Green construction is not just in the purview of new homes and trendy skyscrapers. Smart design of average condominiums, offices and other common buildings can significantly lessen their urban footprint, too. Witness the 140-unit Macallen Building in Boston, completed in 2007, the first multifamily dwelling in New England to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “gold” certification.
As striking as the condo’s ship-hull shape is its green roof, a series of six sloping terraces. Rainwater not absorbed by the rooftop plant life collects in a basement cistern to irrigate the crown during dry days, while also easing pressure on Boston’s storm-water runoff system. The narrow building layout provides so much natural illumination to interior rooms that artificial daytime light is rarely needed, even on cloudy days, according to design firm Burt Hill, Inc. Each residence is warmed by a heat pump that taps the Trigen Energy Corporation steam lines that run underneath the street. Walls contain all-cotton insulation, and interiors are bedecked with wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, along with wheatboard-core cabinets and low-volatile organic-compound finishes. (A notable 75 percent of construction materials were recycled.) An added touch: a communal hybrid car is stationed in the parking garage.
Note: This article was originally printed with the title, "New Slant".