McHenry Architecture: LEEDing the way in Innovative Design

September 03, 2015 by

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McHenry Architecture wins AEE-NE Comprehensive Energy Project of the Year Award for Smuttynose Brewery Project

It’s hard to think about saying goodbye to the long, warm days of summer that we seem to wait so long for. Like so many, we have tried to take advantage of these glorious summer days by being out in the fresh air, in the woods and on the water as much as possible. Our team has had some great adventures this summer, both personally and professionally. One of the highlights for us was McHenry Architecture being awarded the Association of Energy Engineers of New England’s (AEE-NE) Comprehensive Energy Project of the Year Award for our work with the Smuttynose Brewery project.

“We at McHenry Architecture greatly appreciate the recognition by the New England chapter of the Association of Energy Engineers for our design of the new Smuttynose Brewery.  Our collaborative efforts with the Smuttynose team have been some of our most rewarding in our professional experience,” says Steve McHenry, Principal.

The Smuttynose Brewery project continues to receive accolades, and as a partner we can’t help but be proud. The concentrated time and effort during the design stage is reaping the benefits in energy conservation and savings, as well as being an example of a building built to the highest LEED standards, the benchmark for high performance green buildings. Smuttynose Brewery has applied for LEED certification, the results of which should be announced in the next month.

Many people are familiar with the word LEED, but don’t necessarily understand the significance of the designation. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, designed the rating system to encourage and assist the development of more sustainable buildings. The USGBC developed the LEED certification process “to enhance environmental awareness among architects and building contractors, and to encourage the design and construction of energy-efficient, water-conserving buildings that use sustainable or green resources and materials.”

There are five different rating systems that address the unique needs of a building project (building design & construction, interior design & construction, building operations & maintenance, neighborhood development, and homes). Each rating system has a different set of guidelines, which help direct decisions about design and construction. To receive LEED certification, building projects must satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification, of which there are four (certified, silver, gold and platinum). Smuttynose Brewery is registered to be Gold LEED Certified under the Building Design and Construction (BD+C) category.

LEED uses five different categories to judge a building’s sustainability; 1) site location, 2) water conservation, 3) energy efficiency, 4) materials, 5) indoor air quality, plus a bonus category for innovation and design. In the case of Smuttynose Brewery, they were interested in using sustainable construction techniques and manufacturing practices that reduced energy consumption from the very start. They partnered with Unitil to include energy efficient technology in the new brewery. By taking advantage of Unitil’s energy efficiency programs, Smuttynose is saving more than 11 million kWh over the lifetime of its equipment, which is enough to power 1,500 homes for a year.

“The place you have to start is the building envelope,” says Smuttynose founder Peter Egelston. The design team worked to gain a thorough understanding of what would take place inside as well as outside the building (mother nature and severe weather patterns) and subsequently how these two interfaced. The goal was to work towards an integrated design that took advantage of the natural landscape of the property, as well as target different points where gains could be made. This meant everything from planning the orientation of the building to allow for solar gain in the offices and lounge to the creation of rain gardens and bio swales that allow the water to seep back into the soil gradually, while filtering pollutants and sediment.

SmuttynoseInteriorJuly2014-08Applying for and receiving LEED certification is a lengthy and rigorous process. It can often take several years from start to finish and can require a significant investment of time and money – it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. With that said, there is an ever-growing number of individuals, architects and builders who are committed to utilizing LEED as a validation tool to ensure a more sustainable built environment. As a firm this is an integral part of who we are and how we view the built world. We made the commitment to sustainable design early on and were the first LEED Accredited design studio in Portsmouth, with every team member having some level of LEED certification.

As we look ahead to the future we are committed to working towards carbon-neutral buildings and are pleased to be an adopter of the 2030 Challenge, a pledge that all new buildings, developments and major renovations will be carbon-neutral by 2030. This challenge is set forth by Architecture 2030, a nonprofit organization, in response to the climate change crisis. Their mission is “to rapidly transform the built environment from the major contributor of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a central part of the solution to the climate crisis.”
“At McHenry Architecture designing with sustainability and high performance in mind has become a standard approach for our design process. Adopting the 2030 Challenge was a natural step to keep our practice progressing into the future while doing our part in response to the changing climate,” says Brandon Holben. “Our strengths lie in an integrated design approach that remains the key to a successful and sustainable project.”


About Smuttynose Brewery:

Smuttynose Brewing Co. was founded in 1994 and distributes beer to more than two dozen states, Europe and Asia.  In conjunction with Unitil, GDS Associates, Compressor Energy Services, Harvey Construction Company, Mechanical Systems Engineers, Electrical Design Consultants, and McHenry Architecture, Smuttynose Brewing completed construction of a new plant, using sustainable construction techniques and manufacturing practices to reduce energy consumption.

About McHenry Architecture:

McHenry Architecture, located in historic downtown Portsmouth, NH, has worked in the region on commercial and residential projects ranging from adaptive reuse of historic structures to new multi-use buildings for more than 25 years. McHenry Architecture is Portsmouth’s first LEED Accredited design studio, leading in the field of green building strategies.

For more information about McHenry Architecture and these projects please visit or


Photography: David J. Murray,

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