News Brief

How the 2015 EBie Award Winners Did It

Underrated and overlooked building operators and facility managers received their due at this year’s annual EBie awards.

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes won the “Take me to the River” award for water conservation.

Photo: Paul G. Wiegman
The 2015 EBie awards (pronounced EE-bee), sponsored by Urban Green Council, honor the hard work and perseverance that go into green renovations and day-to-day operation of existing buildings.

Each category of award offers a great story.

The All-Rounder

Dedicated to “the most improved building over multiple sustainability categories,” this prize went to Mt. Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in Brooklyn.

The team’s collaboration in the face of challenges unique to the hospital—such as aging HVAC systems, the need to keep the building fully functioning throughout renovation, and the need to adhere to the hospital’s guidelines for infection prevention—was its most notable victory. The central renovation to the project was the replacement of the boilers, which included the transition from steam-powered heat to a hot-water system.

Stephen Monez, assistant vice president, oversees four New York City hospitals, including Sinai, and is credited with spearheading the project.

The Smooth Operator 

The “most improved” award of the EBies goes to the Goizueta School of Business.

The building had received a LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance Gold certification in 2004, but efficiency had sunk in the decade after, according to the award submission. A building team led by Eric Gregory, commissioning manager, installed an alarm system to find the flaws in the energy system, and within ten months, they had paid for the project.

Says Gregory, “This process helps us keep performance optimized without drift and comes with the side bonus of greatly reducing occupant comfort complaints.”

Power to the People

Two winners were chosen for this award, which highlights the greatest reduction in building energy use (by percentage).

The first was awarded to a Passive House in Mamaroneck, New York, redesigned by consultant Andreas Benzing of A.M. Benzing PLLC. The building was retrofitted with a superinsulated, airtight, and thermally broken building envelope that decreased energy use by 70%. Another addition was a redwood pergola to provide shade for south-facing windows. Advice from the project team about building low-efficiency buildings? “Plan with an eye on future needs” so that building efficiency can stay low for years to come.

How would you like your employer to provide you with a hybrid vehicle and a discount on solar power? The other winner for “Power to the People” is the Melink Corporation’s headquarters, which, in addition to receiving LEED Platinum certification, has turned its facilities into a lab for renewable energy sources, and counts those perks among its initiatives. The building repurposes 90% of its waste. Steve Melink, CEO, is credited with leadership of the project.

Take Me to the River

The EBie winner for largest savings in potable water went to the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh.

Spearheading the project is Richard V. Piacentini, the executive director, who has led the way to the conservatory’s rise in green building over the past decade. Reducing its 12.5 million gallons of water and creating a net-zero-energy, 2.9-acre Center for Sustainable Landscapes, the botanical conservatory has come a long way in a short time.

How did they do it? See this image of the week to learn more.

It Takes a Village

The award for commercial tenant space across multiple sustainability categories goes to the Frost Bank Tower in Austin, Texas.

Bribed by “breakfast goodies” and coffee, according to Sammie Baker, senior property manager, the team was able to engage tenants in sustainability improvements by figuring out how they used the space and how they wanted to be involved.

The Austin high-rise also features a building automation system (BAS) that lowers costs and energy and that previously helped drop energy use by 16% over three years.

The Verdant Brainiac

This prize goes to the biggest challenge overcome and the most innovative renovation.

City Center Apartments in Richmond, California, takes home the trophy. Led by Ali Gaylord, senior project manager, the team replaced sloped and flat roofs, added double-glazed windows and sliding glass doors, and installed photovoltaic panels, along with other improvements.

The largest challenge, according to Gaylord, was immense condensation created by high-efficiency furnaces. The solution? Downspouts in the furnace closet that directed water off each unit’s balcony.

“Our project also offers a model of how an affordable housing project can incorporate energy- and water-efficiency projects, along with energy generation, into a re-capitalization scope,” says Gaylord.

Jury Award

This award, created this year, goes to a project that falls outside the purview of the other categories.

The Georgia World Conference Center (GWCC) “takes the LEED,” according to the EBie awards summary. Tim Trfezer, sustainability manager, was in charge of greening the mammoth conference center, which includes large, open spaces and a 24-hour operation schedule. The first LEED certification attempt in 2005 failed.

After 2010, low-flow restroom water fixtures were installed, and more than 500 air-handling units were evaluated. A green cleaning policy was enacted that required paper and cleaning products to meet sustainability criteria, in addition to improved solid-waste management following a waste audit.

As a result, the center diverted 602 tons of material from landfills and achieved 27% greater energy efficiency. Today, the GWCC is the largest LEED-certified convention center in the world. 

Read more about existing building performance

Why Post-Occupancy Review is the Future of Design (And How it Can Serve You Now)

Design Strategies for Occupant Engagement and How They Boost Performance

EBies 2014 Shine (Efficient) Spotlight on Existing Buildings


For more information:

EBie Awards

Published August 3, 2015

Fichman, A. (2015, August 3). How the 2015 EBie Award Winners Did It. Retrieved from

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