4.15 AIAVT News
Can Form-Based Code Work in Burlington? Local Architects Help Explore the Possibilities
The City of Burlington is currently reviewing proposed changes to the Burlington Comprehensive Development Ordinance—specifically as relates to zoning regulations. As a result of the city’s adoption in 2013 of the “planBTV Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan,” the proposed changes call for the regulation of land use in the downtown, waterfront, and some surrounding neighborhoods using a model called form-based code (FBC) rather than the current, conventional, zoning based on use type. More...
Vermont Integrated Architecture Plays Major Role in New State Office Building
On January 12, Governor Peter Shumlin cut the ribbon on a new state office building in the heart of St. Albans. Vermont Integrated Architecture (VIA) of Middlebury designed the building as part of a team assembled by South Burlington-based development firm ReArch Company. More...
from the PRESIDENT
The first quarter of my presidency is almost over and AIA Vermont (AIAVT) has already accomplished a lot. Quite a bit is also planned for the rest of the year. More...
And the Codes they are a Changin’... 2015 Energy Codes & Lighting Controls
New requirements in the 2015 Vermont Commercial Building Energy Standards place more focus in an area often nearly overlooked for the past decade. This area would be lighting controls. More...
Archistream Ready to Hit the Road for Spring & Summer 2015
Over the past year AIA Vermont’s Archistream has hosted over 89,000 visitors. Many of our members were among those visitors. For those who were not, there’s still opportunity for AIAVT’s architects, associates, professional affiliates, and colleagues to visit or avail themselves of this unique and wonderful vehicle. More...
Can Form-Based Code Work in Burlington? Local Architects Help Explore the Possibilities
By Tom Hengelsberg, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP
The City of Burlington is currently reviewing proposed changes to the Burlington Comprehensive Development Ordinance—specifically as relates to zoning regulations. As a result of the city’s adoption in 2013 of the “planBTV Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan,” the proposed changes call for the regulation of land use in the downtown, waterfront, and some surrounding neighborhoods using a model called form-based code (FBC) rather than the current, conventional, zoning based on use type.
The planBTV process (http:burlingtonvt.gov/planBTV) had determined that a different regulatory approach was needed to “develop… zoning regulations that emphasize building form, facilitate infill, and activate the streetscape for pedestrians” and “simplify…the public review process to facilitate infill [development].” FBC was determined to be the appropriate regulatory tool. In explaining the proposal, City of Burlington Department of Planning & Zoning Comprehensive Planner Sandrine Thibault, AICP, said, “The reason why [FBC] was included in the plan... was because we kept hearing from developers and residents alike that our current development review process is cumbersome, ineffective and uncertain.”
HISTORY OF FORM-BASED CODE
FBC concepts are not new; they have existed since the Roman Empire planned its cities and towns. Elements of FBC were employed in many European cities, including Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, and London, from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. More modern applications exist in Mormon town planning, as well as in British and American railroad towns.
After the calamities of the Industrial Revolution came into focus, zoning was a concept applied to organize rapid urban growth in the U.S. Use started in 1916 in New York City, and became widespread in the 1940s and 50s as the result of “urban flight” to the suburbs. Zoning initially sought to separate industrial, commercial, and residential uses, as well as regulate access to light and air and improve health conditions in cities. As these concepts were applied to rapid suburban growth, an automobile-centric pattern of development resulted, with no regulation over the physical form of the built environment.
The roots of contemporary FBC began in the late 1970s in the New Urbanism movement, which recognized the deeply unsatisfying, unsustainable suburban development patterns wrought by conventional zoning. New Urbanism offered a stark alternative to zoning, based on the desired form of the public realm, rather than separation of uses. New Urbanism and FBC have developed hand-in-hand: it might be said that the product defined as a “New Urban community” was achieved using the tool of FBC.
Seaside, Florida, was the first U.S. example of a community built using FBC. Planned by the firm Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ) in 1981, Seaside has become well known in the design community. Since then, DPZ has been at the forefront of zoning re-writes and key planning projects in many U.S. communities and private developments. As the success of these communities has become apparent, DPZ's influence has been infused into many like-minded planning firms, higher educational institutions, and planning departments nationwide.
The term FBC was first applied by urban planner Carol Wyant in 2001 during concentrated work performed for the Chicago Zoning Reform Commission. As an outgrowth of the Chicago work and projects in other communities, as well as a symposium held in Chicago co-sponsored by the Brookings Institution and the American Planners Association, the Form-Based Code Institute (FBIC) was founded in 2004. Based in Chicago, the organization draws diversified professional membership from across the country.
DEFINITION OF FORM-BASED CODE
The FBCI (http://formbasedcodes.org/definition) defines FBC as follows:
“A form-based code is a land development regulation that fosters predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form (rather than separation of uses) as the organizing principle for the code. A FBC is a regulation, not a mere guideline, adopted into city, town, or county law. A FBC offers a powerful alternative to conventional zoning regulation.
FBCs address the relationship between building facades and the public realm, the form and mass of buildings in relation to one another, and the scale and types of streets and blocks. The regulations and standards in FBCs are presented in both words and clearly drawn diagrams and other visuals. They are keyed to a regulating plan that designates the appropriate form and scale (and therefore, character) of development, rather than only distinctions in land-use types.
This approach contrasts with conventional zoning’s focus on the micromanagement and segregation of land uses, and the control of development intensity through abstract and uncoordinated parameters (e.g., FAR, dwellings per acre, setbacks, parking ratios, traffic LOS), to the neglect of an integrated built form. Not to be confused with design guidelines or general statements of policy, FBCs are regulatory, not advisory. They are drafted to implement a community plan. They try to achieve a community vision based on time-tested forms of urbanism. Ultimately, a FBC is a tool; the quality of development outcomes depends on the quality and objectives of the community plan that a code implements.”
As a planning and development tool, FBC can be applied in different ways, at different scales: from the street or transportation corridor, to the neighborhood, urban district, city or town, or even regionally across several participating towns. It may be equally useful to regulate new greenfield development as well as promote infill brownfield or grayfield development.
APPLICATION IN BURLINGTON
The sentiments described in the FBIC definition would be music to the ears of most architects, would they not? All the principles of New Urbanism, sustainable development, public space-making, and façade-making—actually written into a code that architects, owners, and developers are required to follow? What’s not to love? Well, as with most things technical, the devil is in the details. A review of the proposed zoning regulations for Burlington by the Joint Committee for Form-Based Code—made up of the City Council and the planning commission—has uncovered some important issues yet to be resolved.
The draft code now under review was issued and first presented on December 4, 2014 by Thibault and Department of Planning & Zoning Director David E. White, AICP. The draft had been developed over the course of 2014 with counsel from an invited team of architect, landscape architect, and developer volunteers who work in the city. The volunteer team eventually grew by word-of-mouth—to include designers less familiar with current zoning and the FBC draft—which served as a way of testing the draft document from an unbiased position. Designers were asked by Department of Planning & Zoning to take the draft “out for a test drive” to see what could and could not be built on several representative, underutilized infill sites. Participants included employees of Dore & Whittier Architects, Smith Buckley Architects, Roots Design Studio, StudioBlue Architecture, and Eric Morrow, AIA.
One notable difference between the FBC draft and Burlington’s existing development ordinance involves project review: the FBC streamlines the process by eliminating Design Advisory Board and Sketch Plan review for most lower-impact projects—the idea being that with more explicit direction from the code on form-making, these steps are no longer necessary. Some individuals are concerned that this streamlining reduces the opportunity for public participation early on and might also engender an attitude of “box checking” design review at the administrative level. Thibault and White are quick to point out that major impact projects will still retain the public review steps required under the present ordinance.
TEST CASES: FINDINGS OF LOCAL ARCHITECTS
Across the board, the test case results differed significantly from what would be allowed under the present development ordinance. For example, the test site at 158 Cherry Street, at the corner of South Winooski Avenue—currently a Rite-Aid store and its parking lot—was examined by Eric Morrow, AIA. Morrow looked at two different test cases on this site, both that used mixed-use building programs.
The first case was an “idealized” build-out that illustrated the architect’s vision of a desirable mixed-use building, in terms of scale, location on the site, size, number of stories, etc. Several of Morrow’s desired design moves—the location of the building set back from lot lines, provision of green space on-site, and certain building articulation—were not possible under the proposed FBC, and would represent significant design impediments or compromises to this particular vision for the site.
The second scheme was a “maximum-build case” that might be built on the Rite-Aid site: how much building could be fit onto the lot under the proposed FBC? Morrow positioned a generic mixed-use structure to occupy nearly the maximum allowable footprint of 100% lot coverage, maxed out the floor-floor height (24 feet for the ground story and 14 feet for the other ten stories), which made a building of eleven stories and 174 feet tall. By comparison, Decker Tower Senior Housing (St. Paul Street) and Cathedral Square (Cherry Street) are both roughly 110 feet tall. The allowable building would be over sixty feet taller than any of its surrounding neighbors, and would dwarf the Masonic Temple at the head of Church Street one block away. Current zoning for this site would allow a base height of 65 feet; with all available bonuses, a 105-foot-tall structure could be built.
Jodie Fielding, AIA, principal of Roots Design Studio, moved to Vermont from Colorado about a year ago; she was one of the investigators less familiar with Burlington’s zoning regulations or the proposed FBC. About participating in the process, she said, “I think testing the code was a responsible effort initiated by the Department of Planning & Zoning. I was happy to be able to contribute ideas and an interpretation of the code with tangible examples. Hopefully, this exercise will iron out some of the kinks prior to being implemented.”
Fielding examined two distinct scenarios on the site at 86 Main Street, at the corner of Pine Street. Currently, there is a two-story brick commercial building and parking lot on the site. Her first test scheme was a plausible, mixed-use building that featured a three-story base element along Main Street, with an additional six-story building mass set back from the frontage by some 30 feet, for a total of nine stories and roughly 108 feet tall. This massing was allowed by the FBC, but was not required, and appeared out-of-scale with its two-story wood frame residential and two- and three-story commercial neighbors. The design featured detail elements required by the code, such as commercial shop-front windows along Main Street and a building base design that worked with the sloping site on both Main and Pine Streets.
Fielding’s other scheme left the existing commercial building standing, and added a three-story plus penthouse building in place of the existing parking lot. Her stated intent was to show a more moderate scheme than her previous scheme—one more in scale with the current neighborhood and showcasing some of the detail and fenestration requirements of the code.
Fielding also investigated two different scenarios at 75 South Winooski Avenue, the current site of Handy’s Texaco station. She looked at an extreme build-out hotel program compared with a museum program more in keeping with the scale of the surrounding context. The maximum build-out scenario resulted in a ten-story structure much taller than its immediate neighbors—just had been the case with the 86 Main Street investigation. Fielding’s museum scheme exploration was remarkable in that the minimum fenestration restrictions of the FBC prevented solid walls on the street façades—a feature one might expect to employ in a museum building.
None of the schemes investigated by Fielding had off-street parking requirements under the FBC nor did there appear to be requirements to provide for off-site parking or coordination with public parking amenities.
“I think the overall organization is very good,” Fielding said after completing her exploration of the code. “The graphics supporting the written code are very helpful in making it comprehensible. The proposed form-based code is a combination of typical zoning regulations with the addition of design regulations. From the zoning perspective, I think the FBC is a move in a good direction—with some refinement needed of what is appropriate to the growth of the Burlington. In regards to the design regulations, as a responsible architect with a desire to make positive contributions to our built environment, I feel some of the design regulations are restrictive in ways that had a negative impact on the final design. I do understand the goal of having design regulations to encourage optimal design solutions. Zoning regulation becomes a balancing act of what level of rules have a greater positive versus negative overall impact of the built environment as a whole. This FBC is something that I do feel should be looked at carefully; it will have a significant impact on the future aesthetic of Burlington.”
Tom Hengelsberg, AIA, and designer Joseph Petrarca, both of Dore & Whittier Architects, independently explored two waterfront scenarios on the Lake Champlain Transportation Company site at the King Street ferry dock. Since the site is within a Public Trust Doctrine area, only public uses are permitted; as such, the only commercially viable use permitted under the FBC would be an “inn” with public amenities such as a restaurant, a marina, a boating-goods store, conference facilities, public restrooms, and an observation deck. Both Hengelsberg and Petrarca designed schemes that achieved maximum site build-out, resulting in three-story buildings that to some observers might feel out-of-scale and -character with the city’s traditional development pattern for the neighborhood. Both schemes were notable for the lack of requirement to respect any existing view-sheds of neighbors to the east. Recognizing that no inn or hotel would be built without on-site parking, both designers incorporated significant parking structures into their mixed-use buildings.
Israel Smith, AIA, and Nathalia Ellis, both of Smith Buckley Architects, investigated a site at 200-228 Church Street (the parking lot south of Burlington Telecom). Smith said his findings also yielded results of “a significant scale-jump” from that which now exists with immediate neighbors. By way of explaining differences between present zoning and the FBC, Smith offered, “The current zoning says that, across the board, we must take into consideration, and mitigate the impact upon ‘less intensively developed neighboring properties.’ On the rare occasion when a project is denied, this is often part of the reason why. The FBC takes the attitude that lack of development by one's neighbors should not impair [the] ability to develop [one’s] own land.”
Donna Church, Studio Blue Architecture, studied a maximum build-out program and a smaller artist live/work program on the former Vermont Transit bus terminal site at 345 Pine Street. She stated that her maximum case resulted in a comparatively large, but not over-scaled building, given the varied Pine Street context. For the live/work studio case, a series of small, curious, detached two-story structures resulted. Church said, “I found several instances where the code ‘directed’ or ‘required’ a certain design solution, such as fenestration patterns, or size and scale of porches or galleries, and was concerned about the potential affect of uniformity these might have on design.” Church said her exploration also raised questions about how easements might be handled by the FBC; there were two on the former Vermont Transit site.
THE PROCESS CONTINUES
At a February 19 meeting of the Joint Committee for Form-Based Code, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberg told the group not to be beholden by internal schedules that may have been set for finalizing the review, but rather to “go slower and get it right.” He said that while he had advocated for FBC well before his election—because of its predictability for developers, neighbors, and other stakeholders, as well as its ability to positively influence the aesthetics and urban design of the built environment—it was never his intention to encourage or allow development out-of-scale or character with downtown Burlington.
As of this writing, there is one more scheduled meeting of the Joint Committee, on Wednesday, April 1. Thereafter, additional meetings will be scheduled over the next two to three months, according to Thibault.
AIAVT hosted a discussion and presentations of the test cases regarding the proposed FBC with Planning & Zoning Department staff at Burlington City Arts on Monday, April 13. (Highlights of that discussion will be reported in AIAVT News’ July issue.)
Besides Fielding, several other architects that participated in the testing of the code commended the Planning & Zoning Department for running such testing, for taking their comments seriously, and for their ongoing efforts to improve the draft code. Architects who live, work, or practice in Burlington are encouraged to get involved in this process—it is not too late. The Planning & Zoning Department would benefit greatly from other architects producing test designs for as yet unexplored downtown sites. Interested professionals are encouraged to contact Sandrine Thibault, Planning & Zoning Department, 865-7193 or sthibault@ burlingtonvt.gov.
Information about Burlington’s FBC and Plan BTV master plan documents can be found at: http://www.burlingtonvt.gov/planBTV/FBC.
OTHER COMMUNITIES & FBC
Besides Burlington, cities in the state that have adopted or are considering using FBC are Newport (adopted 12/2010), Winooski, and South Burlington.
Some New England communities that have adopted or are considering FBC include:
- Hamden, CT
- Southfield, MA
- Weymouth, MA
- Abington, MA
- Rockland, MA
- Lowell, MA
- I-93 Tri-town Development Area: Andover / Tewksbury / Wilmington, MA
- Damariscotta, ME
- Standish, ME
- Yarmouth, ME
- Portsmouth, NH
- Dover, NH
- Saratoga, NY
- Jamestown, RI
END NOTES & ATTRIBUTION
There is a wealth of information about FBC on the web. Much of the historical information for this article was gleaned from the following sources:
- “A History, Evolution, and Application of Form-Based Codes” by Lauren M. Goudy, Master’s Thesis, Kansas State University, 2009
- “The Emergence of Form-Based Codes”, by Mary Madden and Joel Russell. Website: http://plannersweb.com/2014/12/fbc2/
- “An Introduction to Form-Based Codes,” Form-Based Code Institute, website:
And the Codes they are a Changin’... 2015 Energy Codes & Lighting Controls
By Donna Leban, AIA, LC IESNA
New requirements in the 2015 Vermont Commercial Building Energy Standards place more focus in an area often nearly overlooked for the past decade. This area would be lighting controls.
Yes, many office buildings have room-occupancy sensors, and code-compliant buildings are supposed to include lighting control panels to turn common-area lighting on and off at pre-set, programmed times. This new energy code demands quite a bit more.
The adoption of LED-lighting technology in most new commercial buildings make sense especially when combined with control options including dimming for daylight harvesting and occupant selected light levels. Recent national surveys by the lighting industry estimated the percentage of new commercial buildings using Solid State Lighting (SSL) at over 50%. This represents a significant increase from the previous year, an indication of how rapidly this technology is gaining on legacy systems such as fluorescent and HID.
At the most basic level, the 2015 energy code allows the use of screw-base efficient lamps (light bulbs) in dwelling units in commercial buildings like hotels and multistory apartment buildings. Other than that one exception, new buildings are required to use hardwired energy-efficient light sources; this poses real difficulties at this stage of LED fixture development, since there are few manufacturers that provide decent quality decorative fixtures at moderate and lower price points.
The ability to control and dim solid-state fixtures without reducing their potentially very long life is a major reason for their growing acceptance over fluorescent sources. LED luminaires often have 0-10v controllable, dimmable drivers, and standards are currently being developed that include dimmer compatibility. There are also non-dimming drivers, three-wire dimming proprietary wireless system drivers, and two-wire leading or trailing-edge dimming drivers. And then there are “designer” fixtures where no information at all is given on the drivers or the specific dimming capability of the fixture. Yikes! How does one decide?
This is a new world for architects and engineers who are accustomed to reusing more or less the same lighting systems and control specifications. Under new energy codes, more detailed requirements for occupancy sensors, timer and light level reduction controls, and daylight-responsive controls not only require us to revisit our specifications, it requires us to take a new look at what makes sense for different types of clients and sizes/types of buildings. Room controls and increasingly sophisticated lighting panels will continue to dominate our small building market, but they will need to include new functions that will add cost and complexity. Fixture-based sensors will also make sense for some facilities, but are not the panacea that some claim. For larger buildings, a much larger range of options exist.
While the term “lighting system” strikes fear in the hearts of many an electrician and building manager, lighting designers and electrical contractors who have worked with the newer lighting control systems understand that for the right client and building/campus, such systems can result in reduced labor costs and additional energy savings compared to legacy systems such as dimming panels. More than that, these new systems can also help manage facilities more efficiently by utilizing occupancy and other data that such systems can gather and display.
Would you like to become better educated about lighting control options for meeting the 2015 Vermont Commercial Building Energy Standards? I am offering a traveling, 1.5 hour presentation for Vermont-based architects and designers in their offices. The non-proprietary program will be specifically tailored to cover Section C405 Lighting Systems requirements of the code and will cover control options for a range of projects. Participants will also learn how to ensure competitive bidding of equivalent systems for controls in an intensely proprietary specification environment. Consequently, no manufacturer sponsorship will be sought or available.
For more information, contact me (Donna Leban), Light/Space/Design at 802-862-1901, email@example.com. For even more information consider attending Lightfair International at the Javits Center in New York, New York from May 5-7.
Archistream Ready to Hit the Road for Spring & Summer 2015
Over the past year AIA Vermont’s Archistream has hosted over 89,000 visitors. Many of our members were among those visitors. For those who were not, there’s still opportunity for AIAVT’s architects, associates, professional affiliates, and colleagues to visit or avail themselves of this unique and wonderful vehicle.
As many of you know, the Archistream was reconfigured to highlight and best display the wonders of the built environment. With space for printed material, static and interactive displays, it can be set up to display any architecture firm’s work.
Mike Purvis recently accepted the position of Archistream Program Coordinator and will manage operations for 2015. He took over the reins from Diane Gayer, AIA, who, among others, saw to the vehicle’s success in 2014. Purvis, a Woodstock-based architect, is looking forward to making the coming year as successful as the last.
Here are just some of the plans already formulated or under discussion this year thanks to Purvis’ diligence:
- Greg Boshart, AIA, Maple Valley Design Build, is scheduled to use vehicle June 6- 7, Manchester Car Show
- Robert Carl Williams Associates’ architects are scheduled to steward August 8-9, Rutland Arts Festival
- Brad Rabinowitz, AIA, is preparing a proposal on behalf of Frog Hollow Craft Association, for the use of the trailer for a period in August or September
- Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center in Newport, VT may host the Archistream in conjunction with local architects.
While Mike is off to a great start, AIAVT would like the Archistream calendar filled up. Members and colleagues, please think of creative ways to host the design gallery and education center and thereby create awareness for the profession and your work!
Take these steps to get started:
Step 1 Check outreach/archistream/ for general information on the Archistream and email Archistream Coordinator Mike Purvis.
Step 2 Determine your team of partners and exhibit/activity needs. This includes a local architect(s), associate(s) and/or affiliate, proposed venue and audience, and it would be helpful if someone on your team has an appropriate vehicle for towing.
Step 3 Send the Archistream Coordinator your event activities and proposed schedule for hosting the Archistream in your community.
Step 4 Photograph and communicate the success of your event back to AIAVT for our Face Book page at facebook.com/vermontarchistreamproject
Like any opportunity, this one won’t last. This is the final year that AIAVT will offer this wonderful resource to its membership, so don’t let this opportunity slip away. Give it some thought and contact Mike Purvis.
Vermont Integrated Architecture Plays Major Role in New State Office Building
On January 12, Governor Peter Shumlin cut the ribbon on a new state office building in the heart of St. Albans. Vermont Integrated Architecture (VIA) of Middlebury designed the building as part of a team assembled by South Burlington-based development firm ReArch Company. Replacing a vacant and crumbling brick building on Federal Street, the 45,100-square-foot office building, which will house approximately 168 employees in six departments of the Agency of Human Services, is a large part of the planned revitalization of the City of St. Albans.
One of the main challenges in the building’s design was making its sizeable structure fit in a relatively diminutive downtown streetscape. VIA’s architects addressed this challenge by breaking up the structure’s brick façade with a metal panel and varying the window spacing, giving the appearance of two distinct buildings. In addition, storefront glass at street level and a steel canopy overhead ties in with similar features on neighboring buildings. “It was important that this contemporary building fit within the context of historic downtown St. Albans,” said VIA architectural designer, Sam Ostrow.
Despite budget constraints, VIA was able to incorporate many sustainable features to ensure the building’s energy efficiency and durability: granite along the base of the building to withstand salt used on the sidewalks; the use of regionally-sourced brick and high-recycled content structural steel; building mechanical systems with energy recovery technology; and comprehensive air sealing and insulation. In addition, all lights have motion sensors and all bathroom and sink fixtures have water-saving features.
The new building was designed to foster greater connections, both internally and externally. Private offices for the sensitive and confidential matters of vulnerable clients surround a more public space with cubicles and conference rooms for greater collaboration among departments. Additionally, the centrally-located building is expected not only to be more accessible to the clients who receive services there but also to bring more customers to downtown businesses.
VIA began the design process for the project in the summer of 2013. Construction began in late December of 2013, and employees began moving in only a year later. “Extraordinary teamwork and collaboration made it possible,” Ostrow said, “and the result is something we can all be proud of.”
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from the PRESIDENT
The first quarter of my presidency is almost over and AIA Vermont (AIAVT) has already accomplished a lot. Quite a bit is also planned for the rest of the year.
The Emerging Professionals Network has shown three architecture-related films so far. The most recent was Henri Cartier-Bresson’s “The Impassioned Eye.”
In February, I attended the first of four AIA New England (AIANE) board meetings, along with Diantha Korzun, president, AIANE and Michael Hoffman, AIA National strategic council member. The AIANE board discussed the current status of AIANE and its relevancy with regards to its position between AIA National and our New England components. AIANE is currently evaluating its role in the “pipeline of information” and believes that its mission needs to be redefined given AIA National’s new focus on becoming a “one-stop shopping” organization. The board decided that AIANE needs to reevaluate why it exists and if the group should act as a cross-pollinator between AIA National and all the New England chapters. Fundraising for AIANE has come to a halt while these issues are contemplated going forward.
From March 4-6, representatives from AIAVT including Carol Miklos, executive director; Gary Corey, president elect; Michael Hoffman, and Diantha Korzun joined me in Washington, D.C. for the annual AIA Grassroots Convention. Prepared to speak to our legislators about the major public policy topics at the forefront of AIA National, we unfortunately got hit by a major snow storm and all of Washington shut down! Many meetings got canceled, but amazingly, thanks to the tireless efforts of our executive director, we managed to reschedule and meet with all of our representatives “on the hill” over our three-day visit.
As Congress considers reforming the tax code, the first issue we discussed was the preservation of historic buildings and spaces, by improving the Historic Tax Credit. The second issue we brought to the table was the reintroduction of the Safe Building Codes Incentive Act; this legislation would increase FEMA disaster assistance grant funding by 4 percent to states that adopt and enforce the most up-to-date model building codes. The third issue we discussed encourages our legislators to support the National Design Services Act, a bill that would provide student loan debt relief to architecture graduates who volunteer to undertake design work in underserved communities. This type of relief is already encouraged by other federal policies for medical, legal and veterinary school graduates. Finally, the fourth major topic we discussed requested that senators oppose the repeal of Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 currently contained in the Portman-Shaheen energy efficiency bill. Section 433, which promotes federal 2030 targets, was previously passed with bi-partisan support under President Bush.
Regarding this last issue—energy efficiency—I believe that, together, we need to take any opportunity to promote energy savings and any move towards energy independence. AIAVT, under the guidance of board member Eric Morrow, is going to spur on this effort by becoming involved in the 2030 Challenge. We are investigating the presentation of AIA National’s ten training sessions at a location in our state to educate and promote future net zero/carbon neutral newly constructed buildings. Visit http://www.aiaplus2030.org/ to learn more.
I'm pleased to report that AIAVT recently held two events in Burlington: a studio social on April 9 at Red Thread and a form-based code discussion on April 13. Next up is the AIAVT-CSIVT ACX Conference, “Resiliency: Is it the New Sustainability?,” on May 20-21 at the Hilton (see email announcements). Also on the calendar in the coming months is my attendance at the AIA National Convention in Atlanta on May 14-16. Please stay tuned for my next column when I report about all of these events!
Adam Pelkey has headed up the Department of Design at The McKernon Group since 2006. He earned a Master of Architecture degree in 2005 from Florida A&M University with a focus on sustainability. In the past few years, Pelkey has designed four 5-Star Energy Rated Homes. His houses have won Homebuilders & Remodelers Association of Southern Vermont Excellence in Housing Awards.
Silvina Lopez Barrera recently joined the Architectural Studies Program at Middlebury College. Previously, she was a lecturer of architecture at Iowa State University, where she taught design studios. Silvina is a licensed architect in Uruguay and holds a Master of Architecture degree from Iowa State University. Her current academic interests include a multidisciplinary approach to space, informal urbanism, public interest design, sustainable alternatives for rural-urban communities and food systems, and trans-nationalism—particularly in finding linkages between Latin America and the U.S. She is a member of Uruguayan Society of Architects. Silvina was on the Education and Programs Committee of Iowa Women in Architecture and contributed to the publication “Best Practice Recommendations for the Design Profession.”
“Considering this is the winter that wouldn't die,” says Principal Architect Alan P. Benoit, AIA, CPHC, Sustainable Design LLC, Manchester, “I thought I'd share with the membership a photo of my recent architectural snow sculpture. It’s not an award, it’s not an honor, and it’s not amazing; but I did what I could, working with fluctuating temperatures, roadside snow and an ever-shrinking pile!” In all, Benoit spent about 10 hours on the sculpture, using all manner of tools, including his hands, buckets, shovels, putty knives, and screw drivers. Benoit is a 2012 recipient of the Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence. His work can be viewed at www.sustainabledesignofvt.com.
Harry L. Hunt, AIA, principal of Harry Hunt Architects LLC, Stowe, recently completed the Passive House Institute’s Certified Passive House Designer certification course and testing process. Passive House Institute has played a crucial role in the development of passive house design and construction worldwide, and is the sole internationally recognized, performance-based energy standard in the industry. Hunt, a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design Accredited Professional, specializes in the design of zero energy and low-energy buildings. His work can be viewed at www.harryhuntarchitects.com.
Rebecca Campbell, AIA, LEED AP, served as the as the LEED consultant for the The Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education at Shelburne Museum. The project, designed by Ann Beha Architects, was recently awarded an Honor Award for Design Excellence from the Boston Society of Architects and received a 2013 Merit Award for Design Excellence from AIA Vermont.
Jonathan M. Miller, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, AIA, SCIP, was invited by ARCOM, one of the leaders in specifications software, to participate in the February 6-7 AIA MasterSpec Architectural Review Committee (MARC ); MARC is an AIA standing committee that meets quarterly. Eight professional specifiers, each working with two to four ARCOM staff, reviewed 35 specification sections over two days at ARCOM’s Alexandria, Virginia offices.
Freeman French Freeman (FFF) is thrilled to announce that LEED Silver certification has been achieved for the Shelburne Road branch of the New England Federal Credit Union. This is FFF’s seventh LEED certified project. Six additional projects are currently in the pipeline to achieve LEED certification at the Burlington-based firm, including the Waterbury State Office Complex and UVM’s STEM Initiative…Additionally, FFF was among this year’s winners at the 2015 Better Buildings By Design Conference, hosted by Efficiency Vermont. FFF received a Merit Award in the large commercial buildings category for West Hall, a new 286-bed dormitory on the Norwich University campus. The building is currently under review for LEED Silver certification, with potential for LEED Gold.
Hidden among the woods and fields of the von Trapp resort, Guillot Vivian Viehmann Architects Inc.’ new building for the von Trapp Brewing Company was substantially completed March 1. The 34,000 square foot building houses a 50,000-barrel-per-year production for von Trapp’s fine beers. Energy geeks take note: the efficiency of the envelope was tested when the propane, lacking a working vaporizer, froze on the coldest night of the year and 35 hours later the interior temperature of the building was still at 62° Fahrenheit, a mere 6° drop. Beer production and product shipping follow later this spring. Tours start this summer.
Smith & Vansant Architects’ Painter’s Studio in Norwich, Vermont was recently featured in "Let There Be Light," a column of Design New England magazine’s March/April 2015 issue. Titled “Art and Architecture Meet in a Vermont Artist’s All-purpose Studio,” the piece was written by Kathleen James and featured photographs by Rob Karosis. Read the story at: http://digital.designnewengland.com/designnewengland/march_april_2015#pg34
Net Zero 2030: We can get there from here
While Vermont has committed to a goal that all new construction is net zero by 2030, getting there is going to take the collaborative efforts of businesses, communities, and individuals across the state. To that end, Efficiency Vermont has been working to align our strategies and practices with the vision, and we are laying the groundwork for a net-zero future in a number of ways.
Making the financial case for net zero
In 2014, Efficiency Vermont partnered with local firm, Maclay Architects, to study the feasibility of constructing new buildings to net zero. The results showed that, when compared to code-compliant buildings, building net zero and net-zero-ready is the more cost-effective choice. The findings show that:
· Net-zero-ready and net-zero buildings cost significantly less to operate.
· Energy savings will more than offset finance payments for any additional costs.
· Cost savings for net-zero buildings will continue to increase over the years.
Being able to show the economic viability of going net zero will help us to make the business case—an important consideration for many Vermonters.
Support for net zero in commercial spaces
Numerous commercial buildings in Vermont are already at or approaching net zero, but barriers to reaching this goal, like higher up-front costs, remain. To help break through those barriers, Efficiency Vermont offers specialized technical assistance, including:
· Cash flow and financing analysis
· Energy efficiency design reviews
· Post-occupancy performance review
Many commercial building owners and operators already know that net zero is the way to go, and this added support is helping to put their plans into action.
Support for net zero in residential spaces
On the residential side, Efficiency Vermont provides residents and building professionals the tools they need to build net-zero-ready. Residential new construction energy consultants offer assistance to all Vermonters who want to build above code. Efficiency Vermont also offers third-party verification for various levels of high-performance building, including Efficiency Vermont Certified High Performance Homes, which meet today’s most stringent standards for energy efficiency.
Other residential offerings continue to evolve, including the introduction of high performance modular homes to the marketplace, and a pilot project focused on renovating existing housing stock to net zero.
Take advantage of the resources available through Efficiency Vermont
Together with numerous Vermont professionals and organizations, Efficiency Vermont is working to get Vermont to net zero. Through our technical capabilities, incentives, and financing support, we hope to help each Vermonter get from wherever they are to where we collectively need to be in 2030.
If you have a high performance building project on the horizon, or think you might, please let us know so we can offer support. Contact us at 1-888-921-5990 or email our Project Intake Coordinators.
For over 25 years, Davis Frame Company has been designing and crafting some of the finest high-performance homes in the industry, including timber frame, panelized and barn homes. By combining the art of traditional timber framing with modern technology and high quality building materials, the company produces homes that will last for generations. Contact: Jeremiah Haynes, 800-636-0993 ext. 206, jhaynes@ davisframe.com.
Housing Vermont is a non-profit syndication and development company which creates permanently affordable rental housing for Vermonters through partnerships with local organizations, public agencies and the private sector. HV has produced 4,950 affordable apartments in 159 developments. The organization has raised and deployed more than $300 million in private equity. Housing Vermont's New Markets Tax Credit program has created favorable financing in excess of $87 million for 11 economic development projects in low income areas. Contact: Karen Patno, PHR, SHRM-CP, (802) 863-8424, kpatno@ hvt.org
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