solar panels on roof




REALIZE-MA is RMI’s accelerator for zero carbon deep energy retrofits in Massachusetts. REALIZE-MA aims to catalyze the zero-carbon building revolution for existing buildings. We focus on affordable, low-income housing to ensure that populations most in need benefit from the transition off of fossil fuels.

Why Zero-Carbon Deep Energy Retrofits Matter to Massachusetts

Why Zero-Carbon Deep Energy Retrofits Matter to Massachusetts

Massachusetts is ideally positioned to roll out zero-carbon deep energy retrofits at scale. The Commonwealth is in the midst of a housing crisis, which is compounded by heating and cooling extremes that result in high energy bills. Massachusetts also has some of the oldest natural gas infrastructure in the country, with one out of every four miles of gas mains installed before 1940. The overall age of the infrastructure, as well as tragic events such as the Merrimack Valley explosions, necessitates major ongoing investments in natural gas infrastructure.

While investments in fossil fuels continue, the Commonwealth and the City of Boston have raised the bar on addressing the climate crisis with groundbreaking policies, including the 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap, the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030, and the City of Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO).

What if instead of rebuilding old fossil fuel infrastructure, we put those resources to work to decarbonize buildings and make Massachusetts buildings more resilient? REALIZE-MA aims to provide comprehensive retrofit solutions for housing that address a wealth of issues around climate, housing security, health, energy burden, climate resilience, and financial well-being. Rather than doubling down on replacing a fossil fuel delivery network that’s becoming more expensive even as the need for climate action grows more urgent, REALIZE eliminates fossil fuels from housing altogether. In doing so, residents of zero-carbon deep energy retrofit properties benefit from the better indoor air quality that comes from improved ventilation and the elimination of fossil fuel combustion in homes; improved thermal comfort; and resilience due to enhanced insulation in the case of extended power outages.

To see deep energy retrofits under construction, check out this short PBS segment.

Retrofit Package Illustration

What We are Doing in Massachusetts

1,000 Apartment Challenge

REALIZE-MA is organizing a pipeline of affordable housing properties that will dramatically reduce carbon emissions through carbon deep energy retrofits. The goal is to have 1,000 multifamily apartments under renovation by 2023 in Massachusetts. REALIZE-MA provides owners assistance in identifying deep energy retrofit buildings. While the program does not provide direct capital support, it does share gap financing options for additional costs above a standard rehab, and it matches owners with manufacturers, designers, and contractors for project execution. Ideal candidate building(s) are those already scheduled for a major rehab. For example, a great candidate would be a 4 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) project or a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) conversion where window, roof, mechanical, and/or siding replacements are already scheduled.


building retrofit

Demonstration Sites

REALIZE-MA is dramatically cutting carbon in existing low- and mid-rise multifamily housing in Massachusetts. The solutions we are testing are designed to be standardized and transferable across the most common multifamily building types in Massachusetts. The projects are achieving deep carbon savings, while improving health, comfort, and affordability for residents.

Tremont apartment building
Eva White

Eva White in Boston will decrease its energy consumption by 65% with a super insulated integrated exterior panel, all electric mechanicals, and heat recovery ventilation.

electric power lines row of houses
Hano Homes

Hano Homes in Boston will achieve Passive House by utilizing a super insulated low embodied carbon exterior insulation panel with hemp insulation. It will be all electric with heat recovery ventilation and powered with solar PV.


REALIZE-MA partners

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