Sustainable Stormwater Infrastructure = Sustainable Growth: Perspectives on Stormwater Service Fee Programs and Credits

By Maura Ryan, Marketing Director at St.Germain Collins | Sentry EHS®

At MEREDA’s Morning Menu Breakfast Event in November, a panel discussed stormwater service fees—why they are needed, and what measures property owners can take to reduce their fees.

Stormwater Utilities
Scott D. Collins, Managing Principal and Senior Engineer at St.Germain Collins kicked off the discussion with an overview of the stormwater utilities that are currently in place.

Almost 1,500 stormwater utilities have been identified nationwide and in Canada; the smallest in Indian Creek Village Florida with a population of 88, and the largest in Los Angeles with a population exceeding 3 million. [1]

In Maine, there are currently three municipalities with stormwater utility programs:  Bangor, Lewiston and Portland. Each municipality offers ways to reduce stormwater fees for property owners who take (or have taken) steps to reduce or treat stormwater runoff.  There are at least a half dozen other municipalities and counting throughout New England who have already implemented stormwater fee (and credit) programs also.

City of Portland
Douglas A. Roncarati, Jr., Stormwater Program Coordinator at City of Portland, Maine went into more detail about the City of Portland’s need to implement their stormwater service charge program.

There are three wastewater systems in Portland dating back to the late 1800’s:

  • Stormwater – stormwater that goes directly to streams, rivers and coastal waters
  • Combined – wastewater and stormwater combined
  • Sanitary – wastewater only that goes to treatment plant

Through the years there have been updates to the systems including: establishing the East End Treatment Plant; increasing capacity in the sewer systems; adding combined sewer overflows (safety valves) to redirect wastewater and excess stormwater in the combined sewer system to prevent backups and localized flooding; and more recently, separation of sewers and storm drains and storage systems to address the water quality impacts of combined sewer overflows.

As Portland developed and automobiles became the primary mode of transportation, the amount of impervious area (i.e. paved roads, parking lots and roof tops) within the City grew rapidly, resulting in more stormwater runoff. The sheer volume of  stormwater running off the landscape can overwhelm the combined sewer and storm drain systems causing sewers to back up, streets to flood and can also contribute to combined sewer overflows.  Stormwater runoff can also pick up bacteria, sediments, herbicides and other pollutants from streets, yards and parking lots carrying them to streams and other natural waterways.


Figure 1:  On undeveloped land only about 10% of stormwater runs off as 40% is evaporated and 50% infiltrates the ground. On more developed properties there is approximately 55% run off.

Until recently, the primary source of funding was a sewer fee for all sewer and stormwater management and Clean Water Act compliance programs in Portland.  However, the costs of managing stormwater runoff and its impact on both the combined sewer and storm drain systems was the real issue driving up the costs of these programs.  In fact, the Portland invested over a hundred million dollars to address combined sewer overflows and flooding and was struggling to pay for it with the sewer fee.

The City recognized that this approach to paying for wastewater and stormwater management was simply unsustainable, so over the last several years it explored how other communities were dealing with these challenges and in 2016 implemented a stormwater service charge program. The intent was to more equitably share the costs of stormwater management by tying them directly to the sources of stormwater runoff and pollution. The fees are calculated on the amount of impervious area (i.e. rooftops and pavement) on the property. Currently those fees are $6.00 per month for every 1,200 square feet of impervious area.

Stormwater Credits
Justin Pellerin, P.E., Stormwater Project Engineer at City of Portland, Maine discussed the City’s stormwater credit system and how stormwater funds are spent.

When the City implemented the stormwater service charge in January 2016, they also implemented the stormwater credit program which can reduce the amount a property owner has to pay.

The stormwater credit is a conditional reduction in the amount of the stormwater service charge if the property owner documents existing or implements new stormwater management and pollution prevention systems and maintains them.

Focusing today on the non-residential (commercial properties) stormwater credits, the credits are awarded for:

  • Water quality treatment systems
  • Water quantity management systems

Systems must meet the requirements in the Stormwater Credit Manual ( and an application with documentation  must be submitted to the City of Portland’s Water Resources Division.

To date there have been 28 non-residential applications for credits, with 23 being approved. The largest credit was a savings of $340 per month. It is possible to get a 100% credit, so far the range has been 10% to 60%, with the average monthly reduction at 30% off the stormwater service bill.

How the City of Portland Spends the Stormwater Service Fees

The stormwater services fees are used for:

  • Cleaning a minimum of 3,000 of the 6,000 catch basins each year;
  • Completing 70 to 75 green infrastructure projects and ongoing inspections and maintenance;
  • Street sweeping approximately 260 miles of Portland’s streets—which cleans up sediments from street surfaces before they can be washed off in stormwater runoff;
  • Significant stormwater infrastructure maintenance;
  • A portion of combined sewer separation projects;
  • Drainage and flood management projects;
  • Watershed protection and water quality restoration projects.

Property Owner Perspective
Brian DesMarais, Area Environmental Protection Manager at Waste Management discussed the stormwater service fee and credit program from his commercial property perspective.

Waste Management of Maine, Inc. has managed stormwater at their Portland location for several years and are already regulated under the Maine Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (MPDES) Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP).

Waste Management received the first stormwater bill from the City of Portland in January 2016. Because the property’s building and surface impervious area totaled 221,276 square feet, this new monthly stormwater fee of $1,104 prompted them to look for stormwater credits for their existing stormwater control and treatment systems to reduce the bill.

After confirming the City’s assessment of impervious areas, the first step to seek credits for their existing stormwater systems was to document that the existing stormwater infrastructure was functioning as designed and was properly maintained. perform standard annual maintenance on stormwater systems. Waste Management also wanted to confirm the impervious areas that were calculated by the City. They hired St.Germain Collins who determined what credits Waste Management may qualify for:

  • Performed an inspection of existing systems – City Form 4;
  • Computed Basic Water Quantity Waiver Credit;
  • Computed minimum Water Quality Credit (for Waste Management’s existing wet pond);
  • Determined new total billable impervious area; and
  • Submitted the Non-Residential Stormwater Credit Application – City Form 3

In just a matter of weeks, Waste Management received a condition of approval for existing credits (25% for Minimum Water Quality Credit; and 10% Basic Water Quantity Waiver Credit) for applicable portions of the property. These credits—which are retroactive to January 2016—reduced their monthly charges to $894, which is an annualized savings of $2,520.  In order to continue receiving these credits, continued maintenance of stormwater infrastructure and submitting a Best Management Practices (BMP) Inspection Form (City Form 4) each year are required.

Maintaining older systems can be costly, so Waste Management is also considering improvements to their stormwater systems. These improvements could earn them additional credits and cost savings. Waste Management is evaluating options that could approach 100% credit, including: conversion of an approximately 12,000 square foot gravel area to pervious lawn; providing bio-retention cells near two parking areas;; and enhancing the existing stormwater detention basin to a wet pond that meets or exceeds current Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Chapter 500 standards.

Maintenance and Inspection
Scott Collins closed the discussion with a few pointers on staying qualified for stormwater credits.

Structural controls are only effective if maintained. An annual inspection by a qualified 3rd party inspector is required. By June 30th each year, the City Form 4 must be submitted to the City of Portland. The City of Portland has a right to inspect properties to ensure stormwater systems are as reported.

For More Information on Sustainable Stormwater options please visit

[1] Campbell, C. W., Dymond, R., Kea, K., Dritschel, A. (2014). Western Kentucky University Stormwater Utility Survey. Retrieved from 

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MEREDA Thanks Its Valued Members

During this Thanksgiving season, the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA) pauses to thank our over 300 members who employ thousands of Maine citizens and invest millions of dollars in the Maine economy each year.  MEREDA is the only voice for the real estate development industry in Maine and has established itself as a forceful, credible advocate.  Our success is dependent upon bringing together the many different trades that are vitally interested in promoting positive growth in our great state, and we thank each and every one of you for your continued support.  Thank-you!

Our members have shown that they are invested in what we do, as we continue to host timely and informative events throughout the year that attract members and other professionals who have an interest in working with us. We also have been more visible in the news media, speaking out on important issues and promoting the importance of our industry to the state of Maine as part of our effort to raise the profile of our organization and its members.

MEREDA continues to advocate for legislation in Augusta that encourages responsible development and sensible planning.  Recently, MEREDA passed legislation to expedite the land use appeals process in Maine and help facilitate development throughout the State. This new law, LD #775, “An Act to Streamline Judicial Review of Certain Land Use Decisions,” represents progress for the real estate and development community.  Another achievement was the passage of LD #395, “An Act to Amend the Site Location of Development Laws”, a bill that grandfathers existing storm water treatment systems when a prior municipally-approved project proposes an expansion that now falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Environmental Protection. The passage of this legislation allows for the resurrection of a project to expand an affordable senior housing Development in southern Maine, and will have a similar positive impact on developments around the state.

Our directors, staff, and volunteer committee leaders are all committed to providing our members with the highest level advocacy, professional development, and networking opportunities – all designed to promote responsible development in Maine and to help your business succeed. We take great pride in our mission and our accomplishments.

Thank you for being part of MEREDA’s success!  We wish you a safe and joyous holiday season and look forward to working with you in the new year.

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Passive House Pushes [& Seals] The Envelope

By Cordelia Pitman, Director of Preconstruction Services for Wright-Ryan Construction

Multifamily housing projects around the state have contributed to an improvement in construction activity post-recession. Hidden among the number of multifamily projects, two developments in particular are helping lead an emerging national trend in affordable housing – Passive House. The design standard offers a new path for project teams seeking out ways to build better while providing higher-quality, more affordable options for the communities they serve.

Two of the largest commercial Passive House developments in the U.S. are both affordable housing projects. One of those is Village Centre Apartments in Brewer, which added 48 units of much-needed workforce housing to the greater Bangor area in May, 2016. Another project of note in Maine is Bayside Anchor in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood, adding 45 units of mixed-income housing.

Both Bayside Anchor, developed by the Portland Housing Authority and Avesta Housing and designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects, and Village Centre, developed by Community Housing of Maine and designed by CWS Architects with sustainability consulting by Thornton Tomasetti, are built to Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS) standards, a rigorous design standard which results in ultra-efficient buildings that require little energy for space heating or cooling. Once the exclusive domain of custom home building in the U.S., technically adept developers, designers, and builders are seeing Passive House standards as a way to make affordable housing more affordable.

Achieving Passive House certification is all about results. The allowable air tightness limit for Bayside Anchor and Village Centre was 0.05 CFM50/ft2 – an aggressive target. Passive House buildings feature continuous insulation, ensure limited thermal bridging throughout the entire building envelope, and are incredibly airtight to prevent undesirable exchange of interior and exterior air. High performance windows and doors, balanced heat-recovery ventilation, and minimal space-conditioning systems are incorporated to maximize efficiency. Passive House projects also take advantage of solar heat gain, through strategic building siting, and internal heat gain to further reduce dependence on limited systems. Solar exposure is managed through glazing or shading to provide heating benefits in the winter and cooling benefits in the summer.

The application of Passive House design and construction principles means lower operating costs for building owners supporting the
long-term viability of properties.

Village Centre is estimated to be over 60 percent more energy efficient than a code building, with a targeted site energy use intensity of 22 kbtu/sf/yr. These are simply the results that can be achieved within the fixed budget (roughly $139/sq. ft.) defined by the project requirements as a publicly-funded development under the Maine State Housing Authority. Many cases demonstrate that Passive House buildings can offer energy savings from 75% up to 90% when compared with average new buildings or typical building stock.

The benefits for residents and other end-users, chiefly comfort and energy efficiency, are even more important. In many cases, the energy savings realized by building owners may be passed on to tenants, with individually metered units and segmented utility bills.

The lowest number often rules in the construction industry. It can be far too easy to lose sight of what’s most important – real value and the overall quality of life for the building occupants and end users. The Passive House standard holds up critical human elements of comfort and environment as its top priorities. The growing presence of Passive House work and the increasing knowledge-base in Maine will only serve to benefit our state and its residents as a whole.

Cordelia Pitman is Director of Preconstruction Services for Wright-Ryan Construction, a member of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association. For more info go to Wright-Ryan served as the Construction Manager for Village Centre and Bayside Anchor.

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Maine Real Estate & Development Association Elects Michael Lane to its Board of Directors

Michael Lane of Richmond, a partner at Preti Flaherty, has been elected to the board of directors of the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA), a statewide organization of commercial real estate owners, developers and related service providers.

Mike LaneMike practices with Preti Flaherty’s Real Estate Group. He has represented clients in all aspects of real estate and land use law, including acquisitions, dispositions, obtaining federal, state and local regulatory approvals; commercial and public financing; title and conveyancing matters. Mike has built a strong timberlands practice representing mills, land management companies and industrial land owners in complex timberlands transactions, including acquisitions, sales, operating agreements, wood supply agreements, underwriting timberland titles, Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) development compliance and permitting. He routinely appears before municipal planning boards, LUPC and the Department of Environmental Protection to permit residential, commercial and industrial projects.

Mike also serves as Vice President and General Counsel to Charter Title Company, LLC, Preti Flaherty’s wholly-owned subsidiary, a respected agent for a number of nationally recognized title insurance companies. He has substantial experience in underwriting and negotiating title insurance coverages involving multisite, multimillion dollar commercial transactions, particularly energy, industrial and timberland properties, covering Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark says, “We’re anxious to begin working with Mike at the board level.  He brings with him great expertise and a wealth of industry knowledge.”

For further information, please contact MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark at 207-874-0801 or visit

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MEREDA’s Morning Menu: Real Estate Development 202: Housing Development Demystified— A Look Behind the Veil

breakfast-logo-for-press-releases-social-mediaAs many Maine communities continue to experience a boom in housing development, public curiosity about the inner workings of the development process has elevated. What’s driving decisions like site selection, target markets, and design choices? Make plans to join MEREDA for breakfast on December 8th at the Portland Regency Hotel in Portland as developers, Jonathan Culley of Redfern Properties and Ethan Boxer-Macomber of Anew Development share their approaches to Housing Development through case studies of recently completed projects.

This is the second installment in our development series! We hope you will join MEREDA for what is sure to be a very interactive and informative session. Please come to the event prepared to ask questions!

About our Presenters:

Jonathan Culley is the owner of Redfern Properties, a Portland-based real estate developer. Redfern focuses on residential and mixed-use developments with an emphasis on infill and other “smart-growth” projects that make neighborhoods and communities more vibrant and sustainable. Recent and current projects include West End Place, Munjoy Heights, 89 Anderson, and 667 Congress.

A Maine native, Jonathan founded Redfern upon returning to Portland in 2005 from Seattle, Washington. He holds an A.B. and an M.B.A., both from Duke University.

Ethan Boxer-Macomber, LEED AP, has over 18 years of experience in real estate, housing, and community development and has successfully led multiple large-scale residential development projects across southern Maine. In 2013, Ethan started Anew Development, a Portland-based real estate development company dedicated to residential infill that provides highest, best community value by adhering to principles of quality urban design, smart growth, and sustainability.

Ethan formerly as a City Planner for the cities of Davis, California, and Portland, Maine. He earned a BS in natural resources and ecology from the University of Maine and an MS in community planning and development from the University of California, Davis. He is a returned Peace Corps volunteer and was formerly certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

About the Event:

December 08, 2016 – 7:30AM to 9:00AM

Portland Regency Hotel
20 Milk Street
Portland, ME

Buffet Breakfast: 7:30-8:00 am
Program: 8:00-9:00 am

Registering for this Event:

Member: $45 pp | Non-Member: $55 pp
Prices increase by $10 after December 1

Your RSVP is requested by December 1, 2016. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after December 1.

Visit for more information and to register.

This MEREDA “Morning Menu” Breakfast Event is Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank and PDT Architects.

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The New-Old Humpty Dumpty

by George Casey, CEO of Stockbridge Associates, LLC

Here are 10 trends likely to come amidst a full-circle return to housing finance and economics like it was before homeownership became a policy priority.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Traditional English Nursery Rhyme

One of the advantages of writing occasionally is that one has the opportunity to sit and reflect without the pressure of deadline or expectation.   Sometimes waiting for things to “sort out” takes longer than one would imagine.

I first started writing the occasional “By George!” articles back in the spring of 2010 in the depths of the housing recession.   At the time, I think that all of us knew that it was pretty severe, but there was a belief among many that the pullback, although significant, would still lead back to a housing system that we all knew.

At the time, I thought of what we were going through was much like the experience of Humpty Dumpty, where Humpty was the residential housing ecosystem that had evolved over decades.   The system had fallen off the wall and the question was what Humpty would look like in the future.

It has taken a while, but it now appears that the “new” Humpty is looking more like the Humpty of the 1920s and 1930s, rather than the 2004 version.

If so, we are looking at a rollback of nearly 80 years of housing evolution.

If one returns to those times, around 40% of households owned a home and 60% rented.   It took huge down-payments (40% being somewhat of a norm) in order to purchase a home.   Scarce supply of rentals meant that it was not uncommon for large portions of income were dedicated to rent payment.   50% was not uncommon.

Renters became caught in the “rent trap” and could not save enough to get a down-payment to buy.

Sound like recent newspaper stories to anyone?

It was also not uncommon for families to live together multi-generationally out of necessity.   Many sources of income from many hands helped to pay for the rent and the food.   It is still the norm in much of the world today.

Local banks took the savings of the local population and pooled the money that enabled the investment in mortgage loans for those who could buy a home.   The bankers knew the borrowers and the borrowers were embedded in the community.   If one defaulted, the social stigma and shunning were horrible results and that fear kept the obligations of home ownership and borrowing as nearly sacred objects.

The Depression and the 25% unemployment that followed led to the demise of banks, the loss of homes and an inability to rent.   The society began to become nomadic.   FDR’s policies, including the institution of federal deposit guarantees at banks and agencies to provide direct government lending to borrowers (FHA) were used to help stabilize the system.   FDR also saw the need to get people out of the rent trap and began to look at smaller down-payments for purchase as a tool.

Home ownership was seen as a key policy goal.   It helped to stabilize communities and helped to lift people out of poverty.

After World War II, the GI Bill encouraged returning veterans to purchase homes and its success led to the predecessors to FNMA, FHMLC, HUD and the other government sponsored entities and departments created in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

Tax deductibility of mortgage interest and real estate taxes also helped push the ownership and social mobility goals.

It is no surprise that the home ownership rate climbed from the 40% level in the 1940’s to its zenith of around 70% at the time of the downturn in 2007.

As we all now know, dysfunction became embedded over time in this system and, with the downturn, the inevitable finger pointing, lawsuits, and financial losses have led to a world where the government has a very large share of the mortgage market under its control

No bureaucrat wants to be called before Congress for not protecting “our money”, so the result is a much higher credit threshold and fewer people able to purchase under those new rules.   The new standards, designed for risk aversion rather than the policy advancement of home ownership, seem to be here to stay for a while.

The major banks are only now coming out of the soup, having paid billions in fines and penalties and being made out to be demon whipping boys, sometimes appropriately and sometimes not.   It is no surprise to see them retreating from the residential mortgage lending market.   Recent announcements from Bank of America and Wells Fargo are the latest evidence of this retreat.

With fewer big lenders, what residential mortgage lending that is left is being done by “non-bank” entities, such as Quicken Loans.   But with a miniscule securitization market (compared to prior), their scope and capability of lending are also limited.   Maybe it will grow.   I don’t know.   But this seems to be a new norm, too.

In the last decade, changes in Federal tax law have somewhat limited the deductibility of mortgage interest and taxes and there continues to be talk of taking away those deductions all together.   Piece by piece, this incentive for ownership is drifting away.

It is not surprise, then, that since the downturn started, home ownership has reverted into the low 60% range, single family production is at levels lower than 50 years ago when the population was one half of what it is now, and multifamily production is at levels higher than at almost any time in the last 50 years, too.

The countervailing force of money and lobbying that kept housing policy and home ownership on the upper reaches of the federal policy agenda became severely diminished in the downturn, also.   Health care, defense, and social safety net policy now seem to have all of the attention and the lobbying dollars to back it up.

In the new world, no money means no seat at the table.   This has come into full view in the primary debates as housing policy is almost totally absent, despite unconscionable homelessness and the angst of a whole generation about how and where they are going to live.

The new Humpty Dumpty is looking like his great-grandfather in the 1930s, unfortunately.

If this is the new reality that we are going to be dealing with, what does it mean for housing strategy?

First, as I first proposed back in 2010, single-family homes for rent are going to be with us in a greater proportion than we have been used to.   Lennar and others have dabbled in the new single family for rent business, but it is a sideline.   New companies such as Higley Homes in Phoenix are making it their primary business model.   Look for more.

Second, even though it will continue to grow at 10-15% per year, single-family production will still be smaller than we need or what we have been used to for longer than we would like to think.   Expect large public and privates to have a larger portion of a smaller market than before and for their margins to be underwhelming.

Competing with those builders on commodity single family homes that do not look markedly different than those built in the past 30 years will be the business equivalent of sword-fighting with Zorro.

Third, I think that stagnant incomes and tough underwriting standards will mean that multifamily building will continue to be important.   Even more important, though, will be attacking niches: homes for single person households and multigenerational households are two that come to mind.   These are product types that the new demographic need and production over the past three to five decades has not provided.   Supply-demand says that there is more shot at a better than commodity margin here.

Fourth, look for new financing types to emerge.   Some will fail and some will grow, but look for the innovation.   Private funding deals for individual communities are one.   Shared equity lending to borrowers who do not fit the government underwriting box are another.

Fifth, look for non-industry players to come in and drive the innovation.   The Waypoint Homes folks who were one of the roll-ups of foreclosed homes for rent came from outside of the industry, as have the Higley Homes owners.   Quicken, an accounting software company, saw the opportunity in replacing banks in mortgage lending and took it.

Sixth, we are seeing urban infill and mixed use projects being where both millennials (before kids) and empty nesters would like to be.   It will continue.   In the process, we will be getting back to more urban neighborhoods (like prior to the end of WWII and the start of suburbanization).

Seventh, expect that housing will not get back to any kind of national priority in terms of policy support for a while.   There will be local angst on unaffordable housing and calls for inclusionary zoning and rent control in the vacuum.   All will make land both more and less valuable.

Eighth, existing housing stock will become more valuable and will be densified where it can be.   I don’t know, but McMansions might be chopped up into condos or apartments.   In-law, granny-flat, or AirBnB additions will be created when they can on existing houses.   All of this means that there will be a lot of remodeling and renovation work, opening up opportunities for the roll-up of what are now mom and pop businesses by entrepreneurs.

Ninth, expect to see community velocity to become ever-more important.   By including more demographic slices in a community, as well as both for-sale and for-rent product simultaneously, velocities will triple or quadruple.

Tenth, expect that the old project underwriting standard will have to address stagnating selling prices and increasing costs.   Diversification of product and velocity will help to alleviate this.   Projects that cannot easily be diversified will be at a disadvantage.   Builders with such inflexible land on their books right now might have an over-valued asset.

If the past 8 to 10 years have shown us anything, Humpty Dumpty is not going to be like he was for the past 50 years and we better get used to it and figure out how our population houses itself in this new reality that looks a lot like a very old reality.

But in that is opportunity for those who have the courage and foresight to innovate and look the new-old Humpty Dumpty square in the eye.

Originally published in Builder Online on March 7, 2016

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MEREDA Awards Scholarships to College Students

MEREDA’s 4th Annual “Strikes for Scholars” Bowl-a-Thon & Silent Auction Fundraiser, which was held this past May at Bayside Bowl in Portland raised enough funds to donate a total of sixteen $1500 scholarships to students studying at the seven schools in the Maine Community College System (MCCS) as well as two students at the University of Southern Maine (USM). The students who received the awards are enrolled as second-year students in a building trades, architecture, construction, engineering or business program.

Over the past few weeks, MEREDA’s Vice President of Operations, Shelly R. Clark has traveled to meet with those students receiving the scholarships.  This is the fourth year that MEREDA has provided the scholarships to students preparing for careers in a real estate related field.  Below is a sampling of the students we’ve met with so far!

(front row): CMCC Student Mehgan Francis, MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark, CMCC Student Maxwell Poulin (back row): CMCC President Scott Knapp and Dan Moreno, Department Chair, Architectural and Civil Engineering Program

(front row): CMCC student Mehgan Francis, MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark,
CMCC student Maxwell Poulin (back row): CMCC President Scott Knapp and Dan Moreno,
Department Chair, Architectural and Civil Engineering Program

MEREDA Board Member Tanya Emery (City of Bangor), EMCC Student Jessica Daniels, MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark, and MEREDA Board Member Rick Harnum (Webber Group).

MEREDA Board Member Tanya Emery (City of Bangor), EMCC student Jessica Daniels, MEREDA
Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark, and MEREDA Board Member Rick Harnum (Webber Group).

KVCC Students Sharon Dearborn and April Knapik, KVCC President Richard Hopper and MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark

KVCC students Sharon Dearborn and April Knapik, KVCC President
Richard Hopper and 
MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark

MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly Clark, SMCC Student Coleman Costello and Denis Landry, President, Landry/French Construction Company

MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark, SMCC student Coleman Costello and
Denis Landry, President, Landry/French Construction Company
Landry/French Construction Company was a proud supporter of MEREDA’s Annual Strikes for Scholars
Bowl-A-Thon.  Thank-you, Denis Landry, for accompanying us on the visits to SMCC & USM!

Landry/French Construction President Denis Landry. USM student Vitaliy Popov and MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly Clark.

Landry/French Construction Company President Denis Landry, USM student Vitaliy Popov and
MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark.

YCCC President Dr. Barbara Finkelstein , YCCC Student Ethan Towne and MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly Clark

YCCC President Dr. Barbara Finkelstein, YCCC student Ethan Towne
and MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark

YCCC President Dr. Barbara Finkelstein , YCCC Gregory LeChair and MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly Clark

YCCC President Dr. Barbara Finkelstein, YCCC student Gregory LeClair
and MEREDA Vice President of Operations Shelly R. Clark

MEREDA has identified workforce development as critically important to the future of real estate development. The building trades and professions provide high paying lifelong opportunities for our residents.  We are pleased to help these deserving students achieve their goals and our members look forward to the contributions they will make to our industry.

Thanks so much to all who participated in the event!  We look forward to our next Strikes for Scholars Fundraiser next year!  Mark your calendar for May 4, 2017!

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When Generations Collide


By Dean Strombom, Principal, Gensler, Houston, TX

This is the first time in history when five generations of employees may co-exist in the workplace: the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials or Gen Y, and Gen Z. At the same time, older employees are delaying retirement while Gen Z, the generation we know the least about, is making their first appearance in the workplace.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation

The Internet and bookstores are full of writings by psychologists, sociologists, and human resource specialists about the differences between the generations. According to them, The Silent Generation likes stability and order and hates to take risks. Baby Boomers are ambitious and materialistic. Gen X is self-reliant and cynical. Millennials are self-confident and achievement-oriented. And, Gen Z is tech-dependent and big on multi-tasking. The problem with such generalizations is that there are always those that don’t fit neatly into a category. Instead of putting people in boxes, the new workplace can break down hierarchies, encourage collaboration and communication, and instill a shared sense of purpose and promise.

 Today’s savvy CEO should understand potential communication, work-style, and motivational differences that may exist between employee populations, but focus on creating a work environment that will keep all employees happy, productive and healthy. Harping on generational differences just preserves stereotypes and creates division. Instead, the focus should be on building common ground that gives all employees a choice in how and where they want to work, and in adding elements to the workplace that make everyone feel valued and part of a larger whole.

Maine REI

How Design Can Help

Research on the dynamics of the workplace points out that only one in four U.S. workers feels they are currently in an optimal workplace environment. There are 10 design factors that can increase employee engagement: activity, ergonomics, air quality, lighting, restorative environments, acoustics, nature, nutrition, user control and motivators.

Let’s talk about acoustics for a moment. All human beings with normal hearing are distracted by noise. Noise is one of the reasons older workers have clung to private offices. But, even in a 100 percent open work environment, designers can plan to minimize noise. They can locate workstations away from major gathering areas. They can improve HVAC acoustic performance. They can provide quiet zones for focus work. They can include sound-absorbing ceiling panels and fabrics. Workers that grew up plugged in to earbuds and headphones may opt to add those to handle distraction, but a good design can largely mitigate this issue.

All workers want to feel part of a company that they can be proud of – one with products, goals, and aspirations they think are worthy. Adding branding elements into the workplace that underscores corporate goals and improves employee engagement creates a sense of place that is distinct and meaningful. The experts say a branded workplace is particularly important to Millennials, but the argument could be made that this is a universal human need that spans the generations.

Creating Places Where People Meet

Another big differentiator in employee engagement and success is communication. The generations may differ in the way they communicate – face-to-face, email, Snapchat – but all effective workplaces are environments that support the free-flowing exchange of information. The best offices have intersections where people meet informally. Great workplace designs encourage people to get up from their desks and move around. They also provide the technical infrastructure to enable people to work where, when and with whom they need to, seamlessly. Much of the tension between the generations can be dissipated by talking to each other.

Intersection and interaction are important. Creating a more transparent workplace where people can see the work of other teams, experience different jobs within the organization, and have access to mentors of all ages adds a layer of richness and connection to the environment. It also encourages continuous learning and development.

Creating a strong corporate culture valuing individual and team accomplishments, providing employees with a healthful work environment offering group and individual work areas, and embracing cultural and generational diversity will boost employee engagement, profit, and employee retention.

Dean Strombom is a Practice Area Leader in Energy and Landlord Services in the Houston office of Gensler, where he leads the planning and design of corporate campuses, commercial office buildings, workplace interiors and mixed-use developments. Dean is on the advisory board of the University of Houston Graduate School of Real Estate at the Bauer College of Business.

Dean Strombom was also a presenter on this topic at MEREDA’s 2016 Spring Conference.

Original article published on April 16, 2016 in Texas CEO Magazine. 

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Morning Menu Breakfast Event: Sustainable Stormwater Infrastructure = Sustainable Growth Perspectives on Stormwater Service Fee Programs and Credits

breakfast-logo-for-press-releases-social-mediaWith each passing year, cities and towns are faced with increased requirements, under the federal Clean Water Act, to protect and restore water quality in our streams, rivers, lakes and coastal waters.  These mandates require communities to ensure they appropriately operate and maintain stormwater public drainage systems that collect, store, treat, and discharge stormwater runoff in order to reduce water pollution. They must also encourage and require that property owners reduce their impacts on water quality.  All while accommodating growth and development, which may require an expansion of the public stormwater management system. The future sustainability of these public systems depends on a steady stream of revenue, which more equitably shares the costs of stormwater management and pollution prevention by tying them directly to the sources of stormwater runoff and pollution. So in response, a stormwater service charge program has been implemented by the City of Portland, similar to other municipalities, in order to fund the required upgrades and on-going maintenance of its stormwater management systems and water quality programs.

Stormwater utilities or service fees are often based on a property’s impervious area and can become substantial for property owners with large building footprints and parking lots. But many municipalities offer credit programs that can reduce the amount a property owner has to pay, providing they implement and maintain stormwater management and pollution prevention systems that reduce the community’s overall cost of meeting its Clean Water Act obligations. This panel discussion will focus on the City of Portland Stormwater Service Charge – why it is needed by the City and what measures property owners can take to qualify for credits. Participants will also learn what fees/credits other municipalities in Maine such as Bangor and Lewiston, and in other areas of the United States have implemented and/or are planning, and hear first-hand how property owners have successfully improved the quality of their stormwater runoff while reducing their stormwater service bills.

Meet our Presenters:

  • Scott Collins:  Managing Principal and Senior Engineer at St.Germain Collins 
  • Brian DesMarais:  Environmental Protection Manager at Waste Management
  • Doug Roncarati:  Stormwater Program Coordinator with the City of Portland

About the Event:

November 10, 2016 – 7:30AM to 9:00AM

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
363 Maine Mall Road
South Portland, ME

Buffet Breakfast: 7:30-8:00 am
Program: 8:00-9:00 am

Registering for this Event:

Member: $45 pp | Non-Member: $55 pp 
Prices increase by $10 after November 3

Your RSVP is requested by November 3, 2016. Payment is expected at the time of registration. No refunds will be granted to anyone who registers, but fails to attend or who cancels after November 3. 

Visit for more information and to register.

This MEREDA “Morning Menu” Breakfast Event is Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank and St. Germain Collins

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The Right Equation for Responsible Development: Spotlight on Pepperell Mill Campus

In the fifth of a 6-part series exclusive to the Maine Real Estate Insider, we’ll provide an up-close look at the most notable commercial development projects of the past year that are helping to fuel Maine’s economy in terms of investment and job creation.  MEREDA is proud to recognize responsible development based upon criteria including environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, social impact and job creation.  Please join with us in celebrating Pepperell Mill Campus.  A conversation with Doug Sanford.

MEREDA:  Describe the building and project.

Doug Sanford:  The Pepperell Mill Campus is a large mixed-use complex formally used for textile manufacturing. The property sits on a 16-acre site on the banks of the Saco River falls, and is also in the heart of downtown Biddeford. The campus includes 16 buildings with 1.1 million square feet of interior space. The goal is to redevelop and repurpose the mills. To date 550,000 sf of space has been built out and leased to a broad number of mixes uses. 120 businesses lease at the mill and 100 apartments are home to 180 people. 500 people either live or work on campus.

MEREDA:  What was the impetus for this project? 

Doug Sanford:  Opportunity and vision. The development team purchased the former Biddeford Textile complex in 2004, and then made the larger purchase of the rest of the mill complex in 2010. This created the potential to develop a fully integrated campus of complimentary mixed uses and residences. The vision of creating a campus came to shape with the opportunity to purchase a 1.1 million square foot fully connected mill complex.

MEREDA:  That sounds like quite a process.  How long were you in the planning stages before construction started?

Doug Sanford:  From the first phase purchase date in 2004 it took 12 months to create a preliminary plan to commence work on the project. Architectural plans, municipal approvals, state approvals, permitting and financing were secured and the project was on. It is interesting to note that we purposely did not spend an extended period of time and expense with a “master planning” process. It was the development team’s opinion that the project needed to prove itself quickly and create tangible results. So, once approvals were obtained for a broad set of tenant uses, construction commenced. It was that early momentum that carried the project through the troubled economy of 2008 – 2011. Once the project was well on its way, the clear path of master planning was established.

MEREDA:  Tell us about the most challenging aspect of getting this project completed. 

Doug Sanford:  During the early stages of the project the most challenging aspect was financing. It took a local bank, with a philosophy of investing in community redevelopment, to allow for the purchase funding and early build out funding of the project. Thank you Saco and Biddeford Savings!

The next set of challenges centered on growing pains. To transform from the purchase of a vast amount of vacant interior space, into a management team to handle the day to day operations of 120 businesses and 100 residents, was no easy task. As a management company we had to quickly ramp up in size and put into place systems to handle the job at hand.

MEREDA:  Something unexpected you learned along the way was….

Doug Sanford:  Politics and public relations became part of the job of developing such a large project. We started the project as a construction and property management company. Now we handle marketing, manage a web site and spend a lot of time interfacing with our host municipality. To have a healthy and constructive relationship with your host city is important. It allows for a public / private collaboration on initiatives that benefit all involved.

MEREDA:  Now that it’s complete, what feature of the project do you think makes it the most notable? 

Doug Sanford:  The project is not yet complete, but it’s well on its way. The most notable feature is that the Pepperell Mill Campus and the North Dam Mill development have almost single handedly created the environment for the renaissance of downtown Biddeford. The city and area had become an economic victim of the declining textile mill industry. The redevelopment of the mill’s vacant space paved the way for Biddeford’s economic recovery. Numerous other real estate projects and municipal investments have followed. This is an exciting time for Biddeford / Saco!

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