Genzyme Center

File Type: Free Content, Case study
Release Date: January 2005
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Genzyme Center

Fast Facts

Address: Cambridge, MA
Company/Developer: Lyme Properties, LLC
General Contractor: Turner Construction Company
Property Type: Life Sciences
Square Feet: 350,000 square feet
Height: 12 stories

Building Description: Genzyme Center is the corporate headquarters for a biotechnology company, with offices, employee cafeteria, library, gardens, training rooms, conference center, cafes and public retail space. Genzyme Center was designed to reflect a philosophy of building from the inside out, from the individual work environment to the complex structure of the building. Largely due to the unique collaboration of the developer, tenant, design team and construction staff, this led to an environmentally friendly, highly communicative and innovative signature building.


A soaring 12-story atrium with skylight, extensive indoor gardens, more than 800 operable windows, direct outdoor views from most desks, a 144-seat state-of-the-art auditorium and a 12th floor cafeteria with sweeping views of Boston are just some of this project’s stunning features.

Described by the Boston Globe’s Robert Campbell as “probably the most green building yet built in this region,” and “the best and most delightful office building, bar none, this writer has seen in the Boston area,” this Platinum-level LEED certified building combines exquisite beauty with environmental responsibility.

Situated on a 10-acre brownfield site, the Genzyme Center is the cornerstone of Lyme’s development that will include a performing arts center, residences, a hotel, office and laboratory space, retail shops and landscaped parks.

A Tenant’s Perspective on the Benefits of Going Green

Including furnishings and finishes, Genzyme spent $140 million for its new facility (or about $400 per square foot). About $23 million of that was spent on green features. But they expect to save at least 30 percent on energy and water costs over conventional building costs. And they hope to see benefits in employee performance and attitude.

Green Features

Sustainable Sites

  • Green living roof and water collection system on the roof that reduces storm water runoff by 50 percent.
  • Below-ground parking and an Energy Star roof reduce heat islands.
  • Lighting that matches the illuminating ESNA standard.
Genzyme Center atruim

Twelve-story atrium. All photography by Peter Vanderwarker.

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • Air quality monitoring system.
  • Use of low VOC adhesives, sealants, paints and carpet.
  • Operable windows and light control per 200 square feet within 15 feet of a perimeter wall.
  • Automated heat and humidity control.
  • 90 percent of regularly occupied spaces have direct line of sight to vision glazing.
  • Two percent daylight factor in 75 percent of all regularly occupied spaces.
  • Roof solar panels to illuminate fire escape stairwells.
lobby at Genzyme Center


Water Efficiency

  • Soil sensors to detect ground water and optimize the watering process.
  • Rain water captured on roof and used as makeup water for the cooling tower.
  • Waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets and low-flow faucets.

Energy and Atmosphere

  • 100 percent of power from renewable resources, including wind, solar and emitted gas from landfill.
  • Concrete superstructure that acts as a thermal mass to keep the building cool in summer and warm in winter.
  • Operable windows and heat exchanger in the skylight to utilize outside air.
  • Use of by-product steam for heating and cooling.
  • An automated building management system that maximizes efficiency and minimizes energy consumption.
  • Double glass façade in 30 percent of the building with a four-foot logia space for improved thermal insulation.
  • Roof heliostats to direct sunlight through the atrium.
  • Photovoltaic arrays on top of the mechanical penthouse as a renewable energy source.
lobby at Genzyme Center


Materials and Resources

  • 75 percent of construction waste recycled or salvaged.
  • 25 percent of building materials contain a 20 percent post-consumer or 40 percent post-industrial recycled content material.
  • 20 percent of building materials manufactured locally or within 500 miles of the building site.
  • 50 percent of local materials used harvested locally.
  • 50 percent of wood materials are Forest Stewardship Council Guidelines certified.