311 Summer Street

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2010
Average Rating:       (0 Ratings)
311 Summer Street building

Fast Facts

Address: Boston, Mass.
Company/Developer: 311 Summer Street LLC
Project Specs: Retrofit/Major Renovation
Project Type: Office, Showroom and Retail
Square Feet: 67,000

Project History: Built in 1904, 311 Summer Street was one of the early commercial buildings in the Boston Wharf District, and the new home of the Dwinell-Wright Coffee Company. The building was designed by Boston Wharf Company’s architect Morton D. Safford and is a splendid example of Summer Street’s Classical Revival Style. When Dwinell-Wright fell into decline, the building became home to the Forte, Dupee, Sawyer Textile Company, who left in 2000.

The property was purchased in 2007 by 311 Summer Street LLC and repositioned for office and retail use while preserving the historic character of the building. The building was rehabilitated so that it can once again be the home of the best of contemporary technology within a building that is timeless and beautifully restored. 311 Summer Street is one of very few LEED Platinum Commercial Interiors in Boston.

Commitment to Sustainability

ADD Inc strongly believes that sustainable design enhances the value of a real estate asset. Every project benefits from solutions that address user health, climate change and energy efficiency. Nearly 70 percent of our technical staff is LEED accredited. We have achieved varying levels of LEED certification on eight projects, with over a dozen more currently designed for certification.

The sustainable design strategy aimed to provide the most energy efficient and ecologically friendly workspace and to serve as a model of our firm’s sustainable design expertise. We moved from Cambridge to Boston, closer to the city center and public transportation. We purchased a beautiful but poorly maintained historic building that had windows on three of four walls—perfect for natural daylighting and ventilation. Our goal was to combine preservation with sustainability at the highest ‘mutually agreeable’ level (wind turbines did not pass the muster of the historic district!) and to do it on a shoestring budget.

Green Features 

Economic Analysis

  • The building is listed on the national register of historic places, and as a critical component of the financial feasibility, we pursued the State and Federal Historical Tax Credit program to defray a portion of the renovation cost. Tax credits were awarded with a value of about $5 million bringing the total renovation costs including interior fit-up for ADD Inc’s offices to $194 SF.
  • ADD Inc leases approximately 50 percent of the space. Current tenancy also includes tenants ranging from 1,500 to 7,000 SF. The building is currently 90% leased.
  • Operating costs are below $7/foot as a direct result of the certification. The lease rates start in the $25 to $32 range. Over the next 10 years, average rents will be greater than $31, with some average rents close to $38 RSF. The total cash flow will be about $2.5m per year with a net cash flow after operating costs and taxes of about $2m. An anticipated ROI will exceed 25% over the next 10 years.  
311 Summer Street meeting space

Site Sustainability/Materials Use 

  • In order to minimize the environmental impact which results from the transportation of products and materials, 71 percent of the products in the building were manufactured locally and over 22 percent of these are derived from materials extracted from within 500 miles of Boston.
  • To promote responsible forestry practices, 94 percent of the new wood came from FSC-certified sources in Montreal, Louisiana, and Oregon. These FSC-certified materials include the plywood, lumber, and interior architectural woodwork.
  • To help decrease the demand for virgin materials, 28 percent of our total material cost is recycled content. Our workstations (100 percent recycled fiber board), carpets (40 percent recycled content), dimpled metal studs (37 percent post-consumer recycled content), and our gypsum wall board (contains 95 percent pre-consumer recycled content) are but a few of the high recycled content materials employed in this project.
  • We recycled 81 percent of the construction and demolition waste generated during the renovation of this building, which diverted 1,008 tons of waste from a landfill.
  • Fifty-three percent of the furniture in our space is reused from our previous office, diverting additional waste from landfills and minimizing the use of virgin materials in the manufacturing of new products. Our goal was to repurpose as many of the materials removed from the building as possible. Heavy timber beams were re-milled and incorporated in the design of the reception desk. Sliding steel doors and other materials were donated to the local artist community.
  • We selected paper towel and soap dispensers that generate two-thirds less waste than typical dispensers. Our extensive office recycling program includes all paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metals.  

Energy Efficiency

  • The new office is projected to use 54 percent less energy for heating, air conditioning, lighting and equipment than our former office, thus reducing our CO2 emissions by over 370,000 lbs per year.
  • Daylight sensors on the workspace lighting fixtures and occupancy sensors in the conference rooms and bathrooms reduce our lighting energy consumption. High efficiency lamps and ballasts were used to decrease overall lighting energy consumption by 20 percent over code requirements.
  • To ensure and verify the design of our building systems, ADD Inc hired an independent commissioning authority to perform enhanced commissioning for 8-10 months after completion.
  • We investigated several options for onsite renewable energy generation on the roof but an adjacent building expansion compromised the feasibility of photovoltaic panels and the Mass. Historic Commission rejected wind turbines. Since onsite renewable energy wasn’t an option, we purchased Green-e  Certified Renewable Energy Credits for 50 percent of our energy consumption for two years, equaling 604,336 kWh of clean energy.
  • Air distribution and controls are zoned for each solar exposure of the building to increase thermal comfort and reduce energy consumption. New operable windows allow for increased thermal comfort control for occupants. All offices and conference rooms have temperature controls via thermostats and operable windows.  
311 Summer Street office space 

Water Efficiency

  • Dual-flush toilets and low-flow fixtures with aerators reduce water consumption by 40 percent over standard plumbing fixtures, saving over 176,000 gallons of water annually.
  • No irrigation is required to maintain the site, which is 43 percent pervious stone dust. Native New England birch trees were planted and reclaimed seawall granite blocks function as benches. Light-colored site paving and a white TPO roof membrane serve to reduce the heat island effect.


  • Our Green Housekeeping program promotes the use of non-hazardous cleaning chemicals that meet the Green Seal Standard, and includes a recycling program of paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum and plastic materials.
  • We encourage the use of public transportation and carpooling. The site was chosen for its proximity to a subway, bus and commuter rail station. The building has bike storage, showers and lockers, and we promote an employee carpooling program.
  • Our office has educational signage throughout the building that describes the green design elements and achieved sustainable goals. Our Web site showcases a case study of the project with photos and details detailing the integration of historic and sustainable features.
  • Through the use of keyboard trays, adjustable computer monitors, ergonomic chairs and individual task lighting, each employee can customize his or her space for a more comfortable work environment.