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Going Green in South Boston

Posted by Albert Rex on Thursday, March 17, 2016
Albert Rex
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What better day is there to talk about going green in South Boston than St. Patrick’s Day?

The green we mean, of course, is sustainable building technology. And the building itself is located in the Fort Point/Seaport District on the edge of South Boston – known for its Irish residents and their St. Patrick’s Day parade. 

| Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (Photo by Robert Benson Photography)

Our client, CV Properties, converted a seven-story Classical Revival style building in the district for a commercial. The tenant of the building is the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems (CSE), a non-profit applied research and development laboratory whose mission is to foster economic development through the commercialization of clean energy technologies for the benefit of society.

The building was originally constructed by the Boston Wharf Company (BWC), a group of clipper ship owners who decided in the mid-1830s they could make more money developing warehouses than sailing ships. Over BWC’s history, they created over 95 acres of land from the mudflats of South Boston and developed over 95 buildings in what became known as the Fort Point District, an area recently designated the Innovation District. The rehabilitated building, designed by DiMella Shaffer Architects, not only houses the lab of CSE but also serves itself as a test subject. Sustainability experts monitor the effects of different treatments on and around the building including chambers on the south elevation that can have their materials changed out to understand their reaction to weather.

The building’s initial use as a warehouse, with exposed brick walls and wood beams and columns, provided both challenges and opportunities for the tenant and its function for testing and finding green solutions. While many project teams may have (and do) consider challenges such as the issues around window and wall treatments as an outright burden, CSE was able to learn from their own rehabilitation how real buildings live and breathe.

It’s like treasure at the end of a rainbow to work on a rehabilitation project that will benefit the real estate industry in the way that CSE does. To that, we say “Slainte!”