Edey criticizes officials over Tisbury School

Watts chastises Edey for being off topic about project's design.

The Tisbury School renovation and addition will use the construction manager at risk method of picking a contractor. -Rich Saltzberg

Energy efficiency advocate Anna Edey leveled criticism at Tisbury officials Tuesday afternoon about the planned renovation and addition of the Tisbury School. 

Up to $55 million in bonds was authorized by Tisbury voters at both a special town meeting and 2021 annual town election. The Tisbury select board and school committee met jointly Tuesday and managed to both unanimously approve a “construction manager at risk delivery method” for the project. As The Times has previously reported, construction manager at risk allows the contractor to be interviewed and selected. In contrast, a design bid build project method requires taking the lowest bidder for the project. Tisbury officials previously expressed concern a design build project method could be more risky for an Island project. The board and the committee also both unanimously approved the formation of a construction management evaluation committee. No appointments were made to that committee, however. 

As officials were in discussion, Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools Superintendent Matt D’Andrea noticed Edey had her hand up.

Tisbury school committee member Michael Watts asked if her question was related to the subject at hand — construction manager at risk. Edey said it was: “As a resident of Tisbury, it is my duty and responsibility to request that the selectmen please temporarily delay any further work or contracts with Tappé Associates — including what you’re talking about now — until we, the people of Tisbury, have a chance to investigate apparent malpractice committed by … Tappé, investigate the disadvantages of the Tappé design proposal, and consider other options that may be better than the Tappé design. We strongly disapprove of many aspects of the Tappé design for the following reasons and for many other reasons. They claim their design is solar-ready and net-zero, but it’s not even close. Their design falls 52 percent short …”

School committee chair Amy Houghton cut Edey off, and told her she was talking about subject matter outside the scope of the meeting.

Edey said she felt she had “a right to speak.”

Select board chair Jeff Kristal said he had read a letter from Edey, but Edey countered that what she was reading from was something different, and just drafted.

“So the board of selectmen are ready to move forward with this,” Kristal said.

“No you’re not,” Edey said. “No you’re not, because I’m protesting against it, and I need you to listen to me.”

Kristal noted the proceeding wasn’t a hearing but a joint meeting. 

Houghton said the school committee had read a letter Edey sent regarding solar issues. She encouraged Edey to send the committee any other letters she had. Houghton requested that Edey limit her comments to the subject of a construction management at risk — “and that’s it, nothing else.”

“There’s not going to be any construction management because there is not a proper design yet,” Edey said. “OK, do you understand what I’m saying?”

“For two years we’ve been at this, OK?” Watts said. “I’m sorry you do not like the design …”

Edey interrupted Watts several times.

Watts noted the design was “voted on by a supermajority of duly appointed people from the school committee and the select board. There are people who dissented. You happen to be one of them, OK?”

Watts added the project is moving forward, and the project was funded based on the design at hand. 

In a raised voice, Watts said, “You were given an opportunity to speak directly with the mechanical engineers. You turned it down. So when you can speak to us about your qualifications for a building of this magnitude, your credibility will go up, but today this is about moving forward with a construction manager at risk.”

Edey made no more comments following Watts’ remarks, and the board and committee moved to take their votes. 


  1. Edey is a kinda-kooky, kinda-huckstery feel good energy advocate. Not a scientist, not an architect, and -thank goodness- not any kind of elected official. Some energy efficiency advocates do the cause more harm than good. She is just a bee in the town of Tisbury’s bonnet.

    • Thanks for your comments, Alexis, and I really do mean thanks – I am grateful for this opportunity to respond. It seems to me that the more important a community issue is, the more we all need to talk about it, out in the open, where everyone can follow the conversation and contribute whatever they feel is relevant to the issue – in this case our school.

      So, you say: “Edey is a kinda-kooky”
      – Yes, I agree – but mostly in a good sort of way. Perhaps you have to be kinda-kooky in order to come up with innovative new ideas that everybody else (especially scientist, architects, solar designers, biologists etc) thought could never work, but which then turned out to be even far more successful than anyone could have possibly imagined. I never cease to give thanks to whatever kookyness helped make that possible.

      – I googled it: for hundreds of years it meant “someone selling fruits and vegetable from a cart” – that’s true! – but somehow it came to imply “someone aggressively pushing shady deals” – that meeting was the most aggressive I’ve ever dared be, yes, but pushing a shady deal, no. I think most people know, or at least suspect, that what I say and do is actually the right-on real deal – even though it has not yet become the norm, not yet.

      …” feel good energy advocate”
      – oh yes, that I am, because I still dare to hope that we have a chance to at least reduce the worst of what’s coming – but only IF we all do what needs to be done – and that’s why I am not giving up on my quest to help make our school the best solar-green-clean school we can imagine – which would of course inspire other communities to do the same – and that’s how the ball will get rolling, toward ever better solar-green living .
      Is that a kinda-kooky, kinda-huckstery goal to have?

      “…not a scientist … not an architect”
      – Please do see my response to Rich’s article …

      “Some energy efficiency advocates do the cause more harm than good”.
      – I totally agree with you – I worry that those who say we must all stop flying, stop driving, stop eating meat, are causing people to give up hope because they know they and most everyone else would never agree to go along with that.
      Instead, I believe we can continue living pretty much like now, except everything will be totally recycled without causing pollution (doable right now), and everything will run on electricity, which can be powered by on-site or near-site solar PV (also doable right now).
      We can still drive, IF our cars are all-electric, powered by onsite or near-site solar PV electricity (which saves so much money!), all components totally recycled with near-zero harm methods (all totally doable right now).
      And, electric cars are many times more reliable! I know this from more than 8 years of driving my 2012 Nissan LEAF: 100% reliable, subzero or scorching hot, and zero servicing or issues, ever! No garage, no special charger, just a regular 120 outlet. I know it’s hard to believe – but for me it’s even harder to believe that so many are still driving with gasoline, which causes 1-2 pounds of CO2 pollution per every mile. Count it up.
      My LEAF has averaged 4.3 miles per kWh, so driving 10,000 miles a year would require 2325 kWh annually, which can be produced by 100 square feet of fully exposed PV panels – that’s only 10 x 10 feet! Compare that with what it takes, from A to Z, to drive with gasoline or diesel or ethanol or hydrogen. Plus, those methods are all roughly 3-4 times more expensive!

      And I know that we can still eat meat, in moderation, IF the animals are raised happy, clean, regenerative and non-polluting, and killed gently without fear or pain – all of which I proved on my Solviva farm.
      Once you have proven something, over and over, continuously for years, it becomes fact, and must be accepted as fact, and the new knowledge must be integrated into human society if it looks like it would benefit people and other life near and far. Right?
      And flying? – very soon, planes will be powered by electricity and fuel made from algae grown in sewage water, and many other clean energy methods that are being developed around the world. In the meantime, as long as it runs on fossil fuels, I agree we need to reduce flying to a minimum. Covid forced us to do it – how much are we willing to do it to reduce harming our climate and everything that depends on it being livable, most of all us humans? I guess that depends on how much we value life.

      “She is just a bee in the town of Tisbury’s bonnet”
      Yes, and bees are good, right? I come to help spread pollen of good ideas, that can give us a better school, that would cause less pollution, be more secure, would be ready sooner, and could save us millions of dollars. That’s what I can offer, because I know how to do it. The systems I recommend are simple, self-evident, any child would understand how it works, and the immense amount of energy it can produce. Any architect or engineer would understand too, if only I had a chance to explain. The principals are the same, whether a small house or a mega project like our school.
      Thanks again for your comments, dear Alexis.


    I am grateful to the MV Times for reporting this story, thus making the information available to so many more people. And I’m grateful to Rich for accurate reporting, and for quoting every word of what I had a chance to say before I was cut off.
    And I thank Matt for announcing my hand up, and Jeff for inviting questions and letting me speak long enough to convey the gist of what I wanted to say. I’ve been trying for 2 years.
    It seems to me that, in a democracy, the public has a right to speak at any public meeting, and to express an opposing point of view to the committee, and to have that opposing point of view be considered and discussed. Does that sound unreasonable?

    It’s been really odd, from the very beginning of these past 2+ years, how fiercely the committees have refused to hear any other ideas besides Daedalus/Tappe – 100% blocking anything else – allowing no discussions, no opinions – only questions and comments, and only about the Tappe design. I know this, because from the very beginning, I’ve been trying many different ways to be heard.

    We all know that what is happening today everywhere on our planet is only the beginning of much worse to come, if we just continue making the tiny improvements that are going on now. We have no more time left for just talking about NetZero CO2 but still continuing to use fossil fuels.
    Maybe I’m a fool to still hope that, if we all, everybody, rapidly reduce our CO2 and other harm to near-zero, we just might succeed in reducing the worst of what is forecast.
    If we consider our options, we may agree that the wisest thing to do is to do the best we can.
    And how lucky we are to have a perfect project ready and waiting for us – our school! Already funded and begging us to get going doing the best we can!!
    So, let’s finally give ourselves the chance to consider other options besides Tappe – let’s not just settle for the only one we’ve ever been allowed to consider.

    “Watts noted the design was “voted on by a supermajority of duly appointed people from the school committee and the select board.”
    Yes I know they did, and it was like a Greek tragedy playing out on Zoom month after month. They raised many objections about the Tappe design along the way, but, alas, all those terrible flaws are still there: “the bridge” over the echoey traffic-heavy cafeteria – and the industrial plastic Kalwall glazing on the gym, with 2 mystery doors at either end that lead to nowhere, and not even Chris can explain what they are for – and the newfangled yellow plastic siding, 3x more expensive than brick – and the weird, useless, cost-padding “lego block” entrance way – and the dreadfully substandard spaces for art and shop – and the kitchen without any windows – and the stage without any backstage – and the children’s toilets reduced from 24 to 18 – and the tiny space allotted for the school garden and composting – and the tiny dark cold outdoor space for the kindergarten – etc, etc.
    The response from Daedalus/Tappe was always the same – “oh don’t worry, this is just the conceptual design phase – this can all be changed in the final design phase”. But we know that at that point, every change we want will cost us additional money – this is what eats up the “contingency fund”. Check out their past work.

    And most tragic of all, the committee supermajority fell for the claim by Daedalus/Tappe, that their design was super energy-efficient, solar-ready and NetZero CO2. This claim was strongly defended and pushed by the Chairman, continuing even after being shown the calculations that proved that those claims were so wrong.

    The calculations are simple, using the information given to us all by the architect:
    – the school will be 75,000 sq.ft., which, when multiplied by his projected energy efficiency of 25 EUI, means their design would require 1,875,000 kBTU, and since 3.41 kBTU equals 1 kWh, it means that their design would require roughly 550,000 kWh annually for running all functions.
    And, since 1 square foot of PV panel on their less-than-ideal roof would produce roughly 20 kWh annually, it means that 27,500 sq.ft. of PV will be required in order to be NetZero.
    But, their own roof design shows it can hold only 13,000 sq.ft. of effective PV, which means it can produce only 260,000 kWh annually, which is about 53% less energy than they say their design will require.
    Thus, their design falls 53% short of our stated NetZero goal – 53% less than they promised us they could and would do. Even if the whole parking lot is covered with PV it is still 23% short.
    Their design is unacceptably energy-inefficient – huge heat-losses, and zero use of the immense amounts of solar thermal energy that can be harvested on every square foot of southfacing walls: equivalent to 26+ kWh annually, and almost 20 kWh on east and west walls. That’s more energy than PV panels can produce!
    If we want to achieve true energy efficiency and NetZero CO2, we must stop doing what has so regretably become the architectural norm: blocking solar thermal heat energy as much as possible, by using shading overhangs, triple glazing, low-e coatings, and various blinds – all done because of fears ingrained since the 70’s, fears of the sun causing overheating and glare, well grounded fears caused by the prevalence of incompetent solar design.

    So, what are we to make of this situation? Dear Readers, I am asking you all. Are we supposed to just accept the Tappe design with an attitude of lame inertia and resignation, “ah well, there’s nothing can we do, it is what it is”? There must be some of you who are not willing to just silently accept what this large corporate conglomorate is pushing so hard to sell us, of course seeking highest possible profits for their shareholders, as they are duly required to do. And they get paid a percentage of the final cost of the project – please think for a moment about what that means.

    Michael Watts said:“You were given an opportunity to speak directly with the mechanical engineers. You turned it down.”
    Yes I did, because Chris made it clear he was interested only in repeating what I already knew.

    “So when you can speak to us about your qualifications for a building of this magnitude, your credibility will go up…”
    Thanks, Michael, for encouraging me to speak to you about my qualifications:
    – I never went to college and thus have no normal formal degrees or letters after my name – but I have something far more important: a much deeper education and training than you can possibly get at any university.
    I have more than 40 years of accumulated knowledge and hands-on experience, with architecture, engineering, biology, physics, chemistry, inventing, designing, building, testing, documenting, writing, drafting, illustrating, and living with solar-green-clean systems – heating/cooling, air quality, food production, electricity, wastewater, solid wastes, transportation – all with the goal of learning to live in ways that improve security and quality of life, reduce the cost of living, and cause near zero CO2 or other harm.
    Again and again, these systems all proved far more successful than anybody had imagined was possible, myself included. The results of those 40+ years of experience, deep knowledge and evidence are all described in my 2 books – and that work is the proof of my credentials.
    And this is the reason I have confidence in my knowledge, and therefore dare to speak up, and indeed, feel obligated to speak up to recommend what I know would be so very much better for Tisbury than the Tappe design.

    To that end, I would like to invite everyone – committee members, town officials and everyone else in Tisbury who is concerned about this issue – to come to my home to see the exhibit that I have laid out and will explain. It shows some of the serious flaws with the Tappe design, and what I recommend instead, and I am hoping that this will lead to an open group conversation in which we listen to each other’s ideas and information, recording it all as best we can, so we can see it again to refresh our memories, and share it with others – all with the goal of helping to plan the best school we can imagine, with everyone welcome to join in the design development process.

    These event will take place on 5 consecutive days, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, this coming week, August 2 – 6, between 4:30 – 6 pm,
    in my home, on 100 Skiff Ave, VH. All are welcome, and it’s free.

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