The City of Boston was recently selected as one of 5 cities to participate in the federal government’s “Greening America’s Capitals” program. Assistance from this initiative will be used as part of a plan to revitalize City Hall Plaza in a way that fully integrates sustainable planning practices, and avoids characterizations like this. The help from EPA will make it possible for Mayor Menino to realize his plans to develop Government Center as a “green district.” In fact, prior to this selection, the Boston Redevelopment Authority was already underway with a planning initiative, the Government Center Green Growth District.
Essentially, this initiative is intended to invite private-public collaboration and experimentation in creating a showcase for how to incorporate principles of Smart Growth and sustainable development in the Boston urban landscape. Ideally, this will serve as a model for determining what works and what doesn’t. Lessons learned from the pilot program can then be more easily—and cheaply—applied to other projects. Once a standard model for Boston green development is in place, it should make private green development more attractive.
Some of the program’s highlights are ambitious, for instance including “on-site power generation,” such as familiar photovoltaic arrays and windmills. However, there are plans to make future developments even more efficient and independent from the grid by investigating the use of other technologies like co-generation/combined heat and power (CHP) technology. Interestingly enough, these ideas have already met with some private-sector buy-in in Boston. For instance Double-Tree Guest Suites Boston has recently employed American DG Energy to install a 75 kW CHP system in the hotel. This is essentially a Power Purchase Agreement, though that type of arrangement has typically been used in solar generation. American DG will install and operate the system at no cost to Double-Tree, who will then agree to purchase the electricity generated. In this case, the deal is for 15 years, valued at about $1.3 million.
This should be a good omen for setting the standards of future practice.
As far as the Greening America’s Capitals program, it is the result of a partnership between several federal agencies, namely the EPA, US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the US Department of Transportation (DOT). The purpose is to facilitate greener policies for state capitals’ building and infrastructure projects.
“EPA will fund a team of designers to visit each city to produce schematics designs and exciting illustrations intended to catalyze or complement a larger planning process for the pilot neighborhood.”
So the EPA will send a team of planners—specialized in green building and green infrastructure—to analyze and assist with the creation of the Government Center Green District. The results should be very encouraging for a greener, more efficient Boston.