LEED Rating System: LEED-NC


Date Completed: April, 2006

The new Harvard University Library (HUL) building is home to the Office for Information Systems, Weissman Preservation Center and Open Collections Program, as well Cambridge- based personnel for the Harvard Depository and HUL Human Resources. The Harvard University Library is the central service provider and coordinating body for the 90-plus libraries that compose Harvard's library system and together form the largest academic library in the world. Sidney Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library, wrote, "We believe that the synergies achieved by locating these programs in a shared space will lead to new and higher levels of thoughtful service to the Harvard libraries." The Globe Corner Bookstore, a retail establishment, currently occupies a portion of the ground level. The 30,405 square foot building is meant to “...make an architectural statement, a statement of modernity and the vibrancy of our Cambridge urban setting.” The new facility was constructed and is operated by Harvard Real Estate Services. It was designed by Leers Weinzapfel Associates Architects of Boston and the interior fit-out, including a state of the art special collections conservation lab, was designed by Alspector Anderson Architects of New York City.

Very early in the design process, it was decided that the Library Services building would be an example of green design at Harvard University. This project demonstrates that a sustainable building can be constructed despite challenges associated with a small urban site, an extensive public approvals process, strict temperature and humidity requirements, and two architectural teams. The geothermal heating and cooling system was a keystone for the project. Aside from the energy efficiency and life cycle costing advantages, this system addressed community concerns regarding noisy rooftop equipment, Cambridge Historical Commission concerns regarding the scale of the building, including rooftop penthouses, and local zoning requirements. Great care was taken to allow protection of the collections while providing natural daylighting throughout the building for the 86 full-time employees.

Project Highlights:

  • Ground source heat pumps used for heating and cooling
  • Glazed curtain wall and skylights provide daylighting throughout the building
  • Designed to be 32% more energy-efficient than an ASHRAE 90.1-1999 compliant building
  • Water use reduced by 43% over EPAct of 1992 requirements
  • First project at Harvard to use the indoor air quality testing method for LEED compliance

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