Lowell Achieves Efficiency with Green Buildings

Green Buildings in Lowell, MA

Katie Champagne for Zondits, April 21, 2014

Lowell, Massachusetts, has a number of significant claims to fame. As a manufacturing hub for textiles, it played a major role in the Industrial Revolution. The city’s downtown area is part of a national park—the first of its kind. It’s also the birthplace of beat writer/author Jack Kerouac. These days, though, Lowell is emerging as a leader in sustainable design. Two dynamic buildings within the city are now forerunners in eco-friendly design thanks to the green building practices used within them.

United Teen Equality Center (St. Paul’s Methodist Church Building)

As the oldest green building in the country, Lowell’s United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) has achieved LEED Platinum certification through its sustainability efforts and design. Originally St. Paul’s Methodist Church, the structure was built in 1839 and was then renovated with an addition in 2012. The design includes:

  • Recycled materials from the original structure
  • Soy-based insulation
  • A 97%-efficient boiler
  • A photovoltaic roof system
  • A thermal chimney developed from the old church steeple
  • Terrace doors as windows to act as an AC
  • No mechanical AC
  • A floor plan designed to maximize air flow
  • Daylighting techniques
  • LED light fixtures
  • Multipurpose rooms
  • Sustainable building materials
  • Energy efficient appliances and controls.

Green activities add to UTEC’s eco-friendly achievements. The facility offers mattress recycling, sustainable furniture design, and food services, with a new café scheduled to open in June 2014.

UTEC Lowell
UTEC LEED-Certified Construction


Enterprise Bank

Among the brick buildings of downtown Lowell is a green-building feature that only some know is there. Enterprise Bank has taken advantage of its roof access by adding two sustainable green roofs—the first of their kind in Lowell. Since the implementation in 2007, the building manager has seen both heating and cooling prices drop, thanks to the green roofs’ action as an eco-friendly insulation device.

Enterprise Bank is located in a 100+-year-old building with aging roofs, so the mulch and gardening layering method of green roof was not an option. Instead, the company uses a tray system containing various types of 100% succulent, New England-hardy vegetation. This allows for less watering and maintenance, and it also improves the local air quality.

Green roofs can benefit everyone in a multi-story building such as this one. The Coffee Mill, the business on the floor below Enterprise Bank, has also seen its heating costs drop since the installation.

Enterprise Bank plans to expand the tray system and to open up the roof for employee access during breaks. Making the roof multifunctional will also promote the sustainability of the building as a whole.

Example of a Green Roof Tray System