City seeds super-green housing

April 15, 2011
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WOODBOURNE—The City of Boston issued a request for proposals last month for developers to build super-environmentally friendly housing at 64 Catherine St. and on two other lots in the city as part of a green building pilot program.

“Today we are taking our green building and renewable energy efforts to the next frontier by creating ultra-efficient housing that generates excess clean energy for the grid,” Mayor Thomas Menino said in a March 28 press release announcing the RFP for the project, formally dubbed the “E+” Green Building Demonstration Project.

The 64 Catherine St. lot is down the street from the JP Green House, a privately developed super-energy efficient home at 135 Bourne St., and the technology the two houses use will likely be similar. The main energy-saver at the Green House is its “passive house” system, where an airtight building seal and super-thick insulation allows for the home to be heated by residents’ body heat.

Other possible features, some of which are also used at the Green House, could include energy efficient appliances, rainwater collection and photovoltaic solar energy collection systems. If those systems save enough energy, the photovoltaic system could end up generating a small energy surplus.

As the Gazette reported last September, city officials hope to see net-energy-producing homes constructed on the site at the corner of Catherine and Florian streets, as well as at two sites in Roxbury’s Highland Park neighborhood.

Separate proposals are being accepted for the three parcels, and the city hopes 10 units of new housing will be constructed in total. At a meeting last September, city officials said they envision a two-family house at the 5,600-square-foot Catherine Street lot.

Speaking to the Gazette after that meeting, Ken Ward, one of the owners of the Green House, said he might try to organize a group of area neighbors to develop a proposal for the city-owned lot. Ward was not immediately available for comment for this article.