Boston University plans largest carbon-netural building in the city - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Sourcing Renewables  -  February 10, 2020

Boston University plans largest carbon-netural building in the city

Boston University has unveiled plans for its new 305-foot-tall Center for Computing and Data Sciences, which will become the largest carbon-neutral building in the city of Boston and help the university on its path to be carbon neutral by 2040.

The 19-story facility, designed by KPMB architects, will be completely regulated by 31 geothermal wells, which will heat and cool the building via a ground-source heat exchange, Fast Company reported. The building will be completely carbon neutral and fossil fuel-free, without any gas lines connected to the building.

The publication also reported that BU will match the building’s electricity load with renewable energy generated from a wind farm in South Dakota, which the university has previously invested in. As of now, the facility will not be directly powered by renewable energy.

Other efficiency measured designed into the building includes a window system meant for better insulation, fixed shades on the exterior to protect from the sun’s heat in summer and the use of water in the thermal energy system instead of air for heating and cooling.

The city of Boston has previously announced its goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, and BU plays a large role in achieving that as its campus occupies 135 acres of the city.

“There are a lot of organizations that are making great progress, but we’re sort of on a mission to make sure that we peel away the mystery of how this gets done and what matters,” Dennis Carlberg, associate vice president for university sustainability, told Fast Company. “What matters to me is that we do everything we can, not only to make a carbon-free, fossil fuel-free building, but how we can help others do the same, because we can’t do this alone.”

The new Center for Computing and Data Sciences is also specifically designed to resist flooding of the nearby Charles River, with an additional two feet of height above the recommended elevation for avoiding flooding as sea level rises.

Construction of the $290 million building is expected to begin this spring, and the Center is expected to open in 2022. The unique offset design of the building will also allow for a series of roof terraces and green roofs throughout the different levels. 

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