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 Gensler. Don’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 Leaking facades, outdated mechanical systems and inefficient structural layouts often mean that older buildings become undesirable.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structure into a popular urban oasis), the 1980 precast tower was suffering from a functionally and aesthetically outdated envelope and aging mechanical systems.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.
The 2019 EPMA Green Building Bike Tour took off from the
Roxbury Crossing station and covered over 9 miles of the woodsy, bike friendly,
community-garden-covered neighborhood of Jamaica Plain.
Jamaica Plain is often referred to as the greenest neighborhood in Boston. “Green” in this case refers to the large area of parks and vegetation, including many emeralds in Boston’s Emerald Necklace. However, after the Green Building Bike Tour, one could argue that the “green” designation also refers to the high concentration of sustainable infrastructure projects and green buildings nestled throughout.
The bike tour followed the Southwest Corridor Park down Columbus Ave where we met with the Assistant Director of the Reuse Center at Boston Building Resources.
Up next we rode to the Roxbury Community College (RCC) solar
parking lot and geothermal well field where the group got to meet with Kevin
Hepner, VP of Admin and Finance at RCC. Tour attendees learned how the Roxbury
Pudding Stone, the rock formation that lies under a large portion of Jamaica
Plain, is an excellent conductor for geothermal.
Next the tour attendees were delighted when after climbing Fort Ave Hill on their bikes, Evan Smith and Jay from Placetailor Architects had cookies and water waiting for them and educated the group on the details of their Passive House design strategies. Afterwards, Evan (a Fort Hill resident and president of Placetailor Architects) and Jay joined on their bicycles and rode along with the tour while pointing out the many energy positive and Certified Passive House projects in the Fort Hill area.
Afterwards the group continued down the Southwest Corridor
and visited Bikes not Bombs and toured the bike shop and learned about the community
programs offered to promote bicycling as a safe and sustainable mode of
Next the group rode over to the Hernandez Elementary School
to learn about the school’s stormwater infiltration system that was designed to
integrate into the landscape and play area as well as spark curiosity and serve
as an educational tool for the students. Frank Stone, a bike tour attendee and
a Hernandez School alum, provided the tour.
Around lunchtime the tour stopped by the City Feed and
Supply on Boylston Street and got to speak with Noah Bondy who manages the
Next the group took a self-guided tour of the Old Oak Dojo,
New England’s first Living Building Challenge Certified project. Tour attendees
got to sit peacefully in the community space (made entirely of salvaged and
re-purposed materials) as well as ride a rope swing over the Dojo’s abundant permaculture
The last stop on the tour was the JP Branch of the Boston
Public Library. Utile Architects designed many of the sustainable features of
the new addition. One of the highlights of the addition is the digitally
printed ceramic frit pattern applied to the large front facade, the pattern was
created using an analysis of the sun path across the façade in order to provide
optimal daylight as well as shade. The group happily stumbled upon an ice cream
fundraiser being held in the lower level. Tour attendees were happy to come
away with free ice cream and library books.
The ice cream was a much-needed fuel to energize riders for
the final few stops of the tour as we rode through the vibrant Arnold Arboretum
on our way to Turtle Swamp Brewery where we ended.
Thanks to Blue Bikes for donating the adventure passes and
to all those who contributed to make this year’s bike tour a huge success!
As the transportation of people and goods moves toward electrification, Massachusetts is offering some of the most generous utility and state electric vehicle (EV) charging incentives in the nation. Qualified commercial properties can take advantage of either Eversource’s $45 million EV Charging Program or National Grid’s $24 million EV Infrastructure Program. Both can then be paired with Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) $3.5 million EV Charging Station Grant for even bigger savings. In this video, ChargePoint program experts walk you through how to navigate and leverage them in your EV charging strategy.
This past Thursday August 1st 2019, EPMA-ers gathered at the SW Corridor Park for an evening of good food and knowledge. Swapnil, one of our volunteers, did a fantastic job organizing the event complete with sumptuous food from Whole Heart Provisions and lawn games.
The highlight of the evening was getting to know the work done by David Meshoulam and his organization ‘Speak for the Trees’. David has been an educator for the past 15 years and is passionate about having new generations understand the deep links between science, culture, and nature. The main mission of Speak for the Trees is to improve the size and health of the urban tree canopy in the Greater Boston Area. They undertake various efforts for advocacy and outreach, but one of their main initiatives is to map, measure, and account for every street tree in the Boston area with the Tree Urban Teen Corps program (TUTC). For this, they properly train their “volun-trees” (that’s a good one) to identify and measure all attributes of the trees. They use their own software, ‘OpenTreeMap’, where anyone can see the street tree cover in their neighborhood, if it has been mapped. For anyone interested in participating in this and many other activities they do, please see their website https://www.sfttbos.org/. Two of our volunteers got a glimpse of the unique characteristics of the trees around us and how to correctly identify them.
Thank you to David and all the people who made it to the event.
EPMA would like to say thank you to Pare Corporation who generously sponsored this event. Lindsey Machamer was representing Pare Corporation. Pare corporation understands the value of urban open space and trees from the substantial effect they can have on stormwater management. Pare is working with some local sewer authorities to plan green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) in available public open space. GSI can help to improve water quality by removing pollutants from stormwater, reducing flows into the combined sewer system, and mitigating flooding impacts.
Planning for unpredictable weather and climate patterns is important when determining ideal crop production. There are many farms throughout Central Massachusetts and in the past couple of years has been subject to harsh weather in the growing season. With the crop yields at risk due to drought in 2016 and heatwaves in 2018 farmers ought to prepare their crops for harsh weather in future seasons.
My map and research will explore resilient areas in order to prepare for better crop yields. Through analysis using NAIP satellite imagery, MassGIS Data: Digital Elevation Model (1:5,000), MassGIS Data: NRCS SSURGO-Certified Soils, MassGIS Data: Crop Evapotranspiration and Potential Evaporation Grids this will show how farmers can prepare. The process will primarily be to find fertile and barren agricultural land and to compare it with the soil type and other geographical features to determine the best areas to grow crops. The results will hopefully help farmers plan for more severe weather in the future in order to produce higher crop yields.
Alex Testa, a Project Manager at Siena Construction,
explained how she and her coworkers leveraged their industry skill sets to
construct an interdisciplinary exhibit that exemplified sustainable
She and a team of employees at Siena Construction combined forces with subcontractors, designers and scientists to build three geodesic spheres as part of the Cambridge Science Festival. The geodesic spheres were both aesthetic structures and interactive camera obscuras. The spheres were used as an exhibit to demonstrate how the human eye works. They played to a multitude of interests and ages–from kindergarteners to retired professors.
The 10-foot diameter structures were built using Red Grandis Eucalyptus, a sustainable, quickly regrowing tree from Uruguay. The team at Siena designed the spheres in-house, managed the construction with highly skilled millworkers, and created media resources to communicate the science and construction of the project to visitors. To learn more about the geodesic sphere’s history, building process, and materials, watch Siena’s exhibition video here.
Through active engagement and education, the spheres were
used to bring the core principles of green building to the public. Alex
explained how skills from the architecture-engineering-construction industry
can be applied to projects outside of everyday comfort zones, and how working
to engage community members outside of the construction industry can benefit