2021 Groundbreaker Awards

Thu, 12/16/2021 - 5:00pm - 7:00pm


This year's Groundbreaker Award winners have been announced! Learn about our winners and our other finalists that have demonstrated green building leadership, innovation, and impact in the greater Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley and Delaware region. Learn more about them below

Demonstrate your organization’s alignment with a sustainable and equitable built environment by supporting the 2021 Groundbreaker Awards event. 


Join the December 16th event honoring our area’s outstanding teams and leaders committed to a sustainable, healthy, and resilient built environment. Come celebrate the winners and vote for the People’s Choice awardee!

If you would like to attend the 2021 Groundbreaker Awards but are unable to make a financial contribution, please join us by registering  here.  

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Congratulations to this year's finalists! 

Four winners were announced the evening of the event, and attendees will vote for the fifth winner as a Community Choice Awardee. See the results below.

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Project Awardee | Amos Hall, St. Andrew's School

350 Noxontown Road, Middletown DE, 19709

St. Andrew’s School, located in Middletown, Delaware, took the environmental leadership role of prioritizing sustainability in the major renovation of the 29,000 SF Amos Hall science and mathematics building. The school’s commitment to reduced energy use, water use and preservation of their expansive natural lands campus goes beyond the formal LEED certification awarded under the LEED v4 Building Design and Construction: Schools Rating System. From the early stages of planning the project team engaged a wide variety of stakeholders including students and sustainability leaders on campus to infuse green building practices into decisions made at each phase of the project. St. Andrew’s School committed to delivering a transformative educational environment that provides optimum learning environments with extensive natural daylighting, outdoor classroom opportunities and open, flexible learning spaces. The LEED certification served as the framework to realize their commitment to sustainability in not just the building but engagement of the school community during the process and buy-in to utilize the building as a true teaching tool once completed. Watch finalist video.

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Project Finalist | Coxe and Harrison Auditorium Renovation, Penn Museum

3260 South Street Philadelphia PA 19104

For the University of Pennsylvania and the Penn Museum, preserving artifacts and providing a bright future for students and lifelong learners is just as important as preserving our environment for future generations. This flagship project, focusing on reuse and conservation, was phase one of a multi-phased design and construction approach to provide extensive renovations throughout the museum including upgrading both front and back of house areas, improving visitor amenities, and upgrading the HVAC systems. The renovations included complete refurbishment of the historic Harrison Auditorium and upgrade of the main visitor entrance to feature one of the museum’s most important pieces, a 13-ton Egyptian sphinx. The project achieved LEED Silver certification under the LEED v4 Interior Design and Construction: Commercial Interiors Rating System. Watch finalist video.

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Project Finalist | Silvergreen

2744 Alnwick Road, Bryn Athyn, PA 19009

Silvergreen is a two-dwelling residence located on the founding site and water supply for the planned community of Bryn Athyn, PA. Centered in the National Historic Landmark District, the architecture is traditional, designed for generations, and marries Living Building Challenge guidance with Passive House PHIUS 2018+ certification. Guiding principles were set to emphasize water and light, respect the past, build for resiliency, plan for the future, and set the bar high for sustainability. With a useful life forecast over 3+ generations, the homes offer spaces for affordable rental housing, planned renovations, aging in place, community fundraising, and future owners. Watch finalist video.

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Project Awardee | SONO/Yards Solar

500 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123

Regionally, over 15 local workers interacted with the project. It paid Prevailing Electrician wages to Philadelphia-based employees who live in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. The installation team reflected the City's diversity and included numerous returning citizens (previously incarcerated), as well as acted as a learning ground for students learning about the industry who are interested in joining. This project literally changed the lives of inner-city Philadelphians who worked on this job at $100+ per hour, folks were able to put down payments on homes and cars that previously were unable to do so. Watch finalist video.

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Project Finalist | Wharton School External Affairs Office at the FMC Tower, University of Pennsylvania

2929 Walnut Street, 5th Floor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104 

As seen in WELL and LEED v4, organizations are prioritizing wellness to improve employee engagement and satisfaction. The Wharton School recently completed a 20,000 SF office fit-out at the FMC Tower for their External Affairs department and it achieved Silver certification under the WELL v1 Building Standard. Typically, Wharton requires LEED Gold certification, but this is the first WELL project across the University of Pennsylvania’s portfolio. Wharton chose WELL to demonstrate their commitment to health and well-being and to test innovative strategies for future projects. The Wharton School is leading the way for more project teams to incorporate wellness in project objectives and innovative strategies for positive health outcomes. Watch finalist video.

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Community Leader Finalist | Cambium Carbon

Cambium Carbon is a platform that enables circular economies through Carbon-Smart material reuse, by unlocking the power of local suppliers. Cambium Carbon saves fallen trees from landfill and decomposition, transforming them into valuable products with place-based impact. Our Carbon Smart Wood is locally sourced, locally salvaged, and reinvests in local tree planting. This circular economy model creates new green jobs and funding to support urban canopy restoration in the communities that need it most and helps build the resilient cities the 21st-century demands.


Community Leader Awardee | Efrie Escott

Efrie Escott explores materials, digital technologies, and environmental systems as an Associate in the Research Group at KieranTimberlake. As a researcher and licensed architect, she works with design teams to translate data-driven research into design practice. Efrie leads KieranTimberlake’s efforts to reduce embodied carbon, in addition to being a member of the award-winning development team for Tally, a BIM-integrated tool that measures environmental impacts. Efrie also co-leads KieranTimberlake’s taskforce investigating applications of new and emerging interdisciplinary practices and technologies to architectural workflows. Efrie lectures internationally about environmental research and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the USGBC Materials and Resources Technical Advisory Group, founder of Philadelphia’s Dynamo User Group, and Philadelphia Women in Architecture Co-Chair. Watch finalist video.


Community Choice Awardee | Micah Gold-Markel

Micah Gold-Markel is a Philadelphia-born-and-raised entrepreneur setting a healthy, inclusive foundation to our region's green-collar economy. His company, Solar States, was founded with a dual-mission to educate the next generation of solar installers and install. His Find Your Power curriculum is used in solar training programs throughout the area, and he currently employs a number of graduates from these free programs. He's bringing Philadelphia the most equitable, inclusive, beneficial model to solar installations, and he's been at it since 2008. Watch finalist video.


Community Leader Awardee | Paul D. Spiegel

Paul is committed to the idea that people and organizations can be motivated to action when they are well educated in and guided through the process, and understand the cost-effective benefits of clean and renewable energy. Working with building owners and managers throughout the region, community leaders in over 100 local municipalities and over 75 local schools, he has advanced the adoption of energy-related strategies, including energy conservation, efficiency, and renewable energy. In addition to his training programs, webinars, and in-person speaking engagements that have reached thousands of people in the Philadelphia region, Paul is an active member in various community groups and professional societies as a passionate advocate for energy and environmental policies that will move our region toward a clean energy economy. Watch finalist video.

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Community Leader Finalist | Susan Asplundh

Susan committed early and often to the pursuit of Living Building Challenge Guidance, and Passive House PHIUS 2018+ Certification on a sensitive site central in her community,  to demonstrate that building for the present and future is the best way to respect the past. Susan is well known in her community as a friend, advocate, benefactor and fundraiser. Her project will serve the community as affordable rental housing, a learning tool for schools, colleges and neighbors, and a space for community fundraising and events. Watch finalist video.

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