From energy-efficient designs to sustainable building materials, Massachusetts is leading the way in environmentally friendly construction.
These innovative structures preserve the environment and enhance the health and well-being of their occupants.
Green building entails creating holistic structures that are environmentally friendly and resource-efficient throughout their lifecycle. Therefore, a green building should have features that promote energy and water efficiency, less waste generation and pollution, and natural resource conservation. So, which buildings in Massachusetts meet this criterion?
In this article, I’ll discuss the top 15 eco-friendly green buildings in Massachusetts. You’ll learn the features that make these buildings sustainable and can take inspiration from them for your next project. Keep reading!
1. Center for Computing and Data Sciences
Owned by Boston University, the Center for Computing and Data Sciences is one of the top eco-friendly green buildings in Massachusetts.
The 345,000-square-foot (32,100-square-meter) 19-story skyscraper is LEED Platinum certified due to its numerous water and energy conservation initiatives.
The center is the largest fossil fuel-free building in Boston. It incorporates deep wells to harness the earth’s thermal capacity for heating and cooling. This feature eliminates the need for a gas line connection.
Other sustainability features include:
- Energy efficiency: It’s designed to save energy through triple-glazed windows, external sun shading devices, efficient HVAC systems, and an air heat recovery system.
- Embodied carbon reduction: Long concrete mix and cure time during construction reduced its embodied carbon by 6% through reduced cement content.
- Green roofs: These roofs provide additional insulation against extreme temperatures to conserve heating and cooling energy. Also, these roofs enhance indoor air quality by reducing the urban heat island effect.
2. Atlantic Wharf
The Atlantic Wharf building is owned and operated by Boston Properties. It’s one of the buildings in Massachusetts that meet the green building criteria due to its environmentally conscious features.
Atlantic Wharf includes offices and residential apartments built to meet the highest level of energy conservation.
The building received LEED Platinum “Core and Shell” certification for its numerous energy and water conservation measures.
It’s designed to use 69 percent less domestic water than other apartments in the state. This was achieved through low-flow plumbing fixtures and low-pressure faucets.
The construction incorporated materials with recycled content to preserve non-renewable resources and reduce its carbon footprint. Moreover, 85% of its construction waste was recycled.
In terms of forest conservation, 50% of the wood products used in construction were sourced from FSC-certified forests.
Other green building features that make Atlantic Wharf sustainable include:
- Efficient HVAC system: The building has better thermal properties, reducing the demand for heating and cooling. Additionally, it uses rainwater in the cooling tower, leading to a 15% water saving in its HVAC system.
- Energy savings: The building has LED lighting fixtures for energy conservation. Moreover, it incorporates smart lighting controls to minimize energy wastage. These features have resulted in 33% less energy consumption.
3. HI USA Hostel
Located in the Theater District of Boston, HI USA was the first LEED-certified accommodation facility in the city.
Besides being affordable, HI USA Hostel has state-of-the-art energy-efficient equipment that promotes sustainability. This equipment promotes green living practices for guests.
The hostel pays close attention to water conservation. For instance, it features faucet aerators that use at most 2.2 gallons (8.33 liters) of water per minute, and its showerheads consume at most 2.5 gallons (9.46 liters) of water per minute.
It also has water-efficient toilets and urinals.
The hostel retrofits burned-out incandescent bulbs with the more efficient LED bulbs to save energy, and has replaced energy-consuming appliances like air conditioners with their ENERGY STAR-certified counterparts.
HI USA Hostel maintains an efficient waste recycling program to promote a more circular economy. The recycling program targets:
- Glass and plastic
- Batteries and cartridges
It also donates non-usable products to prevent them from going to landfill.
Finally, the hostel reduces its carbon footprint by encouraging public transport, which it does by displaying information about public transit options on its posters.
4. Myles Standish Hall
This is another eco-friendly building owned by Boston University.
The 204,000-square-foot (18,950-square-meter) building was originally built in 1926. However, it didn’t incorporate many sustainable features during its initial construction, necessitating renovation.
It was renovated between 2016 and 2018 with more eco-friendly features resulting in LEED Gold certification.
For instance, the renovation made the building 40 percent more energy efficient than the state’s code standards. This was achieved through added insulation on the exterior walls, energy-efficient double-glazed windows, and LED lighting fixtures.
It was also retrofitted with a white roof to reduce the heat island effect. The roof also saves energy by reflecting the sun’s heat, lowering the demand for cooling.
Other sustainable construction initiatives undertaken during the renovation include:
- Water efficiency: It uses low-flow showers, lavatory faucets, and toilets to save water.
- Sustainable landscaping: It uses drip irrigation and native plants to minimize water consumption.
- Material sourcing: Over 48% of the renovation materials were sourced within a 500-mile (805-km) radius to minimize transportation carbon emissions.
- Sustainable materials: The renovation incorporated eco-friendly materials like sustainably sourced wood. Furthermore, 20% of the materials came from recycled sources.
- Waste management: Over 96 percent of construction and demolition waste was recycled to conserve landfill space.
5. 888 Boylston Street Prudential Center
This is the most sustainable building in Boston, Massachusetts.
The 425,000-square-foot (39,500-square-meter) 17-story mixed-use building focuses on providing high-performance office space for tenants from the inside out.
It has large windows that promote daylight infiltration to reduce the demand for lighting during the day. The liberal use of glass in the building reduces artificial lighting runtime by 60%, conserving energy and saving on utility bills.
Moreover, the building uses LED bulbs in all its rooms for more efficient energy use.
The building features a tight, high-performance thermal envelope for enhanced insulation. The envelope lowers heating and cooling demand, saving more energy.
Other sustainable features include:
- High-efficiency chilled beams for cooling.
- Double-paned insulated windows.
- An energy-efficient HVAC system.
- A living wall and a green roof.
- A rainwater harvesting and storage system.
- 134-kilowatt solar photovoltaic cell for renewable energy.
- A wind turbine system.
The above features make the building 35% more energy-efficient, saving $650,000 annually in electricity costs.
6. The Harvey
The Harvey is located at 50 Hood Park Drive and is part of the Hood Park mixed-use project. It houses offices and retail shops.
The project was created with sustainability in mind, focusing on energy, water, and natural resource conservation.
It received LEED Platinum certification in 2021 due to its energy and water conservation commitment.
This five-story building includes the following sustainability features:
- Renewable energy: It has rooftop solar panels that supply renewable energy to supplement mains electricity. Solar energy helps lower the building’s carbon footprint.
- Heating and ventilation: The Harvey has an energy-efficient HVAC system that saves more energy.
- Daylighting: The building has floor-to-ceiling windows that maximize daylighting, reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day.
- Alternative transportation: It has electric vehicle charging areas to promote the use of EVs as an alternative mode of transport. This helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles powered by fossil fuels.
- Material sourcing: The building incorporates sustainably sourced materials, including FSC-certified wood products.
- Indoor air quality: The team used paints and finishes free from VOCs to enhance the building’s indoor air quality for occupants’ health and well-being.
Caldwell is a 250,000-square-foot (23,200-square-meter) LEED Platinum-certified building along 34 Munroe Street in Lynn, Boston. It’s a 259-unit multifamily high-rise project built to be highly sustainable.
The 10-story building features sustainable building materials like reclaimed wood that is FSC-certified. Moreover, the team used non-tropical wood to help conserve these trees.
Furnishing all the units with 100 percent ENERGY STAR-rated appliances played a significant role in energy conservation. Most of these appliances have improved insulation and include compressors that use less energy.
For instance, ENERGY STAR-certified refrigerators use about 15% less energy than their ordinary counterparts.
Other features that make these apartments eco-friendly include:
- Solar energy: The building has an on-site solar power generating system that reduces its dependence on the national grid. This reduces its carbon footprint from mains electricity generation.
- Alternative transportation: It has electric car charging to promote the use of electric vehicles among its tenants. These vehicles have much lower carbon dioxide emissions than vehicles powered by fossil fuels.
- Green roofs: The building has rooftop gardens that serve as green roofs for added insulation against extreme temperatures. These gardens lower the demand for heating and cooling in winter and summer, respectively.
- Indoor air quality: The project features low-VOC paints, finishes, and wood for enhanced indoor air quality to promote wellness.
8. Alan and Sherry Leventhal Center
The Alan and Sherry Leventhal Center is Boston University’s expanded admission and reception building.
It’s designed to preserve historic characteristics while being eco-friendly by reusing the existing structure.
The 19,000-square-foot (1,800-square-meter) structure is LEED Gold-certified for its immense commitment to sustainability.
Most of the construction materials, approximately 86%, came from the demolished 1953 Hillel House. Reusing these materials played a considerable role in reducing the project’s embodied carbon.
Also, 14% of the materials contain recycled content to conserve natural resources. Most of these materials were also sourced within a 500-mile (805-km) radius, reducing transportation carbon emissions.
The center also promoted sustainable construction through FSC-certified wood products for forest conservation.
The building’s other eco-friendly features include:
- Indoor environmental quality: It uses a green cleaning program with 100% Ecologo and Green Seal-certified products. It was also built with low-VOC materials that are formaldehyde-free. All rooms with chemicals have ventilation systems to expel pollutants.
- Energy efficiency: The center incorporates LED lighting, high-efficiency glazing, occupancy sensors, and a thermal envelope to save energy. These features have made it over 36% more energy-efficient than the state’s code standards require.
- Water efficiency: It has low-flow kitchenettes, lavatory faucets, and efficient toilets and urinals. These features have made it 38% more water efficient. It also incorporates water-efficient landscaping, like using drip irrigation and high-efficiency sprinklers.
- Sustainable site design: Its location near transit and bike-share services facilitates the use of public transport and cycling to reduce carbon emissions from cars.
9. The Commons at Walpole Station
Located in Walpole, this 242,820-square-foot (22,560-square-meter) project is among the top eco-friendly green buildings in Massachusetts.
The project is LEED Gold-certified owing to its many water and energy-saving features.
The 192-unit apartment’s location near the Walpole MBTA Commuter Rail Station promotes the use of train transport. This reduces the number of private cars on the road, lowering carbon emissions.
Moreover, its proximity to downtown Boston makes commuting easier. Tenants can use alternative transportation like bicycles when going to the market.
The 6-story building uses energy-saving LED lighting fixtures in all units. Additionally, its water heaters and HVAC systems are highly efficient.
Other sustainable features include:
- Low-flow plumbing fixtures in all the units.
- Energy-efficient glazing.
- Electric vehicle charging stations.
10. Commonwealth Honors College Residential Complex
Owned and operated by The University of Massachusetts Amherst, this residential and teaching complex serves 3,000 students.
The center’s proximity to the university’s public transportation system reduces the demand for private cars.
Additionally, bike racks within the complex promote the use of bicycles for students and visitors.
It also incorporates the following sustainability features:
- Low-flow plumbing fixtures to reduce potable water use.
- Waste collection points across the buildings to facilitate recycling.
- Over 75% of construction and demolition waste was diverted from landfills.
- High-performance curtain walls, thermal windows, and storefront systems.
- Energy-recovery ventilation systems.
- Maximum daylighting through ample windows minimizes the need for artificial lighting.
11. Fall River District Courts
Located in Fall River City, Fall River District Courts are among the state’s environmentally friendly projects.
The 154,000-square-foot (14,300-square-meter) project is LEED Gold-certified and boasts some of the best sustainable building features.
These court buildings have rooftop photovoltaic panels for solar energy generation.
The buildings feature an elliptical design for maximum daylighting to minimize artificial lighting during the day.
Finally, most materials used for construction contain recycled content. Using recycled materials conserves natural resources while diverting waste from landfills.
12. Yawkey Center for Student Services
Owned and operated by Boston University, this is among the most eco-friendly green buildings in Massachusetts.
The management relied on recycled materials during its construction to conserve natural resources and divert waste from landfills.
Additionally, over 10% of the building materials were sourced within a 500-mile (801-km) radius, minimizing the building’s carbon footprint due to transportation.
Moreover, the 122,000-square-foot (11,300-square-meter) center played a significant role in landfill conservation by recycling 89% of construction waste.
Other sustainable features include:
- Water efficiency: It uses low-flow water fixtures in bathrooms, urinals, and toilets. It also embraces sustainable landscaping through drought-tolerant plants, drip irrigation, and efficient sprinklers.
- Energy efficiency: The building has an airtight envelope, is well-insulated, and uses energy-efficient systems for cooling, heating, and lighting control. It also has occupancy and daylight sensors for maximum energy conservation.
- Chilled beams: These beams maintain comfortable indoor temperatures while using less energy than air conditioners.
13. Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre and College of Fine Arts Production Center
This is another sustainable facility owned and operated by Boston University. It’s a stellar example of sustainable construction within a city.
This 75,000-square-foot (6,970-square-meter) facility is LEED Silver-certified and sets the stage for the future of sustainable construction at Boston University.
Its green building features include:
- Energy efficiency: It uses LED lighting to lower energy consumption. Moreover, it has smart sensors that turn the lights on or off, depending on occupancy.
- Green cleaning: The building’s management adheres to the green cleaning initiatives enforced by the university. Therefore, it uses 100% EcoLogo or Green Seal-certified cleaning products.
- Transportation: The center is easily accessible through public transport like buses and trains. It’s also close to bike-share stations.
- Water efficiency: The center has low-flow showers, faucets, and toilets that reduce indoor potable water consumption.
14. One Channel Center
One Channel Center is a LEED Gold-certified office building in the Seaport District of Massachusetts. It was LEED-certified in 2021 with a scorecard of 72 points.
The 501,650-square-foot (46,605-square-meter) 11-story building contains many green features that reduce its environmental impact.
The building has continuous insulation on the facades to prevent heat loss. Its mechanical systems are highly efficient to save more heating and cooling energy.
One Channel Center was also built with eco-friendly materials like precast concrete and structural steel to reduce its environmental impact.
As an office project, One Channel Center was designed to promote indoor air quality through VOC-free materials. Therefore, it promotes the health and well-being of its occupants by not emitting harmful pollutants like formaldehyde into the air.
15. Albert Sherman Center
Located in Worcester, the Albert Sherman Center is one of the top eco-friendly green buildings in Massachusetts.
The 512,580-square-foot (47,620 -square-meter) facility is LEED Gold-certified, indicating its commitment to energy and water conservation.
The center is among the few buildings in Worcester City built with recycled steel for sustainability.
The building’s orientation and exterior materials contribute immensely to its efficiency. Its northern side has glass and long windows to maximize daylighting for energy conservation.
The windows on the southern side have external baffles to block solar heat gain. This reduces the demand for central cooling, especially in summer.
Other sustainability features of the Albert Sherman Center include:
- Low flow plumbing fixtures.
- FSC-certified wood products.
- Textiles and carpets made from recycled fibers.
- Rainwater and condensate harvesting system saves 750,000 gallons (2,840,000 liters) of water annually.
Final Thoughts On Eco-Friendly Green Buildings in Massachusetts
Having read about these top 15 eco-friendly green buildings in Massachusetts, you’ll see it’s evident that the state is on the right trajectory toward a greener future.
As an eco-conscious builder or homeowner, you can help mitigate the construction industry’s adverse environmental impacts by incorporating some of these technologies into your own projects.
Incorporating green building technologies like low flow plumbing fixtures, LED bulbs, and smart controls will go a long way to conserving natural resources and reducing your carbon footprint.