Renaissance Lofts was designed and built with the environment in mind.
The adaptive reuse, of one of Marlborough's wonderful old buildings, was the first and most important step, in lessening the impact on the environment, when creating new housing.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
During construction, waste was sorted and recycled whenever possible. Many tons of scrap metal were taken out for reuse. Unpainted wood scrap was sorted and recycled. Mountains of corrugated cardboard and construction packing material were separated and recycled.
Care was taken in choosing low VOC (volatile organic compounds) products whenever possible.
The interior brick walls had been painted many times through the years. They were sandblasted to bring back the classic warmth of a red brick wall. The brick was then sealed. The wall's thicknesses range, from twelve to twenty four inches of solid brick.
The old steel, tip-in windows were removed and replaced with thermo-paned, argon filled, low-e coated, double hung windows. The manufacturer is Windsor. The frames are wooden and a black aluminum cladding protects the exterior for low maintenance. The windows were custom made for the sizes of the openings. They have a U-factor of 0.33.
The dramatic high ceilings and large window openings provided both an opportunity and a challenge in creating a space that was not just visually pleasing but energy efficient.
An interior portion of the Building was removed to form the Courtyard. The goal was to provide air and natural light to the center of the space and to the Lofts that ring the courtyard. Much of the Building's circulation (corridors and entries to Lofts) is outdoors, in the courtyard. This eliminates the need for air-conditioning and heating space that people do not really use, thus reducing energy consumption and condo fees.
The fact that the courtyard is outdoors provides other challenges. It is exposed to the elements. A covering was built for the walkways using corrugated fiberglass roofing panels. This acts as an umbrella, while still allowing the light to pass through.
The entire slab on the lower level was removed to allow plumbing and electrical to be buried as well as new catch basins and storm drains to carry rainwater and melting snow from the Building.
The new exterior walls that were built surrounding the courtyard were both insulated and "outsulated". They have fiberglass batt insulation between the studs and rigid foam insulation installed on the outside surface of the studs. This provides an uninterrupted blanket of insulation for these exterior walls. Then sheathing and cedar siding were installed for the finish.
The rubber roof was installed with layers of rigid insulation beneath the rubber ranging from 3.5" to 8", tapered, for directing water to roof drains.
In some sections of the Building, it was necessary to frame interior walls against masonry foundation walls. Here we made use of “Isoneyne” insulation. This is an expanding, spray foam insulation with an excellent r-value. It seals completely all of the gaps in is not subject to the usual problems with condensation and need for a vapor barrier.
There is a common roof deck, with plants and environmentally friendly roof deck tiles, which helps to cut down on excessive heat gain from the black rubber roof. The intention, over time, is to build more private roof decks for the Lofts on the third floor. Several have begun to take advantage of that option. This will both decrease the Air Conditioning load on the Loft below and make use of some of the rain water, lessening the load on the city storm drain system.
Each Loft has a 95% efficiency rated Polaris gas water heater. This state of the art water heater, has a stainless tank and quick recovery design, making it suitable to act as both a boiler for space heating and the water heater for potable water.
On the first floor, In the new slabs radiant heat was installed. Thousands of feet of PEX tubing were run, with Insultarp insulation blankets below. Each Loft on the first floor has a heat exchanger and circulator line run from the Polaris water heater. The hot water circulates through the heat exchanger heating the water that is then circulated through the tubing in the floors of the Unit. This provides an even, extremely comfortable and energy efficient heat with no visible source, to decorate around.
Heat on the top two floors, is again provided by Polaris water heaters, but this time the hot water is circulated through an air handler. The exposed spiral ductwork is all contained within each Loft. A problem with much ductwork on hot air systems in the typical home is the leakage of hot air from seams and lack of insulation for ductwork housed in attics and basements. The air handler and ductwork, also provide cooling with a properly sized condenser on the roof using an environmentally friendly coolant.
The forced hot air systems, have programmable thermostats, and Lofts with more that one floor of living space have the system zoned by floor.
Bathrooms come equipped with an extremely quiet fan on both a timer and a switch (an Energy Star Homes requirement). The fan is intended to run at desired times throughout the day causing the interior air to be exchanged regularly.
The Kitchens are furnished with Energy Star rated appliances which include: a Bosch stainless dishwasher, Bosch stainless gas stove, as well as, stainless hoods, microwave ovens and garbage disposals. Lighting throughout the Building is provided by CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs for the majority of the fixtures and the remainder are halogens and LEDs.
The hallways in common areas are covered with carpet tiles made of recycled materials. They are easy to maintain and individually replace if needed and can be once again recycled into more carpeting if they are no longer required.
Most of the Lofts have a polished concrete floor. We have made use of an acid stain for the concrete, which comes in a variety of colors and allows for beautiful designs. Each Loft has had the new Owner’s input in the design and finish of the floor. The concrete was installed to dampen the sound between floors. An acoustically engineered system was installed over the existing deck, then plywood and plastic and a layer of concrete, which floats and absorbs much of the impact noise of the living space above. This made it possible to leave the structure exposed for the ceiling below.
The two models, where there is no living space below, bamboo flooring was chosen as the finish floor. This flooring is a ¾" tongue and groove, strand-woven bamboo, nailed down. Bamboo is a rapid growing grass, therefore easily renewable source of beautiful flooring. It has a tough durable finish and can be used in areas where dampness would make hardwoods less desirable.
Every effort was made to choose and use materials thoughtfully, to waste as little as possible, to reuse what could be reused and to recycled whenever possible. For example: The deck boards (3'-1/2" thick) that were removed when opening up the center area for the courtyard were kept to create the planters that are at the entry and on the roof.
Renaissance Lofts / 406 Lincoln St, Marlborough, MA 01752 / tel. 508-251-1466
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