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Maureen Mahle is an engineer, building scientist, and green building afficianado with Steven Winter Associates, Inc. As Director of Sustainable Housing Services, she seeks to expand the reach and scope of residential green building technologies and programs beyond conventional homes to address affordable housing, mixed use developments, continuing care retirement communities, and student housing.

Posts by Maureen Mahle

AeroBarrier: A New Tool for Gut Rehabs?

Image of AeroBarrier eventAeroBarrier is touted as the best route to never fail another blower door test. The technology, which involves pressurizing a space with a blower door fan while misting a water-based glue into the air from multiple points throughout the space, is most often being used on new multifamily buildings after drywall is installed. SWA first experimented with the technique on the Cornell Tech high-rise building. Back in March, I reached out to Yudah Schwartz at SuperSeal Insulation, Inc. about a personal project, the gut rehab of a 2,500 SF detached single family home. While renovations aren’t something they normally do, Yudah and his team agreed to try a demo. Here’s what happened.

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Rapidly Changing Brooklyn Neighborhood Welcomes Affordable and Sustainable Housing Development

image of Livonia Apartments

Courtesy of MAP Architects

The Livonia Apartments is Phase II of an affordable sustainable housing development in the rapidly changing neighborhood of East New York, Brooklyn. Through a partnership with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and designed by Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP), BRP Companies and partners developed this mixed-use, four-building complex to provide 292 apartments of both affordable and supportive housing, including 10% of units specified for persons with disabilities and municipal employees. In addition, Livonia II provides 30,000 square feet of community and retail space for the neighborhood.

The size and density of The Livonia Apartments project represented an opportunity to set a higher benchmark in green design strategies. Mayor Bill di Blasio stated at the groundbreaking, “For decades these vacant lots have been a blight on this neighborhood. Today, we’re breaking ground on a project that will deliver the affordable housing, good local jobs and vital services this community needs. We believe in a city where every neighborhood rises together, and where we make investments that give more people a shot at a better life.” Although the development straddles the busy elevated L & 3 trains and the Livonia Ave. station, the buildings’ facades are angled to minimize the sound and rattle from the trains, while maximizing privacy and natural light.

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The Adventures of Mo and Her No Mow Lawn

I always thought the phrase ‘about as interesting as watching grass grow’ conjured a vision of ultimate boredom. That was before I attempted to grow my own no mow lawn. It turns out that watching grass grow can be a roller-coaster of emotions: the angst of wondering whether my inability to precisely follow directions would matter… the excitement of seeing the first blades of green poking up… the anguish over bare spots… and the pride over healthy, lush sections.

No Mow Lawn 1

April 2015 – The lower tier is seeded; the upper tier wall-building is still in progress

For years I advised clients to consider no mow lawns in their green homes, but I had never seen the end product through a full cycle of seasons. Friends of friends who own a turf farm expressed their interest-slash-skepticism at my undertaking, which more or less echoed the sentiments of a whole stream of landscape architects before. “Sure, you could try no mow if you really WANTED to… ” A search of local nurseries turned up nothing available. I couldn’t figure out why something that sounded so ingenious wasn’t more popular! An internet search for “no mow grass” turns up Prairie Nursery in Westfield, WI as a major supplier. A colleague used their product, and they were extremely helpful on the phone, so I ordered the No Mow Lawn Seed Mix online.
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Fannie Mae Favors Green Multifamily

Fannie Mae recently reinforced their commitment to growing the green multifamily sector with the announcement of a reduction in interest rates for mortgage loans used to finance properties certified through a recognized green building rating system. There’s detailed information available on their website, but here’s a simple breakdown of the initiative using the 5 W’s:

Who: Fannie Mae Multifamily borrowers, developers, designers, and occupants

What: 10 basis point reduction in mortgage loans for multifamily properties certified through a recognized green building rating system (LEED, ENERGY STAR®, Enterprise Green Communities, etc.)

Where: Multifamily projects nationwide

When: Immediate implementation. Through existing green initiatives, Fannie Mae has already financed $130 million in Green Loans to properties with a Green Building certification

Why: Strengthens market for high-performance building design; Reduces financial risk for property owners; Raises property value with high performance upgrades

Visit the overview page for detailed information on Fannie Mae’s entire portfolio of Green Initiatives

New Year, New Beginnings: SWA Welcomes the Staff of Everyday Green!

We are thrilled to welcome Everyday Green to the SWA team! While working on green building projects in the Mid-Atlantic region over the past decade, I’ve consistently been impressed by their reputation for quality work and expertise. This is going to be a fantastic partnership at a time when the high performance buildings market is really taking off in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania!

Allow us to introduce you to our new staff in the Mid-Atlantic Region:

Andrea Foss

Andrea FossDirector of Sustainability Services – Mid Atlantic Region
Andrea will be Director of Sustainability Services—Mid-Atlantic Region. Andrea founded Everyday Green in 2008. She gained her in-depth understanding of green building working at the USGBC supporting the development of the LEED for Homes, Commercial Interiors, Core and Shell and Existing Buildings rating systems.

Scott Pusey

Scott Pusey Senior Sustainability Consultant
Scott is trained and certified in advanced building science and building diagnostic testing. He is an expert troubleshooting energy efficiency problems and has extensive construction and site management experience.

Elliot Seibert

Elliot Seibert Senior Building Systems Engineer
Elliot is a mechanical engineer specializing in building science and energy efficiency. With ACCA training on mechanical systems design and performance, he specializes in assisting project teams with equipment selection and design.

Michael Feldman

Michael Feldman Sustainability Consultant
Michael is a civil engineer specializing in building science and performance. With a broad background in traditional and green building concepts, Michael specializes in on-site verification of energy efficient building practices.

Corrie Weikle

Corrie WeikleSustainability Consultant
Corrie is a sap for all things green and sustainable. She has a passion for guiding behavior change toward sustainable practices and has worked in both the non-profit and for profit industry developing resource conservation management (RCM) and environmental education programs.

Christopher Kramer

Christopher KramerSustainability Consultant
Chris is a HERS Rater and specializes in diagnostic testing and site inspections for new homes. Chris is also preparing to take his EIT certification exam.

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