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Erie, Pennsylvania Celebrates the City’s First LEED Gold Project: The Erie Art Museum
January 13, 2015

Green Building Alliance, City officials, project team members and Erie residents participate in a free afternoon program called The Art of Being Green.

Erie-Art-Museum-ExtThe Erie Art Museum hosted a celebration Sunday honoring the green building certification awarded by the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program for its recently opened renovation and addition. evolveEA served as sustainability consultant for the project, coordinating the architects at Edge Studio (now GBBN), museum stakeholders and the rest of the project team to ensure high level and cost-effective LEED certification. The project is Erie’s first to achieve LEED Gold certification, the second-highest level of sustainability achievement in the LEED rating system. This local team had no experience with LEED, but embraced it as an organizing framework. As EAM Director John Vanco mentioned in his remarks, “Green buildings are an essential aspect of humanity’s response to the monumental task of addressing global climate change.”

EAM-insitu1evolveEA also designed the green building education graphics, which include signs posted throughout the museum to explain some of the building’s sustainable design features, brochures and a tour program designed to further explain these concepts. Sunday’s event also featured presentations by Erie Mayor Joseph Sinnott, and evolveEA Principals Marc and Christine Mondor, representing both evolveEA and the Green Building Alliance. The event attracted many families from the Erie area who enjoyed a LEED scavenger hunt led by museum staff, free access to the galleries and arts and crafts making. Located in Downtown Erie, the museum has a diverse visitor base and stands as a cultural and educational hub for tens of thousands of visitors annually.

Architect Anne Chen of GBBN and LEED consultant Marc Mondor of evolveEA joined Erie Art Museum Director John Vanco and Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott for the unveiling of the LEED Gold plaque in the museum lobby. The Erie Times-News quoted Mondor referring to the project as “a building that is a symbol to the whole community about what is possible.” Mayor Sinnott stated that the museum is a model for future green buildings in Erie.

The Erie Art Museum is a wonderful example of a project that addressed sustainability comprehensively. With a progressive owner that really encouraged us to explore, sustainability goals of site infiltration, building reuse, clean air, high energy and water efficiency were pursued and have been operationally instituted. The addition is a gorgeous architecturally-striking plaza and entry that lets in copious, yet controlled amounts of daylight. This was the first time that most of the team members had worked on a LEED project, and everyone really pulled their weight. We’re also pleased that the building is a centrally-located, historic and well-regarded community anchor.  — Marc Mondor

Certified in 2014, the Erie Art Museum was evolveEA’s 50th LEED Certified Project since our founding in 2004.

Local news coverage of the event includes the following links:
Erie museum celebrates ‘Art of Being Green’
Erie Art Museum Acquires LEED Certification

Upper Lawrenceville Community Visioning and Development Plan Receives AIA Honor Awards at the City and State Levels
November 12, 2014

The Pennsylvania chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as well as AIA Pittsburgh have each recognized evolveEA’s work in Upper Lawrenceville, or the Tenth Ward, with Honor Awards in Regional and Urban Design. The Upper Lawrenceville Targeted Development Strategy was developed through a series of charrettes led by evolveEA in which we helped the community craft a neighborhood identity and a series of principles guiding future development to achieve the community’s long-term livability goals. The principles built upon the existing physical and cultural legacy of Upper Lawrenceville but also were aspirational, seeding a vision for a future yet to come focused on economic, cultural and environmental issues.


Upper Lawrenceville Plaza

AIA Pittsburgh held its annual awards gala on October 23rd in Pittsburgh and the AIA Pennsylvania Celebration of Architectural Excellence Awards Gala was held at the world-renowned BARNES Foundation in Philadelphia on November 12. Christine Mondor, AIA, evolveEA’s principal for the project, said, “The Upper Lawrenceville plan strongly emphasized growth from a sense of place and culture that is unique to the 10th Ward and to Pittsburgh. We are honored that two national juries recognized the validity of this approach.”

Many Lawrenceville residents participated in the community workshops, and some were inspired to action almost immediately. A new fresh food access and marketing initiative, and a handful of local businesses and beautification projects launched by residents point to the sense of pride that has driven community activation in the year since the visioning process was completed. There has also been significant development activity at some of the sites identified in the plan as neighborhood anchors, and a sharp increase in building permits and renovation activity throughout Upper Lawrenceville, with home renovations and sales rising steadily, indicate promising trends guided by the community’s creation of the Development Strategy.


AIA Pittsburgh Honor Award - evolveEA


This study is a really comprehensive look at the existing residential fabric with a strong point of view towards handling growth. It is very well presented, attuned to the existing scale, and very sensitive to the needs of existing residents. 

Matthew Galluzzo, Executive Director of the Lawrenceville Corporation, said:

Together with our sister organization, Lawrenceville United, we’re very proud to count evolveEA and the Design Center as partners in creating the Upper Lawrenceville Community Visioning Plan. It was a remarkable planning process, bringing together a broad and dynamic swath of community stakeholders. The process yielded a powerful and utilitarian vision for the neighborhood. The report has already served as a roadmap, enabling us to create demonstrable progress in our shared pursuit a 21st century neighborhood.

And Chris Koch, Executive Director of The Design Center, said:

The Design Center provided technical assistance and funding to this project to ensure the 10th Ward of Pittsburgh had a road map to support its redevelopment efforts. We were thrilled that evolveEA was selected through our Design Fund process as they were uniquely qualified to deliver an innovative, community-driven planning process that has already led to successfully implemented projects.

evolveEA collaborated on the project with Lawrenceville Corporation and Lawrenceville United, two community development organizations that have for years fostered neighborhood improvement throughout Lawrenceville’s three districts — Lower, Central, and Upper Lawrenceville. The project was supported by a grant from The Design Center of Pittsburgh. The project team also included Fourth Economy Consulting, based in Pittsburgh, who provided an economic analysis for the development strategy.

evolveEA Designated as LEED Proven Provider Under New USGBC Program
October 03, 2014

LEED-Proven-Provider_rgb_webThe new LEED Proven Provider designation was launched by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), the USGBC’s certification arm, to streamline the LEED project review process for experienced organizations that demonstrate consistent excellence in administering LEED projects. evolveEA is proud to announce our designation as one of the first LEED Proven Providers (ID+C) after having participated in the program’s beta testing last year.

“LEED Proven Provider makes the LEED review process faster and more seamless,” said Doug Gatlin, vice president of program delivery, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and GBCI. “It allows GBCI to deliver faster reviews of LEED projects while still maintaining the integrity of the LEED certification process.”

LEED Proven Provider is designed to minimize the need for additional work during the project review process. It also creates an opportunity for participants and LEED reviewers to work together to enhance the LEED certification experience and facilitates direct engagement with and support for project teams.

“One of the many things we’ve heard from customers is that the LEED review process can be complex,” added Gatlin. “LEED Proven Provider rewards organizations that are submitting great LEED applications while speeding up the review process, which is a benefit that participants can pass along to their clients.”

— US Green Building Council

evolveEA recently celebrated our tenth anniversary as a consulting and design firm dedicated to advancing sustainable systems and solutions. Having managed some of the earliest LEED certified projects in our region and abroad, such as the first ever LEED certified supermarket and the first LEED certified building on the African continent, the firm has been a notable force in stewarding and promoting what is now the most prominent green building rating system. More recently, evolveEA managed the LEED certification for the Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes, which received the highest ever LEED score of any new building. We are excited to be able to leverage our Proven Provider status to benefit our clients and to continue to advance the proliferation of healthier and greener built environments.

Christine Mondor Selected to Join Ecodistricts Global Protocol Advisory Committee
July 21, 2014

Christine Mondor, Principal of evolveEA, has been selected as one of eighty international experts, practitioners and leaders to be part of the Ecodistricts Global Protocol Advisory Committee. Ecodistricts creatively synthesize ecology, economics and placemaking to create strong communities and the concept has successfully been used in community based planning projects across the country. evolveEA has successfully worked with communities in Western Pennsylvania to incorporate innovative energy, water and food systems into the design of neighborhoods, planned developments and urban districts., a Portland, Oregon based non-profit, is convening the Global Protocol Advisory Committee. The Global Protocol Advisory Committee will discuss goals, milestones and deliverables for establishing a broad adoption of ecodistrict planning and sharing of knowledge. holds an annual summit to promote sustainable urban design principles. Christine Mondor presented at the summit in Boston in November 2013, was part of a Pittsburgh team at the 2014 Ecodistricts Incubator in Portland, Oregon, and will be presenting this fall at the Ecodistricts Summit in Washington, DC. describes the Protocol as follows:

The Protocol is a platform for building district governance and leadership, a framework for unleashing innovation, a system for encouraging and rewarding leadership, and a blueprint for creating just, sustainable and resilient cities and neighborhoods for all. Focusing on process and upstream performance, the EcoDistricts Protocol addresses many common challenges that have emerged in our efforts to regenerate our communities successfully. This includes the lack of rigorous project governance, interdisciplinary goal-setting, fragmented project assessment processes, and a continued reliance on traditional funding models.

evolveEA has been leading ecodistrict planning, design, and stakeholder education initiatives in a number of communities since 2009. The firm’s approach to promoting equity for community members by fostering grassroots capacity-building has been recognized with design awards and invitations to collaborate nationally and internationally.

AIA+2030 Series: A Year of Capacity Building for Pittsburgh Professionals
May 05, 2014

AIA + 2030 Session 10


Last spring, AIA Pittsburgh’s newly reconvened Committee On The Environment (COTE) launched an initiative to bring high-level sustainability training to the region’s design and construction professionals. Adopting a national curriculum called AIA+2030, the series of ten workshops is intended to drive improvement among Pittsburgh’s new and existing buildings with respect to their energy efficiency, water use, indoor air quality, and other environmental factors. Alongside Downtown Pittsburgh’s 2030 District, and the global 2030 Challenge, the program enables industry professionals to understand and achieve efficiency targets that increase incrementally over the coming 16 years, reaching net-zero energy for new buildings and significant reductions for existing buildings by the year 2030. Regional practitioners and experts delivered the workshops, using case studies from their portfolios to demonstrate how goal setting, simulation, site planning, envelope, systems, and operations contribute to the creation of buildings that can meet the 2030 Challenge.

AIA+2030With the tenth and final session bringing the series to a close last week, participants were enthusiastic about applying what they’ve learned in their projects. COTE member Melanie Como Harris, AIA, LEED AP, of IKM Inc., has been posting summaries of each workshop on the AIA Pittsburgh blog, helping to generate more widespread interest in the program as the committee plans to offer the series again next year. As 2030 Challenge and 2030 District targets will increasingly generate demand for the expertise needed to create new high performing buildings and improve existing buildings, AIA Pittsburgh and the committee recognize that bringing the education series to as many regional professionals as possible over the next few years is of vital importance to the region’s future.

On Thursday, May 8, AIA Pittsburgh will hold its annual continuing education conference, Build Pittsburgh, at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. evolveEA Principal, Marc Mondor, AIA, LEED Faculty and COTE Chair, will lead a 90-minute seminar summarizing all ten sessions and explaining how the principles and methods taught in the series can be applied to ongoing and new projects. This is an excellent opportunity for anyone considering future participation in the program or wishing to learn more about the 2030 Challenge.

Sheetz Shwellness Center Earns LEED Gold Certification
April 24, 2014

Opened in 2012, the 11,000-square-foot Sheetz Shwellness Center has just become Blair County’s first LEED-certified building. The LEED Gold facility is an employee health and wellness center located near Altoona, Pennsylvania adjacent to the distribution center for the Sheetz convenience store chain. evolveEA assisted the design and construction team with aspects of the LEED certification process, and attended Sheetz’s Earth Day ceremony where Joe Sheetz, President and CEO of Sheetz, was presented with the LEED Gold Certificate by Mike Schiller, Executive Director of the Green Building Alliance, Pittsburgh chapter of USGBC.

evolveEA’s LEED consulting for the project included project commissioning, LEED coaching and creation of a Green Building Education Plan that provides explanations of the building’s sustainability highlights through guided tours, in-place signage, and an information brochure. We are proud to have contributed to the diligent effort put forth by the Sheetz in-house architects, designers and builders who worked with other talented partners to create a space promoting healthy and ecologically-minded living. More information about the Shwellness Center can be found on this Sheetz website. Congratulations to Sheetz on this great achievement!


Shwellness Sustainability Brochure

Detail from evolveEA’s brochure design

Mayor Peduto Appoints Christine Mondor to Pittsburgh City Planning Commission
April 02, 2014

Pittsburgh’s new mayor, Bill Peduto, has big plans for the future of the city. Recently the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted Mayor Peduto at an economic development summit held at Carnegie Mellon University:

“We’re going to become a global model of economic development… These next 10 years are going to determine what this city’s going to be for the next 100.”

And later the same week he reiterated his commitments at a conference held by Sustainable Pittsburgh, emphasizing his administration’s attention to environmental sustainability, green infrastructure, and investing in vibrant communities throughout the city.

With these ambitious plans, evolveEA Principal Christine Mondor is honored to help the city move forward in her new role as chair of the City Planning Commission. The commission is a nine-member panel charged with guiding land use and development in the City. Christine is pleased to join the other commissioners from around the city, including:

  • Jennifer Askey
  • Fred Brown
  • Lashawn Burton-Faulk
  • Paul Gitnik, Esq.
  • John Paul Jones
  • Maelene Myers
  • Lucy Spruill
  • Barb Valaw

“Pittsburgh is proof that quality of life is connected to the design of our communities,” said Christine.  “I look forward to helping all of our communities shape their futures through the planning process.”

evolveEA Certified as Pittsburgh’s Fourth B Corporation
February 11, 2014

We’re incredibly proud to announce that evolveEA has become a Certified B Corporation™. So what exactly does that mean? B Corporations are a new kind of company that uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. It’s like a LEED or Fair Trade certification, but actually applies to a business and the way its leadership and staff work toward social and environmental goals. There are currently over 900 Certified B Corporations from sixty industries, such as consulting, manufacturing, solar energy, and law. Some of the most recognizable B Corp certified brands include Etsy, Ben & Jerry’s, Patagonia and Seventh Generation.

Why did we become B Corp certified? evolveEA’s Managing Principal, Marc Mondor explains:

Our approach to greening places, processes, and communities compels us to consider all the impacts of our work and our actions. With the B Corp framework helping us to measure our impact in areas key to our mission, this is a natural fit for us. The B Corp community’s collective impact is becoming widespread and we feel it is important to spread the word about B Corporations as a vehicle for positive change.

For mission-driven businesses, B Corp certification is a recognized standard by which social and environmental goals can be measured. Not only that, but B Corps are powering a global movement to celebrate and reward people using business for good, and it’s a movement that anyone can participate in. Many of the products and services that we all purchase regularly are available from the growing roster of certified B Corps in 32 countries. Consumers are now able to give preference to products and services bearing the B Corp mark on packaging, websites, and other marketing material, which is a great way to actively support the movement. This month, the B Corp community launched its “B the Change” campaign to build on the momentum around this movement—visit to learn more about how you can participate!

This movement answers a much-needed call for corporate responsibility by highlighting its value to business interests. evolveEA’s mission to advance sustainable systems and solutions already compels us to operate a green workplace and advocate for environmental sustainability. The B Lab Impact Assessment tool, however, has been quite helpful in identifying other areas for potential improvement. The scoring system provides a tracking and reporting framework that’s familiar to us as consultants on sustainability frameworks like the USGBC’s LEED system for green buildings. We’re proud to have scored above the 90th percentile among fellow B Corps in the Environment category of the assessment, but we were able to set goals for ourselves in the other categories of Governance, Community, and Workers via the assessment process.The organization behind B Corporations, B Lab, was founded in 2006. The heart of B Lab is its rigorous certification process on social and environmental performance, to which any business can apply. Companies that pass often collaborate to raise awareness, share strategies, and publicize job opportunities. In states where legislation has passed, which includes Pennsylvania where evolveEA is based, certified B Corps are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their employees, suppliers, community, consumers, and environment in addition to the bedrock metric of shareholder value.

Pittsburgh’s Tallest Building is Getting Greener
November 20, 2013

photo © Jon Dawson

The tallest structure between Chicago and Philadelphia is the 64-floor US Steel Tower in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) occupies 40 percent of the building, or roughly 900,000 square feet of office space, spread across 23 floors. As UPMC’s sustainability consultant, evolveEA, has been managing the global health enterprise’s efforts to systematically retrofit these spaces to LEED standards in a series of project phases. Between 2007 and 2013, more than half of UPMC’s occupied floors in the US Steel Tower have achieved at least basic LEED certification, with floors 8, 9, 12, 25 and 55 achieving LEED Silver. The remaining floors are currently under construction and are targeting LEED Silver certification, expected in 2014.

With the help of evolveEA, Winthrop Management and UPMC’s initiatives have included:

  • Lighting: Installation of a Lutron light control system which allows for the same lighting power but 15-25% less energy use, and of occupancy sensors and daylight responsive controls which ensure the lights aren’t on when not in use. The new system also has extremely low mercury content as compared to previous light bulbs.
  • Renewable energy: UPMC is purchasing 100 percent renewable or green electricity for the newest construction projects (on floors 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14, 25, 31, 40, 41, 42, and 55).
  • Efficient equipment: All new appliances and computers purchased for these floors is EnergyStar approved.
  • Water efficiency: Installation of low-flow and dual flush toilets to reduce water consumption. Floors that have achieved Silver certification are 30 percent more efficient than comparable floors.
  • Sustainable materials: At least 20 percent of the supplies purchased for the LEED-certified floors come from recycled materials. Adhesives, sealants, paints, flooring, composite wood and furniture contain little or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Plus, 75 percent of the construction waste on LEED-certified floors is diverted from landfills.

“Through the pursuit of LEED certification, there are a number of sustainability initiatives that UPMC has undertaken that are above and beyond conventional construction,” notes Marc Mondor, Principal at evolveEA. “As UPMC has full service leases at the Steel Tower, they don’t pay their electric and heating bills. Yet even though UPMC does not benefit from the financial savings of increased efficiency, these strategies are still pursued because it’s the right thing to do. These measures lessen environmental impact and create healthier environments for employees and visitors.”

Winthrop Management has also signed the US Steel Tower on to the Pittsburgh 2030 District challenge, a public-private partnership to create a high-performance and energy-efficient building district in downtown Pittsburgh by the year 2030. As part of this challenge, businesses are committing to reduce energy usage 50 percent over the next 17 years.

“UPMC and Winthrop’s work at the US Steel building exemplifies how a landlord and tenant can work together to achieve significant energy and water reductions, cost savings, and ongoing sustainability improvement,” added Mondor. “Through our work together, evolveEA has helped strategically target improvements that are resulting in substantial savings for both Winthrop and UPMC.”

Learn more about evolveEA’s work with UPMC 

Christine Mondor receives Pittsburgh Magazine Women in Business Award
October 08, 2013

evolve’s co-founder and principal, Christine Mondor was recognized last week by Pittsburgh Magazine as one of five influential Pittsburgh women in business! A profile piece about Christine can be found in the special section of Pittsburgh Magazine‘s October issue. Honored to be recognized for her long-standing dedication to improving our region through green building and community involvement, Christine told Pittsburgh Magazine that she encourages aspiring female business owners to work with their communities for positive change. The evolve team congratulates Christine on this remarkable achievement — way to go, Christine!

evolveEA Helps Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes Achieve Highest LEED Platinum Certification
September 12, 2013

Pittsburgh, PA — The Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) earned the highest LEED Platinum Certification yet achieved for a new green building. The project systematically demonstrates high performance in site design, water & energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality and material conservation and use. The US Green Building Council granted the project 63 of a possible 69 points under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) version 2 rating system. Only one other new building has achieved this level of green building distinction.

The CSL is also seeking designation as the region’s first project to achieve the Living Building Challenge from the International Living Futures Institute, and a four star Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) Certification for landscape design. The CSL aspires to be the first project to achieve all three exacting green building standards.

The CSL serves as an educational and research facility and provides self guided tours to anyone visiting Phipps Conservatory. The facility has a high performance building envelope, efficient HVAC systems, geothermal space conditioning, daylighting and natural ventilation to minimize energy use. A solar PV array and vertical wind turbine produce more renewable energy than the building uses. Natural plant ecosystems recycle more water than the CSL consumes by filtering building waste and rainwater to irrigate plants on the adjacent Phipps Campus. The CSL is flanked by a restorative landscape that includes a roof garden, lagoon, rain gardens and constructed wetlands.

“The CSL is designed to be “living,” giving more back to the environment than it takes.” said Marc Mondor, Principal of evolveEA, Phipps’ sustainability consultant on the project. “The CSL is a model for integrating buildings with their surrounding landscape by creating systems that restore the environment instead of depleting it. The visibility of the systems has a beauty that reinforces the project’s aesthetics.”

Based on a successful long term relationship that has previously achieved LEED Platinum Existing Building Certification for the Phipps Production Greenhouse, evolveEA worked with Phipps to establish the CSL project goals and to select the project team. In order to reinforce the regional nature of sustainability, Pittsburgh- and Pennsylvania-based firms were chosen including: The Design Alliance Architects, CJL Engineering (mechanical, electrical & plumbing engineering), Andropogon Associates (landscape architecture), Civil & Environmental Consultants (civil & water engineering), Atlantic Engineering Services (structural engineering), 7 Group (integrative design consultants & energy modeling), Massaro Corporation (preconstruction cost estimating) and Pitchford Diversified Inc. and H.F. Lenz (commissioning). Energy Independent Solutions designed and constructed the solar and wind power generation systems. Turner Construction was the general contractor with overall responsibility for project construction. evolveEA provided expertise in the sustainable design and construction process, and managed the LEED and Living Building Challenge certifications for Phipps.

By challenging the project team to design and construct one of the greenest buildings in the world, Phipps is demonstrating what is possible—and is inspiring others to do the same.

evolveEA Papers on Green Building and Organizational Sustainability Published in Constructing Green Textbook and Journal of Green Building
August 16, 2013

The rapid market uptake of green building has transformed the design and construction industries, yet little attention has been given to how green buildings can transform the organizations that they house.  evolveEA has contributed to two publications that are establishing the next generation of thinking about sustainability and organizational evolution.

In Constructing Green: The Social Structures of Sustainability, published by MIT Press and edited by Rebecca Henn and Andrew Hoffman, evolveEA establishes how organizations can multiply their environmental effectiveness when they engage in a green building project. The chapter titled “Building Up to Organizational Sustainability,” by evolveEA’s principal, Christine Mondor, AIA and co-authored by Steven Hockley and David Deal, uses case studies to understand how organizations leverage green building efforts to become more sustainable across governance, policy and practices. The chapter summarizes five principles for action that demonstrate how the activity of creating buildings and landscapes can shape organizations and affect individual behavior.

The book looks beyond the technological and material aspects of green construction to examine the cultural, social, and organizational shifts that sustainable building requires. The essays offer uniquely multidisciplinary insights into the transformative potential of green building and the obstacles that must be overcome to make it the norm. “Constructing Green is a true eye-opener. It demonstrates that, in addition to technology, a new cultural mindset is needed to meet the challenges of sustainability. No other book tackles green building so effectively and in such rich detail.” —Mauro F. Guillén, Director of the Lauder Institute, Wharton School.

Journal of Green Building, from College Publishing (Volume 8, Issue 1), features evolveEA’s article, “The David Lawrence Convention Center: How Green Building Design and Operations Can Save Money, Drive Local Economic Opportunity, and Transform an Industry.” This article is a detailed case study of a two year post-occupancy evaluation of Pittsburgh’s convention center—largely recognized as one of the world’s greenest facilities. Using almost a decade of performance data, the study, led by evolveEA and commissioned by the Green Building Alliance, investigated the building’s performance and return on the initial investment in sustainability. With input from Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics, CJL Engineering, and Civil and Environmental Consultants, the Buildings-in-Operation (BiO) study defined the business case for sustainability to the region, to the facility, and guided the efforts that culminated in the world’s first LEED EBOM Platinum certification for a convention center.

Constructing Green is available through MIT Press:

Journal of Green Building is available at:

evolveEA Engages Brookline Online and in Community Meetings
July 10, 2013

This week, as part of evolveEA’s Identity & Visioning project with the South Pittsburgh neighborhood of Brookline, we launched an online engagement effort inviting residents, business owners, and area consumers to contribute ideas to our process. A new website,, will ask participants a new set of questions each week for the next eight weeks, providing important data about the values, assets, and issues in Brookline’s business district and throughout the community. The online engagement is paired with a series of community meetings that provide a platform to those who may not be interested in participating online or who wish to actively contribute to the process in both ways.

Our work with this community was initiated by the South Pittsburgh Development Corporation and supported by the Design Center. Our goals are to bring the community together in order to co-create a brand for the neighborhood that reflects its unique history, character, and aspirations. If you live, work, eat, or shop in Brookline, you can join the conversation at and be part of this exciting effort. The next community meeting will take place Thursday, July 25, 7pm – 9pm at Saint Marc’s Church on Brookline Boulevard.

Our 40th LEED Certification
July 02, 2013

Since 2004 evolveEA has played a leading role in making certified green buildings more prevalent each year. We recently managed the certification of our 40th project under the US Green Building Council’s LEED framework, with four of those projects achieving the highest possible Platinum level. We have seen LEED become far more stringent over the last decade and have been able to accelerate the pace of our certifications, even through the recent downturn.

Click here to see some key LEED projects and highlights from our archives. Below is a snapshot from our internal LEED report card, breaking down our experience by rating system and certification level. We look forward to helping a growing number of building owners and operators worldwide with more certified green buildings in the coming years!


evolveEA Working on Strategic Planning with Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
May 28, 2013

Women’s Center & Shelter (WCS) is the premier service provider in Western Pennsylvania building awareness of domestic violence, advocating for system support and change, and providing assistance to victims of domestic violence. WCS has engaged evolveEA for the facilitation of a process to create a Strategic Plan that will be used over the next five years to guide organizational growth and development and support the WCS mission.

Drawing upon evolveEA’s recently completed WCS Network Assessment, the plan will provide guidance to the Board of Directors and Staff over many important milestones, including the redesign of the facility, a capital campaign for its construction, and the eventuality of senior management transition. We are honored to assist WCS in meeting its mission and serving women in need throughout Western Pennsylvania.

New Book About Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes Released at Living Future 2013 unConference
May 27, 2013

Building In Bloom

Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is widely considered the ultimate green pride of Pittsburgh. Its Living Building project, the recently opened Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) has been an opportunity for evolveEA to work alongside other regional and national experts in rising to the challenge of creating one of the world’s greenest buildings. This month the International Living Future Institute added to the excitement around the CSL at its “unConference” in Seattle with the release of Building in Bloom: The Making of the Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens by Mary Adam Thomas. In the copy we picked up at the conference, we found a neatly presented profile of the building and the process work in its design and construction. Our own Marc Mondor and Joseph Nagy are quoted in the book numerous times, as are the other members of the accomplished team.

The book is receiving good reviews—architect and blogger John Hill wrote “The optimism is infectious after reading this book”, in his review on, also noting the added level of insight captured in the quotes from the team. Having been intimately involved in aspects of the CSL’s design and project management since 2007, it is wonderful to see the building shine in this way. For now, our work continues in the lead up to the CSL’s anticipated Living Building Challenge certification.

Ecodistrict Planning Symposium Brings A Diverse Group of Community Leaders Together
May 23, 2013

Ecodistrcit Planning Symposium

In conjunction with this week’s Annual PCRG Summit, evolveEA led a symposium at the Kingsley Association that built upon a number of sustainable planning initiatives we have been working on with Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Our partners in these efforts, the Kingsley Association from Larimer and the Borough of Millvale co-facilitated the event, providing background on their progress and specific challenges for their communities.


Ecodistrcit Planning Symposium

This symposium was the culmination of an Environmental Education grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection that evolveEA received in cooperation with Three Rivers Waterkeeper, Calos Gasca, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, Kingsley Association and community partners in Millvale. With both communities having established a foundation for sustainable neighborhood planning, an important step toward implementation is to build community capacity for innovation around urban sustainability issues.


Ecodistrcit Planning Symposium

Ecodistrict planning offers a way for communities to incorporate innovative energy, water or food systems into the design of their neighborhoods while creating new types of community ties. Ecodistricts in existing communities are especially challenging as they must integrate innovative systems into existing fabric while raising community capacity to imagine, implement and steward the systems. Our research and experience suggests that deep community resiliency can be created when urban improvements are coupled with civic engagement to develop community strength in decision-making, knowledge development, legal structure and financial resources.

With nearly 40 attendees putting our heads together to strategize on some of the biggest challenges for Larimer and Millvale, those who joined us from other neighborhoods around Pittsburgh were able to learn a great deal from one another and take these ideas back to their communities for further development. Our next step includes publishing a report that will organize these ideas and look back at the process of engagement with community stakeholders that led us to this stage. Check this space for updates, and for now enjoy these photos!


Ecodistrcit Planning Symposium

Ecodistrcit Planning Symposium

Ecodistrcit Planning Symposium

Ecodistrcit Planning Symposium

Ecodistrcit Planning Symposium

Majora Carter Brings Her “Home(town) Security” Message to Pittsburgh
April 09, 2013

This Thursday, Pittsburgh’s Green Building Alliance & Phipps Conservatory present internationally renowned urban revitalization strategy consultant, real estate developer, and Peabody Award winning broadcaster, Majora Carter.

What are the factors of a dynamic neighborhood that appeal to everyone?  Do the costs of supporting those built environment aspects outweigh the benefits?  While the Department of Homeland Security looks at threats from abroad, Majora Carter argues for economic-diversity and quality of life as the surest pillars of a secure society. As promoters of Carter’s Home(town) Security approach to sustainable urban redevelopment through our own Urban Strategies work in the Pittsburgh region, evolveEA is a proud cosponsor of this event.

The event will take place at the Carnegie Library Lecture Hall (in the Main Branch of Carnegie Library) in Oakland.
4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
April 11, 2013
5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Register via the Green Building Alliance

For a preview of Carter’s inspiring words, check out this TEDx Talk from 2010 featuring the stories of three people who are saving their own communities while saving the planet. (Filmed at TEDxMidWest.)

Sota Construction Services achieved LEED Platinum for its new offices
March 20, 2013

Sota Construction Services Inc’s newly constructed office building reached a LEED score that makes it one of the greenest buildings in the world. Four evolveEA LEED consulting projects, including this building, achieved LEED Platinum Certification in 2012.

Pittsburgh, PA — Sota Construction Services Inc. has a new office building that sets new standards for sustainable building practices by incorporating numerous approaches including: passive and very high efficiency active radiant slab heating and cooling systems served by  geothermal heat pumps, natural ventilation systems, extensive use of natural materials such as straw bale and cob wall construction, reused and recycled materials, day lighting, rainwater harvesting, low water use fixtures, a roof-mounted photovoltaic system that provides over half the building’s energy, and sustainable landscaping.

The building achieved the most LEED points ever awarded in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the fifth-highest score in the entire LEED system worldwide. With 62 points out of a possible 69, the score amounts to 90% of possible points in the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED ranking system. The project included several years of research and a team of local, national and international experts to craft the unique design and engineering approaches used.

Ernie Sota, President of Sota Construction Services said, “Our project team used the LEED Rating system to systematically evaluate comprehensive approaches to sustainability. The result is a delightful, healthy and comfortable office that is full of daylight and wonderfully connected to the surrounding meadow and woods.” Marc Mondor, AIA, USGBC LEED Faculty, confirms the project team’s unique achievements, “This project shows that businesses can reduce their environmental footprint by creatively integrating traditional construction techniques and current technology. The design and construction team demonstrated that integrative design can produce compelling and cost effective high performance places!”

evolveEA contributed to the project with LEED consulting services, helping the rest of the team in their efforts to earn LEED points and surpass the Platinum threshold. The project team also included Sota Construction Services, Studio d’Arc (Pittsburgh, PA), ARUP International (London, UK), Building Science Corporation (Boston, MA), Iams Consulting (Pittsburgh, PA), Tudi Mechanical (Pittsburgh, PA), Greenweavers (Carbondale, CO), and Construction Junction (Pittsburgh, PA).

For evolveEA, the project marked the end of a year of unprecedented achievements in our LEED consulting and management work. Our first Platinum level certification was awarded in February for Dubuque Iowa’s Roshek Building, housing offices for IBM. Later in the year, our work resulted in LEED Platinum certification under the Existing Buildings: Operations & Management system for two of Pittsburgh’s well-known green buildings, The David L. Lawrence Convention Center and the Production Greenhouse at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

Pittsburgh’s AIA+2030 Educational Series Launching Soon
February 19, 2013

evolveEA’s Marc Mondor was recently chosen to chair AIA Pittsburgh‘s Committee On The Environment, which is launching a series of ten 4-hour seminars of nationally-recognized curriculum around the 2030 Challenge. The seminars are geared towards architects, building owners, engineers, contractors, and facilities managers, and are eligible for several types of continuing education credits commonly required of those professionals in the building design and construction field. Seminars will include local case studies and will feature local and global speakers and instructors.

The series kicks off this spring at AIA Pittsburgh’s annual BuildPittsburgh continuing education conference and exhibitor show. The following list provides some details on the schedule and topics to be addressed.

1. The 2030 Challenge: Setting + Achieving Energy Goals with Integrated Design
Thursday, April 18, 1:30-5:30pm at BuildPittsburgh at the DLCC
Speakers: Vivian Loftness, Marc Mondor, Sean Luther

2. Getting to 60:  The Power of Targets + Load Reduction
Thursday, May 16, 4-8pm

3. Accentuate the Positive: Climate Responsive Design
Thursday, June 20, 4-8pm

4. Skins:  The Importance of the Thermal Envelope
Thursday, September 19, 4-8pm

5. Aggressively Passive: Employing Passive Systems for Load Reduction
Thursday, October 17, 4-8pm

6. Illuminating Savings: Daylighting and Integrated Lighting Strategies
Thursday, November 21, 4-8pm

7. Right-sized: Equipment and Controls for Super-Efficient Building system
Thursday, January 16, 4-8pm

8. Site Power:  Renewable Energy Opportunities
Thursday, February 20, 4-8pm

9. The Hand-off + Staying in Shape: Operations, Maintenance + Education
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 4-8pm

10. Putting It All Together: Achieving 2030 Goals on the Project and at the Office
April 2014, at BuildPittsburgh, 1-5pm

Notes: Events will be at the Koppers Building, in Downtown Pittsburgh unless otherwise noted. Dates subject to change.

For information contact Marc Mondor, AIA, LEED Faculty, Committee Chair: or visit

Waldorf School of Pittsburgh Students Engaged in Sustainability Initiatives
February 07, 2013

In alignment with our approach to greening People, Process, and Place, we are working with the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh (WSP) to integrate sustainability into the school’s campus planning, operations, and curriculum. This process includes close collaboration with all members of the school’s community—teachers, administrators, board members, parents, and students—and will impact the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh’s current planning for expansion.

So far this month, evolveEA has facilitated community input through design thinking exercises at WSP’s All Community Meeting, where the agenda comprised of:

  • Sustainability at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh;
  • Expansion master planning;
  • Future Community Meetings focused on our educational vision, our campus, and our values.

Along with WSP’s core leadership, we explained the process of addressing issues of sustainability by engaging all members of the WSP community at various intervals throughout this effort.

Next we visited WSP on a Tuesday morning and got WSP students directly involved in a waste audit of the school facility. Students were excited to become active participants in surveying one week’s worth of waste in order to understand the impact the operation of their school has on the environment. This activity is one of many ways we are helping WSP involve students in implementing sustainable operations at their school. By surveying the school’s waste, we can design more efficient systems to reduce trash at the source and divert large portions of it to composting and recycling.

Kids easily understood the concept of cutting waste when a week’s worth of trash was on display in front of them. They also learned that certain materials which made up large portions of their waste could be easily diverted away from landfills. This activity represents one of many ways to engage students in a process of continuous environmental improvement. Over time, students at various grade levels can participate in systems that will cut more waste, save more energy and water, and address numerous other sustainability goals for the WSP community.

At the administrative level, the waste audit will inform WSP in ways that can improve its supply chain, strategically cut operational waste, and guide students and teachers in integrating such lessons into the day-to-day experiences of WSP students.


evolveEA Speaking Engagements & Appearances: February 2013
February 01, 2013

February 6 at University of Pretoria, South Africa

February 22 at Pop City Reduce Your Use Workshop for Nonprofits

February 23 at TEDxGrandviewAve, Pittsburgh

  • Edge of Innovation TEDx Event
    Christine Mondor, evolveEA Principal, AIA, LEED-AP
    The Pierce Studio, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Arts Education Center
    805 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
    + Webcast Parties


Things Are Looking Up in Upper Lawrenceville
January 24, 2013

From The Bulletin, January 2013

By Lauren Byme and James Eash,
Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation

Lawrenceville – More than 60 residents filled the Ancient Order of Hibernian’s Club at 52nd and Carnegie Streets on Oct. 18 to begin planning for their future. At this first of three public community sessions, residents came together to share their vision for Upper Lawrenceville – known locally as the 10th Ward – by kicking off a long-awaited-neighborhood planning and visioning process. The diverse group was a broad representation of the neighborhood: elderly residents, 20-somethings, longtime homeowners and recent transplants all coming together to create a shared vision for the 10th Ward.

Over the past two years, Lawrenceville United convened groups of residents, business owners and community stakeholders to begin’ thinking comprehensively about the future of the 10th Ward. While the neighborhood as a whole has experienced incredible transformation over the last decade, planning efforts have focused primarily on Central and Lower Lawrenceville, with Upper Lawrenceville largely absent from the conversation. This current effort represents the first with a specific focus on the future of the 10th Ward.

For more than a decade, 10th Ward residents and their community organizations have,worked hard to confront blight and crime throughout the neighborhood. Early efforts included extensive public safety initiatives, “clean & green” strategies and the demolition of blighted, crumbling properties too far gone to save. Through the initial conversations in 2010 and 2011, residents were able to identify new projects or themes they wanted to explore in the 10th Ward, This included creating and preserving more passive and active green space: creative ideas for the reuse of vacant lots and buildings, a reuse plan for vacant but prominent neighborhood landmarks (McCleary School and St. Kieran’s Church in particular), a focus on neighborhood gateways at Stanton and McCandless Avenues and are-imagining of the role of McCandless Avenue as a main community corridor.

With this prioritized list of items to explore, the Lawrenceville Corporation secured funding from the Design Fund to support professional planning efforts. An advisory committee representative of the community selected local firm Evolve environment architecture to lead the public engagement and community visioning activities.

As lead consultant, Evolve was tasked with helping create a community endorsed neighborhood vision that residents could work to implement. Through innovative and exciting engagement activities, Evolve worked with the energetic group of residents and business owners to help articulate a vision for the community’s future. Discussions revolved around local food economies, increased green space and storm water management, community gathering space, family friendly amenities and programs, bike lanes, green streets and alleyways and strategies for keeping the neighborhood affordable for long-term residents and families.

Energetic residents, both lifelong and newcomers alike, have driven the process. Dora Walmsley, a new 10th Ward homeowner renovating a house on McCandless, participated in the first two public meetings. “There are few opportunities where one can actually shape the landscape of their neighborhood,” Walmsley noted, “and I feel really fortunate to be able to participate in the Upper Lawrenceville planning process as a new homeowner.” She continued, “I realize many people have been advocating for this for a long time. I look forward to working with my neighbors to positively contribute to the neighborhood we all call home.”

Nancy Bittner is a lifelong resident of the 10th Ward who has experienced the neighborhood transition firsthand. “I’ve seen so many changes in this community over the years, and thanks to the hard work of so many residents, it’s once again beginning to flourish,” said Bittner. “Through the Upper Lawrenceville planning process, we’ve been given the opportunity to shape our neighborhood in a positive way, keeping a focus on the interests and priorities of all residents – new and old alike. It’s exciting to play a part in the future of my neighborhood.”

The Upper Lawrenceville Plan will ultimately serve as a guide for how community organizations and resident stakeholders can make positive, transformative change in the 10th Ward. The community-driven process will provide a clear vision for future of the 10th Ward, and will help shape the next decade of local community development. The second community meeting was held November 29, and the final meeting will take place in mid-January. Please contact Lawrenceville United at 412-802-7220 or for the exact date if you are interested in becoming involved.

evolveEA Speaking Engagements & Appearances: Decemeber 2012
December 05, 2012

December 6 USGBC Webinar:
Establishing a Culture of Performance

  • 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
    LEED for Existing Buildings
    Marc Mondor, evolveEA Principal, AIA, LEED Faculty
    Eligible for GBCI/AIA/CES LU/HSW/SD credit

December 9-10 in Montréal

  • Experts Panel at Forum on the Former Hippodrome de Montréal Redevelopment
    Christine Mondor, evolveEA Principal, AIA, LEED-AP

December 10 at Landmarks Housing Resource Center
with Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

  • 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
    LEED Certification in Building Construction
    Marc Mondor, evolveEA Principal, AIA, LEED Faculty
    744 Rebecca Ave, Wilkinsburg PA 15221

December 12 at the Cleveland Clinic

  • 8:30 am – 12:00 pm
    LEED for Healthcare Workshop
    Marc Mondor, evolveEA Principal, AIA, LEED Faculty
    9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH


Green Workplace Challenge Winners Prominently Featured in Media
October 24, 2012

Last week evolveEA accepted a first-place award for leading the small business category in the Pittsburgh Green Workplace Challenge. With a total 221 points, we are in the top three competitors for the entire challenge, which included large, medium, and small sized offices and an additional category for observers. As evolve became a carbon-neutral workplace in 2011, we had already made most of our energy-saving improvements before the competition began and were ineligible for any of the points in the challenge’s energy improvement category. Our points came from the “other” category, which included implementing sustainable workplace policies, holding green office events, incentivizing green employee behavior like biking to work, composting and recycling as much of our waste as possible, and similar actions.

The award reception was covered by The Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Pittsburgh Business Times, and several blogs. Check out the following headline and image from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Green Workplace Challenge: Bayer, Eaton and Evolve come out on top
Saving costs and energy

Photo: Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette

Winners of the Green Workplace Challenge: Christine Mondor, of evolve Environment::Architecture, won the Small Business Category.

Read the article By Erich Schwartzel / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 19, 2012