Mission Hill apartment building will generate more energy than it uses, preserve community garden

Architect's rendering of Mission Hill proposal

Architect's rendering.

The Zoning Board of Appeals today approved a 44-unit apartment building to be carved out of part of the side of Mission Hill between Parker and Terrace streets and with solar panels and a geothermal unit aimed at pumping more electricity into the regional grid than it takes out.

Boston officials say this will be the first "energy positive project" in the city - and could generate 21% more energy than it needs. The building will also incorporate retail space designed to become an art gallery.

The city last year granted development rights to the land to Mariscal Studio, Inc., after it worked with nearby residents to preserve and extend a community garden on the site.

The building, which will included garden bed on its terraced roofs, will have just 30 parking spaces - but 82 spaces for bicycles. Sebastian Mariscal and his lawyer told the board the location, near the Roxbury Crossing Orange Line stop, is ideally suited for such a project.

Most residents who testified - along with state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez - praised Mariscal for both the project in general and his willingness to work with the community.

Two residents objected to what they said was cutting down trees to put up solar panels.

The project will have five three-bedroom apartments, ten two-bedroom units and 29 one-bedroom units. Ten of the units will be set aside as "affordable."



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    If I'm lucky, instead of walking to Jackson, I'll get a ride to Roxbury Crossing via Terrace. This street sucks, and it's a shame given that it is between two stations and has the SWC Park nearby.

    Will this building have egress to both Parker and Terrace? Is this on the parking lot next to Heath Square?

    It's the vacant lot next to

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    It's the vacant lot next to the auto place in the remnant smokestack building of the brewery which burned down there a long time ago. Right now its nothing but grassland with a giant retaining wall into the hillside.

    Ans across the street from

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    The Boston Building Resources center which is a terrific place. I think this sounds like a great project for that space.

    Next to Mississippis's

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    This will be in big vacant lot next to Mississippis's. It will displace the current art park on Parker, which be replaced on the roof. Not sure if it will have egress on the Parker St side.

    This is a great project with a really responsive developer. Hard to believe that anyone found anything to complain about, but I guess in Boston there are people who prefer ugly vacant lots to kind of change.

    Geothermal usually uses MORE

    Geothermal usually uses MORE energy than it saves, because of the energy needed to pump the water down to warm/cool it.

    I'm dubious about the "energy positive" claim, but will await post construction reporting.

    Care to supply a reference?

    I'd like to see how the calculations are done for this - as a possible future user. There may be economies of scale with buildings that are much larger than a single family home.

    I do know that simple heat pumps are a major source of heat in more temperate climates such as Northern California and the upper South.

    UPDATE: some neutral "not selling you anything" information from the Union of Concerned Scientists http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/our-energy-choices/renewable-energy/h...

    In regions with temperature extremes, such as the northern United States in the winter and the southern United States in the summer, ground-source heat pumps are the most energy-efficient and environmentally clean heating and cooling system available. Far more efficient than electric heating and cooling, these systems can move as much as 3 to 5 times the energy they use in the process. The U.S. Department of Energy found that heat pumps can save a typical home hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year, with the system typically paying for itself in 8 to 12 years. Tax credits and other incentives can reduce the payback period to 5 years or less.10

    Depends on the electricity

    Depends on the electricity needed to pump water down and up 1,500 feet, or to whatever depth is needed to reach the aquifer. It's a great thing in some places, but not in others. Like I said, I would love to see numbers on the system once it's installed, running, and maintained for a few years.

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    Are you really suggesting it takes more energy to run what is essentially a well pump than to heat a few thousand cubic feet of air or gallons upon gallons of water? One could even hook the pump up to a PV panel, getting rid of all energy usage.

    Given the proximity to

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    Given the proximity to various rivers and so forth, I suspect that you won't have to go down nearly that far to get to the groundwater. :)

    From the developer's BRA submission

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    Our project incorporates a 14,000 sq.ft community garden on its roof. This roof garden helps insulate the building and is the first step in a water filtration process that naturally filters and stores rainwater onsite for re-use. Residential and retail units enjoy natural ventilation and are accessed from courtyards, reducing conditioned circulation space. A 14,500 sq.ft solar farm provides electricity for the energy efficient residential units and retail space. The PV panels are freestanding from the building, so that as the efficiency of the panels increases over time, the solar farm can be converted to more productive uses. Heat is provided through a geothermal heating system and is distributed through radiant heating in the floors. Through several green strategies, the design achieves a projected energy surplus of 21% and a LEED score of +123 points.

    The whole thing (7.5M PDF, mostly not about energy).

    'Affordable' units is another

    'Affordable' units is another way of saying 'trouble making residents - domestic violence, police being called, driving your hard working neighbors crazy at all hours of the night and your taxes paying their affordable rent, let's throw in a few pit bulls and a whole lot of Don't disrespect me'. Sounds like just another Boston development project.