Boston's Largest, Net Zero Emissions, Fossil-Fuel-Free Building

Boston University Center for Computing & Data Sciences, Boston, MA

Project Overview

Boston University Center for Computing & Data Sciences

The Green Engineer is the Sustainable Design Consultant and Energy Modeler for this 345,000 SF new academic facility for Boston University. The Center accommodates Boston University's mathematics, statistics, and computer science programs. Designed by KPMB Architects to be at the forefront of sustainability, the project achieved LEED NC v4 Platinum and is Net Zero Emissions. As of completion in 2023, it is Boston’s largest, fossil-fuel-free building. Photography: Courtesy of and ©Boston University, Janice Checchio.


Energy Efficiency

The Center for Computing & Data Sciences combines the use of 100% renewable energy with an all-electric design and an aggressive approach to operational carbon reduction to achieve net zero emissions and a zero carbon footprint. The design utilizes geothermal energy - the most energy efficient heating system available - and innovative, high efficiency concentric heat exchangers to maximize the energy extraction of the ground source heat pumps. 31 geothermal wells of closed loop boreholes that extend 1500' below ground (more than the average 600') are part of the ground source heat system design. No combustion is necessary to operate this fossil-fuel-free building. The building envelope uses diagonal louver facades and sawtooth blade facades, that are triple-glazed and double e-coated to achieve a .21 U-value.


Energy Conservation Measures

The design of the Center utilizes the following energy conservation measures (ECMs): diagonal louvers and “sawtooth” facade shading fins; triple-pane, double e-coated glazing; reduced interior lighting through the use of high efficiency LED fixtures; geothermal water to water heat pumps; active chilled beams; dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS) with high efficiency energy recovery; and low flow plumbing fixtures. In addition, the building is raised 1.25' above ground level to enhance its resiliency.


Energy Modeling

The building systems were extensively studied by the design team and selected to maximize energy efficiency while providing essential heating, cooling, and ventilation needs. The Green Engineer provided LEED Certification Project Management, Energy Modeling for LEED and Code Compliance, and Regulatory & Zoning Approval Services for Article 37/Article 80 Permitting in the City of Boston. Project Owner: Boston University | Architect: KPMB Architects | Select Consultants: Transsolar Klima Engineering; Haley & Aldrich; BR+A Consulting Engineers, and LeMessurier.