AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Genzyme Center

Genzyme Center, shown in this photograph taken from the west, is the corporate headquarters for a biotechnology company, with offices, an employee cafeteria, a library, gardens, training rooms, a conference center, cafes, and public retail space.
Photo credit: Anton Grassl


  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Building type(s): Commercial office
  • New construction
  • 344,000 ft2 (32,000 m2)
  • Project scope: 12-story building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed November 2003
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2/v.2.1--Level: Platinum (52 points)

Genzyme Center is the corporate headquarters for a biotechnology company, with offices, an employee cafeteria, a library, gardens, training rooms, a conference center, cafes, and public retail space. Genzyme Center was created as a symbol of progress to represent a point of identification for the company, its employees, and visitors. The goal of the design was to develop a building from the inside out, from the individual working environment to the overall complex structure of the building. Largely due to the collaboration of the design team, developer, client, and construction team, this led to an environmentally friendly, highly communicative, and innovative signature building.

Chosen as an AIA Top Ten Green Project for 2004. Submitted by Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner, Venice, CA. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

The project team and the client balanced aesthetics, cost, constructability, and reliability to create an environmentally responsible corporate headquarters. A number of environmental design strategies contribute to the LEED Platinum rating the building is expected to achieve and establish an open spatial atmosphere for the building occupants.

The building envelope is a high-performance curtainwall glazing system with operable windows on all 12 floors. More than 32% of the exterior envelope is a ventilated double-facade that blocks solar gains in summer and captures solar gains in the winter. Steam from a nearby power plant is used for central heating and cooling.

The building's central atrium acts as a huge return air duct and light shaft. Fresh air moves into the atrium and up and out exhaust fans near the skylight. Natural light from the fully glazed facade and from the atrium (brought in by solar-tracking mirrors above the skylight) is reflected deep into the building.

The building uses 32% less water than a comparable office building by using waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, automatic faucets, and low-flow fixtures. Stormwater supplement the evaporative cooling towers and irrigates the landscaped roof.

Building materials were chosen for their low emissions, recycled content, or local manufacturing. Nearly 90% of the wood was FSC certified.

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Lyme Properties / Tenant: Genzyme Corporation, Corporation, for-profit
  • Typically occupied by 920 people, 40 hours per person per week; and 480 visitors per week, 2 hours per visitor per week

Building Programs

Indoor Spaces:

Mechanical systems, Restrooms, Office, Lobby/reception, Structured parking, Cafeteria, Conference

Outdoor Spaces:



Integrated team, Design charrette, Green framework, Simulation, Green specifications, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Operations and maintenance, Transportation benefits, Stormwater management, Water harvesting, Glazing, Passive solar, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, Cogeneration, Benign materials, Recycled materials, Certified wood, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Ventilation effectiveness, Low-emitting materials, Indoor air quality monitoring

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Last updated: 4/22/2004

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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