Green Silver: Taking the LEED

The following is an excerpt from our Spring 2015 South End Stakeholders' Report, a report on the state of the South End real estate market and a glimpse into life in our neighborhood. You can download the full report here.

Environmental awareness is a trait that South Enders Mark and Etta have instilled in their family: two of their four children work in agriculture and are deeply committed to environmental issues, and one is currently building a straw bale house in Western Massachusetts. When the couple purchased their South End townhouse in 2007, they knew they wanted to go green.

Three years later, Mark and Etta became the proud owners of Boston's first single-family residence to earn a Silver Level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The couple admits their 4,000-square-foot home conversion would have been much more difficult to undertake 14 years ago, when they were seeking green products for their home on the Cape. Today there are a far greater number of products and services available to homeowners at lower costs. Architects, engineers, and builders are also now more environmentally aware.

The five-story Victorian brownstone serves as a reference point for environmentally conscious owners of historic homes throughout the city. Low-e glass windows were custom designed to be both energy efficient and deemed historically accurate by the South End Landmark District Commission. Etta's pride and joy, a green roof planted with perennial sedum to keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, won the Mayor's Green Roof Award in 2011.

About the LEED certification, Mark explained, "We weren't necessarily making the choices we did in order to get certified. We were making them either way." What was important to the couple was creating a comfortable and energy-efficient home using non-toxic, renewable materials.

Thank you for taking the LEED, Mark and Etta!


  • Forest Stewardship Certification (FSC): An indicator of sustainably harvested lumber.
  • American Clay: A glittering mix of clay, pigment, crushed marble, and seashells used in the plaster process to improve air quality and repel dirt and mold.
  • Low-Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Paint: Lacks the toxic vapors in regular paint.
  • Hard Wax Oil: A breathable oil product that penetrates wood and leaves behind a silky-matte, warm finish. Easily spot repaired.
  • Paper Stone: A green alternative for counter- tops made from 50% to 100% post-consumer recycled paper and petroleum-free resin. 

Builder: Payne/Bouchier 

Architect: Amory Architects

Photographer: Greg Premru

Find this story and more in our Spring 2015 South End Stakeholders's Report. Read all about the latest real estate trends, forecasts, and an in-depth look at the South End community.