2020 Sustainability Symposium SessionsOnDemand

Registered attendees will be able to view these sessions at any time during the conference!  


David Hincher,  Nelson; AIA Philadelphia COTE 

Kit Elsworth, Kieran Timberlake

Nicholas Haas, Drexel University 

Katie Bartolotta, Green Building United

2030 symposium on demand 01

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

Advancing Building Energy Efficiency through Policy: Philadelphia and beyond 

Join the Urban Sustainability Directors Network, 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 the 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


Zach Greene, NRDC

Dom McGraw, City of Philadelphia Office of Sustainability - Energy Office

Katie Bartolotta, Green Building United

Kathryn Wright, Urban Sustainability Directors Network

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Shawn Hesse, International Living Future Institute

Aseel Rasheed, Bartram's Garden

centering on equity lbc

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

C-PACE Case Study: A Philadelphia story 

The team that developed the first solar project funded with Commercial Property-Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing in Pennsylvania will discuss the decision to use C-PACE to pay for solar on the rooftop of a day care center in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. 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 owner and capital provider for the new solar project will discuss how they were able to use C-PACE as a way to finance a financially net positive project, meeting nearly all of the building occupants’ electricity needs with no money invested upfront by the building owner. 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


Genevieve Sherman, Greenworks Lending

William Capers, Olde City Day School; Capers LLC 

Lisa Shulock, Philadelphia Energy Authority

c pace symposium on demand


Agbesi Akpedonu, PECO Smart Ideas

Kat Morlang, Penn Medicine

Jennifer Oliver, The Pennsylvania State University

Jeff Byers, PECO

empowering sustainability symposium 01

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

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

Mary Morton, WRT

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Jason Lubar, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania

Laura Hansplant, Roofmeadow

growing and anchoring

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

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


Kenton Phillips, BuroHappold

Ryan Welch, KieranTimberlake

Kit Elsworth, KieranTimberlake

hvac driven symposium


Michael Pavelsky, The Sheward Partnership

Brad Randall, Bruce E. Brooks & Associates 

Jon Chizacky, The Sheward Partnership

passive house pitfalls symposium

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

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

Annie Bevan, Sustainability Made Simple

prioritizing embodied carbon


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

spaghetti carbon symposium

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

(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
Kristie Broussard, Re:Vision Architecture

supply chain symposium


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

Natalie Walker, University of Pennsylvania Sustainability Office

the path to net zero symposium

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

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 

the tipping point symposium



Alicia Heinsen,  KSS Architects

Jessica Mangin, KSS Architects

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Sustainability in Practice: How KSS Architects Approaches & Achieves Sustainable Design 

Amidst an array of existing sustainability rating systems and frameworks, KSS Architects sought to dig deeper into its own understanding and approach to sustainability as a firm. Through a collaborative process, the firm determined nine essential values for holistically sustainable architecture: materiality, food, water, land/habitat, energy, wellness, community, biophilia, and equity. This session will briefly explore the internal process KSS employed to refine its approach, then delve into the nine sustainability values by providing examples of how each has been implemented in practice. 


Level 100: Awareness

Solar Canopies: Functionality, Architecture, and Safety 

Micah Gold-Markel, founder of Philadelphia-based Solar States, discusses the functional, architectural, and safety benefits to solar canopies. 


Level 100: Awareness


Micah Gold-Markel, Solar States

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Timothy Reynolds, KCI Technologies

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Virtual Construction 

Documentation of existing building conditions can be difficult and time consuming. This session describes how to use the technology of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and BIM (Building Information Modeling) to streamline the process and improve accuracy. The combination of technologies provides better coordination, resulting in fewer trips to the site and fewer re-works during construction, both helping to save resources.


Level 100: Awareness

Green Building United Legacy Partners

Green Building United Platinum Partners

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