By Derek Newberry, Advocacy Fellow

The Urban Land Institute's magazine just published an article about 10 of the smartest green buildings in the country, and 2 of Boston's innovative green building projects  made the cut! Read the excerpts about the featured Boston-area projects below, and check out the full article by Ron Nyren here.

(We're especially excited that this article featured Boston Properties, one of our Chapter sponsors.)


ULX: 10 Smart Green Buildings

Although solar panels and wind turbines may be the poster children for sustainable design, many of the most effective methods for lowering a building’s energy use are decidedly low tech. Narrow floor plates and extensive glazing maximize natural light and ventilation; sunshades, proper building orientation, and high levels of insulation cut cooling and heating costs. But in an increasingly wired and data-driven world, sophisticated technologies have emerged that enable buildings to respond intelligently to environmental conditions and occupant behavior.

The following ten projects—all completed during the past five years—supplement their green design strategies with a range of computerized technologies, providing feedback on energy or water use, shutting off lights and other equipment when not in use, monitoring and adjusting comfort levels, or opening windows and skylights at night to bring in cooling air.

3. Atlantic Wharf
Boston, Massachusetts

Along Boston Harbor’s Fort Point Channel, three abandoned, decaying historic buildings have found new life as part of the mixed-use Atlantic Wharf. The local office of Boston Properties worked with local firm CBT Architects to restore and adapt one of the historic structures, the 1899 Russia Building, to provide 86 residential lofts. A new low-rise structure behind the rehabilitated facades of the other two buildings incorporates office, retail, and public uses; a new 31-story tower contains offices. Atlantic Wharf also has gallery and meeting space for the Boston Society of Architects, a public multimedia center, public galleries, event space, and a landscaped waterfront plaza.

Sustainable strategies include a vegetated roof and a stormwater management system that retains rainwater and reuses it in irrigation and in the heating, ventilation, and cooling system. A centrally monitored electronic metering network keeps track of the electricity, natural gas, and water consumption of the base building, including its public spaces. Tenants have access to infrastructure that allows them to monitor their own spaces as well using submetering guidelines developed by Boston Properties. The project was completed in 2011.


6. E+ // 226–232 Highland Street Townhouses
Boston, Massachusetts

The city of Boston developed the Energy Plus (E+) Green Building Program as a pilot initiative to create highly sustainable housing in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, with the goal that the buildings produce more energy than they consume. The first project completed under the program’s umbrella is E+ // 226–232 Highland Street Townhouses. The Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Department of Neighborhood Development chose local firm Urbanica and Philadelphia-based Interface Studio Architects to develop the four three-story townhouses on a vacant city-owned lot in the Roxbury neighborhood. Three of the for-sale units are market rate; the fourth is earmarked for households earning less than 80 percent of AMI.

To achieve positive energy production, the building uses both passive and active design strategies, including a high-performance building envelope heavily insulated against Boston’s cold winters and humid summers. Large, recessed, north-facing windows bring in natural light and facilitate cross ventilation; south-facing sloped roofs hold photovoltaic panels. A grant from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, a local publicly financed agency, funded incorporation of sensors that track electricity production and consumption. Residents can access this information through an online and smartphone interface that also lets them remotely control their units’ heating and cooling. The buildings were completed in 2013.

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