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      Green Building

      Green District To See More Growth This Year

      There's a new area being developed in Allston - and no, it's not just for students. The "Green District" is an eco-friendly residential area near the Griggs Streets MBTA stop in Allston that's being developed by Mount Vernon Co. The area is planned out such that residents are ensured that they have full control of their utlities and avoid wastage and excess. For instance, its flagship building, The Element, was built using recycled hardwood floors, and energy-efficient materials and appliances. In addition, The Elements also has a Green rooftop garden and decks, as well as bike storage facilities and zipcar parking.  The complex has more than 100 units to offer, and has mostly one- and two-bedroom apartments renting for a range of $1,700 to $2,850 per month.

      Mount Vernon Co. is setting aside $125 million to develop the area, citing three new buildings are on the way; as well as the renovation of four existing complexes to make them coincide with the "green" dimension of the neighborhood. In addition to the recycled wood floors and energy-efficient materials made to create the buildings, tenants have the ability to control and pay for their own heat and air conditioning in the apartments. Buildings in the so-caleld green district are also designed such that residents have total control of resources such as separate water pipes, to be able to reduce wastage.  The Edge, the second building to rise, also boasts of rooftop solar panels and electric car charging stations. Perhaps the most unique aspect of living in this "Green District" is that upon moving in, residents are asked to sign a green declaration that corresponds to requests to agree to minimize energy consumption, as well as recycle and compost as often as possible.

      The Green District is a welcome addition in a part of the city known more for its late-night restaurants and student population with heavy turnover. For that reason, the developers sought to improve the quality of life for these residents and extend its reach to the more "mature market", adding amenities such as an eco-friendly kitchen. Aside from all these enhancements, all of the buildings in the district are LEED certified gold and silver, making them truly eco-friendly and sustainable. In addition to the environmentally conscious aspects of the Green District apartments, the buildings have gyms, common spaces, and a roof deck for tenants to facilitate a community feeling among residents.

      Just last week, the Boston Redevelopment Authority unanimously approved the construction of another building in the area. "The Icon", a five-story 93,260 square feet building at the corner of Brainerd Road and Redford Street (just by the border of Brookline), is set to have more than 100 units that are high-efficiency as well as a green underground parking and solar-panel lined rooftop and deck, and also where the fitness center is planned to be located. City officials said work on the building is scheduled to begin this year and would take about 16 months to finish. It is estimated the project will create 260 construction jobs.

      The building will span two parcels at 75 Brainerd and 10 Redford, which together comprise just over a half acre. The properties have housed a single-story warehouse building, which was recently razed, and an auto repair shop, which will soon be torn down. The company razed an about one-and-a-half-story warehouse building to develop the 1.2-acre site. About two-thirds of the property is in Allston; the rest is in Brookline. The development of the green district is set to continue until the delivery of all seven buildings in 2016.

      Parcel No 9 in the North End

      There's been some interesting developments in the North End area, specifically with the development of the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. There's been a push to fill up the remaining parcels of the park, which was once the site of the city's busiest highway (now it's tucked underground as part of the big dig).

      The area that the city of Boston has recently been soliciting bids for is known as Parcel 9 - a plot of land 43,139 square feet in size at the corner of the Greenway and Hanover and Blackstone streets. It is zoned out for both residential and retail use.

      Earlier this spring, the nonprofit Boston Museum, led by developer Frank Keefe, called for a 100,000-square-foot building designed by Cambridge Seven Associates, with brick on the Blackstone Street side transitioning into glass facing the Greenway. The proposal featured sleek glass designed galleries that would unfold in five categories: growth, people, politics, sports, and innovation.

      However, after much deliberation, it seems the current contenders for the prime property are down to two: Normandy Real Estate Partners, and BlackStone Market (a consortium between Cresset Group and DeNormandie Companies).

      Normany Real Estate Partners' proposal is to build a 180-room, seven story hotel, with a two-story winter garden will house and include a food market.  On the other hand, the BlackStone Market group is also proposing a seven-story building that would have 50 apartments, a food market, three restaurants, and a New England's biggest urban farm (13,000 square-foot rooftop garden).

      Both proposals are being considered by the MassDOT and a decision is expected in two weeks, when the Greenway group, consisting of the Greenway Association, and the MassDOT, meet to announce the winning bid on November 16.

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      Green Building in Boston (Part 1)

      Green Building in Boston (Part 1)

      Taking into consideration that Boston is one of the few cities in the nation with rich history, one would guess that, proper preservation and specialized use of building materials would be of major importance.  Since some materials can effect the health of building  inhabitants and its surrounding environments, materials used in construction is a main focal point.  The use of sustainable green products in remodeling, preservation, and building construction is good for the environment and  helps to prevent residents from health problems such as lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related diseases.

      Going green has been considered more of a luxury and not so much of a cost effective choice in the past but things are changing. Since the 1980's Boston has been slowly been remodeled, firstly by removing the usage of asbestos in new building projects and secondly by redoing the ones previously build. Moving forward, a local organization focused on sustainable community development initiated the renovation of 82 different units of family housing and in Jamaica Plain and Roxbury. The project was put into motion by a company called Urban Edge, a community development corporation which specializes in sustainable and green living. Urban Edge and a few of other green building companies are responsible for the remodeling of  a number of affordable apartments just within the city of Boston. Up to date, such companies  have completed a green renovation of over one hundred rental apartments in the Dorchester and Jamaica Plain areas, setting an example for all green building projects. Further, their most recent project is another step along the path of the Urban Edge "integrated green" development initiative that provides low cost, environmentally sound housing which has gained lots of traction since their first project launched in 2006, which incorporated renewable energy into Egleston Crossing, a mixed-use building. These are just a few of the projects led by green building enthusiasts and innovators slowly but maturely transforming Boston and its surroundings to a new wave of more sustainable and healthy way of living.