Blog Posts

Erland / Carbon Neutrality in Design & Construction

By Scott Bates, VP, Strategy & Development

Environmentally conscious clients, especially those in the Academic and Life Science markets, have shifted their focus to constructing new and renovating existing buildings to be carbon neutral. They are partnering with construction managers like Erland, architects, engineers, third-party consultants, and subcontractors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become more energy efficient. A recent example that showcases this effort was our residence life project with St. Mark’s School and Goody Clancy.

The Patterson-Sculley House was designed and constructed to meet PASSIVEhouse certification. Sustainable elements that were a part of this program include:

  • Harvesting 21 trees for reuse as building features such as wall paneling
  • The building is all-electric, with no fossil fuels used for heating and air-conditioning
  • Solar array installed on the building’s roof produces nearly 300 kWh of power annually, representing close to 40% of the building's energy needs
  • Substitution of 30% slag in the concrete mix resulted in a reduction of 278,600 kgCO2eq of Global Warming potential equivalent to the embodied carbon of 262 acres of forest for one year
  • The 3-story residence hall only has one elevator, which minimizes the building’s overall energy consumption

PASSIVEhouse is just one of many performance-based building certifications that focuses on dramatically reducing energy use. Others include Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Energy Star, and Living Building Challenge.

In 2018, Erland partnered with Phillips Academy in Andover and Perkins+Will to complete the Snyder Center, an out-of-the-ground, LEED Platinum Certified, net zero energy athletics building. The Snyder Center’s key LEED features included installing 1,778 solar panels on its roof, incorporating 24.38% of regional materials, and recycling 25.08% of construction content. Phillips Academy also saved significantly by repurposing the waste heat from its ice rink’s refrigeration system to heat and cool the Snyder Center year-round, which adds no additional energy consumption for the campus and allows the building to operate at net zero. This project received significant accolades and recognition for being at the forefront of this movement. 

More and more cities and towns in Massachusetts are making carbon neutrality a priority, especially when it comes to construction projects. In 2019, Boston rolled out a Climate Action Plan to make the city carbon-neutral by 2050. Part of their strategy is transitioning to net zero carbon new construction and developing carbon targets to improve existing buildings over time. We’ve also seen similar initiatives in Newton and Somerville and on a national level from the White House with the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act and its clean energy programs.

As carbon neutrality picks up in Massachusetts, various tools have become available for construction projects. National Grid and Mass Save offer net zero energy and Energy Use Intensity (EUI) reduction incentive programs that create long-lasting energy savings and offset the incremental construction and design service costs associated with the inclusion of more energy-efficient equipment and systems. Additionally, Architecture 2030, a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization established in 2002 in response to the ongoing climate emergency, has formally launched the CARE (Carbon Avoided Retrofit Estimator) Tool that enables owners, communities, and design teams to quickly quantify the carbon benefits—and understand the value of reuse. Building reuse represents a significant opportunity to avoid carbon emissions in the immediate future, but until recently, quantifying the carbon “savings” in a retrofit or reuse versus new construction has been challenging and not always accurate. The CARE Tool, however, provides clarity and reliability on which project design and construction option would be most beneficial. 

Over the last four decades, Erland has been researching and implementing the use of alternative energy resources. In that time, we have developed our expertise in sustainable design and construction options and developed a network of esteemed architecture and engineering firms, third-party consultants, and subcontractors that we partner with to bring a client’s carbon neutral vision to a successful reality. Together, we will continue to help shape the future of the construction industry and promote climate change through our building practices.

For any questions regarding this topic, please contact Scott Bates at