The Passive House Design Challenge has awarded 8 projects for a total of 540 housing units. It is currently closed to additional applicants.

MassCEC seeks to demonstrate that multi-family affordable housing that meets Passive House standards can be built at a low- to no-cost premium in Massachusetts. The Passive House Design Challenge made awards of up to $4,000 per unit for 8 new construction affordable housing developments that are seeking Massachusetts Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Grant awardees will need to track the incremental cost of proceeding with Passive House design as compared to the design required by Massachusetts Building Code.



Passive House Design Challenge Awardees

$1.73M was awarded through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Passive House Design Challenge program, part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s $15 million Affordable Access for Clean and Efficient Energy (AACEE) initiative. The grants, awarded to 8 affordable housing developments in Cambridge, Gloucester, Hanson, Northampton, Holbrook and Boston totaling 540 high-efficiency units, provide energy savings and improved indoor air quality for low-income households. 



Firm and Project Location Description Award
Beacon Communities Old Colony Phase Three C South Boston

As part of the third phase of the redevelopment of Old Colony, the project provides affordable housing for vulnerable seniors at extremely low energy use and 55 new apartments.  The building will feature much less drafty apartments with at least four times lower air infiltration rates than would be required by code, high levels of ventilation with heat recovery equipment, and attention to creating thermal breaks in the walls and roof to improve energy performance.

Community Builders North Commons Northampton

The project will increase insulation levels, air sealing, and ventilation levels to meet Passive House Standards for 53 apartments. It will provide mixed‐income, new construction family rental housing development on the Village Hill campus in Northampton, Massachusetts and will include both affordable and workforce housing units, serving households with a broad range of incomes.

Dakota Partners Depot Village Hanson

A new construction housing project for families. When completed, Depot Village, located near an MBTA commuter rail stop, will create 48 new rental units.  The building will utilize balanced ventilation with heat recovery, heat pumps for heating and cooling, and reduced heat loss. The project is creating a template for Dakota Partners to use on future developments that will be designed for Passive House construction and certification.

Homeowner’s Rehab Inc.’s Finch Cambrige Cambridge

A new 98-unit affordable housing project designed for resiliency to allow for potential flooding and low energy consumption using efficient heat pump heating and cooling technology.  Shading features are included to lower cooling demands.  The building will also include a 100 KW Solar Photovoltaic array to generate electricity for heating and cooling.

NeighborWorks Southern Mass’s Holbrook Center Senior Housing Holbrook

A 100% affordable rental housing will cater to seniors aged 65 and over with one-bedroom apartments and common amenities such as a library and fitness center, this housing development will provide support services that aim to accommodate residents’ changing needs as they age. The design will offer seniors more comfort, make for quieter apartments, and less noise from the street and adjacent apartments.

NorthShore Community Development Corporation’s Harbor Village Gloucester

A 30-unit affordable housing construction will include retail spaces, bike storage, and gallery space as well as being in the heart of downtown Gloucester and will feature efficient heat pumps for heating and cooling.  

Preservation for Affordable Housing Mattapan Station Mattapan

An urban-centric housing complex with 135 apartments designed to promote the Neponset River Greenway and bike paths, while reducing energy consumption.  The building will use efficient electric heat pump technology for heating and cooling and is exploring innovative heat pump technology to heat hot water.

Preservation of Affordable Housing Bartlett Station Lot D Roxbury

Bartlett Station Lot D includes the construction of 52 senior housing units. Lot D is a part of the master planned Bartlett Station, an 8.6-acre former MBTA bus yard.  The building will include shading features, higher levels of air sealing, balanced ventilation with heat recovery, and a central efficient heat pump systems for heating and cooling.



About Passive House

Passive House is a green building certification that ensures extremely high levels of energy efficiency and the provision of fresh air for ventilation.  Multi-family buildings built to the Passive House standard generally use 40% less total energy than energy stretch code-compliant buildings. The annual energy use of 8-12 Passive House multi-family apartments is roughly equivalent to the average existing single-family suburban home in Massachusetts.

Passive House buildings achieve:

  • Drastically lower energy use and operational cost savings
  • Healthy air quality from ventilation systems 
  • Consistent and comfortable room temperatures without air drafts
  • Increased natural lighting and quieter acoustic conditions
  • A more resilient and comfortable building 
  • Lower energy demand, which can be easily provided by solar power, creating a pathway to a net-zero or net-positive building 

Go to the Passive House Massachusetts Website

See case studies of Passive House projects in New England


Passive House Incentives from MassSave®

Building on the momentum of MassCEC’s program, MassSave® has announced an incentive program for new construction multi-family projects of four stories and above to consider and certify building to Passive House standards. This program is both for market rate and affordable multi-family new construction.   Buildings are eligible for:

Up to $5,000 for a Passive House feasibility study

75% up to $20,000 for Passive House Energy Modelling

$3,000 per unit if the building gets Passive House certification

To apply, email details of your proposed building to