While it may be considered socially or politically correct to “go green” when embarking on new construction projects or updating an existing property to include green roofs, energy-efficient lighting or electric-friendly car ports, adoption rates remain mixed in New England.
“In recent years, the public and the people are more interested in green building, but development has somewhat languished due to finances because builders are looking to cut costs in this market—even though better building performance is sacrificed in the long run,” says Ed Hodges, CEO of the Boston-based architectural and planning firm, DiMella Shaffer.
There are developers who are investing in the “green” future, which includes being certified with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation. Examples of such buildings in Boston include The Macallen Building and The Clarendon Back Bay. According to Boston Real Estate Observer, the construction of The Clarendon, which is LEED Silver certified, used approximately 10 percent recycled materials, and more than 20 percent of the materials used in the building were sourced within 500 miles of the Back Bay construction site. Green products and solutions used included low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, Energy Star appliances, high-efficiency HVAC units and a landscaped rooftop to reduce heat gain and absorb storm water.
“I’ve seen a dramatic increase in energy-saving construction materials including closed cell spray foam insulation, SIP (Structural Insulated Panels) and Zip sheathing as well as Superior wall foundations,” says Joanne Carroll, owner of the Guilford, Connecticut-based PR and marketing consulting firm, JMC Resources, LLC. Founded in 1992, JMC provides marketing and public relations services to custom and spec builders and developers of residential communities. “A well-sealed building envelope with proper ventilation allows builders to downsize heating equipment, while saving energy, although geothermal and solar are not necessary to build a high performance, green home.”
“Some of the green amenities for condos,” says John Thiboutot, CMCA, vice president of The Niles Company in Canton, Massachusetts, “are geothermal, solar and wind power, as well as higher-efficiency lighting fixtures, bulbs, heating and cooling equipment. Green roofs, better insulations and thermo blinds are also some other options.” Other choices include LED lighting, tankless water heaters, recycled flooring and carpeting, low-E double pane windows, low VOC paint, permeable pavers to reduce storm water runoff and native landscaping rain gardens.