Published on June 4th, 2011 | by Jennifer Shockley


Deep Energy Retrofit’s 72 Percent Predicted Energy Savings for the Renovation of Castle Square

In May 2011, construction began on the largest Deep Energy Retrofit renovation to date in the United States on the Castle Square apartments in Boston, MA.

“They [Deep Energy Retrofit] provide a roadmap for how to dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of existing buildings.”

Existing Castle Square Complex

The original complex was built in the 1960’s with 192 units designed as low-income housing. Its renovation was scheduled after the building’s 50th year mark and was an easy decision to upgrade to the level of sustainability that the Deep Energy Retrofit requires. It will maintain the apartment units plus include street level retail spaces and a community center for the residents.

The Deep Energy Retrofit’s requirements to meet are that a building’s energy expenses must be reduced by at least 50 percent by sustainable alternatives and renovations. The Castle Square committee expects the energy expenses to be reduced there by at least 72 percent. Metropolis Mag wrote,

“A Deep Energy Retrofit is broadly defined as a renovation of building producing 50% to over 70% energy savings over and above existing code-compliant buildings.”

Typical green renovations use only 20-30 percent less energy, Castle Square is expected to be at least 2.5 times that amount. Traditional buildings in the United States account for 40 percent of energy used and 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions; therefore this renovation is the start to a greater movement of reducing the nation’s energy consumption.

Proposed Castle Square Renovation

This project is part of the Green Jobs Movement, Recovery Act Retrofit Program, local residents’ dedication to ‘greening’ their community, and HUD.

They have incorporated six steps that will reduce the building’s environmental footprint and energy use:

  1. Insulation
  2. Sealant
  3. Equipment scale down
  4. Indoor air quality
  5. Solar energy
  6. Reduce plug load

Insulation Diagram

The insulation will be on the outside of the building. It will include a super insulated reflective roof and outer shell, high efficiency windows and extensive air sealant.

The air sealant combined with the insulation is expected to increase the total building energy savings 36 percent. It will be also incorporated on the interior of the building between units, floors, and surrounding doors/windows.

With the use of the super insulation and the air sealant, this will allow for the use of much smaller and more efficient heating/cooling units. Thus, the machinery will increase the total building energy savings to 55 percent.

The improvement of indoor air quality was a harder step to achieve. New technology of Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) exists which pre-heats/pre-cools the incoming fresh air with existing used air without cross-contamination but the Deep Energy Retrofit committee was unable to use this due to the building’s pre-existing layout and costs. Therefore, they had to find alternative sources, including, renovating the existing ventilation system with air trickle vents. This brings the total building energy savings to 57 percent.

The fifth step in decreasing energy consumption for Castle Square is to use the sun’s energy. Solar panels will be installed on the roof and solar thermal energy will be used for hot water. This crucial step brings the buildings’ total savings to 69 percent.

Roof Solar Panels

The final energy efficient element that will be used in the renovation is to incorporate high efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, and high efficient lighting. This brings the total expected savings to 73 percent, over their predicted outcome of 72 percent.

The renovation’s funding is provided primarily by the programs that have enlisted the Deep Energy Retrofit concepts which will benefit both the community and the residents by decreasing costs of living. It is also partially federally funded with stimulus money because of the project’s creation of jobs and dedication to improving the lives of the tenants.

This is the beginning of new renovations and preservations of existing structures while using the latest technologies. A building’s footprint can be reduced and Castle Square is just the example that is needed to get other projects to improve the environment and their costs.

Resources: Green for All, Metropolis Mag, Deep Energy Retrofit – Castle Square

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About the Author

Jennifer is originally from Colorado and has recently moved back from Michigan. She is finishing up her Master’s degree in Architecture. She is currently focusing on urban planning and sustainable design and hopes to gain employment at a design firm specializing in these areas. Jennifer also has writing experience serving as an editor for her school newspaper and college magazine. Jennifer has two cats named Prada and Dior-aptly named after her shoe obsession. You can follow Jennifer on twitter @jenshock81.

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