2018 Groundbreaker Awards

Wed, 9/26/2018 - 6:00pm - 9:30pm

National Museum of American Jewish History

See highlights from the event on on our blog!

Event Summary

Thank you to everyone who joined us with industry leaders and advocates on Wednesday, September 26th to celebrate green building leadership, commitment, innovation, and impact in the greater Philadelphia region!  Congratulations to our Community Awardee and Project Winners (see bottom of page for descriptions)! 


Special Announcement

Attendees heard from PennDesign's Dr. William W. Braham, Director of MSD Environmental Building Design and Center for Environmental Building & Design about exciting PennDesign news in partnership with Green Building United.

Honoring the life and work of Muscoe Martin, Green Building United and PennDesign are creating the Muscoe Martin Green Building Fellowship for a student in the Environmental Building Design (MSD-EBD) program. The Fellowship preserves Muscoe Martin’s legacy by providing for the pursuit of research and projects that advance green building and sustainable design.

Muscoe was a founding board member of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council (now Green Building United), Chair of the AIA Committee-On-The-Environment (COTE), a member of the USGBC Board and Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, and a long-time LEED faculty member. Muscoe taught at Penn for nearly 20 years where he helped establish the programs in Ecological Architecture and Environmental Building Design.

The Muscoe Martin Green Building Fellowship will continue the work he began at Penn and in Philadelphia. The Fellowship will provide a student with funding for the final semester of study in the MSD-EBD program and the opportunity to pursue research and projects at Green Building United.  To honor Muscoe Martin’s legacy and make a gift to the Fellowship, please contact Ben Ginsberg at bgins@design.upenn.edu or 215-898-0469.

Top Page Photo Credit: Barry Halkin, Halkin Photography

Event Details


National Museum of American Jewish History, 101 South Independence Mall E, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Come enjoy the spacious venue that includes an outdoor terrace that overlooks Independence National Historic Park.


Date and Time:

Wed, 09/26/2018 - 6:00pm - 9:30pm

What to Expect:

The Groundbreaker Awards includes an open bar, passed hors d'oeurves, dinner and dessert.  The evening is for celebration and networking, and is not a formal sit-down dinner.  Attire is business casual, business or cocktail.

There will be a 30 - 45 minute program at 7:30pm to recognize Groundbreaker Award recipients.


Event Cost:

Green Building United Members: $125

Non-Members: $200 (Want to become a member? Join here!)


Online Registration Closed

Travel Logistics & Parking

If traveling by public transit, the venue is located within steps from the 5th Street Market El stop.

If traveling by car, the Bourse Parking Garage, accessible from 4th Street, immediately south of Ranstead St on the west side of the street, is offering discounted parking for our event.  Parking is $7 for the evening at the Bourse Garage.  Please pick up a discount sticker for your parking ticket when you register or when leaving the venue.


Enjoy this amazing Fall menu by 12th Street Catering.  They recently received recognition in the Philadelphia Magazine for their sustainability practices.

Hors D’oeuvres:

  • Domestic, Locally Sourced, & Imported Cheeses with fresh & dried fruits, fig jam, honeys, house made artisan crackers, flatbreads & crisps (V, GF)
  • Sweet Potato Cake with cranberry & pear chutney (V, GF)
  • Avocado Toast with ginger, radish, chia, & pink peppercorn dust (V)
  • Hot Smoked Salmon Bruschetta - Jugtown Smokehouse pastrami salmon on grilled bruschetta with maple mustard & dill cream cheese
  • Mini Beef Taco - Seasoned beef, oaxacan cheese, salsa & shredded lettuce (GF)
  • Kennett Square Wild Mushroom Ragout in gougere with chive garnish (Veg)



  • Citrus Arugula Salad – Beets, oranges, grapefruit & lemon maple vinaigrette, queso fresco & roasted pistachios on the side (V, GF)
  • Mushroom Crusted Chicken Breast  with port, leek, & fig compote (GF)
  • Shaved Brussel Sprouts with fennel, celery root, olive oil parsley & toasted walnuts, locatelli on the side (V, GF)
  • Savory Root Vegetable Skillet – confetti roasted root vegetables in ginger carrot sauce on bed of quinoa black barley pilaf, & light cornbread-sage crumble on the side (V, GF)
  • Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with olive oil & sea salt (V, GF)



  • Housemade Miniature Pomegranate Crullers with mulled cider shot glasses rimmed with sugar
  • Tangerine & Crème Fraiche Creamsicle Tart
  • Pumpkin Panna Cotta Dome on Homemade Gingersnap (V)
  • Individual Orange & Cranberry Streusel Cakes (V)


Vegan (V), Vegetarian (Veg), and Gluten Free (GF) have been considered throughout the menu.


Check out this year's program!

Awardees and Finalists

We are pleased to announce the Community Awardee as well as Project Finalists and Winners. Winners (noted below) were announced the night of the event - congratulations!! 

rail park 01

Community Awardee: The Rail Park

1300 Noble Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123

The Rail Park in Philadelphia is a $10.8 million project that has transformed a blighted section of the former Reading Railroad Viaduct into an elevated park with walking paths, landscaping, lighting, swinging benches, and expansive city views. The park is a much-needed green amenity to Center City’s northern edge and is the result of a successful collaboration between Center City District, the Friends of the Rail Park, the City of Philadelphia, SEPTA, Studio Bryan Hanes, Urban Engineers, A.P. Construction, and many others. The park’s design was chosen to reflect the neighborhood’s industrial roots and repurpose the historic elements of the rail structure wherever possible. A wide path through the park is edged with native canopy trees and plantings designed to provide air quality benefits and manage stormwater runoff. It is interspersed with a variety of public spaces, benches, wooden swings, and walkways. The Rail Park’s Phase 1 is a proof-of-concept that will be used to advance the next phase of the project.

barry 01

Project Winner: Barry Playground

1800 Bigler Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145

Barry Recreation building is a newly renovated 2700 square foot building located in the heart of South Philadelphia’s Girard Park neighborhood. The project transformed a small bunker like building at the eastern edge of the site into a high performance public amenity. The full building renovation sets a new example for sustainable city building renovations and cross departmental cooperation; exemplifying how a small urban building can contribute significantly to the neighborhood and its residents.  

The renovation created a day-lit, sustainable, and spatially efficient building that is well insulated, and finished with non-toxic materials and energy efficient systems throughout. The building and site are integrated with a full site storm water management system, and the building attained the City’s first LEED Gold building, setting the bar for future projects. 

the battery 01

Project Winner: The Battery

152 West Laurel St., Philadelphia, PA 19123

The Battery, a 25-unit apartment building in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia, is designed as a scalable and replicable prototype of dense, urban multifamily housing that responds to two pressing local and global issues: (1) The need for attainable housing with rents below gentrified market values, and (2) the need for buildings to zero-out their impact on global warming.

With its extensive green roof, use of geo-thermal heating, cooling, and hot water, super-insulated, pre-fabricated, thermal envelope with triple-pane windows, air-tight construction, and a 77 kW photovoltaic canopy on the roof designed to generate all the energy the building requires annually, The Battery is a PHIUS + Certified, net-zero-energy demonstration that high-performance and cost-effective, carbon-neutral buildings can become standard design and building practice.

bridge 01
Image Credit: Philly by Drone

Project Winner: Bridge

205 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Bridge is a thoughtfully appointed apartment building designed for modern living in Old City Philadelphia. One of Philadelphia's first high-rise LEED Gold residential buildings, Bridge offers 146 apartments with 10% affordable units. Amenities include spectacular city views, especially from the 8,000 SF green roof terrace. Bridge achieved LEED Gold certification in 2017 for its high level commitment to sustainable design. The team established the overall goal to reduce the consumption of energy, water, and natural resources, as well as promote the health and well-being of residents, visitors, and staff. The new building anticipates 22.9% energy cost savings through an innovative heating and cooling system called variable refrigerant flow technology. Other contributing energy efficiency strategies include a high-performance building envelope, LED lighting, and full-height windows for ample daylighting. The Building Owner provides ongoing sustainability education so residents can take advantage of the benefits in their LEED certified home.

aerzen 01

Project Finalist: Aerzen USA Headquarters 

108 Independence Way, Coatesville, PA 19320

Aerzen’s USA headquarters reflects a decades-long commitment to green building that reflective of their culture:

(1) Embrace of lean manufacturing principles which seek to reduce waste and increase productivity.

(2) Focus on continual improvement throughout all levels of the company, as evidenced by a week-long design charrette with over 50 employees and community input.

(3) Emphasis on employee health and wellness. As one employee noted post-construction, “the only bad thing about the building is that I never want to leave!”

In 2017, Aerzen doubled down on the team’s 2007 LEED Gold office/manufacturing facility with a major expansion to yield a total of 15,000 sf of office area and 50,000 sf of manufacturing. In the best possible way, Aerzen stands out in its suburban office park. Located in an area of Big Box structures surrounded by parking and mowed grass, Aerzen’s high performance facility features wild meadows, unique building forms, passive ventilation and daylight, and a solar array that generates 75% of their electricity.

adaptimmune 01

Project Finalist: Adaptimmune 

351 Rouse Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19112

Adaptimmune Therapeutics, a U.K. based leader in T-cell therapy to treat cancer, recently opened a state-of-the-art cGMP manufacturing facility at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Developed by Liberty Property Trust and Synterra Partners, the 47,400 square foot LEED Gold Core + Shell building was designed by Philadelphia-based architecture firm DIGSAU, where more than 30% of the building materials were produced regionally.  This new U.S. headquarters supports the company’s clinical development objectives and the initial commercialization of novel engineered immunotherapies for cancer.   

The building’s unique horizontal floorplan was modeled to use 29% less energy than a baseline building and features a two-story day-lit lobby that connects and integrates Adaptimmune’s clinical and operational functions. The high-performance design fosters collaboration throughout the office and lab space and connects to its Navy Yard surroundings. Since opening in 2017, Adaptimmune has brought over 120 jobs to the Navy Yard and continues to grow.  

carpenter lane 01

Project Finalist: Carpenter Lane

520 Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19119

Carpenter Lane demonstrates a novel solution to mixed use development in Mount Airy. An innovative floorplan incorporates single story residences over a coworking space on the ground floor with a public forecourt and multiple scales and layers of plantings that create a vibrant space for community interactions and development. Other exemplary features include the exterior corridors to the units, which reduce energy demand from space conditioning, allow for natural ventilation, and provide balanced light within the homes. The commitment to energy efficiency is further demonstrated in the use of a super-insulated envelope designed to minimize thermal bridging, and modular construction. Designed, built, and tested to achieve LEED for Homes and Commercial Interiors at the Platinum level, this project’s list of sustainable features also includes green roofs, modular construction, heat recovery ventilation, daylighting strategies including clerestory windows, low-flow faucets and fixtures, and much more.

Interested in last year's event?  View information on the 2017 Groundbreaker Awards and program. 

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