2020 Groundbreaker Awards

Thu, 12/17/2020 - 5:00pm - 7:00pm


Celebrate green building leadership, innovation, and impact in the greater Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, and Delaware region! 

Awards Nominations - Due Tuesday, December 1st 

How is our region moving towards a sustainable, healthy, and resilient built environment? Let us know by nominating this year's ground-breaking built projects, renovations, COVID-based adaptations, and community leaders. 

The event recognizes built projects: Projects can be new construction or renovations; commercial or residential; exteriors, interiors, and/or sites, but must have been completed within the past three years.

The event also recognizes community leadership: In the past this has included individuals, community partnerships, organizations, and unique community projects (i.e. The PHFA Project, The Rail Park).


Attend the 2020 Groundbreaker Awards by giving a year-end donation!   

Make a contribution now and you will be automatically registered for the December 17th virtual event.

Come celebrate our region's groundbreaking work!

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green building united pint glasses swag

As a thank you for donating...

  • Donations of $25 or more receive a branded lapel pin.

  • Donations of $50 or more receive a branded trucker hat and lapel pin. 

  • Donations of $100 or more receive a branded hat, pint glass, and lapel pin.

  • Leadership donations of $250 or more receive leadership membership, a hat, a pint glass, and lapel pin.


Green Building United is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization so your donation is tax deductible. Thank you in advance for your financial gift, which helps support year-round programming and our efforts to advance a sustainable built environment!


Complete the Form Below to claim your event Seat

If you would like to attend the 2020 Groundbreaker Awards but are unable to make a financial contribution, please join us by registering here

2019 Awardees and Finalists

Miss last year's celebration? Read a recap

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Community Leadership Awardee: Erin Loch

Upper Dublin High School, 800 Loch Alsh Avenue, Fort Washington, PA 19034

Erin is an environmental science teacher at Upper Dublin High School who has crafted an initiative to teach students about sustainable design through the lens of the Living Building Challenge in a project based learning model in collaboration with real-world professionals from the Green Building United community. Courageous, innovative, and agile, she has created a replicable learning model which has impacted all who have touched the initiative. Her students have fallen in love learning and nature and have been inspired to a call to action for sustainability. The volunteers who have witnessed the transformation of the children are inspired themselves to move beyond their own work to continue to educate others. The educators and administrators who have observed the class and the results are seeking ways to expand the initiative and participate themselves. Parents are grateful for the spark of learning and purpose being ignited in their children.

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Community Leadership Awardee: United By Blue

205 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

United By Blue's Flagship is a physical manifestation of their brand. Their commitment to the environment and sustainability is not only seen in their buildout, but in everything that the company does. For 10 years, United By Blue has been making products with sustainable fabric and manufacturers with a focus on their mission: For every product purchased, United By Blue removes 1 pound of trash from our world's oceans and waterways. The company organizes and hosts beach and waterway cleanups across Philadelphia and the rest of the country on an ongoing basis to the tune of: 48 states cleaned, 1.7mm pounds of trash removed, and over 13,000 volunteers engaged.

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Project Awardee: 1800 Arch Street

1800 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Also known as the Comcast Technology Center, 1800 Arch Street is a 60-story, 1,121-foot high vertically integrated mixed-use development located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. The project encompasses over 1.3 million rentable square feet of open plan offices, a 219-room Four Seasons Hotel together with four public restaurants, and associated ballroom and meeting facilities, broadcast studios, and other uses. Situated virtually atop the regions mass transit system, 1800 Arch is a transit-oriented development housing over 4,000 technology workers, yet contains parking for only 55 vehicles.   

The project has been designed to achieve LEED Platinum certification for Core & Shell, as well as interiors. It also incorporates a state-of-the-art chilled beam mechanical system, automated solar oriented shading, as well as passive shading devices incorporated into the building facade. 

Project Awardee: Italian Market Passive House

827 Carpenter Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Philadelphia’s first PHIUS+ Certified Zero Energy Ready Passive House is a unique hybrid home built atop a warehouse in the Italian Market. The approach combines creative design, building science expertise, construction skills, and dogged faithfulness to the sustainability goals. The "loose-fit" design includes future adaptability - a possible return to mercantile use at street-level, a future aging-in-place elevator, infrastructure to support solar panels, green roof, and roof decks with space to grow carbon. 

The sculptural sunshade’s tree pattern inspired by the owner’s honeymoon memories animates the façade and the interior with shadow play. It shades the double height space in summer and admits free heat during the winter. The sunshade is not merely attractive and interesting; it creatively combines inspiration with building science, like the building. It is a visible reminder how we can live in a low-carbon future today. 

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Project Awardee: Parkside Edge at Centennial Commons 

Parkside Avenue between Belmont Avenue and 41st Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Parkside Edge is the first phase of a transformative park and community involvement project, which creates new neighborhood parklets and green stormwater infrastructure, beautifies the edge of Parkside Avenue in Philadelphia, and creates new (and safer) pedestrian and community connections into West Fairmount Park. Ultimately, it goes beyond the typical park project - to revitalize Fairmount Park and create a new national model for civic common spaces, one fully engaged with the community. 

The five-acre site is part of Philadelphia’s Centennial Commons district, the historic site of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Around it are attractions such as the popular children’s Please Touch Museum, the Japanese House and landscape gardens, and a few blocks away the Philadelphia Zoo. Yet, the site was the “hole in the donut”, an underutilized void and barrier to the park. The site is no longer a void, and as a result more transformations are on the way. 

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Project Finalist: 2 Liberty Place Chilled Water Plant

50 South 16th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102

Two Liberty Place Chilled Water Plant Project entailed the complete redesign and reconstruction of a 4000-ton thermal plant serving a 58-story building, including multi-tenant office, residential condominiums, and restaurant. This project entailed the demolition and removal of two existing 1000-ton chillers and all the cooling towers. Four new YORK hi-efficiency centrifugal chillers and 12 new cooling towers were transported to the 38th floor via the building freight elevators and assembled on site. Additionally, a plate and frame heat exchanger for water-side economizing and a chiller optimization program were installed.

The design/build project was performed on a fast-track schedule and chilled water delivery to the tenants and residents was never interrupted. The project result is a significant (47 percent) energy reduction during the first 10 months of operation.

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Project Finalist: Anthony Wayne Senior Housing Phase III

1701 South 28th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145 

Anthony Wayne Senior Housing III will be among the first Passive House certified affordable senior housing facilities in Philadelphia. It is also an exemplary demonstration of public‐private cooperation between Elon Development, the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.

Anthony Wayne Senior Housing III is part of a three‐phased transformative project for its neighborhood and surrounding area in Philadelphia. Features include R‐10 under full slab, continuous exterior insulation, and high density batts in 2x6 stud cavities, spray foam in band joists, R42‐roof, and INTUS triple glazed windows. The project will be certified ENERGY STAR, EGC 2015, and PHIUS+ 2015. 

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Project Finalist: Lafayette College Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center

746 High Street, Easton, PA  18042

In Fall 2019, Lafayette College will open its largest capital project in history: the 103,000-square-foot, five-story Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center, which embodies Lafayette’s commitment to sustainability and innovation. Biology, Computer Science, Environmental Science & Studies, and The Dyer Center (a co-curricular program promoting student creativity through innovation and entrepreneurship) will move into teaching and research laboratories, greenhouse spaces, flexible classrooms, and large collaborative spaces to enhance interdisciplinary inspiration. Targeting LEED Platinum certification, Rockwell will require substantially less energy than similar academic buildings as the energy consumption benchmark for the building is 49 percent below that of peer science buildings. Sustainable features include filtered green hoods in laboratories, heat recovery enthalpy wheel, air quality monitoring, high efficiency chillers, natural ventilation, and an efficient envelope.

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Project FInalist: Stemmler Hall

3450 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Stemmler hall, a massive 230,000-square-foot building in the heart of Penn’s medical campus, has provided a space for inspiring research to take place and for students to learn since it was built in 1978. As time progressed and needs changed, the useful life of the building’s major mechanical systems and infrastructure declined beyond reasonable repair nearly 35 years after it was built.

The University, employing the latest technological advances, decided to repurpose and upgrade the building's infrastructure and mechanical components. The completely renovation has yielded a state of the art flexible research building, complete with lab space, classrooms and administrative offices. Serving a wide variety of the medical campus' needs, Stemmler Hall has risen to be one of the most energy efficient research buildings on the Penn’s campus. With sustainability in mind, this renovation is in-line with Penn’s vision and goals as outlined in their sustainability plan 3.0.

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Project Finalist: Strawberry Mansion Apartments

3235 West Berks Street, Philadelphia, PA 19121

The Strawberry Mansion Apartments complement the ongoing revitalization of the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood in North Philadelphia. The goals and objectives for the development include, but are not limited to, To: develop sustainable housing; maintain a supply of affordable housing in a gentrifying neighborhood through public/private investment; and improve safety in the community. 

The development is a certified LEED for Homes “Smart Site Selection Site” for residential infill. The site has flow-through planters and retention basins for storm water management. Strawberry Mansion Apartments are designed with sustainability and low energy usage in mind, with Energy Star rated appliances and mechanical equipment, and compact fluorescent bulbs throughout. The units are built to Energy Star 3.0 standards and Enterprise Green Communities 2015 criteria for new construction. 

Legacy Partners

Platinum Partners

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