AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Gilman Ordway Building at the Woods Hole Research Center
(Woods Hole Research Center)

This photograph shows the office and laboratory addition from the north-northwest.
Photo credit: (c) Alan Orling


  • Location: Falmouth, MA
  • Building type(s): Laboratory, Commercial office, Other
  • 62% new construction, 38% renovation of a historic building
  • 19,200 ft2 (1,780 m2)
  • Project scope: 3-story building
  • Rural setting
  • Completed June 2003

The Woods Hole Research Center is a scientific and policy institution dedicated to solving the complex issue of climate change and to defending the earth's great forests. In contemplating their consolidation in a new headquarters, trustees and staff agreed that this building should reflect the Center's core ideals, support their research and education mission, and promote the health of not only the building occupants, but the larger world as well.

Working within a challenging and constrained site, the design preserves the cultural landscape represented by an existing 19th-century summer home, respectfully and adaptively reusing the original house with the addition of contemporary office, laboratory, and common spaces.

Chosen as an AIA Top Ten Green Project for 2004. Submitted by William McDonough + Partners, Charlottesville, Virginia. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

By giving close attention to all aspects of environmentally intelligent design, the project seeks to demonstrate how modern construction can "harmonize with a habitable earth" and preserve the functional integrity of the landscape. And, by providing a healthy, comfortable, and enjoyable workplace filled with daylight and fresh air, the Center hopes to enhance productivity and job satisfaction of its staff.

Though the Gilman Ordway building utilizes a wide variety of passive and active environmental strategies, their integration remains more fundamental to the building's success than any single component. Its reliance on state-of-the-shelf technologies and systems provides a replicable model for both regional and more distant communities.

The all-electric building relies on renewable energy sources, including an on-site photovoltaic array which powers the building's closed-loop ground-source heat pump system. Careful detailing of the envelope optimizes use of these resources – the building is very well insulated, with an extremely tight envelope.

Skylights and full-height windows provide abundant daylight and access to views, while ventilation systems and operable windows supply fresh air. A temperature and humidity monitoring system, zoned ventilation in laboratory spaces, and low-VOC paints and adhesives further enhance indoor environmental quality. Finally, resident forest research and policy initiatives emphasize the appropriateness of using FSC-certified and sustainably harvested lumber to the extent possible.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Woods Hole Research Center, Corporation, nonprofit
  • Typically occupied by 40 people, 40 hours per person per week; and 5 visitors per week, 1 hour per visitor per week

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces:

Lobby/reception, Circulation, Laboratory, Office, Restrooms

Outdoor Spaces:

Wildlife habitat, Drives/roadway, Parking


Green framework, Simulation, Open space preservation, Wildlife habitat, Stormwater management, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Drought-tolerant landscaping, Wastewater treatment, Massing and orientation, Insulation levels, Glazing, Airtightness, Passive solar, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Durability, Benign materials, Local materials, Certified wood, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Ventilation effectiveness, Low-emitting materials

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Last updated: 4/21/2004

Our thanks to the ENERGY STAR program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and to the U.S. Department of Energy, and to BuildingGreen, Inc. for hosting the submission and judging forms.

For more information about the AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects, contact AIA/COTE. For help on how to use this Web site, contact .

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