The architects of Pill–Maharam, a Shelburne-based firm, received the Vermont Green Building Network (VGBN) award for the Greenest Commercial Building; Deep Energy Retrofit for their offices on Falls Road. The project also received the People’s Choice Award which was voted on by those who attended the gala event at Main Street Landing. This is not the first time the company has been recognized by VGBN. In 2012, 2013 and 2014 they received the organization’s award for the Greenest Residential Building.
Pill-Maharam was founded in 1991 by David Pill of Charlotte. In addition to their VGBN awards, the company has previously been honored by Efficiency Vermont, the Sustainable Building Industry Council, the American Institute of Architects, and the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. Their goal for this project was to find an existing property and create a “micro office village” for several businesses including their own. Pill had been leasing space in Shelburne when the property on Falls Road became available. Since he felt strongly about having his office in Shelburne Village with access to public transportation, he jumped at the chance to purchase it. Pill-Maharam is located in the rear building with the front space leased to two accountants and a lawyer who share a common conference room.
The Vermont Green Building Network was founded in 2002 to foster the building of environmentally sound commercial and residential structures throughout the state. The non-profit organization has over 100 members and has been holding award ceremonies for the last four years. Executive Director Jenna Antonino DiMare explained that awards are based on objective measures of the energy performance of the buildings. The metric – annual energy intensity – measures the amount of energy used per square foot over the course of a year. The Pill-Maharam office’s annual energy intensity is only 15% of the consumption of an average New England commercial building of the same size.
VGBN Board President Jennifer Chiodo said the organization has a long-term goal of seeing net zero buildings across the state. “There’s a learning curve,” she said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we can follow the leadership that’s been demonstrated by the builders we’ve honored.” DiMare has seen the number of applicants for awards grow over the last few years. “As an organization we can showcase these buildings that are incredibly energy efficient as an inspiration for future builders,” she said.
Pill said it generally only costs 5% more to greatly increase the energy efficiency of a building and those costs are offset by the savings in fuel bills. “It’s not that much more expensive to create a highly efficient building envelope,” he said. “You just need to pay slightly more attention to the details and that alone saves a huge amount of money with minimal cost.” Pill notes that he has been designing energy efficient buildings for 25 years and believes that more and more architects are following suit. “It’s really mandatory if we’re going to stabilize the climate,” he said. “We can do this. It’s just a matter of choices.”