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Local projects honored featuring innovation & commitment to sustainability in the built environment
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Local projects honored featuring innovation & commitment to sustainability in the built environment

Green Building United’s annual Groundbreaker Awards returned IRL in November.

Green Building United held its annual Groundbreaker Awards on November 17th to celebrate the build environment’s impact with projects, accomplishments, and leaders in the Philadelphia region.  

“Because of the very real impacts facing our communities due to a hotter planet, green building practices are becoming more mainstream, and we saw that reflected in the unprecedented number of nominees who submitted their projects to be this year’s Groundbreaker awardees,” said Green Building United’s Board of Directors Chair, Susan Lowry.  

Groundbreaker Awards 2022 winners

Sustainable New Development or Major Renovation 

Philadelphia Energy Authority: Built to Last Program 

The Philadelphia Energy Authority Built to Last program targets 60,000 homes throughout Philadelphia, delivering holistic repairs and improvements by coordinating city, state, and non-profit resources. The nominated project underwent a whole-home repair, including a new roof, full weatherization, fuel-switch from oil heater to mini-split heat pump, and a 5.8kW rooftop solar system. 

Iovance Biotherapeutics 

This 137,014 square foot office/laboratory building in the heart of Philly’s Navy Yard achieved LEED Gold certification through ambitious stormwater management techniques, energy and water savings, and a commitment to minority and women-owned construction contracts participation. 

Sustainable Building Operations 

990 Spring Garden 

This retrofitted apartment building used the Green Energy Loan Fund to make necessary upgrades to major equipment at this formerly industrial building that has turned into community workspaces. They upgraded their boilers to improve operational efficiency, installed brand-new water source heat pumps, and reconfigured the building’s ventilation system and equipment.  The initial upgrades at 990 Spring Garden are the first step in a series of measures to replace aged equipment and significantly reduce building energy use. Learn more by watching the nominee video to the left. 

InSite and Brandywine’s Optimization Program at Cira Centre 

This program combined new technology and building operations and maintenance expertise to create algorithms that use and optimize Cira Centre’s existing Building Automation System. These measures have added up to over $115,000 in rebates and over 1.7 million kilowatt hours saved. 

Equity and Community Leadership 

Francis Vargas, Elon Affordable Housing 

Over the course of his career, Francis has directly contributed to delivering thousands of units of affordable housing to the Greater Philadelphia region and is a true collaborator and community builder. Having served within numerous affordable housing development boards, organizations, and companies, Francis knows how to take on a challenge. As President of Elon Affordable Housing, he continually navigates market developments, publicly funded projects, all while balancing the needs of low-income residents, and demonstrating time and again his leadership in the areas of sustainable construction and design. 

2030 District 

Marion Pulsifer, Independence Place Apartments 

Marion, who is a former teacher and retired attorney and consultant, currently leads the Independence Place Green Team and under her leadership she’s introduced a variety of green initiatives to her friends and neighbors. This past year, Marion singlehandedly led the charge in collecting over 150 responses to the 2030 District Transportation Survey that provided information about their building’s transportation emissions. As the former counsel to the State of California’s Department of Transportation and New York’s Federal Transit Administration, Marion understands the importance of quantifying transportation emissions to understand environmental impacts and to provide the data and insights necessary to advocate for the improvement of bike and pedestrian infrastructure in her neighborhood.  

Green Building United Member of the Year 

Angela Iraldi, Re:Vision 

Angela’s passion for green building practices and commitment to the GBU community did not go unnoticed this past year. As a long-time GBU member and principal organizer of GBU’s Passive House community, Angela plays an outsized role in educating and bringing others together about what it takes to build a resilient and healthy built environment. Her wealth of knowledge of all things green building and her “can-do” attitude earns her this year’s Member of the Year award. 


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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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