CityOfBoston Official An official website of the City of Boston

This is the website for the City of Boston’s new Planning Department, which launched on July 1. The staff and many responsibilities of the Boston Planning & Development Agency have moved to the Planning Department of the City of Boston including planning & zoning, urban design, development review, and real estate divisions. Please excuse any misalignment you may see on our site as we transition to the City. Learn more

BPDA releases Mass Timber Accelerator Final Report

April 22, 2024

In recognition of Earth Day 2024, the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) released the final report on the Mass Timber Accelerator program which began in the fall of 2021, in partnership with the Boston Society for Architecture (BSA). The program is one of many initiatives the City of Boston is using in its mission to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and make Boston a green and growing city for all. Currently, building construction and materials account for 23 percent of global emissions. In a new building, the carbon emissions embodied in the building materials and products themselves can equal ten to 20 years of carbon emissions from building energy use. Finding new solutions to reduce building material embodied carbon will be a critical step in reducing carbon emissions. Building more projects with mass timber, or more simply, wood from renewable sources, has emerged as a high impact, low effort solution with a multitude of benefits.

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Boston Planning & Development Agency Mass Timber Accelerator Selects Three Development Projects for Second Round of Funding

February 13, 2023

The second round of the Boston Mass Timber Accelerator launched in the fall of 2022. The three selected projects feature leading teams with deep expertise in sustainable development, design, and construction, and a proven commitment to achieving Boston’s carbon neutral goals:

  • Bunker Hill Housing Redevelopment — Leggat McCall Properties (LMP) on behalf of the Bunker Hill Housing tri-party development team with Stantec. Two affordable and mixed- income multi-family housing buildings at 6 and 9 stories.
  • 18-32 Spice Street — RISE with CBT Architects, proposed 365 residential units at 24 floors with 20% affordable units.
  • Longwood Place — Skanska USA Commercial Development with Sasaki, mixed use development with three high-rise commercial buildings and two high-rise residential buildings.

Additional program information and a project gallery is available on the BSA's Mass Timber Accelerator web page.

Mass Timber Accelerator - Round One Program Participants

In March 2022, Round One Program Participants began work exploring and assessing the benefits of employing mass timber practice and materials in their projects.

Program Participants:

  • 110 Canal Street, Bulfinch Triangle — Quaker Lane Capital with CBT Architects - A seven-story commercial office building.
  • Eliot Church, Roxbury — Leers Weinzapfel Assoc. Architects and Eliot Congregational Church – A four-story affordable housing project.
  • 401 Chelsea Street, East Boston — ThoughtCraft Architects - Proposed six-story building that will include 40 units of mixed-income affordable housing with ground floor retail space.
  • Mary Ellen McCormack, South Boston — Winn Development, Boston Housing Authority, and CBT Architects - Redevelopment of a public housing project in South Boston that will add 302 units of mixed-income affordable housing.
  • 150 Center Street, Dorchester — Trinity Financial and ICON Architecture - Transit-oriented development that will add 81 units of mixed-income affordable housing next to the Shawmut MBTA Station.
  • Suffolk Downs B16, East Boston — Elkus Manfredi Architects and The HYM Investment Group - A planned eight-story building that will include market rate and affordable housing over ground floor retail space.
  • Q Communities at Suffolk Downs, East Boston — DiMella Shaffer Assoc. Architects and Project Q Communities – Also part of the Suffolk Downs development, a proposed eight-story building that will have 215 units of senior and assisted living housing.

Additional program information and a project gallery is available on the BSA's Mass Timber Accelerator web page.

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Program Details

The Boston Mass Timber Accelerator will provide development teams with technical assistance and funding grants to assess and integrate low carbon mass timber building practices into their projects.

Boston Mass Timber Accelerator logo

Boston’s carbon neutral goals and Climate Action Plan 2019 Update call for a range of policy and practice actions for reducing building related carbon emissions. One such policy, the Zero Net Carbon Building Zoning Initiative, is proposed to “strengthen green building zoning requirements to a zero net carbon standard.” Recognizing the significant carbon emissions due to building construction and materials, 23% of annual global emissions, the City of Boston and the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) see the expansion of mass timber construction practices as a critical step. 

chart showing annual global fossil fuel emissions by sector

To broaden awareness, identify new opportunities, and accelerate the utilization of mass timber practices in Boston and the New England region, the BPDA and our partners are providing financial and technical assistance to active development projects in the early phases of project planning.  

The Boston Mass Timber Accelerator is structured to:

  • Raise public awareness of the carbon,economic benefits, and beauty of mass timber construction.

  • Introduce more practitioners to the design and engineering practices and feasibility of mass timber construction.

  • Identify the potential for additional affordable housing creation, new development, new business and job creation opportunities, through the expansion of mass timber construction. 

  • Result in new buildings constructed with mass timber materials.

Led by the Boston Society for Architecture, the public and stakeholder process will be structured to engage local communities and stakeholders and provide multiple visibility platforms for best practice discussions, product presentations, study reports, and summary findings. Visit the BSA’s Mass Timber site for additional information and resources.

The Boston Mass Timber Accelerator program will competitively select up to ten active private development projects for funding and technical assistance. With the technical support of the WoodWorks team, the selected development teams will explore the benefits and assess the feasibility of incorporating mass timber structural building materials and practices into their building projects. 

The Boston Mass Timber Accelerator program has been made possible by the support and partnership of the USDA Forest Service, the Softwood Lumber Board, the ClimateWorks Foundation, and the Boston Society for Architecture.

Stay Connected

If you are interested in participating in the discussion please sign up for our Climate Change Planning & Sustainable Development email updates.

If you have specific Mass Timber Accelerator or Zero Net Carbon Building Zoning questions please reach out to John Dalzell ([email protected]).

Header Photo Credit: Greg Folkins, courtesy WoodWorks

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