Before The Macallen Building opened in July 2007, Boston residents who wanted to live the green life had few options. In fact, the 14-story, 354,000-square-foot con-do project was the city's first LEED-certified residential property, earning LEED Gold from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Spanning an entire city block, the 139-unit Macallen Building is a key piece of South Boston's revitalization. The building's distinct massing responds to the shift in scale between the west side, where it is seen as part of the Boston skyline, and the east side, which extends into South Boston, according to Nader Tehrani, principal of Office dA, the Boston-based architecture firm that designed The Macallen Building.

“The Macallen is a very different building, and people either love it or hate it,” says Jason Burrell, senior project manager in the Boston office of Bovis Lend Lease, the project's general contractor. “Regardless of how they feel about it, everyone understands that it represents green building. The building really starts the dialogue about green.”

The Macallen Building features innovative green technologies that will save more than 600,000 gallons of water annually, while consuming 30 percent less electricity than a conventional building. In addition, significant amounts of natural and recycled materials were used throughout, including cotton insulation, bamboo flooring, recycled natural fiber carpet, cork, linoleum, and recycled steel.

The most challenging sustainable feature, however, was the project's planted green roof, which reduces the project's heat island effect and also provides stormwater run-off relief and functional insulation, Burrell says. Because the roof had a 20-degree slope, Bovis Lend Lease had to use a new product called Gardnet to make sure the dirt and grass didn't slide off the building. “[It] gets people talking about how to build sustainably,” Burrell adds.

Fast Facts Developer: Pappas Enterprises

Architect: Office dA

Builder: Bovis Lend Lease

Opened: July 2007

No. of Units: 140

Unit Mix: Studio, one-, two-, and three-bedrooms

Prices: $500,000 to $2 million