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Wentworth Hosts Sponsored Research Workshop with MIT

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Wentworth Institute of Technology’s Construction Management program recently hosted a four-hour research workshop in conjunction with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Center for Real Estate.  

The workshop was focused on dissemination of current findings related to an unprecedented study which results in making actionable policy recommendations to simultaneously advance both climate policy and housing affordability, using Massachusetts as a case study.  

Wentworth and MIT teams received a total amount of $200,000 from Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Massachusetts (HBRAMA) to conduct the study. The research has been underway since the beginning of the year and is nearing public release and publication during the spring of 2023. 

Throughout the project, the Wentworth research team has developed cost comparison models of different housing typologies found across the state of Massachusetts including single-family, small multi-family (one to four units), and large multi-family (five or more units). The models assess the cost difference between current baseline code and those adopting the proposed new mandates for more sustainable and high-performance construction and operations requirements. The purpose is to identify cost impacts on affordable housing for the end-user when a municipality adopts a more stringent baseline for real estate development.  

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Massachusetts is a leader in climate policy but with the continued push toward adopting the roadmap to decarbonization, the potential impact on moving towards “net zero” energy through inclusion of the “Specialized Opt-In Code” for energy could impose difficulties for the public, given the current housing shortage. The proposed outcomes of this research are threefold: 

  1. Identification of cost differentials between current baseline construction and adoption of the new “Specialized Opt-In Code” within municipalities across the state of Massachusetts, 

  1. Overview of the impacts of adoption of these stringent policies on the affordability of housing and related production of new housing units, and 

  1. Recommendation of potential tools and policies that could be adopted to assist with transition into the new code so real or perceived challenges related to housing affordability and available housing stock can be curbed. 

In a publication released by HBRAMA, it was stated that “the MIT-Wentworth Net Zero study is a first-of-its-kind and will establish broadly applicable bedrock principles at the intersection of housing and climate policy. Its utility will help shape those policy areas for years to come (HBRAMA - 2/1/2022).” The project is being co-developed by Wentworth’s Construction Management Program and MIT’s Center for Real Estate.  

The following individuals are identified as directly embedded in the research efforts: 

WIT Construction Management Program 

  • Principal Investigator: Payam Bakhshi, Associate Professor of Construction Management 

  • Co-Principal Investigator: Afshin Pourmokhtarian, Assistant Professor of Construction Management 

  • Co-Principal Investigator: John Cribbs, Associate Professor of Construction Management and Associate Dean of the School of Management 

MIT Center for Real Estate 

  • Principal Investigator: Justin Steil, Associate Professor of Law and Urban Planning 

  • Co-Principal Investigator: Siqi Zheng, Professor of Urban and Real Estate Sustainability 

  • Project Manager: Zhengzhen Tan, Research Scientist; Executive Director, MIT Sustainable Urbanization Lab; Director, China Future City Program 


Those in attendance left the morning’s session with excitement and enthusiasm for what is to come with final findings and ultimately the publication and presentation event early next year. Professor Ilyas Bhatti, dean of School of Management, attended the workshop and delivered the opening remarks, emphasizing the importance of this multidisciplinary research. Those in attendance were from the following companies and professional organizations (alphabetical order): 

  • Dain Research 

  • Dakota Partners 

  • Dimeo 

  • Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Massachusetts (HBRAMA) 

  • Home Builders & Remodelers Association of Central Massachusetts (HBRACM) 

  • Home Energy Remedies, Inc. 

  • Lynch & Fierro LLP 

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

  • Meisner Brem Corporation 

  • Mitsubishi Electric Trane HVAC US 

  • National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) 

  • Passive House Massachusetts 

  • Planning Office for Urban Affairs 

  • Steven Winter Associates  

  • Suffolk Construction 

  • Symes Associates, Inc. 

  • The CapeBuilt Companies 

  • Wentworth Institute of Technology 

  • ZeroEnergy Design