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Boston’s largest carbon-neutral residential building advances in Roxbury

The project at 273 Highland Street aims to generate more energy than it uses annually—the city calls such projects “deep green”

A rendering of a four-story building at night. Rendering via BPDA

A 23-unit apartment complex at 273 Highland Street in Roxbury promises to be the largest energy-positive, carbon-neutral residential building in Boston, according to plans that the Boston Planning and Development Agency approved in mid-September.

The project from Boston-based Rees-Larkin Development will fill 16,354 square feet of city-owned land with a four-story, 49-foot building that Studio G Architects will design to generate more energy than it uses on an annual basis—hence the neutral bit.

The building expects to achieve this feat through touches such as what its original BPDA proposal describes as an “air-tight envelope,” triple-glazed windows, a rain-screen wall assembly, solar panels on the roof, a heat recovery ventilation system for fresh air, high-efficiency cooling and heating systems, LED lighting, and fixtures designed to keep water consumption lower than normal.

The city’s eight-year-old E+ Green Building Program is guiding the project, according to the BPDA. That program was designed to incentivize environmentally friendly—or “deep green” in the city’s words—multifamily development, but its results so far have been fairly modest with most of the projects on the smaller side. In 2016, for instance, the city selected a development team to build four carbon-neutral units on Colonial Avenue in Dorchester.

The project at 273 Highland is a bigger step. Fifteen of its 23 units will be income-restricted, and it will include 19 partially below-grade parking spots and 41 bike spaces as well as improvements to adjoining sidewalks. Its construction timeline is so far unclear. Rees-Larkin has not returned an email for comment.