2020 Sustainability Symposium Sessions

We're excited to announce sessions for this year's Sustainability Symposium, happening Friday, October 23rd at Penn State at The Navy Yard.

October 22nd Workshop descriptions and registration for a Workshop, the conference day, and other Symposium activities can be found on our Symposium event page.


2030 Challenge: A carbon free future for architects and owners 

The AIA's 2030 Commitment and Philadelphia's 2030 District creates roadmaps for designers and developers to deliver carbon neutral buildings by 2030 that address the current climate crisis. The goals are straightforward but the path to achievement requires rigorous advancements to design and construction processes. This panel will discuss the challenges and successes in 2030 adoption through the perspective of an architect, developer, and policymaker.

AIA Philadelphia COTE recently established a 2030 Working Group supporting local firms and building knowledge about carbon neutral strategies. We will examine how one firm has incorporated the 2030 Commitment into its workflows to advancing energy and carbon literacy.

Green Building United and Drexel University, a 2030 District Partner, will share how attendees can engage with 2030 Districts to reduce the impact of the built environment, help cities meet climate goals, and improve the health and comfort of building occupants through this measurable and replicable model. 

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


David Hincher,  Nelson; AIA Philadelphia COTE 
Kit Elsworth, Kieran Timberlake
Nicholas Haas, Drexel University 
Katie Bartolotta, Green Building United


Advancing Building Energy Efficiency through Policy: Philadelphia and beyond

Join the Institute for Market Transformation, the City of Philadelphia's Office of Sustainability, and Green Building United for a presentation on Philadelphia's new Building Energy Performance Policy, which requires owners of large buildings to conduct periodic tune-ups of their energy and water systems. The legislation builds off the awareness of energy and water use in buildings fostered through city's benchmarking ordinance by requiring owners to complete low- and no-cost actions to make their buildings more efficient. 

Learn the key features of the bill, how it will be implemented, and who is involved. The bill will be discussed in the context of other cities' climate mitigation efforts as well as in the context of the City of Philadelphia's overall climate goals. 

Level 100: Awareness


Megan O'Neil, Institute for Market Transformation
Dom McGraw, City of Philadelphia Office of Sustainability - Energy Office
Katie Bartolotta, Green Building United
Moderator | Rich Freeh, Urban Sustainability Directors Network


Applying WELL to the Industrial Workplace

Ever-increasing consumer demand is driving the value proposition for industrial development. This new paradigm of consumer-driven value requires an increase in more sophisticated labor. Added pressure to attract and retain industrial workforce sets the stage for radical change in order to address increased reports about unhealthy and hostile workplace conditions. As a result, industrial companies are evaluating the WELL Building Standard as a means to improve workplace conditions for employees' health and wellbeing.

Design solutions include improved conditioning, daylight, views, and noise reduction, among other considerations. However, in industrial workplaces, sound is one of the most challenging and critical issues to address, as excessive noise can lead to serious health problems in addition to lack of focus and productivity and increased employee dissatisfaction.

This session will outline the most applicable of the ten WELL concepts and design solutions to achieve them, with a deep dive on acoustic issues and solutions. 

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


David von Stappenbeck, KSS Architects 
Kristen Murphy, Acentech
Shalini Ramesh, International WELL Building Institute


Building Resilience: The Whitney Museum of American Art's transformation to mitigate superstorms

This session will review the Whitney Museum in New York City, a project that was well under construction when superstorm Sandy hit. The devastating effects of the storm on NYC's infrastructure inspired a transformation in the practice of flood mitigation and the timing of the Whitney Museum project put the project team at the forefront of addressing museum building resilience. The session will address construction recovery post-storm as well as the extraordinary effort undertaken in hazard evaluation, selection of protection schemes, consideration of known and unknown exposures, crisis management design, emergency plans, and risk financing and insurance. Attendees will come away with an understanding of what to consider when selecting exposure levels and what types of defenses are engineered and available as well as and justification for those defenses.  

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Edward Haas, reThought Insurance Corporation
Andrew Thomann, Turner Construction
Erin Flynn, Cooper Robertson & Partners
Moderator | Monika Serrano-Riedlinger, Turner Construction


Centering Equity and Justice in Pennsylvania's Energy Economy Now and in the Future

How do we move away from an extractive energy economy towards a more inclusive, just and regenerative one? Though critical, it is more than carbon reductions, 100% renewables, and much needed building improvements, it requires deeper political and economic shifts rooted in community-driven policies, practices, and vision.  During this panel, participants will learn about a grassroots rooted national framework for a just transition and learn about how statewide and local environmental justice advocates and policy leaders are pushing for this more holistic and equitable transformation across our state.  Architects, designers, and planners all have a role to play in this transition and finding ways to lean into this work is vital. Participants will learn about emergent possibilities, collaborations, policies, and pilot projects.

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Allison Acevedo, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Liz Brunton, POWER

Denise Fairchild, Emerald Cities Collaborative 

Moderator | Anthony Giancatarino, Just Community Energy Transition Project 


Centering Equity in the Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge has always held social equity as a critical component of a regenerative, Living Building. The newest version of the Living Building Challenge 4.0 elevates equity even further, and gives project teams a new guidepost for how they can center equity in their project outcomes. This session will review the new LBC 4.0 structure, and requirements, and outline strategies for project teams to implement the equity imperatives.

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Shawn Hesse, International Living Future Institute
Aseel Rasheed, Bartram's Garden


C-PACE Case Study: A Philadelphia story

The team developing a new project in Philadelphia will discuss the decision to use Commercial Property-Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing to pay for energy and water efficiency measures. C-PACE is a financing structure that allows commercial property owners to borrow money for energy and water efficiency improvements and renewable energy installations. Repayments are made via a special assessment similar to a property tax assessment. C-PACE can help property owners achieve significant savings on their utility bills while reducing their carbon footprints.

C-PACE first became available in Philadelphia in late 2019. The developer, capital provider, and energy engineer will discuss how they intend to exceed the IECC-2018 Energy Code with building envelope, HVAC, and lighting ECMs. The panelists will review the process from start to finish and discuss why C-PACE financing is beneficial to the project.

Level 300: Application/Implementation


Farhan Khatri, Edison Energy, LLC

Stephen Arrivello, Marcus & Millichap Capital Corporation

Elyssa Rothe, Greenworks Lending

Moderator | Maryrose Myrtetus, Philadelphia Energy Authority


Empowering Sustainability through Energy Efficiency

Cities across the country realize the important role they play in mitigating the effects of climate change. With the recent enactment of its Building Energy Performance legislation, Philadelphia established itself as a champion for sustainability. Building owners must now determine how to meet this challenge.

PECO offers a solution. Through its suite of tools and resources, PECO enables building owners and facility managers to gain valuable insight on energy performance, identify energy and cost savings measures, and provide financial incentives for high efficiency equipment upgrades and building retrocommissioning. Benchmarking and PECO's Building Assessment Reports provide important first steps to understanding how to comply with the City's new legislation and benchmarking requirements, as well as achieving 2030 District commitments.

Panelists will discuss how they have incorporated energy efficiency and leveraged PECO's resources to achieve their long-term sustainability goals. The panel will also highlight non-utility funding sources for facility upgrades.

Level 300: Application/Implementation


Agbesi Akpedonu, PECO Smart Ideas
Kat Morlang, Penn Medicine
Jennifer Oliver, The Pennsylvania State University
Moderator | Jeff Byers, PECO


FDR Park: A resilient future for a historic park

FDR Park - the city's only estuary park, an Important Bird Area, and a “Resilience Hub” - is an important natural, cultural, and historic asset for the city. The FDR Park of the future is flexible and functional, a park that serves as a model for resilient design showcasing low-impact development and green infrastructure projects, adapts to changing conditions, and is unified behind a community-supported vision.

Join us as we explore nature-based solutions from the master plan that balances the park's natural resources, hydrologic systems, and everyday programming activities and needs of all users through an ecological approach. We will discuss how the plan's resiliency goals  - "maintain structure and function in the face of disturbance, are self-sustaining, and learn and adapt" - and how projected impacts of climate change are driving the park's implementation and ensuring that the park retains its recreational value while actively mitigating the impacts of a changing climate. 

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Charles Neer, WRT
Allison Schapker, Fairmount Park Conservancy
Michele Adams, Meliora Design
Moderator | Mary Morton, WRT


Growing and Anchoring Trees on Elevated Structures: Raising tree canopies to new heights

Many cities are setting tree cover canopy goals as part of their greening campaigns. Ground-level tree planting is relatively straightforward, but more tree planting opportunities exist on rooftops and other elevated structures, which comprise a significant percentage of urban impervious surface. These largely barren and underutilized spaces in the heart of our cities degrade air and water quality, contribute to the urban heat island effect, and provide almost no environmental benefit.

These wasted elevated spaces are being transformed by installing vegetated roof systems. The functionality of these rooftop oases can be dramatically increased when complimented with large maturing trees.

However, growing and anchoring trees on elevated structures present many challenges, such ensuring wind stability, managing weight, and minimizing risk from multi-story branch drop.  In this presentation, we will define, explore, discuss, and address these challenges, and increase your knowledge of horticultural systems specialized for high-elevation urban trees.

Level 300: Application/Implementation


Jason Lubar, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
Laura Hansplant, Roofmeadow


HVAC-Driven Envelope Design

There is an urgent need for designers to employ energy-efficient HVAC systems; however, such systems cannot accommodate high heat transfer through the building envelope. Therefore the use of energy-efficient HVAC systems has traditionally been associated with restrictive design standards, enforcing modest envelope openings and compact building volumes. This generally precludes designs that require greater responsiveness from the envelope in service of formal aspirations, or performative concerns like daylighting and viewshed. 

This session will explore a recent project by KieranTimberlake and BuroHappold where we addressed this limitation by developing a method to coordinate more flexible envelope design options with energy-efficient HVAC systems. Participants will learn how the building envelope design can impact the feasibility HVAC systems, and the vocabulary of HVAC systems design. They will then learn how to apply these concepts to calculate the impact of solar radiation on such systems using simple energy modeling tools.  

Level 400: Mastery


Dimitri Brand, KieranTimberlake
Kenton Phillips, BuroHappold
Eesha Khanna, KieranTimberlake
Moderator | Kit Elsworth, KieranTimberlake


Let's Talk Trash: Construction waste management in a post-recycling era

News surrounding recycling in the United States has increased public demand for transparency from an industry that has, for too long, remained hidden behind a trusted triangular symbol. Most of the attention has focused on residential waste, while construction and demolition waste recycling has been quietly experiencing an equally troubling downward trend. Building standards like LEED have tried to incentivize better methods, but a higher level of effort and "trash literacy" is needed to find viable solutions for waste prevention and diversion.  

From designers to generators to processors, we each play a critical role in effectively managing waste in the context of turbulent recycling markets. This panel will take you through the waste management process, highlighting challenges and best practices using changes under LEED v4.1 as a basis for discussion.

Level 300: Application/Implementation


Fern Gookin, Revolution Recovery
Kristie Broussard, Re:Vision Architecture
Geoff Brock, Structure Tone
Moderator | Annie Bevan, Sustainability Made Simple


Leveraging the City of Philadelphia's Stormwater Goals in LEED Projects

Many are aware of the City of Philadelphia's stormwater goals to implement green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), including the ambitious efforts on private property and the Green City, Clean Waters plan for reducing combined sewer overflows. Over a decade into implementation, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) continues to expand the pathways of implementing GSI. Often, this can provide leverage for projects seeking LEED certification.

This session will begin with reviewing the pathways that PWD utilizes to deliver stormwater systems in the public right-of-way as well as private property: Stormwater Regulations, Incentives, and Public Retrofits. After which, this session will illustrate various LEED credits that may be achieved through these three pathways. Facilitated discussion between attendees will follow, exploring ways to evaluate projects, credits, and infrastructure from a comprehensive approach. 

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Carla Windt, Philadelphia Water Department
Vicki Lenoci, Philadelphia Water Department
Nicole Hostettler, Philadelphia Water Department
Moderator | James Templeton, Temple University


Multiple Benefits of Energy Reduction Interventions: Evidence to inform policy and practice 

According to the International Energy Agency’s 2019 Tracking Clean Energy Progress report, emissions from buildings have peaked above their 2013 levels. The contributing factors include climate change-related spikes in heating and cooling loads and the low uptake of Energy Reduction Interventions (ERI). Widespread use of less-efficient technologies, a lack of effective policies and insufficient investment in sustainable buildings compounds the problem. The required decarbonization efforts must occur at a transformative scale. Achieving targets for high performance building and increasing deep energy efficiency of existing stocks will require a robust understanding of the multiple benefits of ERI and development tools/strategies for decision making to ensure that all stakeholders know what to do and are incentivized to act. Building on a pre-symposium workshop, this session will focus on strategies and tools identified by subject matter experts to enhance data collection for co-benefits of ERI to inform policy makers and other actors.  

Level 300: Application/Implementation


Dr. Esther Obonyo, Penn State University
Sarah Klinetob-Lowe, Pennsylvania Housing Research Center
Ruth Ann Norton, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative


NZE In Cold Climates: Keys to success from concept through operation

This session will take a deep dive into the design of net zero buildings with a focus on cold climates. From the initial building concept, we will walk through the steps to optimize building massing through iterative modeling techniques. As the the design takes shape and building services are layered in, examples of integration schemes across multiple disciplines will be discussed along with best practices. Speakers will highlight the role of commissioning agents, not only during construction but the value they have throughout the design process as well as supporting occupants during the operation of the building. This holistic approach will provide the framework for zero energy design with the tools to shape projects from inception to construction and operations.  

Level 400: Mastery


Nate Eppley, Integral Group
James Tosh, Elementa Engineering
Mallory Taub, Gensler


Overcoming Seven Key Landlord: Tenant hurdles to make ambitious carbon reductions a reality

Want to reduce carbon emissions? Doing so requires addressing how buildings use energy. Whether driven by legislation that requires building owners to improve their properties' energy performance, pressure to meet ambitious corporate goals, or growing investor concerns, today's landlords and tenants are realizing that significant energy savings cannot be achieved alone. Landlords and tenants must work together to improve building performance through the duration of a lease and a building's lifecycle.

This session dives into real-time developments in New York City, where the city will now mandate building performance improvements across a wide swath of buildings. Specifically, we will explore seven common leased space hurdles that inhibit greater building performance and five strategies that can be adopted today to overcome them. Based on timely, real world feedback, this session offers critical insight not only to attendees with New York-based assets but to all landlords and tenants across the United States. 

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Audi Banny, Institute for Market Transformation


Passive House Pitfalls: Case study in multi-family affordable housing in West Philadelphia

In West Philadelphia - an urban area characterized by dense row homes, vacant lots, and abandoned structures - a local developer of affordable residential properties, familiar with LEED and ENERGY STAR certification, decided to choose two existing structures to experiment with Passive House certification. Through a series of design decisions and one challenging building orientation, the goal was not achieved. Nevertheless, the team learned valuable lessons, from air-sealing practices to informative energy modeling, which would serve them well a year later.

That same developer is back with 17 properties, one retrofit row home, and 16 vacant lots. All are pursuing LEED, ENERGY STAR, and Passive House pre-certification. Equipped with the knowledge gleaned from their previous struggles, the design team is making different decisions, ensuring that their prior challenges are guaranteed to be successes through early energy models, improved insulation detailing, and constructability reviews. This is a story of failure, adaptation, and redemption.

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Michael Pavelsky, The Sheward Partnership

Jon Chizacky, The Sheward Partnership

Brad Randall, Bruce E. Brooks & Associates 


Prioritizing Embodied Carbon on Projects

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared climate change the greatest threat to human health, and sources say we have about 12 years to peak carbon emissions to avoid the tipping point. With 40 percent of global carbon emissions tied to buildings, the greatest source of carbon emissions tied to new projects is the carbon footprint of the building materials themselves - not operational carbon emissions.

This session will provide a brief report-out from the prior day's embodied carbon workshop learnings, and then it will move right into how embodied carbon can be discussed with clients and used on projects including a life cycle assessment of the project’s Interior finishes that demonstrates a reduction, compared with a baseline building in the impact categories including carpet, other flooring, tile, gypsum board, primer, paint, ACT, wall base, and wall coverings.

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Gregory Plavcan, Gensler
Moderator | Annie Bevan, Sustainability Made Simple


Redefining Community Development by Building (with) Energy Democracy

Participants will learn from both local and national models of how communities are building decision-making efforts and processes to ensure that equity and environmental justice is incorporated into  creating healthy homes and communities. This session will dive into how to use tools such as the Energy Democracy Scorecard, The Spectrum of Community Engagement in Ownership, and Building Electrification and Equity toolkits.  

Participants will explore policy and program interventions that create systems change to build more sustainable, just, and equitable transition away from carbon-intensive buildings and homes. Participants will try on some of these analyses through a simple facilitated activity on practices that can be integrated back into communities and institutions. 

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Nora Elmarzouky, in.site collaborative
Ky Sanders, Serenity Soular
Zakia Elliott, Philadelphia Climate Works
Moderator | Anthony Giancatarino, Just Community Energy Transition Project 


Shifting Trends in Sustainability, Wellness, and Resilience 

Do we take for granted that sustainability is no longer a growing trend, but rather considered common practice? Over the past four years the STO Building Group has anonymously surveyed senior-level clients to take the pulse of the green building market and what that means for the AEC industry.

Jennifer Taranto, LF Driscoll/Structure Tone's Director of Sustainability, will highlight findings, flagging the truly surprising and those that promise advances to come. She will also take a poll of attendees, seeing how their attitudes towards sustainability, resilience, and wellness compare to the greater market responses. Susan Smythe, ADA Coordinator Sr. Project manager, Swarthmore College, will share examples of how market trends are manifesting themselves on campus and continue to push design and construction to meet campus wide sustainability goals. Robert Diemer, Partner at AKF, will discuss client requests for net zero energy and third-party rating systems, like the Living Building Challenge and their trends based on their firm's experience.

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Jennfier Taranto, LF Driscoll/Structure Tone
Susan Smythe, Swarthmore College
Robert Diemer, AKF


Spaghetti Carbon-Era: Disentangling operational and embodied carbon 

Passive House is fundamentally a tool for combating global climate change by reducing carbon emissions; however, as a system, Passive House focuses on reducing operational energy which is only responsible for part of a larger carbon footprint. Without a full accounting we are left asking the question: Have we built a Passive House or a Massive House?  In order to determine whether a Passive House makes a positive, negative, or neutral contribution to carbon emissions, we must account for the embodied carbon of the building's materials. This includes the creation, transport, and life-cycle in addition to the operational energy/carbon that Passive House focuses on so well.  

This session will discuss  embodied and operational carbon accounting, and the comparison results of operational and embodied carbon for each building will be analyzed.  The session will conclude with solutions for making low carbon buildings more accessible for diverse project types.  

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


David Salamon, Re:Vision Architecture
Ilka Cassidy, Holzraum System LLC
Steve Hessler. Holzraum System LLC


Staying below 1.5⁰C: Connecting Policies and Designs to People 

Over the past year, the imperative for rapid, massively scaled climate action has become even clearer - with record breaking wild fires, floods, and storms - new reports around the potential for ecosystem collapses, and the physical, emotional, and financial toll these climate impacts are having on people around the world, especially the poor. This past year we also saw momentum grow around the idea of a green new deal (and the Green New Deal congressional resolution) to address both climate change and economic inequality at scale. But what does this look like in practice? How might we implement transformation policies and investments into the built and natural environments that would help to avoid the worst impacts of climate change while creating a more just society? What does this mean for architects, engineers, planners, real estate professionals and other design-related professions?

During this panel discussion, participants will hear how local design, academic, and policy professionals are tackling these questions and will learn about specific policy and programmatic approaches to implement socially-just climate action. 

Level 300: Application/Implementation


Stephanie Carlisle, KieranTimberlake
Daniel Aldana Cohen, University of Pennsylvania 
Billy Fleming, University of Pennsylvania 
Moderator | Ariella Maron, Lion Advisors for Community and Environment


(Supply) Chain Reaction: Material health and its effects along the value chain 

What happens after a designer asks a manufacturer for a Declare label, an HPD, or another material health + transparency document? The process a manufacturer must go through following this "ask" is complex, challenging, and incredibly valuable.

We will explore the trickle-down effects of this demand for material health + transparency information and understand what is truly required of the manufacturer, their suppliers, and other key stakeholders. Two different types of manufacturers will share their hands-on experience pursuing material health + transparency, coming from different supply chain sectors and different stages in the process. Attendees will also learn about efforts to streamline supply chain engagement and reporting through tools like Toxnot.

And once this work is done, how does the information get back to the designer? We'll walk through this dynamic from "ask" to "answer" - revealing what happens along the value chain. 

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Michaela Shaw, Hightower
Emmy Funk, Mecho
Evelyn Ritter, Toxnot
Moderator | Kristie Broussard, Re:Vision Architecture


The CARMIC House: A family's journey to low energy and low impact in suburbia 

Our adventure begins with an architect wife, an energy consultant husband, a teenage boy and girl, and a grade school boy. We searched for a unique, bright house that could serve as a test bed for a cutting-edge experiment in deep energy retrofit and low impact living. In 2005 we purchased a 1954, classic mid-century modern stone house - south-facing, perched on a rise and needing lots of attention. The saga includes a historic, deep energy retrofit, building science head- scratchers, whole systems replacement, historic flooding (twice), permaculture-based landscaping, things we wish we had done differently, things we are still working on, and trials and tribulations of doing something different in suburbia.

Join our family as we each explore stories of what it is like to accept not being normal and dedicating ourselves to making each decision one that restores, regenerates, and rewards each other and our planet.

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Carri Beer, Brennan+Company Architects
Michael Hindle, Passive to Positive
Eva Beer-Harlan, Catonsville High School
Cedar Beer-Hindle, Westchester Elementary


The Full Carbon Picture

With the climate emergency upon us, it is imperative that everything we build is conscious of its impacts on the environment, especially its carbon emissions. In an effort to contextualize carbon in the realm of buildings, this session led by Architecture and Research Firm KieranTimberlake and Environmental Design and Engineering firm Atelier Ten will focus on the full carbon picture, i.e. embodied (upfront) carbon and operational carbon, of buildings. Case studies will be used to highlight the processes used by the firms as well as the challenges encountered along the way.

In addition to a discussion of tools, workflows and firm literacy, the panel will address topics like carbon across different spatial and temporal scales, programmatic, and geographical influences on carbon emissions, relevant policies and standards, as well as future grid decarbonization. 

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Eesha Khanna, KieranTimberlake
Devanshi Dadia, Atelier Ten
Sheena Zhang, Atelier Ten
Moderator | Ryan Welch, KieranTimberlake


The Path to Net Zero Carbon in Higher Education: Case studies from two universities

This session invites attendees to follow the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University on their journeys toward net zero carbon campuses. We will explore both challenges and solutions for carbon neutrality.

The University of Pennsylvania launched their first sustainability plan in 2009, setting a commitment of a 100 percent carbon neutral campus by 2042. Since then the university has benchmarked success in five year increments. Representatives from Penn will discuss the development of a carbon action plan and the use of building energy management plans in this process.

As part of Princeton University's master plan, the university agreed on a campus wide carbon neutral goal by 2046. The largest source of emissions on campus is the co-generation plant. The campus will switch to hot water connected to all electric heat pump based heating. The heat pumps will provide both heating and cooling and will be connected to a large geoexchange system.

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


William Braham, University of Pennsylvania Center for Environmental Building & Design 

Alex Waegel, University of Pennsylvania 

Forest Meggers, Princeton University School of Architecture & Andlinger Center for Energy & the Environment

Moderator | Natalie Walker, University of Pennsylvania Sustainability Office


The Tipping Point: Choices we make in a carbon culture

Be aspirational with us as we revisit our relationship with materials and explore examples of our disposable carbon culture. Consider three scales of waste management from single use disposables, to the handling of building materials, to the complexities of processing large volumes of construction and demolition waste.

Whether as individuals, professional groups, or communities, it is incumbent upon us to make informed choices about materials that lower embodied carbon, divert construction waste from landfills, and inspire creative solutions to our culture of consumption. Together we can protect the environment one decision at a time.

See also, how one sustainability graduate student's determined creativity led her to a career tackling waste issues at a large scale as Director of Sustainability of a NE Philadelphia Recycling Center, and to co-founding the nationally acclaimed non-profit RAIR (Recycled Artist in Residency).

Level 200: Understanding/Comprehension


Mary Ann Duffy, AIA COTE Philadelphia; API Partners, LLC
Daphne More, AIA COTE Philadelphia; Daphne More, AIA LLC
Fern Gookin, Revolution Recovery; RAIR 


Urban Net Zero: It can be done

Unisphere, located in a populated urban area, encompasses approximately 210,000 square feet of office space, virtual laboratories, retail, and structured parking. Envisioned as a sustainable laboratory, innovative strategies to reduce energy use were incorporated including an earth labyrinth for passive heating and cooling, a geo-exchange system that required changing state regulations, a storm water heat recovery system, thermal pool, and automated natural ventilation strategy. The innovation extended to construction of the project. A full-scale mock-up of the building automation system confirmed communication capabilities and identified potential issues earlier in the process. A robust integration strategy ensured that all major building systems could communicate including building automation, lighting control, power metering, electrochromic glazing, and window automation. The facility is supported by a 1 MW solar array.

This project will help to inform the next generation of zero net energy projects.

Level 400: Mastery


Jason Fierko, EwingCole
Thomas Kaufman, United Therapeutics


What is Nature Worth: Metrics, valuation, and sustainability

Natural Capital, healthy "nature", provides essential goods and services that make life on Earth possible and enjoyable. We need clean air and water, productive soils, medicines, climate stability, mitigation of storm events, habitat, and a vast genetic library for future innovation. 

What is this worth? When we make sustainability choices in the built environment, are there economically-based frameworks to guide us? Ecosystem goods and services are partially included in the economy. We buy and sell food, fiber, water, and materials. The United States has about 2,500 payment for ecosystem services systems in place, including wetland banking, biodiversity credits, carbon sequestration payments, water quality trading, etc. However, "Nature" is not truly a part of our economy. Our activities draw from it and flow into it, often without explicit cost or consideration.

Join us to learn how we can bring Natural Capital into the economy and into the built environment, for both function and value.

Level 300: Application/Implementation


Amy Cornelius, GreenBeams

John Sorrentino, Temple University

Chad Adams, Ground Plan Studio


What's next for ESG: New strategies, new expectations, and new challenges

In 2019, the GRESB benchmark turned 10 years old and more than 1,000 property companies and funds around the world provided information about their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. These milestones mark the end of the beginning for ESG in the property sector. ESG is no longer an academic idea or just another fad. ESG is rapidly becoming integrated in the way that institutional investors conduct due diligence, understand risks, and seek returns. It is timely to consider, "what's next for ESG and real assets?"

In this session, an expert panel will critically evaluate emerging investment strategies, discuss changing performance expectations, and consider practical challenges to the collection and communication of ESG data. Participants will come away with a sense of the opportunities created through the widespread availability of ESG data, as well as limitations and potential pitfalls for both investors and property companies. 

Level 300: Application/Implementation


Chris Pyke, Arc Skoru; USGBC
Jennifer Wong, Glenmede
Lisa Woods, KPMG
Moderator | Brad Malotsky, DuaneMorris

Legacy Partners

Platinum Partners

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