Castle Square Apartments was built in the 1960s as part of urban renewal. Hundreds of tenement buildings were knocked down in Boston’s South End to make way for 500 apartments for low-income people.
In the early 1990s, Castle Square experienced a rebirth when residents led a grassroots effort to take over the property and preserve it as affordable housing in perpetuity.
Now, twenty years later, residents are leading a trailblazing green renovation that will result in energy savings that have never been achieved on existing buildings in the U.S.
On April 19, Mayor Menino presented his Annual Green Awards for 2012. It was the kick-off of a new initiative in the city: Greenovate Boston http://www.greenovateboston.org/] which will help organize multiple green initiatives in the community including energy efficiency, sustainable food systems, green buildings and more. Castle Square Apartments won an award for “Sustainability and Climate Leadership” as an innovator in energy efficiency. Below is a picture of the team – the Board of Directors, the staff, and retrofit project team members. Other award winners are summarized at this link http://www.cityofboston.gov/environmentalandenergy/greenawards/winners12.asp]
The event was held at the Gillette World Headquarters in South Boston – at the south end of the Ft. Point Channel. It is a massive facility and houses the world’s largest museum display dedicated to shaving products. We got to hear a lot about what Gillette and their parent company, P&G, are doing to benefit the environment. They are trying really hard, even though most of their products are disposable
Here are our luminaries accepting the award from Jim Hunt, head of the City’s Office of the Environment. Wei Ruan (Castle Square Board), Debra Backus (Castle Square Executive Director), Gilbert Winn (WinnDevelopment), Ann Mow (Castle Square Board), Jim Hunt (City of Boston), and Tony Stark (holding the plaque, Castle Square Board). Special thanks go to all the team members that put this project together – Heather Clark of Biome Studio and Bruce Hampton of Elton+Hampton Architects who designed the project, and the teamwork between WinnDevelopment, Castle Square Tenants Organization, and WinnManagement.
Congratulations to Castle Square! And thank you Mayor Menino and your great team!
I have a new office at the Castle Square Tenants Organization main office. It is also the supply closet, so I can keep track of how green our office materials are. And it’s the storage for the Toys for Tots donations. A very busy place! Better than a conference room. And the Tech Center fellas hooked me up with speakers for my reconditioned computer system. It has been a good busy month for Community Green Advocacy. We created a draft green manual for residents and a green office policy for CSTO. We formulated a “green team” of eco-advisors for sustainability at Castle Square. The latest innovation is the “Green Bag Lunch Lectures” – which will really be friendly conversations – which you will hear more about shortly. All in the interest of “Going Green” at Castle Square!
The construction project is coming along. All the windows are done on the mid-rise and the weather sealing (the bright green stuff) is continuing to be applied. This photo shows the front on Tremont St where one portion of the building has its exterior insulation installed, while the section on the left is still being prepped.
Out back, you can see the new Community Center as it comes along – the walls are in and insulation is installed on one side. It’s going to be a great facility. Nearby is the big old weeping willow tree in the courtyard. What a beauty! If you look closely, you might see someone else “hovering” nearby.
Castle Square just held its first Community Greening Workshop, this past Thursday night 11/10. It was a success: a few dozen people came out to the hospitality unit at 7A Castle Court to talk about thermostats, stoves, and windows, and to enjoy some edible goodies courtesy Mrs. Chen on the CSTO Board. Grey Lee, the CSTO Community Green Advocate, was the MC for the evening, taking questions and making a couple of presentations. We focused on how to get the thermostat to work better for people, so they can feel comfortable in their unit. It is still a tricky device to master.
Luckily, CSTO will soon be distributing simplified instructions so residents can a) set the temperature to whatever they want, and it will stay that way indefinitely, and b) residents can set up a schedule so the heat will come on at one temp during the day and a lower temp at night. Please note, the highest temperature for the devices is 75F, and the lower people can set it, the better for the environment.
The evening was a great time to meet each other, talk about various problems going on in the community, and to come up with solutions. Cherry Wu was present to translate and communicate directly with the Cantonese-speaking folks, and some of the CSTO Board members were in attendance as well, ready to hear feedback from the community. The next community greening workshop will be on Dec. 1st, the Thursday after Thanksgiving. If you have any questions about going green at Castle Square, please contact Grey at the CSTO office or at firstname.lastname@example.org See you next time!
Photos and interviews from Castle Square in Boston’s South End, a 500-unit development where upgrades and improvements will result in energy savings of as much as 72%.
The renovation of the 500-unit Castle Square Apartments in Boston’s South End, one of the city’s most critical resources for affordable housing, will be the largest Deep Energy Retrofit in the United States, achieving a 72 percent energy reduction. On May 19, 2011, the Tenants Organization held a press conference to announce these historic renovations.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYVxDFCJB_E]