Union Square development

I was heartened to learn recently that the Union Square developer has agreed to build an affordable housing building to Passive House standards. The deep energy efficiency that Passive House offers is in line with the City’s Climate Forward goals and with the state’s commitments under the Global Warming Solutions Act. It also makes financial sense, with a short payback period.

Which is why I’m mystified that the developer has determined other buildings under consideration to be unfeasible for Passive House. Here’s what the City’s Office of Sustainability & Environment says:

Based on the analysis provided, it is the opinion of the Director of Sustainability & Environment that Passive House standards could feasibly be met with D2.2 and D2.3, significantly reduce harm to the community, and provide significant benefits to the building tenants. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 76%, Passive House design would reduce utility costs for tenants and improve the ability for tenants to shelter in place in the event of a prolonged power outage. The analysis demonstrates that the Applicant has not prioritized designing a high-performing building envelope and that there are cost-effective measures to improve the building’s envelope and operations that the Applicant is leaving on the table to reduce energy use and GHG emissions”.

Today, I wrote the City’s Planning Department to ask them to recommend that the Planning Board reject the design and site plan unless those buildings are designed to meet Passive House standards.

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