AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Projects

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Artists for Humanity EpiCenter
(EpiCenter, Artists For Humanity)

This photograph of the main entry illustrates the project's urban industrial context.
Photo credit: Richard Mandelkorn


  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Building type(s): Assembly, K-12 education, Industrial
  • New construction
  • 23,500 ft2 (2,180 m2)
  • Project scope: 4-story building
  • Urban setting
  • Completed September 2004
  • Rating: U.S. Green Building Council LEED-NC, v.2/v.2.1--Level: Platinum (53 points)

Artists For Humanity (AFH) was founded in 1991 with a mission to bridge economic, racial, and social divisions and provide underserved youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in the arts. Its new urban headquarters, the EpiCenter, provides fine and commercial art studios and a 5000 ft2 (465 m2) gallery space used to show student art; the gallery is also rented out for events.

The founder of AFH, Susan Rodgerson, saw the building project as an extension of the organization, with its social mission at the heart of the design principles. As the organization is invested in the education and empowerment of young people, so the building is designed to model environmental stewardship.

This project was chosen as an AIA Committee on the Environment Top Ten Green Project for 2007. It was submitted by Arrowstreet, Inc., in Boston, Massachusetts. Additional project team members are listed on the "Process" screen.

Environmental Aspects

The decision to build green came from the youth of AFH, and was a natural outgrowth of the agency's work with inner-city teens as they learn about art and themselves and strive for self-sufficiency.

The EpiCenter is a simple, functional building that achieves the highest levels of sustainability on a tight budget. The building uses energy and water efficiently, incorporates recycled materials, makes full use of natural daylight, and promotes the health of its occupants. The EpiCenter also offers an opportunity to build public awareness of sustainable, economic, and environmental principles among the immediate community and beyond.

The project includes several notable green design aspects:

  • A 49-kilowatt roof mounted, grid-connected photovoltaic array, currently the largest PV array in Boston, provides renewable energy for the building;
  • A super-efficient envelope, including operable, low-emissivity, high-performance windows, reduces heating and cooling loads;
  • Natural ventilation is used instead of air-conditioning;
  • South-facing windows provide passive-solar heat gain and daylighting;
  • Open, unobstructed interior spaces allow for effective daylighting;
  • Energy-efficient lighting is coupled with daylight dimming and automated controls;
  • The efficient mechanical system includes a heat-recovery system;
  • Many building materials were salvaged and reused;
  • Many building materials include high recycled content; and
  • Rainwater is harvested and stored for landscape irrigation

Owner & Occupancy

  • Owned and occupied by Artists For Humanity, Corporation, nonprofit
  • Typically occupied by 25 people, 40 hours per person per week; and 100 visitors per week, 10 hours per visitor per week


Integrated team, Design charrette, Green framework, Simulation, Green specifications, Commissioning, Performance measurement and verification, Transportation benefits, Water harvesting, Efficient fixtures and appliances, Massing and orientation, Insulation levels, Glazing, Airtightness, Passive solar, HVAC, Lighting control and daylight harvesting, Efficient lighting, On-site renewable electricity, Adaptable design, Durability, Salvaged materials, Recycled materials, Local materials, C&D waste management, Connection to outdoors, Daylighting, Natural ventilation, Ventilation effectiveness

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Last updated: 4/23/2007

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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