Worcester Business Journal: Stretched too far: Advocates worry Worcester’s new environmentally friendly building codes will hinder life sciences development

Oct 17, 2023

By Timothy Doyle, Worcester Business Journal

This is an excerpt from a story that was originally published in the Worcester Business Journal on October 16, 2023:

Biotech space, for safety reasons, must cycle out 100% of its air every 10 minutes. Weaver said a building’s temperature can be maintained when the outside temperature is down to 20 degrees, but below 20 degrees, the building needs a gas-powered system. He said having systems that can maintain interior temperatures down to negative 4 degrees could add 10% to 15% to a project’s cost.

“The way the code’s written,” said Weaver. “It’s just asking for a technological standard that’s just not ready yet, and there’s going to be some casualties in the period until that technology advances.”

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, which is a nonprofit group advocating for life sciences companies and development, said meeting stretch code requirements is not always feasible for life sciences.

“Our members always have sustainability on their minds, including energy efficiency,” MassBio spokesman Ben Bradford said in an emailed statement. “That said, the nature of their life-saving work requires energy consumption that may not yet be feasible through renewable energy resources.”

While stretch codes developments have the option to be gas powered, they must make an effort to add solar power to the development. That is something that Weaver says is difficult because the HVAC requirements on the roof leave little space for solar panels.

MassBio sees a need to expand the biotech industry into regional clusters outside of the Metro Boston area and is doing all it can to help communities grow these clusters, Bradford said.

“For Worcester, a city looking to further create an environment in which life sciences companies can scale but lacking supply of any move-in ready or planned stock, adding new regulations will only dissuade the development their emerging sector so badly wants,” he said.

Read the full story at wbjournal.com.

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