Building Resilience to Combat Climate Change

NASA describes climate change as “a long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates”. Sea levels are rising, weather events are more extreme, and greenhouse gas emissions are at their highest levels in history. Scientists believe the shift in weather patterns is created predominantly by burning fossil fuels, which add heat-trapping gases to Earth’s atmosphere. In the West, hotter temperatures combined with less precipitation have contributed to extremely dry soil and vegetation. The recent wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington, which have ravaged millions of acres of land, are the latest indicators of climate change.

In Boston, it is expected that climate change will lead to a significant increase in both sea levels and storm surge activity by mid-century. Many buildings along Boston Harbor are located at or below sea level. These buildings are at significant risk for water-related damage, which can impact the structures and their mechanical systems.

The Building – The Artist Building at 300 Summer Street Cooperative Corporation (Corporation), a group of Boston-based artists, has taken proactive steps to protect its live-work space from the water-related impacts of climate change. The Artist Building at 300 Summer Street is a historic structure located in Boston’s Innovation District. It was built in 1898 as a warehouse for Boston’s wool trade. In 1995, the property was developed as a limited equity cooperative to provide affordable housing for artists. It is comprised of 47 live‐work spaces for artists and 7 arts‐related commercial condominiums. In addition to the lofts and condos, the building contains basement dark rooms and storage, a roof deck, a mezzanine level gallery, and a restaurant tenant. 

The Work – To address sea level changes and storm surge resilience, the Corporation hired Jones Payne to execute a feasibility study. Jones Payne conducted an extensive review of the building’s systems to determine any potential mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection (MEP/FP) code issues and ADA compliance. Our team provided recommendations of the existing boilers and chiller in their current locations, along with relocation of the boilers to the mezzanine level or rooftop. We also reviewed the existing MEP/FP systems for code conformance, providing options for their relocation from the building’s A Street level.

Improving Resilience – Scientists believe that climate events (floods, fires, droughts, wind, and excessive cold and heat) will only increase in the future. Therefore, it is critical to build resilience into the places where we live, work and play. Jones Payne has a long history of protecting buildings from water and other climate-related impacts. We design and implement measures that increase energy efficiency and improve the resiliency of structures. Our hope is to help building owners and managers protect their assets long into the future, contributing to healthy, robust and thriving communities.

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