Award of Merit - Green Multifamiliy

Entrant/Architect: Prellwitz Chilinski Associates, Cambridge, Mass. | Developer: The Mount Vernon Company, Boston | Builder: Cranshaw Construction, Newton, Mass. | Structural Engineer: Roome & Guarracino, Somerville, Mass. | Civil Engineer: Nitsch Engineering | Landscape Architect: UBLA/Ulrich Bachand Landscape Architecture LLC, Wenham, Mass. | Photographers: Elisif Brandon Photography (nighttime shots); Warren Jagger Photography; Design East/The Creative Companies Realty (model units). | Living Space: 700 to 950 square feet | Rent: $1,925 to $3,175 per month | Lot size: 1.22 acres | Resources: Bathroom and kitchen cabinets: Metropolitan Cabinets, Symmons DIA Line; Cooktop, dishwasher, oven, refrigerator, Frigidaire; Countertops: Silestone Kitchen appliances: Lighting: Reflex Lighting;: HVAC: Aquatherm System; Paint: Sherwin Williams

The Pledge at The Edge

Renting here or at or any of The Green District's seven other buildings involves signing a Green Declaration, which is enforced by honor code, says developer Bruce Percelay, chairman of The Mount Vernon Co., who worked in collaboration with Boston’s Department of the Environment to craft the agreement. Do residents balk? No, says Percelay, “the tenants know about this going in.” A poll of residents showed that for 56 percent, signing an eco-wise pledge was a main incentive to rent there because it inspired confidence that they were signing on with a good landlord. For the remaining 44 percent, amenities such as bike storage, Zipcar stations, filtered water stations on every floor and in common areas, free yoga classes, and proximity to transit were the main attractions.

The Green Declaration contains 11 provisions, including using cleaning products from an approved list, promoting a clean neighborhood, and using “best efforts” to minimize water usage. All residents are given a printed guide with hints on saving on water, heat, and air conditioning, as well as tips on recycling and composting (there's an organic waste bin on site; its contents are carted offsite for compost). For residents of the three new buildings, which are metered, savings show up in lower utility bills. Older buildings pose an added challenge. “It's hard to make people environmentally conscious when things aren't metered,” says Percelay. “Enlisting the tenants helps.” By assisting renters with best practices, the hope is to cut down on operating expenses—savings that the developer pledges to pass on to tenants in the Green Declaration at the end of the calendar year. — Amy Albert

The Green District is the largest privately funded multifamily community in Allston, Mass., with planned occupancy of more than 500 in what eventually will be eight distinct buildings. Five of those structures are existing buildings that date from the 1940s to the 1970s and have been retrofitted for energy efficiency with reflective roofs and super-insulated windows. Three are brand-new.

This year, the project gained its second new building, The Edge, a 79-unit residence. Targeted at urban professionals who want to be within walking distance of Boston’s public transportation system in order to get downtown quickly, The Edge answers the city’s need for reasonably priced, quality rentals that are also transit-friendly. The four-story, $17.4 million building was fully leased before construction even began. The industrial-style, contemporary façade has Zalmag metal panels that avoid corrosion, steel doors, full-height windows, angular rainscreens, and mix of materials in an area characterized by pre-1940s housing as well as low-cost student dwellings sporting traditional brick and stucco façades.

The Edge offers even more to attract young professional tenants. Layouts were designed in the popular open loft-style plan with 10-foot-high ceilings. To improve occupancy, architects Prellwitz Chilinski Associates researched how young urban residents prefer to live. They discovered that it was important to keep the kitchen/living/dining areas as open as possible for maximum flexibility because during the leasing process prospective tenants—who like to lay out their spaces in a variety of ways—want to visualize how they can personalize their units.

To further deliver what an eco-conscious cohort expects, residents of The Edge sign a “Green Declaration” (see sidebar). Common areas answer the need for sociability; amenity spaces include a fitness center that opens through big glass garage-style doors to a barbecue patio and putting green. To lessen upkeep and pare down costs, dry grasses were planted that require minimal irrigation. Additional green features that helped The Edge gain LEED Platinum certification include solar roof panels, Icyenene insulation, an electric car charging station, and bicycle storage that accommodates two bikes per unit.