Fort Devens: Cold Climate Market-Rate Townhomes Targeting HERS Index of 40, Harvard, Massachusetts (Fact Sheet)

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


Achieving aggressive energy efficiency targets requires tight coordination and clear communication among owners, designers, builders, and subcontractors. For this townhome project, MassDevelopment, the quasi-governmental agency owner, selected Metric Development of Boston, teaming with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Consortium for Advanced Residential Buildings (CARB) and Cambridge SevenArchitects, to build very high performing market-rate homes. Fort Devens is part of a decommissioned army base in working-class Harvard, Massachusetts, approximately one hour northwest of Boston. The team proposed 12 net zero energy-ready townhomes, meaning that the application of renewable energy systems would result in annual net zero energy use in the homes. The homes were also designed toachieve a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index Score of 41 before adding renewables. For this project, CARB drew on its experience working with Rural Development Inc. on a series of affordable townhomes in northern Massachusetts. The team carefully planned the site to maximize solar access, daylighting, and efficient building forms. The basic strategy was to design a very efficient thermalenclosure while minimizing incremental cost increases compared with standard construction. Using BEopt modeling software, the team established the requirements of the enclosure and investigated multiple assembly options. They settled on double-wall construction with dense-pack cellulose fill. High performance vinyl windows (U-0.24, solar heat gain coefficient [SHGC]-0.22), a vented R-59 attic,and exceptional air sealing completed the package.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5500-60145

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102013-4058


  • air sealing
  • air tight envelope
  • Building America
  • compact HVAC design
  • double stud walls
  • EE
  • energy efficiency
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • solar site-planning
  • townhome
  • triplex


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