Science and Engineering Complex Gets Top Energy Ratings

Many carefully designed features led to the exclusive LEED Gold energy-efficiency rating

Science and Engineering Complex building view from outside

The Science and Engineering Complex, or SEC, on the Medford/Somerville campus has earned the distinction of being one of the most energy-efficient buildings of its kind in the United States. The honor was bestowed last month when the SEC was awarded LEED Gold certification, making it Tufts’ most ambitious project certified at this high level.

The LEED—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—green building rating system is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard that recognizes high-performance, energy efficient, and cost-saving buildings. The United States Green Building Council regards LEED certification as a “globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.”

“I am thrilled that we have achieved this recognition,” said Tina Woolston, director of the Office of Sustainability. “Earning LEED Gold on a laboratory building is very difficult, due to the intensive energy usage of high tech equipment and significant fresh air ventilation rates that are required in laboratories.”

Energy-saving strategies were incorporated into every aspect of the building to minimize the building’s carbon impact, said Woolston.

The building is predicted to use, for instance, 70 percent less energy than a typical lab building, and triple-glazed windows will reduce building heat loss during the winter and keep the building’s interior cooler during the summer, according to Andrea Love, director of building science at Payette, the firm that designed the building. The building’s mechanical system also is predicted to recover and reuse up to 72 percent of its heat before it is exhausted.

Watch a video about the sustainability features in the SEC building at Tufts.

Barb Stein, vice president for operations at Tufts, added that the SEC’s generous use of glass and ample natural light, as well as natural landscaping, give the building a feel of being thoughtfully integrated with its environment. Tufts also preserved adjacent historic buildings, Robinson Hall and Bromfield-Pearson, effectively conserving not only materials but historic character of the university.

“The SEC showcases what is possible with great design shaped by the values of sustainability,” she said. “By connecting the new lab addition of the SEC to two existing buildings, and working around a third historical building, Tufts is exemplifying what long-term building owners like universities should always strive to do: preserve the history and traditions that we enjoy in our historic buildings by repurposing them to less energy intensives spaces like offices and classroom, while at the same time providing opportunities for faculty to do research and teach in cutting-edge facilities.”

The SEC, which opened this past fall, continues Tufts commitment to build and renovate energy efficient and environmentally conscious buildings, and joins several other LEED certified spaces at Tufts.

Previous LEED Gold certified projects on the Medford/Somerville campus include Sophia Gordon Hall and a biology collaborative cluster at 200 Boston Avenue. In Boston, the second phase of a master plan renovation at the School of Dental Medicine was also rated gold. Tufts achieved LEED silver certification for the transformation of a former factory into the Center for Innovative Learning and Collaboration (CLIC) at 574 Boston Avenue and for the five-story vertical expansion of the dental school.

Laura Ferguson can be reached at

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