Q&A: To LEED or Not To LEED

Why should a building owner considered using LEED strategies in their next project?

Lifecycle evaluations of LEED certified buildings show that the upfront costs of sustainable building methods are quickly offset by the reduced energy and water used to operate a building. As sustainable technology becomes more popular and more frequently used, the upfront costs are lowered. It is now common for the upfront costs of sustainable systems to be less expensive then the non-sustainable options.

Isn’t it more expensive?

LEED certified buildings cost less to operate, they reduce the energy and water utilities bills by up to 40%. They may also qualify for tax rebates and zoning allowances, retain a higher property value, and they typically can be sold and/or leased at a higher rate.

How does a LEED certified building benefit its inhabitants and the surrounding communities?

For building inhabitants, improved indoor air quality and healthier work or living environments promote higher productivity and improved occupant comfort. Surrounding communities benefit as well since LEED encourages sustainable site selection, meaning that instead of building on an undeveloped parcel we reuse/restore previously developed sites. Other strategies include building in urban areas where alternative transport is easily accessible, reducing heat island effect with sustainable material choices and creating higher density buildings which allow for a bigger percentage of public landscapes.

Can my building be LEED certified?

Any building can be evaluated by a LEED accredited professional to see if the building currently qualifies or if it will need to be renovated in order to become LEED certified. Both new and existing buildings can become LEED certified. You can contact DREAM to see how your building can qualify.

Developed by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and unveiled in March 2000, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building certification system has singled out commercial, institutional, and residential projects noteworthy for their stellar environmental and health performance in both the United States and abroad. Since 2007, the City of Boston has required that all large-scale projects (Articles 80, 37) meet the USGBC’s LEED certification standards. Boston was the first city in the nation to implement this standard. 

Affordable Senior Housing

Dorchester, MA –

Hearth Inc. is one of Boston’s foremost operators of affordable supportive housing for at-risk elders. The City of Boston designated Hearth Inc. as the developer of 16 Ronald Street (former home to the Ronald Gibson School), which is located just steps from the MBTA Fairmont/Indigo Commuter Rail line.  The proposed senior housing development is a four-level, wood frame construction building that will be known as Hearth at Four Corners and will provide 54 affordable, one-bedroom apartments and 2 studio apartments with an array of capital facilities and resident services designed to enable Boston’s elders to maintain an independent lifestyle as they age in place. Designed to meet LEED standards.

New Mission-Driven Commercial Building

Roxbury, MA –

DREAM Collaborative has partnered with Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation to develop a new three-story 17,100 sf mixed-use commercial building to knit together the amenities surrounding the Dudley Miller Park site and engage with the Dudley corridor neighborhood. The design provides flexible interior programming for multiple mission-driven office tenants, street level retail space intended for a sit-down restaurant or cafe, surface parking, and options for connecting the new building to The Food Project* greenhouses adjacent at the rear of the site.

A photovoltaic array is an important part of the building’s architectural expression and contributes to the project goal of LEED Gold standards. Other major sustainable design features include a green roof, gray water collection and re-use, bicycle storage and shower facilities, and high efficiency systems.

Dudley Miller Parcels Presentation_07-19-16.indd

Connection to The Food Project greenhouses with farmers market in surface parking area.


*The mission of The Food Project is to create a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds who work together to build a sustainable food system. Our community produces healthy food for residents of the city and suburbs, provides youth leadership opportunities, and inspires and supports others to create change in their own communities.

Charlestown Mixed-Income Housing Redevelopment

Charlestown, MA –

DREAM Collaborative has joined forces with Stantec and two other design firms to replace 1,100 units of housing spread out over 41 buildings in the Boston Housing Authority’s largest housing community for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. The existing development will be replaced with 3,000 units of mixed-income residential, including 600 units of elder housing. The design process includes significant collaboration and coordination with the Boston Housing Authority and current residents.

Clients:  Corcoran Jennison and SunCal

Scope of Work: up to 3,000 units of mixed-income residential

Scheduled Completion: phased through 2025

Check out this Boston Globe article.

Breaking Ground: Freedom House Community Center HQ

July 20, 2016 – 

Representatives from DREAM Collaborative and Janey Construction joined Mayor Martin J. Walsh to celebrate the ground breaking for Freedom House’s new community center headquarters. The project transforms the single-story, 8,440 sf Grove Hall Library building at 5 Crawford Street in Dorchester with an interior fit-out including office, technology lab, and teaching spaces, as well as envelope and roof repairs to the existing structure. The new facility will meet LEED standards for certification including high energy efficiency systems and materials, resulting in significantly reduced operating costs. Freedom House is a non-profit organization that provides youth programs aimed at transforming the economic and cultural fabric of high-need communities through education and leadership development.

Read more about the ground breaking at Freedom House at the City of Boston’s web site.  A rendering of the new facility can be seen here.

AIA’s 2016 Report on Diversity

Earlier this year, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) published a report on Diversity in the Profession of Architecture.

The AIA’s report concludes that, while improving, women and people of color continue to be underrepresented in the field.

Contributing Factors

According to the AIA’s survey, the key factors that contribute to the under-representation of people of color include:

  • difficulty affording the costs associated with a degree in architecture
  • few role models in architecture
  • knowledge of architecture as a career option.

The top factors cited for the under-representation of women were related to work-life balance and include long hours that make starting a family difficult and lack of flexibility related to schedules, job sharing, or working remotely.

Both women and people of color say they are less likely to be promoted to more senior positions. Gender and race are also obstacles to equal pay for comparable positions, but this is particularly so for women.


Both women and people of color in architecture would benefit from:

  • industry-funded scholarships
  • mentorship programs
  • clear written criteria for promotion
  • attracting more women professors and professors of color to teach in architecture programs.

According to the report, additional strategies for addressing the under-representation of people of color in architecture could include: outreach to middle and high school students and industry support for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA).

The top strategies for addressing the under-representation of women in the profession are promoting a change in culture that allows for better work-life balance and increasing options for flexibility.

Read the full report: AIA_DiversitySurvey_2016

New Partnership: MPDC

Dream Collaborative has kicked off a new partnership with Madision Park Development Corporation (MPDC) of Roxbury. The project at 2451 Washington Street consists of a 21-unit multifamily condominium building, supported by 23 surface parking spaces, and 6 townhouse condominium units with garage parking included in the unit. These two parts of the development will be connected by landscaped open space and garden areas. The project will bring job and home ownership opportunities for the community and will contribute to the continued revitalization of the Dudley Square neighborhood.

MPDC’s mission is to develop and preserve quality, mixed-income housing in Roxbury, and to promote the renaissance of Dudley Square as a thriving neighborhood business district, recognized as a center of commerce and culture that anchors the economic revitalization of Roxbury. DREAM Collaborative is proud to play a role in this important work.

End of Year Celebration

On Wednesday, December 9th DREAM Collaborative celebrated the season with an open house and networking event in our new, larger office space. Thank you to all of our colleagues, clients, and friends who attended and made the evening a success. A special thanks also to City Councilor Tito Jackson for joining us and for the inspirational words. We look forward to another year of engaging urban redevelopment work in 2016. Happy holidays and cheers to a wonderful new year ahead!

See Us Here: Supplier Diversity Best Practices Forum

DREAM Collaborative principal, Gregory Minott, will be one of the featured speakers at the 2015 Supplier Diversity Best Practices Forum at Fenway Park on Wednesday, November 18th from 8am to 12 noon. Presented by the Boston MBDA Business Center, GNEMSDC, and the Center for Women & Enterprise, the purpose of the 7th Annual event is two-fold: (1) provide tools and resources for women and minority-owned firms to grow their businesses, and (2) provide the necessary information for public and private sector leaders to implement or enhance their organization’s supplier diversity program.

Speakers include: Ronald Walker (Secretary of Labor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts), Raul Suarez-Rodriguez (CVS Health), Tatiana Paredes (St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center), Gregory Minott (DREAM Collaborative), Jennie Peterson (Wynn MA, LLC), Roy Pederson (Jacobs), Reggie Nunnally (Massachusetts Diversity Coalition) & others!

New Mixed-Income Housing Coming to Charlestown

DREAM Collaborative is pleased to announce a new project! We will be joining forces with Stantec / ADD Inc.  to replace 1,100 units of housing in Charlestown with up to 3,000 units of mixed-income residential, including 600 units of elderly housing. The clients for the project are Corcoran Jennison and the national developer SunCal. See our Portfolio for the latest project information as well as this Boston Globe article.


View down Monument Street toward the Bunker Hill Monument