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Boston’s Sustainable Housing Boom

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Throughout the world, architects and designers have been increasingly focused on developing environmentally-friendly strategies. From utilizing recycled building materials to introducing solar energy and permaculture gardening, developers are putting an emphasis on sustainable living. Eco-friendly building design is of significant importance to Boston. A city-wide push under Mayor Walsh has achieved energy efficiency gains with capital improvements that yield savings and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. While over 400 buildings and projects throughout the city are already LEED certified, more developments have taken even greater bounds in leading the eco-friendly initiative.

Parker & Terrace Street Development

“Not just a building – a PARK”. This Mission Hill development has been recently approved by the Boston Planning & Development Agency; proposing 44 residential units in a thoughtfully-designed green building. Each unit has been designed around an outdoor space that helps create a unified indoor/outdoor experience. The developers’ goal is to unify the design of the building and the landscape to create a community in which residents may converge; linking artists, art-lovers, gardeners, bicyclists, and neighbors.

Each spacious and flexible one-, two- and three-bedroom unit opens into a private garden. Patios, courtyards and murals punctuate the steel facade of the building. Retail spaces permeate and activate the street and are defined by an inner courtyard with an open stair that connects the vibrant Terrace Street to the landscape above. This development also includes 30 motor vehicle parking spaces and 82 bicycle parking spaces. The project further incorporates a 14,000 square-foot community garden on its roof. A 14,500 square-foot solar farm provides electricity for the energy-efficient residential units and retail spaces. Heat is provided through a geothermal heating system and is distributed through radiant heating in the floors. The design achieves a projected energy surplus of 21% and a Platinum LEED score of 123 points. At Parker & Terrace street residences, you’ll be a part of the green living experience flourishing throughout several Boston neighborhoods.


Green at the Distillery

The Distillery is a new South Boston residential building located adjacent to the current Distillery site. The 1966 bottling plant has been replaced by a 65 unit residential building. The Distillery serves as a live/work area for artists with underground music practice rooms, an open courtyard venue for performances, galleries, an artist residency program, and public artworks.

The project incorporates “Passive House” design – a combination of an extremely insulated and non-porous building shell with a recovery ventilator. A typical residential building will use a system that pulls in air from the outside to heat or cool it on its way into the building while venting the warm or cool air back outside (thus wasting the energy embodied in it). A Passive House building’s recovery ventilator transfers the warmth or coolness of the air that is exiting the building into the new air coming in from the outside, resulting in a well-ventilated interior that has recycled its own warmth or coolness – creating an energy-efficient space that recovers its own heating and cooling.

 

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The Distillery project has surpassed the benchmarks set by the US Green Building Council’s LEED Rating system; using just 10% of the energy of an ordinary new residential development of this size. The project incorporates other green technologies including cogeneration of electricity, drain heat recovery, recycled gray water, community garden and food production and composting. The developers have also been working to improve the efficiency and environmental impact of transportation to and from the Distillery and the neighboring buildings. A collaboration with the MBTA has rerouted a downtown bus line to stop at the Distillery. The project further includes Zip Cars, electric car charging stations, and networked community carpooling. The developers of the Distillery are committed to ensuring that the building will remain an affordable and vibrant residence for Boston’s artists and artisans.


The Allandale Residences

Allandale Residences, recently approved by the Boston Planning and Development Agency, involves the construction of 14 new sustainable townhomes. All 3.5-4.5 story townhomes include three bedrooms and range from 1,600 to 2,800 square-feet. The homes will further include private entrances and internal garages. Developers Wonder Group LLC of Dorchester claim that its development will add no demands to the regional electricity grid and will be able to withstand strong storms that could come with global climate change.

The entire site will complement the surrounding Allandale Woods conservation area and is expected to target Net Zero efficiency and LEED Platinum performance. The townhomes will be built into an existing hill on the site and positioned to take most advantage of the sun for their roof solar panels. Bio-swales and vegetated rain gardens will line paved areas and a new vegetated stormwater treatment system will retain and filter water – providing a recreational/visual amenity for the community. The site is conveniently situated on the West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain border, offering direct access to the Arnold Arboretum, Allandale Farm and Allandale Woods.

Highland Street Development

The new development at 226-232 Highland consists of four three-story wood-frame townhomes in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. The project took over a formerly vacant site occupying a prominent corner that overlooks the historic Fort Hill neighborhood. This project was conceived as a prototype for family-friendly, energy-efficient townhomes. Each unit is approximately 1,850 square-feet with flexible floor plans including large rear decks and backyards.

The Highland Street project was developed under the City of Boston’s Energy Plus Green Building Program which seeks to develop energy-positive sustainable green housing. Developers Urbanica, Inc were chosen through a design competition organized by the Boston Planning and Development Agency and the Department of Neighborhood development. Each of the townhomes are radically sustainable and capable of producing more energy than they consume. The project has achieved HERS ratings between -6 and -9 and is certified LEED Platinum. Throughout the project, sustainability was the primary driver for design decisions. Sustainability measures include strategies for improving energy performance and stormwater management. Air and daylight access contributed to south-facing sloped roofs with solar panels and terraced landscaping managing water along the site’s slope. These energy-efficient features have sparked a long-term conversation within a diverse community about the importance of sustainability in the design of residential structures.

For more information on these and other developments throughout the Greater Boston area, view our new residential Crane Watch.

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