August 17, 2007

Jason Burrell ’98 Goes Green with $74 Million Building Project

He’s using environmentally-friendly methods and materials for Boston condo

It’s not easy being green. Just ask Jason Burrell ’98, senior project manager for Bovis Lend Lease. Tasked with overseeing construction of the $74 million Macallen Building, a 140-unit condo in Boston, Burrell also manages the cutting-edge, environmentally-friendly building methods and materials used in the project.

“‘Green’ is going above and beyond the baseline of what everyone else is doing,” says the A.B engineering graduate. “We’ve got global warming — we’ve got to help the environment.”

Cities now recognize the benefits of building green, Burrell notes. Boston mandates that all large building projects meet stringent environmental standards, challenging traditional building design and construction.

“As a developer, you’ve got to show you’re on the forefront,” he says. The conventional wisdom of building with green products doesn’t ensure a building conforms to the new industry standards. Every aspect of the job must be rethought. Because transporting materials consumes energy and adds pollutants to the air, Burrell says that 20 percent of all products his project uses must be purchased locally.

“A product may be more environmentally friendly, but the location you’re buying it from — and getting it to your project site — may make it a less environmentally-responsible choice,” he explains.

Building green poses unique headaches.

“It’s a balance�you have to come up with what works environmentally, but also economically,” he says. “Every vendor says their product is environmentally sustainable. I’m sorting through all the minutia to find out what’s helping the environment in the long term.”

In the case of the Macallen Building, Burrell’s attention to green details abounds. The roof features a naturally-irrigated garden, which lowers the structure’s “heat island” effect. All the wood in the building comes from managed forests that avoid clear-cutting. Wall coverings and floors feature rapidly renewable resources such as cork, grasscloth, and bamboo. Beyond installing EPA Energy Star-rated appliances and water-saving bathroom fixtures, the project also uses products free of off-gassing toxins like formaldehyde. Burrell even enforces a smoking ban on the construction site.

As his project nears completion, Burrell takes pride in his work. Before and after photos give a sense of accomplishment, as does knowing the methods and materials he’s managing on this project will help his city and its inhabitants live healthier, more environmentally-conscious lives.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he says.

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