Decoding Design

Sustainable building profile: Artists For Humanity EpiCenter in Boston

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The Artists For Humanity EpiCenter was the first building in Boston to be awarded LEED Platinum Certification from the United States Green Building ...

The Artists For Humanity EpiCenter was the first building in Boston to be awarded LEED Platinum Certification from the United States Green Building Council.

Designed in collaboration with Arrowstreet, Inc. and Building Science Engineering, the EpiCenter is an environmentally responsive building that holds simple and sophisticated sustainable technology in its three stories and 23,500 square feet. At a construction cost of about $177 per square foot, the building also demonstrates that green design can be achieved economically. The building's energy consumption averages one third of that used by buildings of similar size. Owning and operating a green building saves the Artists for Humanity organization $66,000 in electricity and natural gas costs annually.

Because the building was planned as green from the start of the project, the sustainable technologies are found throughout. From the outside, a tight building envelope with operable openings regulates heating and ventilation. A south facing glass wall contributes to a passive heating system and maximizes natural daylight. Low-e, high-performance windows reduce heating and cooling loads. Photovoltaic panels on the roof provide over 50% of the electricity used by the building and its occupants. The roof also incorporates rainwater harvesting for grey water uses for the building and its landscape.

On the interior, material choices include low VOC finishes, energy efficient lighting, ceiling fans, natural cooling, and heat recovery ventilation systems. The building also offers glimpses of the mechanics of its green-tech with clear rain leaders to see the rainwater harvesting in action and truth windows to reveal the construction of the building.

Scroll through for a photo tour of the building, with annotations via Artists of Humanity.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System is a voluntary standard for developing sustainable buildings.

The Artists for Humanity's mission is to foster and showcase urban youth-created art. Additional photos and information, including case studies and additional awards the Epicenter has received, can be found on the organization's website.

Images: AFH, Arrowstreet

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Sun Kim

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Sun Joo Kim is an architect and creative consultant based in Boston. Her projects include design and master planning of museums, public institutions, hospitals, and university buildings across the U.S. She holds a degree from Carnegie Mellon University and is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure