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Boston Pride: The Hub of Sustainability

Published On 05/12/2013 | By PowerHouse Growers | Healthy Cities & Urban Planning

The city of Boston has fixed it its sight clearly upon supporting the longevity of a happy, healthy, and safe community for all residents. Through green building incentives, urban agriculture and food production commitments, climate action mandates, waste reduction, and energy conservation Boston is a great place for Gen Y to establish their Urban Lifestyle.

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Energy Positive housing development in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. Image via Boston.com

A particularly ambitious and noble goal for Boston is Mayor Thomas Menino’s Green By 2015 which aims to have all taxis replaced by hybrids by the year 2015. This mission has already significantly cut down the city’s carbon emissions and will only continue to do so. This is allowing Boston to compete with the aggressive carbon neutral goals of New York and San Francisco.

The leadership in Boston is certainly doing and incredible job of encouraging its local businesses and residents to take responsibility for their lifestyles and participate in the greening of their beloved city.

Boston Lifestyle & Community

As one of the world’s most liveable cities, Boston is home to a large number of events and festivals, eco-friendly gardens, the bike Hub-way share program, green transit options, and not mention boats an impressive walkability score of 79 percent. The Harborwalk is a spectacular 46.9 mile public promenade along Boston’s harbor and is currently still under construction. It’s a great place for sightseeing and fishing and is enjoyed by residents and tourists alike.

The historic city of 600,000 is full of world-famous landmarks, art galleries, modern and colonial period architecture, and cobblestone streets. If you can’t afford to live in the trendy South End neighborhood then you will certainly find lots to do in the area. This is where you will find the city’s best restaurants, cafes, bakeries, and boutique shops.

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Solar Panels installed on Boston’s Logan Airport. Image via Broadway Electrical.

Urban Planning and Green Design

Boston has had many great achievements and advancements in green urban planning and design. According the Sustainable Cities Institute, Boston became the first city in the United States to implement zoning requirements on adherence to the USGBC’s LEED standards. Boston also developed the online solar mapping tool and has helped expand solar panel capacity by more than 300 percent in two years through the Boston Solar Program. Boston has also increased recycling by 50 percent through their Recycle More Program.

Boston manages their city’s performance in environmental protection quarterly through the Boston About Results system. This helps the city holds itself accountable by analyzing key performance indicators. The city has also mandated itself to update its Climate Action Plan every three years.

Green Building

As mentioned, Boston has made it a requirement for all new large-scale commercial projects to adhere to the USGBC’s LEED standards as part of the municipal zoning code. Mayor Menino has also spearheaded this movement as part of Boston’s vision as a green city. New green construction and renovation projects are happening all over the city including the addition of green roofs on several city-owned properties.

Boston’s recent green revolution means that the city is now home to some of America’s most impressive sustainable buildings. The Atlantic Wharf building became the city’s first Platinum LEED Certified skyscraper and uses around 30 percent less energy than comparable buildings in the city.

The E+ Housing project in Roxbury is not yet complete but is intended to actually give back energy to the grid. This project will also exceed Platinum LEED standards and has been backed by Mayor Menino himself.

Many buildings in Boston have been renovated to be green. The city now holds over a million square feet of LEED-EB (Existing Building) certified space.

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Berkley Street Community Garden belonging to Boston Natural Areas Network.

Urban Agriculture in Boston

The City of Boston created an Urban Overlay District in 2011 which hosts urban farms in an effort to provide access to fresh, healthy, and locally-grown food. There are also over 200 community garden spaces in Boston which is equivalent to nearly 50 acres of land. Additionally over 100 of Boston’s public schools have gardens used to teach children the value of food production and proper nutrition.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority’s farm review has made it possible for residents and organizations to have access to the land required to develop community gardens and orchards, rooftop gardens, and urban farming of all varieties. Their foresight and strong emphasis on the value of local food production makes this city a true leader.

Local Leaders

Being one of the greenest cities in the United States, Boston pride has caught on and many local leaders are setting great examples for sustainable initiatives in their community.

City Growers– This business utilizes vacant plots around Boston for growing fresh organic produce to supply to local restaurants and markets. In addition to thei rgoal of making land around Boston productive they also create jobs and feed the community.

Freight Farms– Growing food in climates that would otherwise not support food production is a solution offered by Freight Farms, a Boston based company. Their system produces food at high yields while reducing water consumption, eliminating the use of pesticides, and generally improving sustainability.

The Food Project– This organization grows fresh, organic food on farmland in North Boston which is then supplied through CSA programs and farmer’s markets as well as donated to hunger relief initiatives in the community. Apart from the shining example of sustainability that the Food Project sets, they also do social good by getting teenagers and youth involved in community farming.

Boston Green Building- This local building company specializes in remodeling and building green. They believe that construction plays a key role in building a more sustainable and healthy environment for the community but that th elevelof quality will determine the its impact.

Are there other amazing initiatives in Boston that you would like to see mentioned? Do similar initiatives exist in your community? Send us an email and tell us about it to info@powerhousegrowers.com.

Feature Image: City of Boston at night. Image via CityofBoston.gov

About The Author

PowerHouse Growers
PowerHouse Growers teaches you how to sustainably integrate urban agriculture into your cities, businesses, and homes. We provide clear solutions and benefits for better health, increased productivity, and lower environmental impact. By connecting you with experts, we bring awareness to solutions that may not be top of mind.