City Hall Receives Top Honors with 'Green Design'

Article excerpt

Cambridge, Mass., residents aren't quite so glum when paying their traffic tickets.

Due to its "green," or environment-friendly elements, Cambridge's City Hall Annex has become a pleasant place for both visitors and employees alike. So much so that the building was recently rewarded with the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification, making it the oldest LEED-certified building project in the world and the first municipal building in Massachusetts to be certified.

This honor, which is based on a rating system that has become the national standard for measuring how environmentally responsible and healthy a building is, came after a four-year renovation to the annex that had to be closed in 2000 due to a mold spore infestation. But instead of creating a new building to replace that of the one built in 1871, Richard Rossi, deputy city manager, said that restoring it was the answer to keeping its historic value.

"It's a significant building to Cambridge in a historical neighborhood," he said. "We felt it needed to remain intact."

This was no typical renovation, however.

With its policy to make as many green municipal buildings as possible, Cambridge's city council recruited Consigli Construction Co. Inc. and HKT Architects Inc. to accomplish its goal of creating a LEED-certified municipal building using a mix of environmental awareness and historic preservation.

With both construction development companies' expertise in creating buildings with LEED standards, a consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings, they also found it beneficial to remodel the seasoned building.

"Renovating historic buildings not only saves our local ties back into history, but also saves significant quantities of materials and energy, thus benefiting the environment," said Todd McCabe, project executive, Consigli.

Furthermore, with the construction of green buildings focusing on the balance of environmental responsibility, material resource efficiency, the comfort of occupants and community sensitivity, McCabe said the aftereffects of building green are endless.

"High performance building systems improve the air quality of the occupants while reducing overall life-cycle costs and increasing occupant comfort and ultimately, productivity," he explained. …