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Groundbreaking green living is brewing in Newburyport. The Hillside Center for Sustainable Living project, started in May 2018 and slated for completion in December 2022, aims to be the first of its kind—a net-positive, energy-efficient development, complete with solar panels, community composting, and electric cars.

Hillside will consist of 48 units across seven buildings, in one-, two-, and three-bedroom options. A common space will provide a commercial kitchen, gathering space, and extra guest rooms. The project is located on what used to be a junkyard, revitalized with a $400,000 loan from MassDevelopment.

Net-positive means that the development will produce more energy than it consumes. All buildings are certified LEED Platinum, meaning that the buildings are, according to the United States Green Building Council, “resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, and cost-effective.”

The property supports residents growing their own food with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) right in the backyard, in both the garden and the greenhouse, and they even keep bees and chickens on the property. Hillside also promotes outdoor living through their green recreation areas, rooftop patios, and covered porches.

Hillside’s on-site solar power means that residents usually end up paying nothing in electric costs throughout the course of the year. Over 25 years, a one-bedroom residency at Hillside saves the equivalent of 440,000 miles driven by a fossil fuel-powered car.

All residencies are equipped with water-saving appliances. Hillside conserves additional water through its water management system, which saves rainwater so it can be treated and used for irrigation and toilet flushing.

Hillside will also utilize shared electric vehicles to help reduce CO2 emissions. Powered by the site’s solar panels, the fleet of electric cars available to residents will both reduce environment impact of greenhouse gas-based transportation and take cars off the road with the shared system.

And that’s not all. Instead of melting sidewalk snow with salt, Hillside uses an organic beet juice solution. The residency encourages composting and recycling by locating all bins—trash, compost, and recycling—in one central location. Hillside townhouses all meet Passive House standards, meaning they use radically less energy for heating and cooling than a standard home. 

An apartment at the Cottage Court building, currently being rented out and ready for move in by March, goes for $2,200-$4,200, depending on the number of bedrooms. All this in proximity to downtown Newburyport means that convenient, affordable green living is not only feasible, but almost effortless.