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CBA in Lowell gets nod for green buildings

By Lyle Moran, lmoran@lowellsun.comlowellsun.com


LOWELL -- When the Coalition for a Better Acre purchased 478-486 Moody St. in 2009, the site was home to two dilapidated buildings blighting the neighborhood.

Three years and several million dollars later, those eyesore edifices have been knocked down and replaced by the sparkling Unity Place Apartments, a 23-unit, multistory property that is receiving accolades for being environmentally friendly.

Earlier this month at a City Council meeting, the city's Green Building Commission presented the CBA with its Green Building Excellence Award for Unity Place at 482 Moody St.

The commission gave CBA high marks for its energy-efficient heating and cooling system, pervious pavement, and solar hot-water system featuring 14 roof-mounted panels that is expected to offset the domestic hot-water system by more than 50 percent.

Other green-design features at Unity Place include native and drought-tolerant landscaping, high-efficiency windows and lighting, and an energy-recovery ventilator that reclaims exhaust heat and tempers incoming air.

"Every building owner in Lowell can learn something from this project," said Stephen Greene, chairman of the Green Building Commission, in a statement.

"While the residents enjoy their homes and saving on utilities, the City of Lowell benefits from the lower carbon emissions and the additional funds to spend in the local economy."

CBA Executive Director Emily Rosenbaum said the award is a recognition of the nonprofit community-development corporation's dedication to producing green buildings that reduce operating costs and are sustainable.
"We are deeply committed to making our properties more energy-efficient and environmentally responsible, understanding that they not only have long-term positive benefits for our environment, but also help keep our housing affordable by reducing long-term operating costs," Rosenbaum said.

The goal of the green-building award program is to recognize commercial and residential properties that best demonstrate green-building practices and generate increased interest in the use of such practices citywide.

Unity Place is home to residents making less than 60 percent of the area median income -- $55,000 for a family of four.

To help meet its goal of making the apartment building healthy and durable for residents, the CBA enlisted the help of New Ecology, Inc., of Boston.

CBA has also focused on green initiatives at some of its other properties in the city.

At 10 of the buildings of the North Canal Apartments on Moody, the CBA has installed solar panels on the roofs and initiated recycling programs.