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.
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.
Feb 25, 11
District heating. A municipally supported energy aggregation buying group. On-site, business community owned renewable energy production. Smart Grid ready buildings. High performance energy standards and assistance for tenant fit outs. Green leases. A lower carbon, more competitive Boston Marine Industrial Park (BMIP).
These were some of the ideas that a range of 35-40 stakeholders including business leaders, government and quasi-governmental representatives, utilities, energy distributors, cleantech CEOs, policy makers, and energy experts discussed and debated at a sprited workshop today led by John Kelly and the Galvin Electricity Initiative to explore district scale sustainable energy solutions in the BMIP, which anchors Boston’s Innovation District.
Achieving these goals will require innovative finance tools and approaches, greater transparency among stakeholders, and public private partnerships, but BRA Director John Palmieri, who attended the workshop offered his strong support for exploring a range of energy strategies that will help all BMIP tenants reduce their energy costs, move the Park toward a lower carbon energy supply, while growing the cleantech cluster there.
This visioning workshop was just the first step. We look forward to on-going productive engagement with business owners, our utility partners, NSTAR and National Grid, Massport, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, Veolia, and others. If we are successful, the sustainable district energy vision in the Park could serve as a prototype which we could eventually scale to the broader Innovation District, joining a handful of sustainable energy district scale efforts under development around the globe.
Beyond tackling energy consumption in existing buildings, experts familiar with the Park speculated that new development could double energy demand in the Park over the next 10 to 20 years. At the same time, rising sea levels and energy costs demand that public and private sector forces join hands to identify innovative solutions to tackle these new energy, climate change, and economic development challenges. The Park’s growing cleantech cluster, anchored by renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, cleantech R&D facilities, and sustainable design firms, can play a powerful role by injecting innovative techologies, new service and business models into the mix, supported by City leaders who are eager to promote cleantech prototyping and beta testing site locations for our cleantech cluster.
Please contact me if you are interested in joining this exciting effort.
The Boston City Council voted yesterday to adopt the so called “stretch code” an option provided to municipalities under the state’s Green Communities Act, which will increase energy efficiency performance requirements for new construction and some renovation projects, and be a key driver for clean energy businesses. City Councillor John Connolly: “we’re taking an opportunity to create jobs for clean energy companies by passing [the stretch code].”
Tom Pincince, CEO of Digital Lumens, testified at the hearing. “The savings from energy efficiency will put millions of dollars back into the local economy that can be used to create jobs, buy capital equipment, and build profitable companies.”
Adoption of the stretch code has been a top GreenTech initiative policy goal. The code goes into effect in June of next year.
Following a March 2010 allocation of up to $500,000 in Inclusionary Development funding for solar thermal projects, the BRA Board awarded funding to help support a 108 kBTU/hr solar thermal system on the Urban Edge owned Jamaica Plain Apartments project, a 103 unit scattered site affordable housing development that is undergoing substantial rehab.
The BRA will convene a bidders conference to provide additional information about the solar thermal incentive program on Thursday Nov. 18th from 9:30-11am at 26 Court Street in Boston.
Response to the Green Triple Decker demonstration project has been significant. Many applicants share the same questions. I’d like to clarify a few issues here as many inquiries have focused on applicant eligibility and the application timeline.
While we are very excited about creating a model for deep energy retrofit work in Boston’s historic triple decker housing style, this program is not for everyone. The on-line application describes the program eligibility criteria. Please read and carefully consider these criteria.
In brief, the program will provide up to $27,000 per structure for energy efficiency work that meets the program’s aggressive energy performance standards, but homeowner applicants must be prepared to provide the balance of the project funding with cash or financing. Total project costs may vary considerably, as structures will likely provide highly variable energy efficiency retrofit challenges. The homeowner’s share of the project could range from $25,000 to $75,000, or more depending on the scope of work. Work scopes will be developed jointly with our program partners, NSTAR, National Grid, and Energy Star.
Owner occupants, owner investors, and condo associations are all eligible to apply.
With regard to the selection process, given the response to date, the program will likely stop accepting applications early next week. Applications will be reviewed. Ineligible applicants will be removed from process. Eight to ten finalists will be chosen based on application strength and applicant readiness to proceed, while considering project location (we are seeking applicants from multiple neighborhoods). Applicants will be interviewed and five finalists chosen.
If you learn that this project is not a good fit for you, you may want to explore a new residential energy efficiency program sponsored by the City called Renew Boston.
Thank you for your interest in this program and your commitment to residential energy efficiency.