Gallery: Forbes Park: An Exemplary Sustainable Community


The new Forbes Park residence in Chelsea, MA is giving new life to the old Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company, re-envisioning it as a prime model for sustainable development in urban city cores. Their self-titled “Hybrid” moniker derives from the project’s extensive use of renewable energy sources, and the grandest green addition to the site is a 240-foot tall wind turbine that will provide the majority of the complex’s electricity. Other unique features include the addition of a water taxi stand for easy access to downtown Boston, a shared fleet of electric cars for all residences, and the installation of a number of “Forbes Orbes” that will let all residents know when they should conserve energy more actively.

On site the developers for Forbes Park, Urban Design & Development, are making great efforts to harvest rainwater, revitalize over 12 acres of marsh and coastal grassland, and preserve as much of the existing vegetation as possible, including five 140-year old pin-oak trees. The live/work apartments are situated within the facade of the old printing company. By creating a large breezeway through the center of the building, all residences have access to an abundance of daylight and natural breezes, nearly eliminating the need for air conditioning even during the humid summer months.

Each unit comes equipped with everything anyone looking at moving into a sustainable development would be looking for including energy star appliances, FSC harvested woods, and low flow toilets in the bathroom for conservative water use. The existing brick wall and concrete floors remain intact in beautiful condition, and add a unique quality to the Forbes Park development. All of the materials demolished onsite are scheduled to be reused whenever possible with a goal of less than 20% being sent to the landfills. An on-site central recycling center makes it easy for residents to sort through their paper and plastic goods.

Forbes Park makes the most of an adaptive re-use project and sets the standard for others to follow – something that will have to happen as our cities continue to change and grow. Its an excellent example of an efficient and environmentally sound community for a more sustainable future. Model units are open now for viewing, and start at around $205,000.

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  1. olga August 19, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    i’ve lived off the grid before with only thermal mass and a wood stove, and you’re right bj, the thermal mass alone wouldn’t be enough. i have however been to the forbes website and they will primarily be using radiant floor heating which will be more than adequate to heat the place efficiently. the passive heating will be a nice supplement.

  2. BJ August 19, 2008 at 8:48 am

    Shared electric cars and wind turbines are great but from what I can see the units themselves are likely to be much more expensive to heat than they need to be. Thermal mass alone will not make the buildings comfortable. If it’s isolated inside the living space that’s great but when that mass is exposed to the outside environment it’s effectively a giant heat exchanger.

    They talk a lot about it but don’t say anything about insulating the envelope. They even talk about using steel framed windows. Those steel frames can be cold enough to grow frost inside in the winter even if they are double glazed. I already live in a hundred year old factory building with 3.5 foot thick brick walls. When the average temp is 10 degrees outside, and I’m trying to maintain 70 inside, that brick wall is averaging out to 40 degrees!

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