Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Boston's green building market transformation | U.S. Green Building Council
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10 years after Article 37, Boston is still a leader in green building.

In 2007, as green building practices continued to grow as a viable tool for reducing the environmental impacts of buildings, Boston made an unprecedented commitment to urban sustainability by enacting Zoning Article 37. The first city in the nation to require private developers to adhere to the standards of the LEED rating system, Boston set out not only to drive green building practices but to transform the local building industry.

The zoning regulations promulgated by Article 37 require all building projects over 50,000 square feet to demonstrate their sustainability strategies using the most appropriate LEED rating system. Prior to issuance of a building permit, the city’s inter-agency Green Building Committee determines if a project has fulfilled all the necessary LEED prerequisites and has earned enough points to meet the “LEED-certified” level.

During the permitting and review process, and through additional development requirements, many projects increase their LEED green building commitment to Silver, Gold, and even Platinum status. Although certification is not required, almost two-thirds of all projects subject to Article 37 seek the market benefits of building green certification through LEED.

“I am proud that 10 years after Article 37 was enacted, Boston is still leading the nation in meeting the energy, environmental and climate change challenges of today and tomorrow," commented Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "Our innovative leadership in green buildings is only possible because of all the stakeholders, building owners, workers and businesses working together to build a better Boston. While we know that the work continues, we look forward to celebrating these and so many other achievements with the green building community when we welcome Greenbuild to Boston later this year.”

Ten years after the enaction of Article 37, through the work of the Boston Planning and Development Agency and the department of Environment, Energy and Open Space, Boston is known as an innovation leader and is home to an impressive portfolio of green buildings. With growing demand for green and healthy work spaces, many of Boston’s existing Class A office buildings have responded by seeking LEED for Existing Buildings (now LEED v4 for Building Operations and Maintenance) certification: a certification program designed to implement and validate sustainability measures—water, energy, waste, and transportation—for owners and managers of existing buildings.  

In 2013, the owners of One Boston Place, led by their team at CB Richard Ellis, achieved LEED Gold for Existing Buildings. With a projected $213,000 annual savings and an investment payback period of approximately 1.3 years, the project has documented the following annual savings:

  • 18,000,000 kWk of energy (electricity and steam)
  • 3,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions
  • 12,000,000 gallons of potable water
  • 182,000 pounds of trash

(Source: CB Richard Ellis)

Grey Lee, executive director USGBC Massachusetts Chapter, reflected on this important milestone. "USGBC Massachusetts Chapter is proud to celebrate Boston's leadership and 10 years of achievement with Zoning Article 37 Green Building," he said. "Our building professional practitioners have implemented and are operating green buildings that enable net positive outcomes for our community, and our world."

Building on the success of Article 37, the city launched the Boston E+ (energy positive) Green Building program, to pilot the next generation of high-performance LEED Platinum buildings. With six units completed, four in construction and another 60 in permitting status, Boston is proving cities are at the forefront of sustainable practices. Today, with the city’s Climate Action Plan and a wide range of programs and initiatives, Boston has been twice ranked the most energy efficient city in the nation

To learn more, visit the websites for the Boston Planning and Development Agency and the Article 37 Green Building and Climate Resiliency Guidelines.

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