You’ve heard of “out with the old, in with the new”? It’s not so easy to scrap something established over long, proven years of use — especially if that something happens to be Boston’s many apartment complexes. In the case of Boston mayor Thomas Menino, who has announced a multi-million-dollar renovation plan to retrofit thousands of Boston public housing apartments, an appropriate retooling of the adage might be: “Outfit the old with the new.”
At a cost of $63 million the renovation, which is being touted as the largest energy efficiency overhaul in public housing in the history of the U.S., will target 4,300 apartments spread across 13 Boston Housing Authority developments located from Charlestown to Brighton. According to Boston.com, the changes will span leaky toilets tossed out in favor of low-flow models; efficient LED lighting and compact fluorescent light bulbs; and old-school boilers responsible for guzzling way too much oil will be replaced by natural gas types that allow residents to control their heat. Additionally, the South End’s Lenox Street development will see the removal of a dozen failing tar roofs in favor of solar panels and white, warmth-reflecting surfaces.
Sixty-three million is quite a bill to pay for even eco-friendly changes. Who’s footing the bill? Not the taxpayers. The renovation is a collaborative effort between the Boston Housing Authority and Framingham-based Ameresco. According to the press release detailing the renovation plans, “Ameresco is financing the improvements and will recoup their costs by sharing a portion of the savings over the life of the twenty-year contract,” in addition to designing, engineering, and implementing all the efficiency measures.
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