As part of the Sustainable Chinatown project launched in partnership with the Asian American Civic Association, about a dozen business owners in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood will soon be linked with teams of architecture students and design professionals in a design competition to surface best practices with regard to sustainable storefronts.
Across Boston’s neighborhoods, hundreds of business owners, often working closely with design and financial assistance from the City of Boston’s ReStore program, have made improvements to their storefronts that help attract customers, improve streetscapes, and increase property values.
Now, with support from the Barr Foundation, the Boston Architectural College, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, we are helping to bring sustainable design excellence to Chinatown’s famous business/restaurant district with a juried design competition in which the winner will receive funds to help underwrite the cost of construction.
What is a sustainable storefront? Our design teams will help answer that question, and will likely explore building envelope performance, materials, natural light, clean energy production, signage, storm water management and more in the process. Overall design excellence including streetscape context and historic preservation will weigh heavily.
Thanks to the BAC for providing project leadership and to the AACA for promoting the project generally and for providing cultural/language translation expertise.
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.
(Washington, DC) – April 1, 2011 – Today the U.S. Green Building Council announced the latest pilot rating system in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program: LEED for Planets. “This new rating system will allow us to measure the environmental success of planetary objects throughout the universes, known and unknown,” said Douglas Kot, Executive Director of the U.S. Green Building Council – San Diego Chapter. Kot pointed out that the credit categories should be familiar to the users of other LEED Rating Systems; they include:
1. Sustainable Sites
3. Atmosphere & Energy
4. Minerals and Resources
5. Carbon-based Life Forms
The rating system will include a list of prerequisites and credits so that each planetary body can decide the most cost-effective approach to perpetual existence. For example in the Sustainable Sites category, it is a prerequisite to have a range of temperatures that supports life—so being too close to the nearest star will not allow planets to become certified in this rating system. Like other rating systems Innovation in Operations will be rewarded, Galen Nelson, resident of earth noted that, “Things like opposable digits on sentient beings might make for a good innovation credit,” but, he continued “That the results would need to be evaluated to determine that those digits were being used for active stewardship of the planetary body.”
Some things will be new to the users of the LEED Rating Systems. Take the Water Category for instance, in the green building rating system points are earned for using less water in your building and grounds. In LEED for Planets, the Water Category perquisites include the presence of water in any form, but points may be achieved for liquid water covering more than 30 percent of the surface area. However, Nelson noted that the new system’s submittal requirement for water – 100 million gallons of ocean water – “might be a challenge for some planet applicants.”
Similar to other LEED Rating Systems, there are credit synergies between points and categories, for example in the Carbon-based Life Form credits there are points available for a long-history of multi-cellular life, but if those fossils are converted to fuel too rapidly, then it will negatively affect the Atmosphere & Energy credits as there is a penalty for Carbon Dioxide levels that exceed 350 parts per million.
Yes, folks, it’s April Fools Day. Hats off to old friend, collaborator, and green building colleague Doug Kot in San Diego.
Have a great weekend.
Mar 14, 11
Community Resilience: Plan, build, deploy and maintain physical and social infrastructures such that vulnerability to natural and human hazards and disasters is reduced for all members of a community; ensure that communities are adequately prepared to respond to crisis in a manner that is effective and coordinated, and recovery is accelerated. (credit: STAR Community Index)
The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant failures in Japan painfully highlight the importance of resilience, and the emerging consensus among planners and economic development practitioners that resilience must be prioritized along side job creation, conventional public safety, affordable housing, clean air and water standards, public education, etc. Resilience is indeed a recognized priority among those planning and building sustainable communities. And within that realm, cleantech plays a powerful supporting role.
While our hearts go out to the citizens of Japan, the disaster is a learning opportunity for communities around the globe that robust, sustainable energy supply systems, redundant and resilient water and food production and distribution systems, and resilient design deserve our attention and resources.
The nuclear plant failures have highlighted widely reported reminders that the plants, even when shut down, require power to maintain the cooling infrastructure necessary to prevent core meltdowns. Distributed generation, anchored by safe, clean renewable energy production and managed by smart grids and buildings can add stability and resilience to conventional grids and centralized power. At the building level, climate change adaptation experts within Boston City Hall are discussing the need to move power infrastructure out of basements, particularly in coastal, flood prone areas. Indeed, the emergency energy supply system at the Fukushima plant in Japan failed because the switching equipment was located in the basement and damaged by the flooding. While New England faces a much smaller risk of both tsunamis and earthquakes, sea level rise and powerful storms are already a reality.
Recognizing the need to maintain navigable, lighted roadways during disasters, the Dept. of Energy awarded a grant to Solar Boston, to develop a solar powered evacuation route through the City. And the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s effort to develop a vision for a district scale sustainable energy system in the Boston Marine Industrial Park includes an examination of relevant climate change adaptation strategies.
Storm events are increasing in frequency and severity, putting pressure on conventional stormwater management systems. Increasing permeable surface area, and integrating smart stormwater infrastructure including green and blue roofs, bioswales and raingardens with conventional approaches will upgrade urban areas to meet these new challenges, while creating good, local jobs and providing other environmental and human health benefits.
Future posts will examine local food production and passive survivability as it relates to community resilience. Here in New England, while storm and flooding threats may be the most widely reported, a disruption in heating fuels coupled with an extended cold snap could threaten property and lives. What design elements would constitute a dwelling able sustain human life in Boston under such conditions?
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.
Nov 01, 10
Boston took two steps forward to improve market conditions for solar photovoltaic systems. The City has cut permitting fees for solar installations by about 60%, and released a solar permitting guide to help developers and installers more easily navigate relevant City of Boston solar project permitting procedures.
The new incentive and Guide were first announced at GreenTech’s A View From the Top, sustainable roof development event last week and should help Boston maintain solar development momentum.