The Boston Globe
By Andy Rosen Globe Staff –
Some have forgone traditional roofing materials in favor of gardens and solar panels. Some boast of windows perfectly aligned to capture all the day’s sunshine and reduce the need for heating and lighting. And some have wrapped decades-old, draft-inducing facades with layers of airtight insulation.
Boston, which led the nation a decade ago in the adoption of green building standards and still does, is in the midst of a push to extend the practice deep into the housing supply.
It’s an effort both planners and private developers are promoting as crucial to reducing the cost of living in this already expensive city and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But it can be a massive, and pricey, undertaking. Builders who have either made significant upgrades to existing structures or created projects with notably low energy use say their viability rested on a unique mix of government and private incentives. Boston requires all new construction of more than 50,000 square feet to be Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, or LEED, certifiable. New city-supported affordable-housing construction is held to an even higher standard; they must be LEED silver certifiable.
High-performance green features are becoming a mainstay of new high-end housing, but the market provides less encouragement for smaller-scale projects seeking to offer similar efficiency.
But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.