156 Highland Street

156-160 Highland Street, Roxbury, Boston, MA 02138
Parcel Area: 9,133 SF
Total Project Size: +/-5050SF


Site Conditions

Fronting Highland Street, the site gradually slopes up Highland Street and becomes flat.

Adjacent Uses

Residential uses with one and two family wood frame and brick buildings, and brick row house buildings surround the site.


3F-4000 / 2F-5000, as shown on Map 6D of the Boston Zoning Maps in the Roxbury Crossing District.


Developer/Design Manager

EPLUS Solutions, LLC /Sage Builders LLC

Architect of Record

Nickerson Design Services

General Contractor

Placetailor, Inc.

Landscape Architect

Transformations Inc. (Jeff Richards)

LEED Consultant


Energy Consultant

DEAP Energy

Green Rate/LEED for Homes Provider


Site Engineer

Design Consultants. Inc (DCI)

Solar Provider

SunBug Solar


Vision Statement

Market Rate/Affordable Net Zero Housing

Create net zero, energy-positive, and environmentally sustainable multi-family housing that stands as a model of responsible, contextual residential development, that can lead to a change in the market place in the future.

Challenging the idea that Net Zero Homes need to be made with ultra-modern, high end materials created the basis for the design of this project. The Goal was to promote energy efficiency housing that is easily accessible to residents, using commonly found products, with high energy ratings.By looking at energy efficiency as something that is attainable across all price levels, rather than a costly goal, residents can begin to see that energy efficiency is not out of reach. The use of easily accessible products will help give the realization that Net Zero housing and its increased health and comfort levels, can be achieved without the high cost, making it more attractive, accessible and competitive in the housing market.

General Description

Contextually designed, energy efficient homes fit seamlessly into the Roxbury neighborhood, while incorporating sustainable materials and techniques that allow the buildings to operate at a net energy positive level throughout the year.

The site consists of two buildings. The building further from the street is a stacked two unit home. Each dwelling had 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. The top unit is approximately 1,600 SF, which includes a conditioned but unfinished third-floor. The first floor unit is smaller, at 850 SF. The Greek revival house closer to highland st, is a townhouse style structure, also with two units. In this building both units are 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and are approximately 1300 SF, excluding the basement space.

The pitched roofs serve to maximize the available roof space for Photo Voltaic solar panels, that produce enough energy to offset all onsite energy use and even provide excess energy.

Passive Features

  • Passive Solar
    The southern facade is glazed to take advantage of solar heat gain in the winter. Deep overhangs and window depths reduce heat gain in the summer months.
  • Daylighting
    Daylighting is maximized to reduce reliance on artificial lighting.
  • Super-Insulated and Airtight Building Envelope
    Ceiling/Roof (153 & 154): 16’’ dense-packed cellulose (+/-R60)
    Ceiling/Roof (156): 4″ closed-cell sprayed polyurethane foam (SPF) plus 10″ open cell SPF (+/-R60)
    Wall construction: 12” double stud wall fixed with dense-packed cellulose (+/-R-43)
    Windows:High Performance triple glazed, U value 0.180; SHGC 0.210
    Foundation : Insulated Concrete forms (+/-R23)
    Under Slab : 4″ fly ash concrete slab over 3″ Type IX EPS foam with 15 mil polyethylene vapor barrier
    Blower Door Test : Air Infiltration was measured at 0.5 CFM 50 (cubic feet per minute at 50 pascals pressure differential)
    HERS Ratings : -22 to -14 (standard building code requires 55)
  • Passive Ventilation
    Via manual operable windows
  • Site Water Management
    Rainwater is captured in dry wells.
    Drought-resistant native plantings and minimal amounts of grass are used to decrease the need for water and maintenance.
    Energy Star HVAC Mechanical Systems
  • Controlled Ventilation
    Renewaire EV90P, 44W at 86% efficiency Energy Recovery Ventilators (EVR) for each unit with supplies to bedrooms and living spaces and exhaust returns from bathrooms; kitchen range hood exhaust to exterior.
  • Heating and Cooling
    Mitsubishi H2i Ductless MUZ-FH09NA, 15.5 SHEER, 10 HSPF
    Domestic Hot water
    AO Smith heat pump water heaters
  • Water Saving Features
    Ultra-efficient, watersense showerheads, faucets and fixtures are used throughout.

    • Hansgrohe Logis Loop, bathroom faucet (1.2 gpm)
    • Grohe Tempesta, showerhead
    • Grohe “Concetto,” kitchen faucet
    • Kohler Highline Toilet (1.29 gpf)
  • Solar PV/Energy Features
    96, LG 330 PV panels (Model NeON2) with an module efficiency of 19.26%
    Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging station ready
    LED lighting fixtures
  • Appliances
    Electrolux 30″ free standing induction range
    Electrolux side by side stainless steel refrigerator
    Electrolux 24″ stainless steel dishwasher
    Whirlpool condensing heat pump dryers
  • Materials
    Durable, cementitious siding (extremely fire resistant)
    Low VOC content in materials and finishes
    Natural oak and Bamboo Flooring


Zoning Approval March 2012
Building Permit Approval Summer 2017
Land Closing/Construction Start October 2016
Construction Complete September 2017
Sales/Closing November 2017 (154 Highland)
February 2018 (152,156,158 Highland)





  • Integrating design process, careful planning and execution
  • “Keep it Simple”
  • Easy to build Easy to Operate
  • Durable products locally sourced
  • Being patient is essential
  • Onsite quality control is essential
  • Education of all involved in development process, from leaders to workers to home buyers
  • It is necessary to be exact when designing and building an energy efficient home
  • Using durable, readily available materials while still choosing energy efficient models, is important in creating a home that is accessible and appealing in the market