Expand Old Colony Beacon to use passive house construction: NEREJ


South of Boston, MA In one of the nation’s oldest federal public housing developments, a new apartment community for low-income seniors will provide some of the most comfortable and efficient rental homes available in the world – thanks to innovative construction methods of passive houses.

Designed by the Architecture Team (TAT) for Beacon Communities Development, Old Colony’s new 55-unit expansion is part of a decade-long redevelopment of Anne M. Lynch Houses in Old Colony as the affordable housing complex is known. According to the architects, the work also reflects an emerging national wave of affordable multi-family housing built to strict energy-saving standards – the passive house – which is best known for its use in high-end single-family homes.

“Leading developers of affordable housing and labor are using Passive House standards to benefit from their lower ongoing operating costs, healthier indoor environments for residents, and a growing number of incentives states and cities,” said project manager Nate Thomas of TAT. “This is a critical and necessary step to facilitate access to more affordable and better housing while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change. These positive impacts are why we have seen an increase in passive house apartment projects in several markets where we operate. »

For Phase 3C of Old Colony, TAT and Beacon Communities designed the 51,000 square foot property in association with the Boston Housing Authority, which is leading the community-wide revitalization of more than 400 units, The Homes at Old colony. “This innovative redevelopment is made possible through the continued partnership with state housing finance agencies and the City of Boston,” said Darcy Jameson, vice president of development at Beacon.

The work will complete a third stage of redevelopment currently underway, with Phase 3A bringing 135 affordable apartments in two buildings, and Phase 3B comprising 115 units in a single four-storey structure.

Phase 3C of the former settlement is scheduled to begin construction in the summer of 2020 and be completed in 2022. Phases 3A and 3B are scheduled to be completed in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Several previous phases, also designed by TAT, have transformed former mid-century superblocks into a welcoming, award-winning neighborhood of attractive mid-rise apartment buildings and townhouses, setting a national model for public housing transformation. Previous phases have also created community assets and gathering centers, including a learning center that provides educational services and health and wellness programs to support residents.

TAT’s architectural approach for this final component of the Homes at Old Colony builds on the basic elements of passive house design, including sturdy, heavily insulated walls and high-performance windows, as well as solar-powered design. passive and the emphasis on compact and simple geometries to reduce thermal bridges. A highly efficient split HVAC system further ensures a healthy and comfortable indoor environment for tenants by reducing contaminants such as mold. The project’s rooftop-mounted photovoltaic (PV) array generates power to reduce carbon emissions and also build sustainability and resilience.

“Passive house buildings such as Old Colony Phase 3C are also much more resilient to extreme weather conditions,” Thomas said. “Due to very low air leakage and superior thermal performance, these projects maintain user comfort much longer than a traditionally designed building in the event of a power outage. With the number of severe storms expected to increase each year across the country, this is another clear benefit of the Passive House approach. »

Other comfort and performance-enhancing features of Old Colony serve dual purposes as engaging elements of the exterior design: thermally broken metal fins act as sun shades surrounding many of the window openings of the building, for example, reducing solar heat gain while adding a dynamic visual effect. interest in the facade.

“With a creative approach to elements such as solar fins, our team found ways to form a striking and distinctive yet contextual architectural presence, despite the challenges of designing to the rigorous Passive House standard,” said L. architect and partner TAT Jay Szymanski, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP. “The result is an apartment complex that fits into the larger Old Colony community and also makes a statement with highly livable, sustainable and accessible rental housing for a vulnerable population.”

TAT’s innovative passive house work for Anne M. Lynch Homes in Old Colony is the latest in a long line of creative and successful apartment projects, including the acclaimed resilient waterfront community at Clippership Wharf in East Boston, the energy-efficient Uphams Crossing in Dorchester, Mass., and an upcoming mixed-use Passive House development in Boston, designed in collaboration with MASS Design Group.


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