Former Home of the Boston Herald is Recycled into a Green Mixed-Use Community

Boston is a booming marketplace for green buildings – thanks in part to AHA Consulting Engineers.

The latest in the firm’s green building portfolio, the Ink Block project at 300 Harrison Avenue is transforming the former home of the Boston Herald into a dynamic, green-living community with five residential buildings, a Whole Foods market and hotel.

As AHA Consulting Engineers is no stranger to designing for – and achieving – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification, Ink Block meets all of the mandatory requirements for LEED consideration. The community is designated as a no smoking area throughout, and multiple accessibility options reduce occupants’ travel carbon footprints.

Located within walking distance to the Red, Orange and Silver transit lines and along several public bus routes, the Ink Block community encourages tenants to pursue environmentally friendly commute options. Zipcars are available in the parking garage; a Hubway bike-sharing station sits adjacent to the development; bike storage is available on site, and changing rooms are available in the community’s fitness center. Ink Block also offers numerous parking spaces and charging stations for low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles.

Aiming for LEED Gold Certification, AHA put in the extra effort to reduce Ink Block’s overall carbon footprint. Expansive windows flood interior spaces with natural light, and improved indoor air quality promotes productivity and well being among occupants. As part of this effort, AHA worked directly with the architectural team to select low-emitting indoor materials for flooring, paint and furnishings.

The engineering design team also incorporated high-efficiency heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems to reduce energy consumption while optimizing thermal comfort for occupants. They proposed the installation of a central energy recovery unit for corridor and restroom exhaust ventilation as well as high-efficiency water source heat pumps in all residential units and common areas. When compared to the standard baseline for building codes, Ink Block will consume 30% less energy than comparable mixed-use facilities. Likewise, potable water usage is reduced by 35% at Ink Block, due to the specification of low-flush and low-flow plumbing fixtures at the development.

Working with the sustainability team at Whole Foods and National Development, AHA also implemented one other cutting-edge energy solution for the mixed-use development. Together, they engineered a condenser water loop that shares water between the Whole Foods refrigeration system and the residential heat pumps. This unique approach takes advantage of all systems on site, irrespective of their building location. And ultimately, it reduces energy by capturing the waste heat from the supermarket refrigeration system. The heat generated from the refrigeration system heats the circulating condenser water in the residential areas to the point that the residential hot water boilers will rarely be used.

No stranger to the design of mixed-use and sustainable facilities, AHA made every deliberate engineering decision with the end-user in mind. The firm’s specialists selected systems and materials that would not only improve the marketability of Ink Block and reduce its operating costs – but provide a comfortable and enticing home for the hundreds of residents who will move in to the development in 2017.

Ink Block is currently under evaluation for LEED Gold Certification by the United States Green Building Council.