Boston Affordable Housing Community Captures LEED Platinum
- Dec 26, 2012
By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer
Boston—Castle Square Apartments, a 500-unit affordable housing community in Boston, has been awarded LEED for Homes Multifamily Platinum Certification, the highest green building rating given by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The certification results from the nation’s largest deep energy retrofit of an existing affordable housing community. The retrofit was undertaken by WinnDevelopment, the real estate development arm of WinnCompanies, and Castle Square Tenants Organization Inc., a non-profit entity owned by Castle Square Apartments residents.
Castle Square Apartments, situated on Tremont St. in Boston’s South End, is a 1960s-era, 540,000-square-foot mixed-use property featuring 20,000 square feet of retail.
The property offers four mid-rise buildings and 19 townhouse buildings containing one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. Amenities include a fitness room, community garden, two playgrounds, a basketball facility and tot lot.
A deep energy retrofit is one in which a renovation results in energy savings in excess of 50 percent. The retrofit at Castle Square Apartments, which took two years, is the result of a new super insulated shell, combined with an insulated reflective roof, high-efficiency windows and extensive air sealing that increased the insulation value of the building by a factor of 10. Small, high-efficiency cooling and heating equipment, LED and CFL lighting, Energy Star appliances and solar hot water helped deliver additional energy savings. As a result, Castle Square Apartments is modeled to reach a 72 percent reduction in energy usage.
“The entire retrofit, including new kitchens, bathrooms and windows, was conducted without relocating residents,” WinnCompanies vice president of energy and sustainability Darien Crimmin tells MHN. “We worked carefully with resident coordinators to provide residents with a comfortable place to stay during daytime construction, but it was always a challenge to make sure the apartments were ready again at the end of the day for the residents to return home.”
Crimmin reports the catalyst for the deep energy retrofit was the competitive grant funding the project received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. “From that perspective, you could say President Obama was the catalyst,” Crimmin observes.
Boston mayor Thomas M. Menino termed the renovation of Castle Square Apartments significant for its residents and the city. “It has created jobs for local workers, preserved 500 units of affordable housing for current and future working families of Boston, and its green design contributes to the overall health of our city,” Menino said.
In addition to practical benefits like increased comfort and improved air quality, the deep energy retrofit of Castle Square Apartments offered residents “an amazing opportunity to engage in a community experiment to conserve energy and increase environmental awareness,” Crimmin says.