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Green Building United announces 2021 Groundbreaker Awards recipients
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Green Building United announces 2021 Groundbreaker Awards recipients

Annual awards celebrate leaders in sustainable design

Green Building United hosted its annual Groundbreaker Awards virtually last evening. The Groundbreaker Awards celebrate leaders in the green building industry that demonstrate innovation, commitment to sustainability in the built environment, and environmental, social, and/or economic impact. 

This year’s recipients included a solar power purchasing agreement, a school building incorporating outdoor learning, and three individuals.

“As businesses, cities, and countries work to reduce carbon emissions from the built environment, recognizing projects and leaders is a vital way to uphold best practices toward a carbon-neutral world,” said  LeAnne Harvey, Policy and Program Director of Green Building United. 

2021 Groundbreaker Awardees

Project Awardee: SONO/Yards Solar? 

Solar States

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. 

Project Awardee: Amos Hall, St. Andrews 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. 

Community Leader Awardee: Efrie Escott 

Architect and Research Associate, KieranTimberlake 

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. 

Community Leader Awardee: Paul D. Spiegel 

Director of Energy and Sustainability Services, Practical Energy Solutions, a Division of Spotts, Stevens and McCoy 

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. 

Community Choice: Micah Gold-Markel 

Founder, Solar States 

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. 

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Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake. View all posts by Julie Hancher

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