Oct 25, 11
Boston Architectural College students revealed sustainable storefront design concepts, still under development, at an event last week at the Asian American Civic Association to mark the beginning of an innovative design competition in Chinatown. The teams’ inspiring, creative design concepts are precisely what this competition sought to highlight. On behalf of six small busienss owners, students are exploring building materials options, evaluating energy impacts and daylighting, thinking about overall design and signage, while keeping an eye on historic preservation.
Chinatown leaders who participated in the event spoke about the need to preserve and strengthen the strong cultural identity of the community and rich streetscape experience in the neighborhood’s business district. The student teams are commited to developing designs that reflect that cultural identity while improving the energy performance and competitive position of participating businesses.
Project partners, the Asian American Civic Association, Boston Architectural College, and Boston Redevelopment Authority celebrated the public private partnership and substantive opportunity for students to work closely with Chinatown business owners. And everyone applauded Chinatown for leading the charge on a new, innovative sustainability effort with city-wide implications. The design competition is supported by a grant from the Barr Foundation.
We look forward to watching these teams as their storefront renovation designs coalesce. A jury composed of Chinatown community leaders and design professionals will pick a winner in January. The winning business will receive $18,000 to help implement their design. The winning design team will receive a $2,000 award.
Jun 22, 11
With its exposed plywood floors, sub-basement “dungeon” workspace, and clean energy prototypes strewn over two floors, GreenTown Labs, the newest addition to the Innovation District’s growing cleantech cluster is crackling with energy, optimism, product development, and talent. The space conjures up decade-old images of Boston’s dot.com start ups – the interiors and appointments a shade closer to ReadyMade than Dwell - but the young faces, collaborative vibe, and innovative products are everywhere, and the smattering of older suits (okay, I was wearing one too) circulating through the crowd at last night’s ribbon cutting prove that Boston’s business class is taking notice. (Boston law firm Hinckley, Allen & Snyder is GreenTown Lab’s legal sponsor and a key supporter.)
If there were a biofuel shuttle between MIT and the Innovation District, GreenTown Labs would be the first stop. Structured as a non-profit, built on strategic partnerships and considerable bootstrapping, GTL essentially serves as affordable housing for cleantech entrepreneurs who can’t pay the lease rates in Kendall Square but appreciate the Innovation District’s proximity to the mothership, Boston’s venture community, and the District’s sustainability and living lab constructs. The founding members who made the leap across the river have been joined by other incubator occupants including wind and solar power developers, a home energy management system venture, various energy efficiency start ups, and a green trade association, among others.
Boston Mayor Menino said it best before he cut the ribbon: “there are a lot of great companies in Boston, but your companies are growing” and he added, “you know, one of the companies here might become the next big company, the one that everyone recognizes around the kitchen table.”
We all look forward to watching GreenTown Labs, and its member companies grow and thrive in Boston’s Innovation District.
Newmarket Eco-Industrial Zone Project
Businesses and manufacturers throughout Boston are implementing broad sustainability measures to both green their facilities and reduce energy operating costs. While most may not have the capital to design and build a new energy efficient LEED certified building, many with strong sustainability goals have begun deploying energy efficiency improvements in fleet operations, lighting, water conservation, pollution prevention, and hvac and compressor equipment for refrigeration units.
Katsiroubas Bros., a wholesale produce distributor in the Newmarket District recently identified a series of solutions to reduce the electrical demands of their operation by replacing all of the lights to lower wattage and higher output which reduced usage by 92,972 kilowatts annually with a savings of $13,640.00 projected per year. By increasing insulation levels in their refrigerated trucks and installing idle-free systems that shut off automatically after 15 minutes their entire fleet has reduced fuel usage considerably. Katsiroubas Bros. has also increased their regional and local purchasing of produce from the Pioneer Valley Association, a group of 40 local farmers, while their green management team has begun tracking improvements on water, energy and trash usage throughout the entire business.
Here’s a link to Katsiroubos Bros. improvements-
Over the next six months the BRA’s Newmarket Eco- Industrial Zone Project funded through an EPA Sustainable Skyline’s grant will explore proven strategies for area businesses to increase building energy efficiency and facilitate the adoption of district-scale energy solutions including; combined heat and power (CHP), geothermal heating and biomass. Anti-idyling and plug-in solutions will be explored for the business district to reduce emissions from truck fleets, while cool and green roof solutions for targeted shading from street trees and awnings will be adopted to reduce urban heat islands. Stormwater management and asphalt coverage data will be compiled to identify district-wide strategies to reduce discharges into Fort Point Channel.
The creation of an eco-industrial zone will be a critical step in implementing district-scale synergies between businesses which will reduce their operating costs and make them more competitive as a sustainable model of economic growth for the city of the future.
The Eco- Industrial Park model was first implemented in the Kalundborg Eco-Industrial Park in Denmark where local manufacturers share resources through industrial symbiosis. At the heart of the project is a coal fired power plant which provides excess heat to 3500 homes, as well as a local fish farm whose waste sludge is then sold as fertilizer. By-products from the power plant scrubbers are used for a local gypsum manufacturer and the utilization of the excess heat prevents it from being discharged into the local fjord. Additionally other waste materials including fly-ash from the power plant are used in road construction and cement production.
More updates on this groundbreaking project to come…
May 11, 11
As part of an Integrated Waste Management plan the state is launching a stakeholder engagement process to develop recommendations for overcoming existing barriers to siting organic waste to energy and anaerobic digestion facilities. Massachusetts has set a goal of reducing solid waste disposal 30% by 2050 which aligns this timeline with the states greenhouse gas goals outlined in the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) in 2008. Additionally, the state will be implementing an organics ban in 2014 as part of this integrated approach to waste reduction.
The diversion of solid and organic waste materials from landfills has numerous positive economic and health benefits, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste hauling fees, miles traveled by waste hauling vehicles, a reduction in the number of landfills, and increased recycling rates.
The economic benefits of increased recycling rates have an enormous impact on the state by bolstering and supporting over 2,000 businesses associated with recycling, reuse, and re-manufacturing with an estimated 14,000 jobs and revenues of $3.2 Billion
Waste to energy facilities can become an important component of the renewable energy portfolio for the state as outlined in the Green Communities Act of 2008, as they are eligible for renewable energy credits.
One of the most promising non-combustion processes for converting waste to energy is through Anaerobic Digestion (AD), a process in which organic materials are broken down and utilized as feedstock in an oxygen deprived environment to produce biogas.
Greentech’s EPA funded Newmarket Eco-Industrial Zone Project is pursuing a number of sustainable strategies for local businesses to reduce their operating costs associated with energy and waste. The wholesale produce and meat distribution facilities in Newmarket collectively produce over 27,000 tons of organic waste, which is presently trucked off- site by waste hauling companies and would provide enough feedstock for a district based AD facility. This presents a tremendous opportunity for the district to secure a renewable energy source that is centered on a locally sourced waste product. The project will also be exploring the implementation of a district-scale energy facility that uses the biogas as a fuel source through a Cogeneration Plant to provide both electricity and district heat for the businesses within the industrial corridor.
Mar 15, 11
The 2011 award honors Boston businesses and individuals for an outstanding commitment to sustainability in the following categories: Green Business, Green Residential, Bike Friendly Business, and Sustainable Food.
Launched in 2007, the program is designed to highlight innovative approaches to energy reductions, water conservation, adaptive re-use of historic buildings, and sustainable landscaping methods.
This year the addition of the Sustainable Food category signals the city’s commitment to innovative food related businesses that are reducing their environmental footprint by reducing energy use, composting food waste, and increasing their water efficiency.
The city is home to some innovative urban agriculture start ups: City Growers, a for profit who’s mission is to transform vacant lots into urban sustainable farms. The Food Project works with teens on sites in Dorchester to provide a chemical free sustainable food system with a CSA program and donates over a quarter million pounds of food annually to local shelters. Top Sprouts is turning under-utilized rooftop space into productive vegetable gardens providing fresh vegetables and a greener roof for customers.
Green residential awards will honor residents that have incorporate sustainable practices into their home, yards and neighborhoods in the following sub-categories:
Climate Action Leadership, Waste Reduction, Green Home Conservation/ Renovation, and Sustainable Landscaping.
For more information or to download and submit nomination forms, please visit the http://www.cityofboston.gov/environmentalandenergy/greenawards/ Nominations should be submitted by March 25, 2011.
Here is the Green Awards nomination form.
Mar 08, 11
Recently added by the U.S. Green Building Council to their growing list of nine LEED certifications for energy efficient design and construction, the online LEED for Homes Scoring Tool will provide building professional with a detailed way to track LEED for Homes rating points for residential projects.
Through either a snapshot Quickscore or a more lengthy Credit By Credit approach the builder has the option to track the dwelling’s specifications in the following categories: Innovation in Design Process (ID) Location and Linkages (LL) Sustainable Sites (SS) Water Efficiency (WE) Energy and Atmosphere (EA) Materials and Resources (MR) Indoor Environmental Quality (EQ) Awareness and Education)
The Scoring Tool provides a simple online approach to determine the sustainability of a proposed residential project by entering the data from a specific project assigning points based on a yes, no or maybe response.
The Quickscore option can provide a LEED certified, silver, gold or platinum score in just a few minutes for a project, while the longer Credit by Credit approach could take up to an hour to fill out with fairly complex sets of criteria and questions to answer. For the building professional less familiar with the LEED’s third party certification framework, the longer credit by credit approach can seem complex and cumbersome, but provide a very detailed analysis of indoor air quality, water efficiency, building siting and energy efficiency.
The LEED scoring tool can only be used for new construction or gut-rehabs, which unfortunately limit the usefulness of the tool for smaller residential projects that may not meet these criteria. This limitation will hopefully be expanded and amended in the future as the tool’s adoption becomes more widespread. The LEED for Homes integrates with the HERS rating index from RESNET to provide a detailed analysis of the energy performance of the home. Each one point decrease on the HERS index corresponds to a 1% reduction in energy use. Therefore a building with a HERS rating of 85 is 15% more efficient than a HERS reference home. A standard new home is typically rated at 100 on their scale.
The scoring tool will help residential builders become familiar with the LEED for Homes rating system and hopefully provide additional education and insight into the entire LEED third party certification and rating system.
While not perfect, the LEED approach can provide a more sustainable approach to the design and construction of our homes in a more holistic manner.