Apr 15, 2015
Hi Roy, Thank you for submitting your proposal! This is a great idea, and particularly timely given the City's zoning code overhaul that is happening this year (more info on this effort can be found here: http://www.somervillema.gov/zoning/). Your proposal would be strengthened if you answered the following questions: What strategies can new developments use to become net zero or net positive? And are there ways that existing buildings could be converted? Do any case studies exist that demonstrate how this can be done effectively? Thanks and I look forward to reading your revised proposal! Jamie
Apr 18, 2015
ok, added a few comments and links.
Manohar Lal Baharani
Apr 21, 2015
The regulation causing increased cost for the developers and ultimate building owners could be a barrier for pace of implementation despite good idea. Bringing in the life cycle cost of energy concept for the retrofit of the existing buildings to be more energy efficient with some examples (probably done in Chicago) would strengthen the proposal, I believe. Bests, Manohar
Apr 22, 2015
Great, thanks Roy!
May 13, 2015
Roy, this topic is ripe for discussion because, as mentioned by Jamie above, Somerville is currently undergoing a complete zoning overhaul. Specific parcels in Somerville, particularly in and around Union Square are slated for development of multi-story buildings that will include a mix of commercial and residential development. I agree with Jamie's comment above that a compilation of case studies on net positive buildings - and especially anything New England and Canada - would be welcomed. I believe the most compelling data would be the compilation of life cycle costs of net positive buildings versus buildings that meet the current Stretch Code. If the developers can recoup their costs through higher rents or sale prices, then it will be economically viable for them to design and build net positive buildings. Perhaps such a development can be fast-tracked to serve as an example for development that will follow. I will look forward to your proposal. Best regards, Andrea Ranger
May 13, 2015
Can we get some developers engaged in this discussion? It is possible to build net zero or net positive buildings. I'm sure there is a slightly higher cost to building them, which is why it makes sense to reward developers who do so with incentives to make it worth their while. One problem is that the developers don't pay the ongoing energy costs of buildings that they make. So they have little incentive to make them more efficient, especially if it costs them anything. So you need to give them something in return. Allowing them greater FAR, for example, which they can translate do $$. Yes, lifecycle costs are much lower but most developers don't care about that. Not sure you can get a higher rent for a net zero building yet (though one should, since the operating costs would be lower). But you can definitely get more rent for more floor area. I think there are other ways to provide incentives, it doesn't have to be all about FAR but it does have to appeal to a developer.