Green Development

HRI believes that it is the responsibility of affordable housing developers to address environmental issues such as air pollution, global warming, and landfill shortages.

Drawing on years of experience and creative thinking, HRI works to combat these issues during the construction and renovation process so that families can enjoy healthy, energy efficient, and less expensive homes that help preserve our surrounding local environment and our planet. HRI continually seeks new ways to lessen our buildings’ environmental impacts through decision-making, design, construction, and operations strategies that help conserve resources.

New Construction

Putnam Green: Putnam Green is a signature smart growth development that takes a vacant, underutilized brownfield and creates healthy, sustainable affordable housing while enhancing the community as a whole. The development will achieve LEED for Homes Platinum and will be a model of energy efficiency. We are designing not only to reach Energy Star Level II but also to meet the State of Massachusetts’ new Stretch Code for energy efficiency. Universal Design principles and visibility elements will be incorporated in to the development to encourage people of all abilities to live in and visit the property.

Trolley Square: Trolley Square was completed in 2006 and is HRI ’s most recent new construction project. This development is comprised of 32 rental and eight homeownership units, utilizing a number of green and energy efficiency measures. This property was the first development in the northeast to receive the Green Communities Award from the Enterprise Foundation. More information on Trolley Square can be found here.

Auburn Court: This property was recognized by the DEP for the energy conservation improvements installed,namely additional thermal envelope measures, energy efficient light fixtures and appliances, heat recovery system, and other efficient mechanical systems. All 60 units were certified as Energy Star Homes.


95-97 Pine Street: This 12-unit property was renovated in 2010 to incorporate green features aimed at creating a building sustainable for the long term and fostering healthy indoor air quality for the benefit of the residents’ health.  When completed, Pine Street will be LEED for Homes certified at the highest level of Platinum.  Starting with the reuse of an existing building and extending to the 50 photovoltatic solar panels on its roof, Pine Street is an extremely green development.  More information on the Pine Street building can be found here.

58 Seventh Street: This six unit property was severely damaged by fire in March 2007.  HRI saw this unfortunate event as an opportunity to renovate the property and achieve a significant reduction in energy consumption.  HRI aimed to have this building as close to a Zero Net Energy Home (ZEH) as possible.  Materials and systems that would decrease the energy use and carbon footprint of the building were carefully selected for use.  As increased energy efficiency alone is not enough to result in a Zero Net Energy building, HRI also pursued renewable energy to offset electricity supplied by the utility company.  HRI received a grant from NSTAR, its local utility company, to install a 7 kilowatt PV system.  A separate solar array also provides domestic hot water to the building. 

Building materials were chosen for their reduced impact on the environment (i.e. rapidly-renewable bamboo floors rather than hardwood which takes decades to renew).  While occupied, the building will continue to have a decreased impact on the environment with installations such as low-flow plumbing fixtures and rain barrels. 

Residents are educated about the energy efficient and green features of the building through a “Living Green Guide” distributed at move-in.  This guide discusses how to maximize the benefits of the conservation measures installed in the building as well as how to continue keeping their homes healthy with green housekeeping tips.  The guide also describes the many recreational opportunities available in the area of Seventh Street and acts as a resource for environmental education opportunities. 

CAST: In 2004, HRI acquired and performed rehab work on CAST, a 42-unit building. The $2.5-million-dollar scope included new baths, kitchens, site, and common area improvements. The contractor implemented a Construction and Demolition Debris Waste Management Plan that recycled approximately 58% of C&D material at the site. This material was diverted from a landfill at no additional cost. Construction and demolition debris represents over 40% of all landfill waste in the United States.

In addition, the City of Cambridge DPW Recycling Program worked with us to educate residents about recycling. Previous to HRI's acquisition of CAST, the building was not participating in the city's recycling program. Within the six month period after acquisition, the residents recycled four tons of household materials.

Several materials and products were installed that are safer for the environment. These materials provide a more healthy indoor air quality than conventional materials. Recognizing that the leading illness among children in the United States is asthma, HRI sought construction materials and cleaning products that did not release harmful chemicals.

Specifically HRI incorporated the following items:

  1. Replacement of “conventional materials” such as vinyl treads in common areas with environmentally friendly materials such as rubber treads and marmoleum flooring.
  2. Use of energy efficient lighting and appliances that reduced utility costs for the owner and residents.
  3. Zero VOC paints.

HRI follows similar standards for “Green” rehab in all of its properties.