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Developer Plans a ‘Sustainable City’ Near Boston

When complete, the development will include 4,000 private residences and millions of square feet of commercial space — and maybe a new Amazon campus

Posted on Nov 28 2017 by Scott Gibson

A massive real estate development project called Union Point is taking shape on 1,400 acres of land about 12 miles south of Boston on what was once the South Weymouth Naval Air Station. Developers say that the community will become a living laboratory for "smart city technologies and sustainability solutions."

The developer is LStar Ventures, a privately held company that has, according to its website, developed more than 65 "environmentally sensitive" communities in 15 states since it was founded in 2007. Clean Technica reports LStar picked up the project in 2015 after another developer, which had built 500 homes on the site, jumped ship.

According to the company's website, Union Point eventually will include 4,000 private homes, 10 million square feet of commercial space, and 1,000 acres of open land. The $5 billion project will take 15 years to complete, Clean Technica says, with the first commercial space to be finished by the end of next year.

North Carolina-based LStar says Union Point is being designed from the ground up to be "socially and environmentally conscious." Commercial buildings will meet LEEDLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED for Homes is the residential green building program from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). While this program is primarily designed for and applicable to new home projects, major gut rehabs can qualify. Gold or Platinum standards. It wasn't clear from either the company's website or the Clean Technica report whether houses in the project would be designed to meet any particular building standard — net-zero ready, Energy StarLabeling system sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy for labeling the most energy-efficient products on the market; applies to a wide range of products, from computers and office equipment to refrigerators and air conditioners., LEED, or Passive HouseA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates., for example — but LStar promises building performance specifications "to radically reduce energy use." The company didn't respond to a request for more information.

The project will lean heavily on computer technology and the "internet of things." Computers will monitor mechanical and electrical HVAC(Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning). Collectively, the mechanical systems that heat, ventilate, and cool a building. systems, manage how water is used, and control traffic flow. Union Point will include both roof- and ground-mounted solar arrays, plus battery storage. The project is getting planning help from the design and engineering firm Arup.

A bid to host Amazon

In addition to building an "inspired, urban community," LStar Ventures also would like to lure Amazon to town to build a second national headquarters. In an announcement, Amazon said the $5 billion project would be a "full equal" to its existing campus in Seattle and would lead to the creation of as many as 50,000 jobs.

Competition is intense, but Boston is on a short list of strong candidates, according to an article posted by Forbes. LStar has developed its own pitch to Amazon, emphasizing Union Point's proximity to Boston, its 4,000 units of affordable housing, and its emphasis on "technology, sustainability and architectural beauty."

LStar says it's in the process of designing a 500,000-square-foot office building that could serve as Amazon's first building. It will ready for occupancy in 2019. Eventually, the Amazon campus could total more than 8 million square feet.


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Image Credits:

  1. LStar Ventures

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