Muscoe Martin Fellow: Vidya Unnikrishnan

By Green Building United

Posted June 22, 2020


Green Building United is excited to have Vidya Unnikrishnan join us this summer as our Muscoe Martin Green Building Fellow in partnership with University of Pennsylvania. The Fellowship preserves Muscoe Martin’s legacy by providing a student applicant in the Environmental Building Design (MSD-EBD) program the opportunity to pursue research and projects that advance green building and sustainable design.

Vidya completed her bachelor's in architecture in India in 2016. It was while working as an architect that she realized the need for the construction industry to analyze and improve building performance. Vidya noticed plenty of awareness regarding the impacts of construction on the climate, but a shortage of knowledge and skills to effectively adapt the practice for the climate crisis. "It was then that I made the decision to become a more environmentally responsible practitioner which lead me to pursue the Masters in Environmental Building Design Program at UPenn," she remarked.

In her role as a Muscoe Martin Green Building Fellow, Vidya will be working with Green Building United  to research the impacts and opportunities of electrification on residential buildings. Most buildings in Philadelphia use carbon-based gas or fuel oil for heating. Switching to electricity for heating will significantly affect the energy use patterns of the city and allow buildings to source their energy from renewables.  Questions like "how soon can we shift to carbon-free energy sources?" and "what is the cost effectiveness for consumers when shifting to electrification?" are some of the topics she hopes to explore through this research. Vidya will use her Building Information Modeling experience to help answer these questions in the context of housing in the Mid-Atlantic.

In addition to this research, Vidya will explore UPenn’s energy performance data captured through the city’s energy benchmarking program and the university's own building energy management system. Further, she will analyze the buildings’ performance in relation to sustainability goals set by the school, the city, and the Philadelphia 2030 District. 

About Muscoe Martin
Muscoe Martin, AIA, LEED Fellow was a lifelong environmentalist, coming of age in the energy and environmental movements of the 1970s. After completing his BA at Princeton in 1978, he worked at the Habitat Center in Berkeley, before completing his Master of Architecture at Penn in 1985. After graduation, he worked with Adele Naude Santos, JacobsWyper Architecture, Wallace Roberts & Todd, and Susan Maxman Partners, before founding his own firm M2.
Muscoe’s career in sustainable design and architecture began in the 1980s with his work on solar design. He worked tirelessly to champion green design in both practice and education recognizing the critical impacts of construction on resources, water, energy, and land.

Muscoe was a founding board member of Delaware Valley Green Building Council (now known as 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.

For more information about the Fellowship, please contact Ben Ginsberg at 215-898-0469 or

“A community must be supported from below – by its inhabitants, present and future.” -Muscoe Martin

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