We are proud to share that Tufts’ Science and Engineering Complex (SEC) has received the Honor Award for the Boston Society for Architecture’s 2021 Sustainable Design Awards, recognizing the SEC as an “outstanding achievement” that “demonstrates the systematic integration of sustainability.”

One of most energy efficient research buildings in the world

We sat down with the designers of the SEC, Payette (a Boston-based architecture firm), to find out why the SEC stands out in the field of sustainable infrastructure. They told us that from the very beginning, Tufts Operations Division, led by Barb Stein, vice president for operations, set an explicit goal to make the SEC as energy efficient as possible. The project team researched the best performing sustainable buildings at the time and set a target to surpass those achievements. “Sustainability was considered in every decision,” the team says.

Image credit: Chuck Choi

These efforts resulted in a building that uses 70% less energy than a typical lab building, which are usually energy hogs compared to other types of buildings, and is certified LEED gold. Instead of demolishing existing buildings and starting new, the project built upon Robinson Hall and Bromfield-Pearson to join them together. This reduced carbon emissions during the building process and reused a large amount of building material. The Boston Society for Architecture cited this in their comments saying, “By saving an existing historic building and renovating another building (that was originally not included in the initial client brief), the existing building likely gained another 50 years of usefulness.”

Image credit: Chuck Choi

The SEC also features:

  • triple glazing on windows for temperature control
  • a solar panel array
  • ample natural light
  • a rainwater capture system
  • an ethical food sourcing café
  • efficient heating and cooling, including a heat recovery system that re-captures up to 72% of the building’s heat that would otherwise be lost

Breaking Ground

Payette staff accepting the Honor Award from the Boston Society for Architecture. Clockwise form the top: Robert Pasersky, Kevin Sullivan, Diana Tsang, and Andrea Love. Image credit: Paige McWhorter.

According to Robert Pasersky, Andrea Love, and Diana Tsang of the Payette design team, this recognition from the Boston Society for Architecture provides validation for the team’s efforts and Tufts’ drive to integrate sustainability into everything they do. “This building project was not just about checking boxes to label the SEC as a sustainable building, Tufts set ambitious targets early on and the project team never lost sight of those goals,” says the Payette team.

With much more work ahead of us to reach our university sustainability goals, Tufts is building constant momentum to make energy efficient upgrades big and small across all campuses. With the recent opening of the ultra-efficient Joyce Cummings Center, Tufts is accelerating its progress to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.