Furbish About Green Roofs, Green Walls, Living Systems

Our Values

At Furbish we are founded in our core values. These values guide us and are the common thread that defines us.

Pioneering – We challenge conventions and trends, striving for substantial evolution of industry.

Learning – We learn from our experiences and have a keen curiosity.

Holistic – We understand the big picture, yet don’t lose sight of the details.

Initiative – We passionately seek to make a difference.

Integrity – We are honest, trustworthy, and well intentioned.

Balance – We are steadfast professionals, but don’t take ourselves too seriously.

Inclusion – We embrace internal and external dialogue and value disparate perspectives.

Results-Oriented – We plan and execute with the end game in mind.

Our Story

Furbish specializes in the development of living systems that deliver real functional service and natural beauty to the built environment.

A deep commitment to sustainable building spurred the launch of Furbish in 2003. It was our conviction that sustainable buildings not only benefit the environment, but they offer greater comfort to occupants, healthier indoor environs, lower operating costs, greater asset value, and superior aesthetics. We believe these attributes generate real economic value. Thus our commitment to green building has combined a willingness to challenge accepted conventions with a determination to deliver readily accepted, cost-justified solutions. We not only seek lower impact approaches to development, but regenerative approaches, such as:

Containing site impacts rather than discharging them.

Mimicking original site conditions and biohabitat.

Implementing strategies to improve air and water quality.

Striving to create more energy on site than is consumed.

Fostering the health of habitants and their neighbors.

Respecting local communities and encouraging diversity and social equity.

Enhancing environmental wellness.

Our journey has encompassed product innovations, as well as, novel development projects and various green building systems. We have successfully implemented straw bale construction, natural plasters, and solar/geothermal HVAC. However, our focus has narrowed to vegetated living systems – living roofs, living walls, and living retaining walls. With a driving passion for innovation and a deep commitment to sustainability, we design, construct, and maintain living systems so that they utilize nature’s processes to create synergy between the built environment and its inhabitants. Furbish is dedicated to innovating and implementing elegant solutions that maximize asset value through ecosystem services.

A commitment to learning and effecting change within the rapidly emerging living systems industry has led us along our journey. We completed our first green roof installation in 2003. We soon became a leading green roof installer in the Mid-Atlantic region. We learned a great deal, discovering what worked and what didn’t as the industry matured. We quickly realized that many green roofs just don’t perform as advertised. Simply put, most systems do not manage stormwater efficiently, and very often the plants don’t grow. We introduced our Stewardship Programs to provide low input maintenance and achieve vigorous plant performance. Later, we developed EcoCline, a living roof system that mimics nature to achieve superior stormwater management, superior plant performance, and is locally sourced and largely composed of post-industrial and waste stream materials.

Concurrent with living roof advancements, we developed SmartSlope applying what we learned from living roofs to the retaining wall marketplace, and we continue to advance the science of BioWalls. We often have clients who engage us in design/build projects to integrate various green building strategies and living systems. Our journey at Furbish has not been a straight line; it’s an organic journey in which each step has provided us with the knowledge and opportunity to further innovate systems and lead us toward our goal of integrating regenerative solutions into the built environment.

Our Home

In 2006 we bought the Lucky’s Warehouse, a 90 year old, three-story warehouse in the South Baltimore neighborhood of Brooklyn. The building speaks for who we are not just as our home, but as a demonstration for how we approach building systems. It is a symbol that we are willing to challenge assumptions and implement ideas. We have endeavored to redevelop and operate this property using sustainable approaches, honoring the existing masonry architecture, and attempting to exhibit our values through the built environment.

Furbish completed the remodel of Lucky’s Warehouse in 2008, focusing on sustainable development. Our objective has been to embrace simplicity and allow function and form to coexist. We kept the large floors open – minimizing walls and maximizing natural lighting. Our HVAC system is radiant hydronic distribution encased in polished concrete floors. Primary heat is provided by rooftop solar panels and primary cooling is ground source water. We have experienced a 65% reduction in typical HVAC costs while increasing comfort and occupant health. Two BioWalls provide clean indoor air. New windows improve envelope efficiency while embracing natural daylight. Further, the exterior features a pervious parking lot and SmartSlope walls. We also use our roof, yard, and warehouse as a R&D lab and incubator for our products.

Please contact us if you are interested in leasing opportunities. Vacancies come available from time to time as many of our tenants grow into their own spaces.

Our Strengths

Our team leverages our core competencies

Whole Systems Approach – We realize elegant solutions result from looking at the whole picture and by doing so we attain more adaptable, resilient, and integrated solutions.

Innovation – We challenge the status quo, knowing that doubt is the first step toward wisdom. We are not interested in incremental improvement to mediocre systems. We are inspired by pioneering changes that come from approaching problems and solutions from entirely new perspectives.

Furbish About Green Roofs, Green Walls, Living Systems

Science – We seek the science, we respect the science, and we utilize science to create reliable results. We shy away from slick marketing and “selling” to capture short-term market share. Rather, we are committed to substantive results and are confident that the value we deliver will result in long-term loyalty and growth.

Communication – We listen to our clients, remain transparent, and report back on system performance long after a sale is closed. We listen to each other. Every person and every role in our firm holds a valuable perspective and platform for contribution.

Data – Data informs us, but does not control us. It’s a vital component of our learning process. We validate our assumptions, prove our results, and report openly to our clients.

Our Team

Our team is our key strength. We have all come to Furbish via different paths, from varying backgrounds. The result is a highly versatile, motivated team that is deeply committed to sustainability and founded in our core values.

Michael Furbish President & Founder

I have always been drawn to systems – appreciating the individual parts but relishing the elegance of highly functional whole systems. My quest started with the belief that strictly imposed order and control would ensure desired outcomes. Armed with degrees in Systems Engineering from Georgia Tech and a MBA from Harvard, I implemented efficiency programs ranging from apparel plants in Jamaica to engine rebuilding factory in Texas. But I discovered my passion in real estate and buildings – where optimizing the system yields remarkable benefits in comfort, health, beauty, community well-being, and economic value. With a lot of age and a little wisdom, I realize the highest levels of elegance occur not with externally imposed structure, but in natural, self-organizing systems that are more resilient because of the diversity of their parts and the convergence of their mission. That has become our focus innovating living roofs and living walls that are self-organizing making them more effective and requiring less human input. But I am even more excited to apply these principles to our organization – fostering a true “learning” organization – unleashing the collective talents and perspectives of our team – allowing unimaginable value to be created by a highly functional human system. I am grateful to lead this organization. And I am blessed to live with my wife Heather and daughter Georgia in our small, straw bale house in Pasadena, MD.

Revered Quote: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” ― Albert Einstein

I joined Furbish in 2006 after moving back to Maryland with my wife who was expecting our first baby. We were looking to set our anchor ashore after sailing professionally on traditional Tall Ships for many years. Michael and I sailed together on Pride of Baltimore 2 in 1991 and kept in touch throughout the years. Starting off “in the field” as a laborer on a large commercial straw bale project, I quickly realized this was not your ordinary construction company. I enjoy working on challenging, environmentally conscious projects at Furbish and appreciate the company’s transparency, commitment to inclusive, open communication, and willingness to solicit ideas and improvements from all of our employees. I live in Catonsville with my wife and two sons.Peanut Butter Preference: Crunchy – never creamy

I came to Furbish in 2006 after meeting Michael during a solar/green home tour of his house. I now oversee the administrative aspects of the company to include human resources and compliance (and keeping the entire team happy!). My passion for the environment translates into ongoing sustainability initiatives for our office operations. Prior to joining Furbish I worked in executive sales and catering at the Baltimore Hyatt Regency. I also worked for Martin Gillett where I produced nutritional labeling and for U.S. Foodservice as a packaging graphics coordinator. I am a Baltimore native who enjoys art, music, dance, and hiking with my dog – a stray rescued from an office park. My other passions are holistic health and nutrition. I am currently volunteering for the Baltimore CHIP mentoring program where I am honored to mentor a 7 year old.Favorite Quote: “You are what you eat.”

Favorite After Work Activity: Grilling with friends

Andrew Benenati – Director of Field Operations

I joined the Furbish team in 2013, bringing my excitement and passion for innovation and a “green tomorrow” to the firm. Previously, the Program Director of a DC based green nonprofit, my experience in green building, design, and construction benefit me while atop the roofs of our urban environment. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Maryland, College Park, and enjoyed all my five years (yes, that includes my victory lap) rooting for my Terps. I have realized over the years that I can’t be held in one place, I have to constantly be active, exploring and trying new things. I have been lucky enough to travel around the world with the most incredible family and friends, and am always planning my “next vacation”. When I’m not on the rooftop, I can be found camping, traveling, at sporting events, playing kickball or soccer, or spending time with friends.

Favorite Food: Maryland Blue Crabs Smothered in Old Bay!

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” -John Lennon

Favorite Sporting Event: FIFA World Cup

Leave a Reply