Blog Posts

Residential / Navigating the Latest in Energy Codes & Green Initiatives in Massachusetts’ Residential Construction Market

By Eric Greene, VP, Residential Group Manager

In the wake of growing concerns about climate change, residential construction is experiencing a significant shift towards sustainability. With an increasing number of energy code changes and green initiatives, the focus is now on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and achieving carbon neutrality. Massachusetts, for instance, has identified buildings as the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, emphasizing the urgent need for action. In response, cities like Boston have rolled out ambitious Climate Action Plans aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, with strategies centered around transitioning to net-zero carbon new construction in addition to improving existing buildings. With cities, towns, and governments increasingly implementing regulations and initiatives to combat climate change, the pressure is on developers, architects, engineers, and construction firms to adapt and innovate.

According to data from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, buildings are responsible for 35 percent of statewide emissions annually in Massachusetts. This staggering statistic underscores the critical role that the housing sector plays in contributing to climate change. Boston's Climate Action Plan, launched in 2019, serves as a prime example of proactive environmental policy. By setting ambitious goals for carbon neutrality and prioritizing sustainable construction practices, the city is leading the way in building resilient solutions for a greener future. One key aspect of this plan is the emphasis on transitioning to net-zero carbon new construction. This means that new buildings must be designed and constructed to produce as much renewable energy as they consume, effectively reducing their carbon footprint to zero.

While these initiatives hold promise for a more sustainable future, they also present challenges for the residential market. One significant obstacle is the increased construction costs associated with implementing energy-efficient design features and renewable energy systems. While these investments yield long-term benefits in terms of reduced energy consumption and environmental impact, they often entail higher upfront expenses, posing a financial barrier for developers. Moreover, compliance with these standards demands meticulous planning and coordination among various stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors, and regulatory agencies. From selecting appropriate building materials to optimizing energy-efficient systems, every aspect of the project must align with the specified guidelines, adding layers of complexity to the construction process and underscoring the importance of alignment among all stakeholders.

Erland recognizes the importance of effectively navigating these challenges. We are committed to collaborating with clients to control costs and help achieve a project’s decarbonization goals. This entails engaging early in the planning phase and working closely with design teams to seamlessly integrate sustainable principles while adhering to project budgets. Additionally, we foster strong relationships with our trade partners to incorporate state-of-the-art technologies and innovative construction methodologies, ensuring that clients meet their sustainability targets and code requirements without compromising quality or functionality. With our extensive market knowledge, Erland also pinpoints areas where energy codes and green initiatives might escalate costs, employing value management to suggest cost-effective alternatives that uphold project objectives.

This readiness encompasses a deep understanding of evolving environmental regulations, technological advancements in green building practices, and the complexities of balancing sustainability goals with a client’s pro forma. Our team's expertise and proactive approach position us as trusted partners in building a greener, more resilient future. Together, we can make a meaningful difference in combating climate change for generations to come.

For any questions regarding this topic, please contact Eric Greene at