The Future of LEED – Reflections on a Year on the LEED Steering Committee

By Chris Schaffner

We’re living through difficult times. I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy, and you can continue to do your good work. Current events are on everyone’s mind, but sustainability remains an important long-term consideration. We are committed to creating a just and sustainable future, and recent events only highlight the need for this work.

In December 2019 I completed my term as chair of the USGBC LEED Steering Committee. I thought I’d spend a few moments to reflect on that experience and discuss the direction that LEED is heading.

I believe we are at an inflection point. The foundations of our work today were laid 25 years or so ago. LEED has brought green building to the forefront and has turned what was the cutting edge into the business as usual. LEED v4.1 has been well-received, but its impact on the market is still pretty small, especially compared to the crisis we face. We must rise to this challenge.

The climate crisis is ever increasing in its urgency. National governments have failed in their obligation to guide the planet to a safe landing. Local governments and NGOs, citizens, people like us, must step into this void.   At the same time economic inequality increases – the gap between rich and poor widens. Those most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate are also least equipped to deal with the results. 

The green building market is changing rapidly. Calls for energy efficiency have become calls for net zero buildings and decarbonization.  A few years ago, the idea of climate resilience was seen by some as an admission of defeat. Now it’s a key part of green building strategies. Cities like New York are creating rules that will put a real price on carbon. And demand for the elimination of fossil fuel use is growing. For example, Architecture 2030 recently called for a complete ban on fossil fuel use in all new buildings.  We’re transitioning away from the so-called “transition fuels.” It’s 2020, the future is here now. 

We, the members of the USGBC, have an opportunity and an obligation.  LEED addresses the full GHG impact of buildings – not just operational energy, but materials, transportation, water, and waste. But we need to strengthen LEED’s connection to climate, throughout the rating system, and make it more apparent to users. We also must stop sending mixed signals, by using metrics like energy cost rather than GHG emissions. We must embrace and incorporate climate resilience. And we must strengthen the connection between design and operations through recertification, so that a LEED Certification is not just a one-time event, but rather an ongoing process. We must do all these things, and we must do it while increasing LEED’s impact and market share.

Further, while we recognize that human health and social equity are factors in true sustainability, they’ve always been silent partners in LEED – along for the ride but never the focus. This will have to change. 

With these thoughts in mind, here’s where I see LEED heading in the next few years:

  1. Social Equity, Health, and Resilience: The USGBC community will come together this summer through events like the recent Social Equity Summit and the upcoming Healthy Economy Forum to gather ideas and lessons learned from recent events. Some will be whisked straight into LEED v4.1. Others may require more refinement and might wait until the next update.  (Timeline – Summer 2020)
  2. Balloting of LEED v4.1:  LEED v4.1 is still in Beta form, but it has already had a positive impact. Over the next few months the USGBC will use lessons learned from early adopters and will incorporate new lessons from recent events to create a final version to be balloted. Look for balloting to occur around the New Year, with a final version of v4.1 by Spring 2021. (Timeline – early 2021)
  3. Further Incorporation of Carbon, Wellness, Social Equity, and Resilience:  These have become the key issues driving the sustainability discussion today. Over the last 25 years we’ve gone from thinking about buildings’ effects on the environment, to the larger realm of “triple bottom line” sustainability. In the short term expect to see credit intents change to more explicitly highlight a strategy’s impact in these areas as part of the ballot version of v4.1. There is also discussion around creating some kind of recognition for LEED projects that specifically meet goals in social equity, human health, or resilience. For example, “Ten for Equity” would identify ten credits dealing with social equity, and a project that earned all ten might get special recognition.  (Timeline – early 2021, as part of the balloted version.)     
  4. Integration with the Arc Platform and the need for recertification: For years, LEED has struggled with the gap between predictions and performance. It’s time to close this gap. In the future a building will only be considered a LEED building if it can demonstrate performance worthy of the label. The plan is to use Arc to do this. Buildings will first earn LEED Certification in any of the traditional ways – through the New Construction or Existing Buildings Rating systems – but will use Arc to recertify periodically.  Currently recertification for New Construction projects is optional. Watch for it to become mandatory in the near future. (Timeline – no later than end of 2021)    
  5. LEED Positive: At Greenbuild in 2019 USGBC announced the coming of “LEED Positive,” but details of this concept have been sketchy.  It’s a work in progress. Think of it as LEED v5 if you want. The core concept is that we look ahead to 2050 and see where we need to be, and then we design the incremental steps that get us there, imagining an updated LEED every five years. It’s “LEED Positive” because we need to move from a mode reducing negative impacts to creating positive impacts.  As a part of this, we’d set specific minimum requirements for carbon reductions in each iteration, with New Construction projects getting to zero operational carbon very quickly.   (Timeline – More details of LEED Positive and a road map by Fall 2021, LEED v5 by 2025)

These are some of the ideas around the future of LEED. I welcome your feedback, input, and participation in the development of LEED Positive. The consensus process is the real strength of LEED, our secret weapon, and it doesn’t happen without all of you.

One thing we know for sure is that business as usual is not going to cut it. 25 years ago, LEED was a bold vision. It’s time to be bold again. I know we can and will do it, starting here, right now.

About Chris Schaffner

Chris Schaffner, PE, LEED Fellow, is Founder and CEO of The Green Engineer, Inc. a sustainable design consulting firm located in Concord, MA ( and a BE+ Silver Sponsor) . Chris and his firm have completed over 200 LEED Certified projects. He has a long history of volunteering and advocacy for green buildings. He served as a founding board member of USGBC MA, and was chair of the US GBC LEED Steering Committee in 2019. 

Looking Towards 2020: Celebrating Our Community and Welcoming the 2020 Board!

2020 Greetings from Barbra Batshalom, Board Chair

This past year we had unprecedented advances in the evolution of our organization. After doing a lot of listening through roundtables and member outreach, we developed a whole new strategic plan, a new brand that reflects our focus on healthy, net positive communities, and expanded partnerships with aligned organizations such as the Living Future Collaborative New England and Passive House Institute.

We also saw the success and growth of multiple programs: Workforce Grants and training programs for small businesses, the Women in Green event series, the Green Building Leadership Program (GBLI) for emerging professionals, and the launch of our first conference, Design for People. While our LEED courses and other trainings continue, we are planning a whole host of new events this coming year that center on community conversations around product health, bringing zero carbon to scale, new zero carbon stretch codes, and other important issues.

Addressing carbon is one of our most urgent challenges for 2020. While this challenge and others can feel overwhelming and impossible to overcome, we make up a powerful community of individuals involved in the design, construction, and operation of our buildings. Each of us came to USGBC MA because we are all driven by the same mission: to advocate for a more sustainable Massachusetts. That’s why community is important. Together, our community has all the know-how and experience to chart a path forward that can help us accelerate our progress. Together, we can achieve what none of us can do individually.

This is why we really want to hear from you: we can’t do all of this without the support and input of our community! What do you want us to focus on this year? Does your company need training or support to achieve its sustainability goals? What do you want to learn this year? How can your voice be joined with other like-minded people to drive the changes we want to see? Come to our roundtables, other events, or just send us a message—we look forward to working with you to make 2020 the best year yet!

Barbra Batshalom, USGBC MA/Build Environment Plus Board Chair 

Annual General Meeting Recap


2019 Membership Award Recipients

Net Zero Hero – Jacob Knowles

Member of the Year – Audrey Ng

 Ascending Professional of the Year – Jasmine Abdollahi

MVP Company – Elkus Manfredi

Living Building Champion – DiAnn Mroszczak

I’ve Got Your Back – Jana Silsby

Thank You to Our Departing USGBC MA Board Members

Samira Ahmadi

Samira Ahmadi

Jenna Dancewicz

Jenna Dancewicz

Henrietta Davis

Henrietta Davis

Johanna Jobin

Johanna Jobin

Returning USGBC MA Board Members

Jana Silsby

Jana Silsby

Architect Representative

Brad Mahoney

Brad Mahoney

Developer Representative

Galen Nelson

Galen Nelson

Clean Tech Representative

Jenn Taranto

Jenn Taranto

Contractor Representative

New USGBC MA Board Members

Lindsey Machamer

Lindsey Machamer

Emerging Professional Representative

Julie Janiski

Julie Janiski

Engineer Representative

Randa Ghattas

Randa Ghattas

Unspecified Open Seat Representative

Heather Henriksen

Heather Henriksen

Unspecified Open Seat Representative

Built Environment Plus: Voting Results

The results are in: changing the organizational name to Built Environment Plus was met with an overwhelming 90% approval rate by USGBC MA voters! We will be going before the Secretary of State to petition for the name change. If the petition succeeds, Built Environment Plus will become our official name! Thank you to everyone who voted–as a community-based organization, your input is vital for the future of the organization!

Annual General Meeting Photos

EPMA Presentation Recap: Prefab Architecture

Written by Oliver Bautista and Lindsey Machamer

Oliver presents on Prefab Architecture in front of USGBC MA's Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts group.
Oliver presents on Prefab Architecture during November’s Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts meeting.

With the October presentation we had Oliver Bautista, Designer III at Turkel Design, explain the exciting features of Prefab Architecture. The presentation began with an explanation of the definition of ‘prefab’ in architecture and the different types that exist.

Oliver’s presentation centered on modular homes built in components, in this case wall panels, and how the process works from the Schematic Design phase through the built core shell assembly. The process begins with the selection of either a standard home design, a modified standard home design, or a custom home design; the choice depends on client needs and site conditions.

Simulated design of prefab architecture
Simulated design of Prefab Architecture

During the presentation, Oliver explained the advantages of doing prefab, from the components built in a controlled environment to reductions made to the construction schedule. The sample project shown during the presentation displayed a timeline of one hundred days to complete the core shell assembly, which was elevated with piers due to a high flood elevation line. The two story single family residence was delivered in flatbed trucks and assembled on site; the visuals shown explained how a small crew was able to put together a fantastic home in a short period of time, along with the flexibility and quality prefab can bring to Architecture.

EPMA Presentation Recap: Shifting Company Policy and Culture Towards Sustainability

Written by Michael Orbank

Michael presents at the November 2019 Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts meeting
Michael presents at the November 2019 Emerging Professionals of Massachusetts meeting.

At this past USGBC EPMA meeting, I had the pleasure of discussing the work Commodore Builders is doing to move towards a more sustainable future. Commodore is a growing CM firm, and their rapid growth is continuing to innovate and deliver the best possible product for its clients, while balancing and improving the working life of its employees. Building a sustainable culture is pivotal in expanding successfully and ethically.

Through small sustainable steps, significant progress can be made. A big mistake many companies make is a “shock and awe” campaign which leaves employees and clients dazed and confused with the new changes. Taking small, incremental steps is pivotal in creating lasting change. Small steps Commodore has taken include forming a carbon committee, reviewing areas of improvement, and speaking honestly with both clients and employees about sustainable changes. In the competitive Boston construction market, Commodore has realized that sustainability must be a collaborative effort.

Earlier this year, Commodore introduced changes to their subcontractor contracts, mandating LED’s for temporary lights, and banning idling onsite. It is the hope that we can move to bigger, bolder moves while keeping education a priority to make sure that all involved parties understand why changes are being made and what the impact is. Just this past week, office wide composting was introduced with a focus on personal, hands on training to teach employees what can and cannot be composted. Going forward, Commodore hopes to improve their material sourcing, transition towards zero construction waste, and continue to provide employees with one of the best workplaces in Boston.  

Green Building Showcase 2019 Winners

Well, GBS ’19 sure was a blast!

We had an amazing time at Green Building Showcase 2019! From the hilarious opening skit performed by Jim Stanislaski, Jim Newman, Jill Pinsky, and Lindsey Machamer to Arrowstreet’s King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools & Community Complex winning Green Building of the Year, there were some memorable moments.

This event would not have been possible without support from all of our sponsors, judges, and our wonderful community. From the beginning, USGBC MA has been a team effort, and we firmly believe it’s your community.

Check out event photos below, as well as short bios on each of the winners of the night. We hope to see you next year!

Green Building of the Year

King Open/Cambridge Street
Upper Schools & Community Complex
Submitted by Arrowstreet

Photo Credit: Robert Benson Photography

Project Team: William Rawn Associates, Architects and Arrowstreet Architecture & Design

King Open/Cambridge Street Upper Schools and Community Complex sets a new standard for school design and high-performing buildings. Completed in August 2019, it is designed as the first Net Zero Emissions school in Massachusetts and was the pilot for Cambridge’s Net Zero Action Plan, which defines Net Zero Emissions as an all-electric building with no on-site fossil fuel combustion and whose energy use is offset through renewables. The 270,000 sf

building includes an elementary school, middle school, school district administration, preschool, public library, public pool, and parking garage. The building was designed to push the envelope on net zero, occupant wellness, site impact, water use, and resilience. 

Despite heavy daily and year-round building use, the project is designed to perform at an EUI of 25 using several unique planning and user engagement strategies in addition to energy efficient systems. Building mechanical systems are groundsource heat pumps supplying radiant heating and cooling and displacement ventilation with demand control, providing improved thermal comfort and air quality. Other features include R-28 walls, R-40 roofs, daylight controls, LED lighting, and point-of-use hot water. Renewable energy is generated by roof, façade, and sunshade mounted PV and solar thermal hot water.

Water reduction is achieved through low-flow fixtures and rainwater capture resed for toilet flushing and irrigation.
In addition to thermal comfort and air quality, wellness is supported through daylighting, healthy materials, biophilic design, and enhanced acoustics. The classroom finishes are Red List free.

Site improvements include increasing infiltration by converting an acre of asphalt to vegetation. Resiliency features include an elevated first floor, cooling stations, and biodiesel generator.

The building is a unique example of a 21st century Learning Lab with constant feedback of fine-grained metering, prominently located science and technology labs as well as interior and exterior interactive displays about sustainable features.

Market Leader Award Series


Xuhui Runway Park
by Sasaki

The Xuhui Runway Park is the award winner for Sites category. It employs diverse green infrastructure approaches including previous paving, inverted berms, ponds, subsurface storage, and robust plantings to reclaim an abandoned runway. They have created nature-rich and historically reverent haven in a dense metropolis by reusing materials in creative ways and maintaining the linear configuration of the space.

Judges Shawn Hesse, Betsy del Monte,
 and Jodi Smits Anderson

Photo Credit: Sasaki

Project Team: Sasaki

Xuhui Runway Park is an innovative urban revitalization project that breathes life into a unique piece of Shanghai’s history. Located in the Xuhui District, this 8.24-hectare site was formerly a runway for Longhua Airport, which had operated for over 80 years and was Shanghai’s only civilian airport until 1949. To reflect the site’s previous life, the park’s design scheme mimics the motion of a runway, creating diverse linear spaces for vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians by organizing the park and the street into one integrated runway system. While all the

spaces are linear in shape, diverse spatial experiences are created by applying different materials, scales, topography, and programs. In this way, the park serves as a runway of modern life, providing a space for recreation and respite from the surrounding city.

The Sasaki design team applied good practice into the park design, which greatly contributed to its Gold certification in September, 2019, marking the first SITES certified project in Mainland China.

The design preserves portions of the runway’s original concrete where feasible, including the reuse of broken concrete pieces to build paths, plazas, and resting areas. The historic aerodynamic and industrial sensibility of the site is also referenced through the use of lighting poles that recall the transmission of communication and airfield illumination of the airport. All lighting is refrained from the habitat area and nocturnal life.


New Science Center – Amherst College
Submitted by Payette

The New Science Center at Amherst College is the award winner for Innovation category due to the significant achievement in energy efficiency in a lab building, and the focused, creative approach to the thermal design of the building. Although sporting a significant glass wall, facing west, this wall is triple-paned thermally broken curtainwall system, is shielded by the more private west-reaching wings of the building, and it fronts the main circulation space which is impeccably designed for the support and access of the people and the control and use of airflow.


 Judges Alex Wilson, Tristen Roberts, and Jodi Smits Anderson

Photo Credit: Chuck Choi Photography

Project Team: Design Architect: PAYETTE;  Structural Engineer: LeMessurier Consultants; MEP Engineer: van Zelm Engineers; Civil Engineer: Nitsch Engineering; Landscape Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

The Amherst College New Science Center is a high intensity laboratory with one of the lowest energy footprints of its typology. The building employs several strategies contributing to energy efficiency including a high performance envelope, abundant natural light, low-energy HVAC chilled beams, fan-coil distribution systems,

optimized fume hood control strategies, demand control ventilation including laboratory spaces, high performance heat recovery with indirect evaporative cooling, and freezer heat recovery for domestic hot water. Indirect-direct evaporative cooling reduces the heating and cooling needed for the ventilation system to reduce peak loads in the laboratories. High performance triple-pane glazing, curtainwall and façade systems implement thermal breaks. Opaque, natural ventilation panels were used in the faculty offices to provide natural ventilation while maintaining thermal integrity of the triple-pane windows. The Commons’ roof monitors integrate architectural and mechanical elements that provide an overall comfort conditioning solution: chilled beams, radiant slabs, acoustic baffles and a photovoltaic array to generate onsite power.


Community Living Center
DCAMM Chelsea Soldiers’ Home
Submitted by Payette

The design of this facility, with excellent energy performance, natural ventilation, and connection to views and community spaces, is an exemplar of care for our veterans.


Judges Tristan Roberts, Bill Walsh, and Anne Hicks Harney

Photo Credit: Payette

Project Team: Design Architect: PAYETTE; Structural Engineer: Lim Consultants; MEP Engineer: BR+A Consulting Engineers; Civil Engineer: Nitsch Engineering; Landscape Architect: Studio 2112

Located atop Chelsea’s iconic Powder Horn Hill, the Community Living Center is a long–term care facility for Massachusetts’ veterans that creates a dramatic new urban landmark capped by its solar canopy and reaching outward to frame the horizon. Designed to harness panoramic views of downtown Boston and the harbor, the

transformative new facility will have 154 private rooms organized around shared community spaces and surrounded by generous courtyards.

The net zero hospital uses a performance-based approach to the building and systems design resulting in a building that is designed to use 63% less energy than a typical facility utilizing geothermal heating and cooling, extensive natural ventilation and a 0.5 megawatt rooftop–mounted solar array to meet state and federal fossil fuel reduction targets.


Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society

Submitted by Goody Clancy

The Irving Institute demonstrates the art and science of sustainable design.  It is contextual, responding both to its place and interacting with the natural systems around it, resulting in resource conservation and promoting occupant wellbeing. The building breaths! What really made this project stand out is that the design addresses operational and embodied carbon, demonstrating the importance of each as we shift towards a carbon-free future.


Judges Jennifer Preston, Greg Mella, and Shawn Hesse

Photo Credit: Goody Clancy

Project Team: Architect: Goody Clancy; MEP/FP Engineer: van Zelm Engineers; Structural Engineer: LeMessurier; Civil Engineer: Engineering Ventures; Exterior Envelope: 3iVE; Sustainability: TransSolar; LEED: Steven Winter Associates; Landscape Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh; Lighting: HLB Lighting Design; Acoustic/AV/Vibration: Acentech; Code: Jensen Hughes; Cost Estimator: Faithful + Gould

This 51,000 GSF project, scheduled for completion in 2021, will be the first permanent home for the Irving Institute for Energy and Society. Its design


demonstrates and expresses the building’s high performance while creating a space for interdisciplinary research that focuses on advancing an affordable, sustainable, and reliable energy future for the benefit of society.

The institute is a hub of collaboration that brings together multiple different users: institute researchers, the Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business, the Campus Sustainability Office, the Feldberg Library, and students moving to and from Murdough Center. Program spaces include project and research labs, classrooms, a café, offices and workspaces, and collaboration spaces ranging from small conference rooms to large gathering spaces.

This project epitomizes the celebration of energy performance through design. From the exterior, the major focal element of the main façade is the large glass pavilion that anchors the building at the end of the Tuck Mall axis. The pavilion houses two major collaboration spaces for the Institute, and is wrapped in the double-skin glass façade, encapsulating all of the building’s passive and active strategies to minimize energy consumption, including automated windows, exterior automated shades, radiant ceiling panels, ceiling fans, dynamic lighting to display performance, glass cavity for ventilation exhaust with stack effect, and culminating in the thermal exhaust vent at the roof. From the interior, the building is organized around a central atrium that acts as a public living room for users to formally and informally coalesce; provides daylight to all the surrounding spaces through its skylight; serves as the natural ventilation exhaust path; and is heated and cooled with radiant floors. The design and client team have worked closely together to create a space that makes the invisible visible, fostering crucial research about humankind and energy.


Boston Coastal Flood Resilience
Design Guidelines & Zoning Overlay District

Submitted by Utile

The Boston Coastal Flood Resilience Design Guidelines and  Zoning Overlay District was selected because it is far more than a resource for Boston; it is, hands-down, the most useful and broadly applicable resource on how to adapt coastal communities and buildings to flooding and rising sea levels that has been produced to date. The Guidelines are clearly a replicable tool for other cities. They are already being referred to in Washington, DC, and we expect many other coastal communities in the U.S. and worldwide will soon be benefiting from this material.


Judges Betsy del Monte, Alex Wilson, and Greg Mella

Photo Credit: Utile with the City of Boston and the Boston Planning and Development Agency

Project Team: Utile, Noble, Wickersham & Heart LLP, Kleinfelder, HDR, Offshoots

Utile led the development of the City of Boston’s first ever citywide zoning overlay district and design guidelines to promote resilience from coastal flood risk for existing buildings and new construction. The zoning overlay district extends over areas with a 1% chance of flooding in 207 at 40” of sea level rise and is a critical step in advancing the City of Boston’s Climate Ready Initiative.

Working with a team of experts, this multi-faceted project integrates a study in national

best practices, existing regulations, analysis of Boston’s built form, community input, and expertise in cutting-edge building technology to identify effective, consensus-driven revisions to the zoning code.

This project makes Boston one of the first few communities nationally to take a proactive approach toward promoting coastal flood resilience. It sets a higher standard for protection and compliance compared to existing federal regulations by choosing to adopt future projections as the new threshold for risk. The zoning overlay will not only require all new construction be resilient, it will also ensure that renovations to existing buildings are performed in compliance with these guidelines. Together the guidelines and zoning overlay create a robust armature to promote preparedness across a range of neighborhoods, building conditions, and communities. 


New Science Center – Amherst College
Submitted by Payette

Photo Credit: Chuck Choi Photography

Project Team: Design Architect: PAYETTE;  Structural Engineer: LeMessurier Consultants; MEP Engineer: van Zelm Engineers; Civil Engineer: Nitsch Engineering; Landscape Architect: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates

The Amherst College New Science Center is a high intensity laboratory with one of the lowest energy footprints of its typology. The building employs several strategies contributing to energy efficiency including a high performance envelope, abundant natural light, low-energy HVAC chilled beams, fan-coil distribution systems, optimized fume hood control strategies,

demand control ventilation including laboratory spaces, high performance heat recovery with indirect evaporative cooling, and freezer heat recovery for domestic hot water. Indirect-direct evaporative cooling reduces the heating and cooling needed for the ventilation system to reduce peak loads in the laboratories. High performance triple-pane glazing, curtainwall and façade systems implement thermal breaks. Opaque, natural ventilation panels were used in the faculty offices to provide natural ventilation while maintaining thermal integrity of the triple-pane windows. The Commons’ roof monitors integrate architectural and mechanical elements that provide an overall comfort conditioning solution: chilled beams, radiant slabs, acoustic baffles and a photovoltaic array to generate onsite power.

Eversource/National Grid Energy Optimization Award

Boston University, Center for Computing and Data Science

Submitted by BR+A

We are proud to choose Boston University’s Center for Computing & Data Sciences as the recipient of the 2019 Eversource/National Grid Energy Optimization Award. This award goes to a project that has participated in the Mass Save New Construction Program, is designed to achieve significant energy reductions, is replicable, and shows leadership and innovation in whole building energy efficiency. Boston University’s Center for Computing & Data Sciences meets these criteria and more. BU’s talented design team created a low Energy Use Intensity (EUI), 19 story zero net emissions design in a dense urban environment, which used geothermal as a cornerstone of the design and took a holistic approach to driving down site energy across each end-use. Congratulations!


Eversource and National Grid

Photo Credit: BR+A

Project Team: KPMB Architects, BR+A, Haley & Aldrich, Richard Burck, Dot Dash, Transsolar, The Green Engineer, Nitsch Engineering, Soberman Engineering, Jensen Hughes, Entuitive + LeMessurier, Suffolk Construction 

The BU Center for Computing and Data Science will be a 345,000 square foot, 19 story building that will achieve Class D Zero Net Energy. The building has an anticipated EUI of approximately 40 kBtu/sf*yr and will rely on 100% renewable electricity, eliminating fossil fuel consumption. The building will include triple glazed windows, exterior shading, active chilled beams

supplied by fan powered boxes, dual-wheel DOAS, and a central heat pump chiller plant connected to thirty-one 1,500 foot deep closed-loop geothermal wells. Renewable energy will be sourced from on-campus solar and off-campus wind. This was achieved at a cost premium well below 1% of construction cost, compared to the business as usual case. Utility incentives and grants further reduce this premium. The payback period is estimated to be less than two years.

GBS ’19 Project Sneak Peak: One Post Office Square

As we approach our Green Building Showcase on the 23rd, we will be releasing a series of project spotlights that will be shown at the event! Check out one from our friends at GenslerDon’t forget to purchase a ticket for the event!

Green Revitalization: Reinvesting Embodied Energy for a Sustainable Future

Written by Jessica Santonastaso, Associate, Gensler

As advances in green technology bring us closer to the promise of a sustainable future, older buildings in our cities are at risk of getting left behind. Leaking facades, outdated mechanical systems and inefficient structural layouts often mean that older buildings become undesirable. Neighborhoods that were once the most prized lose their vitality as today’s tenants flock to new development in areas further afield. What if we could envision a future for our cities where the embodied energy latent in this aging building stock could be leveraged, as if recycled in place, to create a new generation of sustainable, high performance environments?

The revitalization of One Post Office Square in Boston provides an opportunity to deliver this kind of transformation. Adjacent to the Norman B. Leventhal park (a gem of revitalization in its own right that turned an above ground parking structure into a popular urban oasis), the 1980 precast tower was suffering from a functionally and aesthetically outdated envelope and aging mechanical systems. A multi floor vacancy in the building provided the ownership team with an opportunity to step in to execute a new vision for the property.

The ongoing occupancy of the building necessitates a multi-faceted approach to the design and phasing of the tower. Both overclad (new wall installed in front of existing precast) and reclad (new wall installed after the removal of precast panels) strategies are being employed to deliver a new state of the art triple glazed curtainwall to a building where some tenants are remaining in place with minimal disturbance while others are moving from old space to new. The existing ten level parking garage will be demolished, replaced with 6 levels of automated parking- an innovation that allows an equivalent number of cars to be parked in half the space of a traditionally parked garage- with new leasable space above. State of the art MEP systems, including 4 pipe active chilled beams, groundwater recharge and energy recovery systems round out the modernization.

We hope the new One Post Office Square will be the catalyst in bringing about a new vision for the city of Boston and beyond- one where existing infrastructure is reconfigured and added to rather than replaced, where the trace of time and the city’s history can be read in a new, environmentally responsible and forward-thinking built environment. 

A comparison of the One Post Office Square Tower before and after its revitilization.