Newton Adopts Guidelines for Sustainable Construction

Newton has adopted strong guidelines to help the City build sustainable, energy-efficient municipal facilities.

The guidelines apply to every new City construction project, and are written to guide the City’s Designer Selection Committee, the Design Review Committee, Public Buildings staff, design teams, contractors, and building operators.

The information in the document has proven useful in recent years as the City has been working towards increasingly sustainable structures. But this recent formal approval powerfully codifies the improved processes and will ensure that they persist even when staff and members of volunteer committees rotate out of their current positions.

Here are some of the key elements of the guidelines:

  • Competing design teams will be evaluated on their experience in sustainable construction.
  • Very early in conceptual design, design teams are directed to develop alternative building concepts that are much more efficient than required by code, including, where feasible, configurations that generate as much energy from sustainable sources as they consume.
  • LEED Gold will be the default standard for new construction of large projects. LEED, Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes sustainable building strategies and practices.
  • Designers will consider features that may increase construction cost, but reduce operational and maintenance costs over the long run, thereby saving the City funds over time.
  • Long after occupancy, buildings will be re-commissioned to ensure that they are operated as efficiently as originally intended.
  • City staff will formally keep track of “lessons learned’ in earlier projects to advise design teams in later projects.

The guidelines, “Public Buildings Department, Building Design and Construction Sustainability Guidelines,” was approved by the City Council unanimously on November 20, 2017 and will be posted on the City’s website.

by Peter Barrer, Co-Chair Newton Design Review Committee