2016 Groundbreaker Project Finalists

Groundbreaker Project Finalists Photos

Clockwise from upper left corner: 
Project Team
Architect/Designer | Interface Studio Architects
Engineer | Cornerstone Consulting Engineers & Architectural, Inc
General Contractor | Hybrid Construction
Owner | New Kensington Community Development Corporation 
Additional Project Team | Environmental Engineer/Consultant 
Engineer: RT Environmental  Services
Developer: Postgreen Homes
Structural Engineering Consultant: Larsen & Landis
About the Project
Awesometown is the byproduct of a unique partnership between a sustainable market rate developer, Postgreen Homes, and a nonprofit developer, New Kensington Civic Development Corporation. The project was designed and built with equitable and sustainable development principles that carry throughout the homes. Passive design principles were utilized to achieve HERS ratings well below 50. In order to meet these rigid scores, the project team placed a strong emphasis on HVAC and envelope without sacrificing indoor air quality. 
From an energy perspective, we worked with an engineering team to ensure the HVAC systems were sized and tested for optimal performance. Ductless minisplit systems were installed to heat and cool the homes which works very nicely with the open floor plan designs. Low-flow fixtures and a water pressure control module were installed to reduce water consumption. No hot water supply line is greater than 30 feet long which helps reduce the loss of heat in the line before it reaches the faucet and each unit has a high efficiency electric water heater. 
As for the building envelope, size matters in these homes. High performance fenestrations were incorporated and we reduced thermal bridging by performing air infiltration testing at rough stage which allowed the team to caulk and tape areas of infiltration for enhanced compartmentalization. Wall insulation ranged from R-32 to R-35 while the roof insulation reached an R-66 with a combination of blown in and rigid. High performance, triple pane windows and Therma-Thru doors sealed the deal in ensuring the envelope met the performance goals. 
While these homes are tight, the homeowners will not be lacking any fresh air. An HRV has been installed to ensure optimal air change rates are occurring for a fresh, comfortable space for family and friends to enjoy.
Now that we have a tight home built, appliances and home features that were installed only enhance our sustainability objectives. Energy Star appliances were installed along with low-flow faucets. Countertop selections incorporated recycled content or were mined in the US. Low VOC paints and sustainably harvested wood were also installed. 
All in all, substantial sustainability and design efforts were incorporates during design and construction. One of the made to incorporate bigger picture impact these homes will have (environment and the homeowners) while focusing on the details during construction. 
Barry Playground Building Renovation
Project Team
Architect/Designer | Claflen Associates- Architect Construction Administration
Engineer | Alderson Engineers
General Contractor | Pannulla Construction
Owner | City of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation 
Occupant/Tenant | Department of Parks and Recreation
Landlord/Property/Project Manager | Fredda Lippes, AIA.LEED AP,  Department of Public Property- Capital Projects Division.
Additional Project Team | JIBE design, Architect and Project Design
About the Project
Barry Recreation Center is a newly renovated 2700 square foot building located on a full city block including a pool, playground and field spaces in the heart of South Philadelphia’s Girard Park neighborhood.  The project transformed a small bunker like building at the eastern edge of the site mid-block on South 18th street into a high performance public amenity. The full building renovation sets a new example for sustainable city building renovations and cross departmental cooperation. It will be the first city recreation site to receive a LEED certification. Barry recreation center exemplifies how a small urban building can contribute significantly to the neighborhood and its residents. Barry recreation center’s renovation has accomplished something that city project improvements seldom can, and that is to not only replace in kind the failing heating system and deteriorated toilet rooms, but to go beyond that. The renovation created a day-lit, sustainable and spatially efficient building which is well insulated and finished with non-toxic materials and energy efficient systems throughout.  Additionally, the building and site are integrated with a full site storm water management system. 
The design for the building renovations initiated with the Department of Public Property Capital Projects and was coordinated with the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Philadelphia Water Department-Office of Watersheds as a collaborative design effort to integrate sustainability. The baseboard heating and window AC units were replaced with a new geothermal HVAC system.  The exterior envelope has new insulation and interior finishes.  New ceiling fans were added in addition to new LED lighting and occupancy sensors. 
The storm water improvements included the capture of roof rain water and site run-off from a largely paved site to a new storm water infiltration bed. An infiltration courtyard and trees were installed to the west of the building helping to add some much needed shade, as well as trees in storm water trenches surrounding the site.  This storm water infrastructure greatly increases the sites filtering and storage of storm-water; thus helping to minimize and reduce the combined sewer outfall for this area.
Kamp Kaolin
Project Team
Architect/Designer | Townsend Moore
Engineer | CKS Structures, Inc.
General Contractor | Hugh Lofting Timber Framing & High Performance Building
Owner | Stan & Estelle Lukoff 
Additional Project Team | Home Automation: Electronic Home Solutions, Inc.
About the Project
Kamp Kaolin is not your grandmother’s retirement home. The high-performance house was conceived and designed to allow its retired Baby Boomer owners to age in place without the need to transfer to a care facility in the future. By combining Passive House-based, energy efficient architecture with advanced home automation strategies, the house showcases how technology can assist an aging population in an environmentally responsible and cost effective manner.
The ideas of retirement home and smart technology don’t usually coexist. But the homeowner, a former tech professional, had a grand vision for his modest 2,700-square-foot house. When he started his career programming in the 1970s, he understood how computers would transform business and society. He applied the same vision – and his jewelry-designer wife’s creativity and design aesthetic – to conceptualize a house that will transform their retirement with efficiency, economy, and comfort.
Architect Townsend Moore, a construction team from Hugh Lofting Timber Framing & High Performance Building, and home automation specialists from Electronic Home Solutions, Inc. collaborated with the homeowners to create Kamp Kaolin. Set on a secluded 7.2-acre wooded property, Kamp Kaolin takes its name from a former kaolin clay quarry on the site and its inspiration from the surrounding environment.
Through its thoughtful architecture, Kamp Kaolin shows how sustainable design and construction becomes the key to maximizing efficiency and providing ROI. The exterior wall and roof systems – a continuous air and moisture barrier – along with uninterrupted super-insulation and a closed-loop pond geothermal system ensure efficient heating and cooling. Advanced automation enables control of HVAC, lighting, media, and other systems from smart devices. By applying Passive House principles, the house stays cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and offers savings of 70 percent or more on the owner’s energy bills.
Innovation at Kamp Kaolin comes in how sustainability works in tandem with universal design for aging. Even though interior partitions divide bedrooms and bathrooms, most of the interior offers an open floor plan for functional flexibility. All structural loads are supported in the exterior walls allowing future reconfiguration of the floor plan to create smaller or different spaces 
Top Page Photo Credit: Jeffrey Totaro
Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology
Project Team
Architect/Designer | Weiss/Manfredi
Green Roof Consultant and System Provider | Roofmeadow
Engineer | Stantec Consulting
General Contractor | Gilbane Building Company
Owner | University of Pennsylvania 
Occupant/Tenant | University of Pennsylvania
Landlord/Property Manager | University of Pennsylvania
Additional Project Team | Green Roof Contractor
Green Roof Contractor:* G.R.A.S.S.
About the Project
The University of Pennsylvania’s first cross disciplinary building includes two distinct green roof areas planted with a mix of native and adapted perennials and annuals. From a horticultural point of view, the three green roof profile types within the Meadow Roof and the Sedum Roof are important because of the native plants were established from seed, direct sown onto the green roof. The Meadow roof includes six Magnolia virginiana planted in two tree pits. 
As an academic facility, the building is unique in that it encourages research and collaboration among the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Arts and Sciences. The building includes a dramatic cantilevered meeting space that frames city views, through etched glass windows. Laboratory buildings are typically organized around a central corridor but at the Center for Nanotechnology the laboratories are placed around a central quad, opening to the University landscape and providing an indoor/outdoor connection to open space.
The Meadow Roof is a prominent feature of the building attracting individuals and groups eager to enjoy time in the rooftop amenity space. Surrounded by floor to ceiling etched glass walls on three sides and a clear glass railing open to the city on the fourth side, the Meadow Roof is visually accessible from corridors and conference rooms.  The building, completed four years ago, will likely be considered one the University’s great buildings and perhaps one of the most significant buildings in the City of Philadelphia. The building is important architecturally; the American Institutes of Architects gave it an Honor Award. As the University’s first cross disciplinary building, it alters the way researchers conduct their work by encouraging collaboration between the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the School of Arts and Sciences.  The building is open to all academic and industry institutions working in relevant fields and the Meadow Roof is accessible to all who have access to the building. The Meadow Roof is a popular destination for students and scholars. 
The larger Sedum green roof includes native perennials and grasses planted alongside the building’s air handling and HVAC equipment. This larger Sedum Roof may have less aesthetic and cultural significance; however, it is a storm water management workhorse. Both green roof areas are an integral part of the project’s stormwater management plan.
Top Page Photo Credit: Peg Woolsey
PECO LEED Initiative
Project Team
Architect/Designer | Re:Vision Architecture: Sustainability & LEED Consultant
Green Roof Consultant and System Provider | Roofmeadow
Engineer | InPosse
General Contractor | C. Erickson & Sons
Owner | PECO 
Occupant/Tenant | PECO
Landlord/Property Manager | PECO
Additional Project Team | IEI Group, Ltd.:  Project Manager & Interior Designer
Paul Restall Company:  Construction Manager/General Contractor for all sites other than the PECO Main Office Building
Optimum Controls Corporation & Honeywell International:  Building Control Systems contractors
CSI International, Inc.: Custodial Service Provider
Western Pest Services: Pest management service provider
URS Corporation: IAQ Specialist
Staples Advantage: Office Supply Vendor
Alpha Office Supplies Inc.: Office Supply Distributor
Republic Waste Services, Inc.: Waste Management & Recycling contractor
Elliot Affiliates, Ltd.: Custodial Services Independent Auditor
Jenkintown Building Service: Window-washing service provider
Zones, Inc.: IT equipment vendor
Exelon IT Client Operations Group: IT equipment recycling vendor liaison
ELECTROchem Water Systems:  Cooling tower water treatment service provider
About the Project
PECO’s LEED Initiative commenced in 2008 with the commitment to seek LEED Certification for 10 of its largest existing buildings while acknowledging that none of the 10 had been constructed to be energy efficient.  One of PECO’s goals was to lead by example and encourage other corporations to do the same.
PECO chose to utilize the LEED-EBOM Rating System as a tool to methodically upgrade its building infrastructure and operating practices, while also gaining recognition and third-party verification for its efforts.  Culminating with the LEED certification of their Headquarters, December 2015, PECO completed the $15 million, 7-year comprehensive LEED Initiative that has significantly increased energy efficiency and lessened the environmental impact of its many facilities throughout the southeastern Pennsylvania region.
While the initiative consisted of implementing multiple sustainable strategies across these buildings, the first public strategy pursued was a green roof installation at PECO’s Headquarters building in 2008.  Over an acre in size, at the time it was the largest example of a green roof on a commercial building in Philadelphia.  
To further demonstrate innovation and leadership within the community and their commitment to energy efficiency, PECO replaced the original, inefficient Crown Lights atop their Headquarters building with LEDs in 2009, when LED lighting still was not the norm.
From a mechanical system viewpoint, PECO’s Headquarters is a truly unique building.  The 30 story, single-tenant, all electric, curtain wall building’s original design used its lighting to provide heat for the building.  When interior lighting was replaced with more efficient fixtures, the building no longer had a heat source.  This allowed the opportunity to create an innovative approach of using a combination of mechanical system types to most efficiently run the building. Strategies include:
  • Due to the large amount of glass and the sun load, solar sensors were added to the south and east exposures to enable tracking of solar gains and reset the air handling unit discharge temperature as needed.
  • To understand utility consumption and identify where conditions go off-track, individual meters for all HVAC loads were installed to measure consumption of each floor individually.  A baseline was created after the first year of completed operation for comparison going forward.
  • Reconfiguration of the chilled water plant to utilize only 2 of the 4 chillers on peak load days (normally requiring all 4 chillers).
  • Reports generated by the building automation system are used track operator changes to systems.  Monthly reviews and interviews with system operators are performed to educate the operators on reasons behind set parameters and help them identify when adjustment is required.
  • Monthly reports are also used to identify the top 20 operator overrides to determine the persistent issues.
William Cramp Elementary Green Schoolyard and the Lots-to-Learn Project 
Project Team
Architect/Designer | William Cramp Elementary School Students, The Trust for Public Land, Interpret Green Group for Lots-to-Learn, and AKRF
Engineer | AKRF
General Contractor | Brightline Construction
Owner | The School District of Philadelphia 
Occupant/Tenant | William Cramp Elementary School
Landlord/Property Manager | William Cramp Elementary School
About the Project
Additional Project Team | In alphabetical order: AKRF (Landscape Architecture and Civil Engineering); Brightline Construction (Contractor); Clean Air Council (Custom-designed Air Quality Monitoring); Centro Nueva (Arts and Community Engagement); Dendritic Design (Architect); Deirdre Murphy Studio LLC (artist); Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC); Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center (Environmental Education); Folk's Butterfly Farm (Habitat Specialist); Gecko Group  (Graphic Design Consultant); Habiteque Inc (Educational and Interpretive Program Consultant); Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises (HACE);  Interpret Green Group (Multi-media, Information Technology, Environmental Exhibit Design); Mt. Airy Custom Furniture (Carpentry); Multitude Data Systems (Air Quality Monitoring Technical Partner); Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (Garden Workshops); Philadelphia Air Management Services Library; Philadelphia Parks and Recreation (Public Partner); Philadelphia Water Department (Public Partner); Playworks (Schoolyard Coaching); The Otto Haas Charitable Trust at the Direction of John and Janet Haas (Lead Funder); The School District of Philadelphia (Public Partner); The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education; The Trust for Public Land (Lead Project Developer, Private Partner); William Cramp Elementary School Leadership (Community Engagement); William Penn Foundation (Lead Funder); Winged Wonders Education Butterfly Lab (Environmental Advisors).
Completed in May 2016, this project is a response to the challenging demands for a new schoolyard and community environment to ensure that students and their families will have multiple opportunities for robust physical activity and environmental educational within a safe, flourishing, natural habitat. Piloted at William Cramp Elementary School (WCES) in North Philadelphia, the project provides the missing link to connect students, teachers and the community with nature and each other. 
Developed by the Interpret Green Group in collaboration with The Trust for Public Land, the Lots-to-Learn project was conceived as an urban “wildlife” habitat integrated with classroom lessons via dynamic interactive educational and social media. The students and the community monitor the quality and changes in their environment via multimedia programs in the classrooms and through the Internet at home. The Lots-to-Learn software graphically displays the data from sensors in the schoolyard so that students can make practical sense about topics like climate change and sustainable practices.
No existing commercial products had the specifications, robustness or aesthetics required for a location like the WCES habitat. All of the sustainable habitat elements - including the birdhouses, bird feeders, butterfly houses, bat houses, weather station and reliable sources of water - required custom design and engineering to withstand the rigors of very active students, challenging outdoor conditions and vandalism. 
Micro-digital video cameras are installed in the birdhouses and birdfeeders for remote wildlife observations in classrooms of the life-cycles of birds making nests, laying eggs and raising their young. The WCES schoolyard weather station, soil and water sensors provide hyper-local forecasts and record neighborhood patterns of temperature, moisture, winds, barometric pressure and air quality. 
Lots-to-Learn provides a dynamic living landscape and the educational resources to prepare students for success in both the green economy and the sustainable world they inhabit. The Cramp community is very engaged because they understand that improving the quality of their environment will improve the quality of life for themselves, their families and future generations. 
This demonstration project is a model from all Philadelphia schoolyards and it is an essential design guide for leadership schoolyards habitats everywhere. 
Top Page Photo Credit: Jenna Stamm