Case study

Boston’s Healthy and Green Retrofit Pilot

UPDATED: 12/12/2023


Project Name: Boston’s Healthy and Green Retrofit Pilot

Project Leader(s): City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Housing

Partner(s): Abode Energy Management, City of Boston’s Environment Department

Stage of Completion: In-progress

Construction Type: Existing buildings

Building Type: Multi-family

Total Number of Units Targeted: 100 units

Total Number of Units Completed: None yet

Tenant Structure: Owner-occupied buildings: within a building, you have at least one owner-occupied unit, and the rest will be tenant-occupied units

Target Audience:

  • Owner-occupied, income-eligible (at or below 120% AMI, less than $75k in assets, excluding government, education, and retirement accounts and also excluding primary residence), two-to-four-unit homes. Additionally, the building owners must rent units at 80% of AMI (rents are not higher for limits you would see for an area with 80% AMI). Rent levels are posted on the pilot website. Focusing on affordable rents, verifying with affordable rents. Not verifying tenant income. 

  • Buildings will be selected through a lottery which building owners apply into.

Electrification Project Scope

Full/Partial Electrification:

  • Partial (based on onsite assessment of building conditions, decarbonization opportunities, and a budget standpoint) (custom plan for each building) 

  • Priority will be to address health and safety issues (knob and tube, asbestos, etc.), which is expected based on the relative age of most of eligible buildings

  • Building owners will end up with a road map to full electrification.

Existing Heating Fuel Type: Gas, heating oil, electric resistance

End Uses Electrified:

  • Options include: Space heating and cooling, water heating, cooking, clothes drying

  • One requirement is all buildings will be getting heat pumps, and the Office of Housing will be pushing for electric stoves/cooking

Specific electric appliances installed: At a minimum, air-source heat pumps


Total Project Funding: $5 million

Amount or % of Project Cost Covered per unit:

  • Providing up to $50,000 for hard costs per unit

  • Additional funding for soft costs includes assessment, bidding, construction management, and scope

  • Will be incorporating state and IRA incentives on top

Source of Funding:

  • American Rescue Plan Act

  • Coordinating incentives from Mass Save and funds from the IRA (through State Department of Energy Resources)

More information

Motivation for electrification:

  • The goal of this project is to achieve the city’s carbon neutrality aspirations to create a greener, healthier future for all Bostonians. Lower-income Bostonians often bear the higher burdens of climate change and climate impacts and are often the last to access resources to address these burdens. The city hopes to create a program to support affordable housing development that creates higher resiliency and lowers carbon footprints. These measures will make peoples’ homes safer, cleaner, and more comfortable. 

  • Avoid displacements from the investments made.

Additional Measures Implemented: This is dependent on the onsite assessment. The program is taking a holistic whole-building approach. They will look at addressing health and safety issues, making the building envelope more efficient, and electrifying when and where they can. Electrification is part of an upgraded building framework but not the standalone piece of the project. They will leave the owner with information on what else can be done to electrify the building. The electrification plan will include information on solar, onsite battery storage, and vehicle charging. They will provide owners with technical assistance and allow them to take it on.

Workforce Development/Green Jobs Component: Seeking to make this part of Boston’s Green New Deal, which addresses system inequity in the City of Boston. This isn’t only for folks living in the buildings but also for the workforce to upgrade Boston’s building stock. The funds can be used to drive the growth of an equitable, clean building sector. They are working with partners within the City of Boston (government partners) and non-government partners, focusing on equitable procurement and construction practices and thinking about how there can be a strong emphasis on putting minority-owned contractors at the center of the work. The goal is that the building force looks like the city of Boston’s residents, who are diverse.

Next steps:

  • The office finished the lottery in October of 2023. Once lottery applicants have confirmed their eligibility, onsite assessments will begin along with the development of the Green Retrofit Plan. Once that is done, city staff will work with the building owners to refine the scope of work for their buildings. The Boston Home Center will bid out the scope of work to contractors. 

  • The second cohort selection will be selected during the first quarter of 2024. 

  • Contractor selection and bidding


Links to additional sources:

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