Triple Decker Design Challenge

Community Event

Hosting Organization: 


Event Date: 

Friday, November 6, 2020








Invitation for Proposals Launched!

MassCEC’s Triple Decker Design Challenge is soliciting proposals from design/build firms, architects, and other qualified applicants to identify replicable and scalable all-electric triple-decker energy retrofit approaches.The program seeks to set a new and scalable standard for transitioning these iconic New England dwellings into high-performing, low-carbon buildings.

With support from The Barr Foundation, MassCEC will be awarding 9 winning submissions, ranging from $15,000 to $25,000, with a $10,000 People's Choice Award. Student teams are invited to compete for a winning prize of $5,000.

The Triple Decker Design Challenge includes two tracks:

  • The Triple Decker Retrofit Design invites proposals focused on a deep energy retrofit using an existing triple decker layout;
  • The 3+ Retrofit Design invites proposals focused adding additional unit(s) to an existing triple decker, in addition to an energy retrofit of the entire structure.

Submissions must be submitted to Completed submissions must be received no later than Monday, November 6, 2020 at 5pm EST.

Goals of the design challenge:

  • Explore approaches to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 in existing residential buildings
  • Identify replicable solutions to a key challenge identified in the Energy and Environmental Affairs Deep Decarbonization study: balancing weatherization, heat pump sizing, and peak demand in existing building retrofit approahces
  • Leverage interest in one of the region’s most recognizable housing typologies while showcasing the design and engineering excellence in the region
  • Educate and mobilize the high performance building sector to focus on the unique challenge posed by existing building retrofit work
  • Identify regulatory barriers to implementing retrofits, which will help launch important conversations with relevant local economic development, planning and building code officials about how to support and accelerate high performance retrofit projects, while informing future state and utility building energy performance policy, program, and incentive structures
  • Catalyze collaboration between MassCEC, MassSave, State Agencies, and Municipalities to discuss implementation of the proposed projects

Why Focus on Triple Deckers:

Triple Deckers are one of the most predominant, widely recognized, iconic residential building typologies in Massachusetts. Tens of thousands of triple deckers were built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries across New England, with an estimated 8,900 in Boston, 4,000 in Fall River, 4,000 in Worcester, and many others in Lowell, Lawrence, and other communities, as an economic means of housing the thousands of newly-arrived immigrant workers who filled the factories of the area. These typically three story, wood framed structures consist of three apartments with generally identical floor plans and a mix of flat and gable roofs.

Many are owner occupied, some are investor owned, and many have been converted to condominums. But all share building retrofit challenges and opportunities. The Triple Decker Design Challenge will harness building energy retrofit technical expertise and design excellence to help identify scalable renovation and electrification strategies that will ultimately transform Massachusetts’ built environment.

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