Pursuing energy conservation and decarbonization measures across its assets is a passion for Bulfinch, which has implemented strategic partnerships, stormwater management designs, green roofing, and more to champion sustainability across their portfolio.
Building a Sustainability Committee
Bulfinch has an internal Sustainability Committee, whose mission statement is as follows: Bulfinch’s environmental commitment and social responsibility efforts create trust with its stakeholders and serve to protect and enhance the communities in which we work and live.
The Sustainability Committee is made up of individuals across departments and varying levels of the firm ranging from entry level to Senior Leadership. The committee meets monthly to discuss planning, goals, initiatives, and action items to track the firm’s progress and ensure that we are working to incorporate sustainable practices in all areas of its business. Bulfinch’s Governance approach strives to enhance the firm’s corporate policies and procedures, ESG plans and overall strategic vision. The company has established internal committees with specific areas of focus (DE+I, Sustainability, Bulfinch Engage, Investment, Valuation, Technology and Asset Management) designed with goals and objectives to further Bulfinch’s commitments and implement meaningful change. Together, they collaborate across departments and identify strategic partnerships with industry experts to advance its mission to Discover + Deliver value to all its stakeholders. Bulfinch’s strategy is to track, monitor, and report property ESG+R performance to comply with benchmarking/disclosure, audit, and performance mandates. Bulfinch tracks portfolio-wide utilities and emissions through an energy star portfolio manager database platform. Its Property Management team utilizes Building Management Systems (BMS) at each of its properties.
Bulfinch regularly provides the Property Management team with sustainability guides and checklists as well as training, resources and guidance to update ENERGY STAR on an on-going basis. In addition, key members of its Property Management team are directly involved in helping its partners (investors, tenants, lenders and other key stakeholders) advance their ESG initiatives.
Owning and Operating More Sustainable Buildings
Bulfinch evaluates and pursues energy conservation and decarbonization measures across its assets. There are several carbon reducing design practices Bulfinch considers. These are considerations as alternatives may provide more advantages given a project’s unique characteristics. Common strategies to help reduce carbon consumption include displacement ventilation, geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaic systems, dual-duct, dual-fan systems, energy-recovery systems, façade/roof insulation, passive solar design, active shading systems, passive ventilation, variable speed drives and green demolition.
There are also several operating practices Bulfinch considers to reduce a building’s footprint. Similar to building design considerations, these operating practices are considerations as alternatives may provide more advantageous given a project’s unique characteristics including green energy procurement, robust BMS building energy management system, LED lighting, low flow plumbing fixtures and appliances, replacing fossil fuel-powered equipment with electric, robust recycling and composting programs, ban all single use plastic items, and abundance of green plants inside and outside.
In keeping with Bulfinch’s commitment to sustainability, Bulfinch incorporates green design elements and materials into all of its properties, in an effort to minimize negative impacts on the natural environment. Energy and water efficiency design elements in addition to sound planning, design, engineering and construction techniques are crucial to this mission and are executed on all Bulfinch’s projects, regardless of size or budget. Examples include:
- Drought tolerant planting materials and time clocks for watering purposes
- Low flow toilets and urinals
- Water reducing aerators in all bathroom faucets and shower heads
- Lighting retrofits where appropriate to replace high energy T8 and T12 lamps with either low energy or LED fixtures
- Time clocks and light sensors where appropriate
- Electricity is purchased from third parties that typically exceed the minimum requirements for the renewable energy component provided by wind, water, and solar
- Energy Management System upgrades to existing buildings as appropriate to better control HVAC usage along with quarterly preventive maintenance programs
Stormwater Management at Cambridge Discovery Park
The stormwater management design for Cambridge Discovery Park was developed to take advantage of nature’s treatment efficiency with the creation of a Pocket Wetland in accordance with the Massachusetts Stormwater Handbook guidelines. The Pocket Wetland provides areas of low and high marsh zones, as well as, areas of deep water to support stormwater management treatment and provide natural habitat adjacent to the Little River. Additional benefits from the stormwater management system include:
- Reduces peak stormwater discharge rates and volumes for the 2-year storm event to below pre-development conditions.
- Increases groundwater infiltration
- Maximizes green space closest to the Little River.
- Provides native plant species to support surrounding habitat.
- Achieves LEED credits for treatment and reduction in stormwater runoff.
Sustainable Transportation/ Cycling
Bulfinch encourages sustainable transportation efforts with local organizations to encourage shuttle ridership, ride shares and other alternative transportation options for its tenants. Bulfinch provides various efforts to promote cycling at Osborn Triangle including:
- Bulfinch completes the annual PTDM Survey for Osborn Triangle, per the City of Cambridge. This survey allows our team to collect and review feedback from our tenants about transportation options in Cambridge. Bulfinch also hosts an event in the Fall to coincide with the survey. This past Fall, we had Dilly Dilly Donuts onsite handing out free donuts, and we had TransAction Associates onsite to engage with the tenants, promote the survey, and discuss the importance of bike use and bike safety. To top that off, we had a prize wheel with bike and Fall-themed prizes to hand out to all tenants who had completed the survey.
- 120 bicycle parking spaces available onsite, both above and below ground. Underground spaces are located in the parking garage, which provide additional safety and coverage from the effects of weather.
- Bulfinch hosts 2-day Bike-Tune-Up events with Abby Velo in both May and September each year, at no cost to our tenants. Tenants can register at a first come first serve basis by booking a 20-minute time slot on one of the tune-up days. This 20-minute session includes adding tire pressure, adjusting gears, and ensuring brakes are working properly. We also hand out to-go tire kits during the event. The bike tune-ups are a big success, and always sell out!
- Bufinch’s security team has included bike rack checks to their daily tours on campus to ensure that bikes are locked properly and avoid potential thefts.
- Property Management offers U-locks available onsite for tenants who either forgot their bike lock or do not have sturdy locks on hand. U-Locks are ‘U’ shaped metal locks that are extremely deterrent and are able to resist hammers, chisels and the like.
Collaborating with Other Stakeholders
Bulfinch takes a strategic approach to evaluating and targeting partnerships with environmental organizations and third-party certifications. The company believes that these collaborations and certifications help demonstrate Bulfinch’s sustainable commitments and communicate its dedication to creating a sustainable environment with its portfolio and the communities in which it owns and operates.
Bulfinch works to incorporate sustainable programs such as Green City Growers to engage tenants in green amenity programs where tenants can help and get to choose what to grow in the green space outside of the buildings.
The partnership with Green City Growers provides urban farming at several life science and office properties, including Osborn Triangle and Cambridge Discovery Park. These edible landscape installations (raised planting beds) are celebrated by employees, tenants and the community. The raised planting beds provide a biodiverse food production landscape for tenants with immediate access to hyper-local food while inspiring self-sufficiency through engagement. Tenants learn how to grow their own vegetables with the professional assistance from the Green City Growers team and can participate in seasonal weekly sessions for all skill levels and are able to take the produce home after it’s grown creating a true wellness in the workplace experience. In 2022, Osborn Triangle tenants harvested 48.3 pounds of produce!