Sustainability in the Back Bay

As the world works towards a greener future, Back Bay, Boston’s most luxurious and iconic neighborhood, has proven to be at the forefront of sustainability. Whether you are dining at one of the neighborhood’s delicious restaurants, staying in any number of its famous hotels, or simply walking along the cobblestone streets, Back Bay’s sustainability efforts are everywhere.

It may surprise you to know the streets of Back Bay have been engineered for sustainability. Students at the Boston Architectural College designed the public alley, Green Alley, to collect and filter stormwater pollutants, significantly decreasing pollutants in the Charles River. And on top of those streets are Back Bay residents who are committed to reducing their carbon footprint (and gas costs) by using the bike-share, Blue Bikes, to get around the city.

Oak Long Bar & Grill Bamboo Straws

OAK Long Bar and Kitchen at the Fairmont Copley use only bamboo paper straws.

Dining in Back Bay is a luxurious, unforgettable experience, and now it’s also excellent for the environment. In the United States alone, we use over 500 million one-time-use straws a day. This translates to 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles ending up with plastic in their stomach, which leads to an increasingly high mortality rate. In fact, if we continue on this path, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Luckily, restaurants such as Eastern Standard, Sonsie on Newbury Street, and OAK Long Bar and Kitchen, have caught wind of this tragedy and have committed to a plastic straw-less future.

Sustainability efforts are not unique to Back Bay’s restaurants, as hotels and office buildings alike are taking part in the green movement. Fairmont Copley Hotel and Taj Hotel, have graciously donated their rooftop real estate to bettering the community, with beehives. These bees not only promote proper pollination across the city (which has an exceptional amount of greenery), but also give patrons access to sustainable and fresh honey.

Fairmont Copley Plaza Beehives

Best Bees tending to the rooftop beehives at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.

“We are committed to providing a positive hospitality experience for our guests, which includes a focused effort to reduce the hotel’s environmental footprint and support our local community,” said Lauren Soriano, Director of Public Relations at Fairmont Copley Plaza. “From banning plastic straws in our restaurant to housing bees on our roof to help pollinate plants in the neighborhood, it is our responsibility as a leading Boston business to continue implementing sustainable initiatives and eco-friendly practices wherever possible.”

Other hotels are making similar impacts with initiatives such as eco-education and efficient ventilation at the Residence Inn Back Bay and a completely non-toxic cleaning system at The Colonnade Hotel.

888 Boylston Street, Boston

Boston Properties’ 888 Boylston includes the Prudential Center and is said to be Boston’s most sustainable building.

There are also much bigger projects, such as 888 Boylston, a mixed-use building (also the last building to be built at Boston’s Prudential Center) with the goal of being Boston’s most sustainable building. With everything from wind turbines to solar panels, 888 Boylston is a true work of sustainability. “The Prudential Center has helped define the skyline of Boston for more than half a century, and 888 Boylston Street represents a new definition in sustainable building design,”  says Bryan Koop, Executive Vice President, Boston Region, of Boston Properties, “Our goal is not only to drastically reduce the building’s energy consumption, but to make a bold statement about the future of urban energy that resonates with Boston residents and visitors.”

This LEED Platinum certified building is designed to use 45% less energy and 37% less water than the average office building. Continuous fresh air circulation and daylight that penetrates 95% of the floor area minimizes the need for electricity. Additional sustainable features include a chilled beam HVAC system, solar power generation, and a rain harvesting and reuse system.

Back Bay is a truly exceptional neighborhood with a population committed to sustainability and keeping our world alive. From bars to offices to the streets themselves, this neighborhood strives to set an excellent example for cities across the country.


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