomes easier to quantify these previously “soft” decisions, converting them to “hard” ones. As you business owners know, employee costs increasingly dwarf operating costs. So, expand your focus to include wellness – or be left in the dust.


    See you in the field,

    Doug Shilo, LEED AP BD+C, AIA

    USGBC NH Chapter Co-chair

  • Friday, May 10, 2019 10:53 AM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)

    On Friday, April 5th, our chapter had the unique opportunity to tour the inner workings of the LEED Silver-certified Hillsborough County Superior Court North. John Harper, from Lavallee Brensinger Architects, led the tour. Sarah Lineberry and Steven Lorentzen, from the State of NH, lended us their client perspective.

    Reuse was theme of the day. The entire project takes the best of the old, while updating for contemporary standards.

    A revitalized entrance conveys transparency while maintaining secure sight lines for the public areas. The existing cladding, a beautiful granite, was repurposed as a paving material for a new landscape design.


    The group learns about how to fit all the complex mechanical equipment necessary to run a modern courthouse into an old courthouse. It is not an easy task!


     The group learns about the State of New Hampshire's commitment to the arts, and how this resulted in beautiful hanging installations for the public areas.

  • Wednesday, April 17, 2019 6:08 PM | Kimberly McCarthy (Administrator)

    National Carbon Dividend Act Endorsement:

    Last month, the USGBC NH Board of Directors endorsed the National Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.  

    "The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763) will drive down America's carbon pollution and bring climate change under control, while unleashing American technology innovation and ingenuity. This policy was also introduced in the Senate in 2018 as S. 3791."

    If you would like to personally endorse the bill, please visit The Citizen's Climate Lobby website.

  • Wednesday, April 03, 2019 7:44 AM | Deleted user

    84% of New Hampshire is forested. Every few years, we trade places with Maine for most woody biomass in the U.S. These trees are everywhere, and they define our everyday lives.

    Every fall, leaf peepers descend on the White Mountains to witness the multi-colored foliage of Red Maples and Paper Birches. As winter draws to a close, you may be burning the last of your White Ash or Red Oak in that wood stove. If you have a stand of Sugar Maple, you might be in your shack boiling down sap to welcome spring. When summer hits, we will be building houses with Fir and Pine.

    This is all very nostalgic (for me, at least), but our current experiences have not always been. For a bit more perspective, let’s take a step back in time.

    Near my home in Concord, you can walk through the Mast Yard, so named because the 2-3 foot diameter trees growing there were reserved for “His Majesty’s Royal Ships” back in 1800.  None of these dense, old growth monoliths remain, nor would we have much use for them.

    On countless other trails, one may encounter mysterious rock walls weaving through the forest, marking the property lines of ghost farms that lie in ruins. By current appearances, one might think these farms are ancient, but virtually the entire state of NH was clear-cut for farming not so long ago. Maybe it was the rocky soil, maybe it was the promise of cheap land out west, or maybe it was a particularly bad growing season. Whatever it was, many farmers abandoned their lots, and mature forests stand in their place.

    More recently, entire towns were founded around the pulp and paper industry in the North Country. As paper demand decreases in the age of the Internet, many of these towns are not quite sure what to do. Like our forests, our use of wood is in a constant state of change.

    Maybe we can learn from these forests. In them, the species are diverse, lending resilience in the face of blight, drought, and fire. Likewise, expanding our portfolio of wood products can provide a buffer to unpredictable markets.

    So, what else can we make with wood? Well, it’s a mystery to me why we don’t make more engineered wood products such as PSLs, LVLs, or Glulams in state.

    We could make exterior rigid insulation out of wood fiber like the Germans currently do (also our friends in Maine soon).

    Why not fire up those paper plants in the North Country and start making composite counters?  Check out Richlite and Paperstone.

    Instead of importing Western Red Cedar or Teak for exterior use, why not heat treat native trees right here?  Cambia creates thermally modified wood right here in New Hampshire.

    Of course, there’s always the wood stove, but that’s not healthy, safe, or creative. We can do better.

    See you in the field,

    Doug Shilo, LEED AP BD+C

    USGBC NH Chapter Co-chair

  • Monday, March 11, 2019 8:59 PM | Deleted user

    LEED V4 came out 6 years ago, but it was only required starting late 2016. So, what have we learned these past couple years? What do we have to look forward to? I’ve had the opportunity to be the LEED administrator for a couple new construction projects pursuing LEED Gold in V4 recently, and have the following to report:

    1.    There are no more gimme credits. You all know the ones I’m talking about. “Install a bike rack next to a freeway, get a credit”. “Find a LEED AP somewhere on the project, get a credit”. Well, the USGBC heard all the jokes... Now, bike racks require connections to bikeable paths. The LEED Accredited Professional credit now requires a critical role on the project and appropriate specialization. Sorry, legacy AP’s!

    2.    The easy credits have been consolidated into tougher credits. Stormwater Design credits combined to one. Heat Island Reduction credits combined to one. Reuse credits combined into one. Recycled Content, Rapidly Renewable Materials, and Certified Wood credits combined into one. Construction IAQ credits combined into one. Low Emitting Materials credits combined into one. Thermal Comfort credits combined into one. Outdoor Air Delivery Monitoring, Increased Ventilation, and Indoor Chemical and Pollutant Source Control credits combined into one. These changes have made every single one of these credits more meaningful, comprehensive, and streamlined. It also means you need to basically earn all the combined credits to get one. Where’d all my points go!?

    3.    Out with the old. Innovative wastewater technologies is nowhere to be found. If you’re going that far, you may want to check out the Living Building Challenge. Regional Materials is now just a multiplier for the Sourcing of Raw Materials credit.

    4.    In with the new. Integrative Project Planning credit rewards teams for early sustainability planning. Site Assessment credit rewards teams for a thorough analysis. Building-Level Energy and Water Metering now required, with reporting for 5 years (extra credits for sub-meters). Outdoor Water Use Reduction rewards projects for reducing irrigation. Cooling Tower Water Use rewards projects for efficient design. Demand Response rewards projects for participation in load-shedding programs. A Construction Waste Management Plan is now required. Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction rewards projects for completing a Whole-Building Life-Cycle Assessment. Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Material Ingredients (HPDs) reward projects for using products with a life-cycle analysis.

    It still stings to remember how easy the 2009 version of LEED was when doing some of this documentation. However, LEED is best viewed as a working, evolving set of guidelines. As markets adapt to these changes, new versions will challenge us to push the envelope further. With the proliferation of EPDs and HPDs in the marketplace, whole-building LCA models will soon become as common as energy models. Sub-meters and participation in demand response programs may soon be a requirement to “shave peaks” and reduce infrastructure costs. Flush-outs will become obsolete as we shift to using all low-emitting materials. These changes might not be as flashy as planting a green roof, but they might change the entire economy into one that’s a little closer to where we need to be. As the IPCC reminds us in their latest report, we have a lot of work to do. More than ever, we know how to get there.

    See you in the field,

    Doug Shilo, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C

    USGBC NH Chapter Co-chair

  • Saturday, January 05, 2019 5:41 PM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)

    To wrap up our year, we met at the Manchester Millyard Museum, a fascinating throw back into a time when water ran miles of textile factories! Hard to believe, but true! Once we caught up for a bit and everyone settled down, it was time to announce who has been the most sustainable this year:


    And our building of the year award goes to...

    River House      and      Hillsborough County Courthouse


    Both projects got LEED Silver this year, with 52 points. They were very different projects, but both leveraged re-use of existing buildings.  


    Also, we donated a bunch of winter gear to the Salvation Army. Great job to those who donated!


  • Wednesday, July 25, 2018 12:00 PM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)

    In 2017, The USGBC NH Chapter presented their “Building of the Year” award to the New Hampshire project with the highest LEED rating, The Unity Home. This project achieved Gold certification, the only project in New Hampshire to do so last year. Because this is a pre-fabricated building, and the sites are unknown, many site-related LEED credits were not possible, which means the building design and construction were all the more impressive. What made this unique, repeatable project possible was the factory in which it was made, so we were all very eager to tour this impressive facility.

    Special thanks to Hans, our tour guide! Check for pictures here!

  • Saturday, February 17, 2018 9:13 AM | Douglas Shilo (Administrator)

    We had a great turnout for the Annual Chapter Meeting at the Centennial Inn! Our esteemed president, Jeff Myrdek, gave a state of our chapter address, we presenting Building of the Year to Unity Homes, and made about $500 in donations to the Friendly Kitchen of Concord. 

     If you were one of those who came out, find yourself here!

    Great to see you all!


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