Sustainable Strategies for a High-Performing Laboratory Campus for Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research Inc., Cambridge, MA

Punit Jain, CannonDesign

Working with Novartis to realize their vision of creating healthy, vibrant working environments that optimize energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the team focused intently on realizing sustainable design solutions throughout the project lifecycle. Occupying two former city blocks in a former industrial area, the site weaves itself into the existing urban fabric and saved the need to develop and build new services and potentially disturb a more sensitive environment on a greenfield site.

To further minimize the energy load of the campus, the equipment and occupant intensive lab areas are kept off of the long south and west fašades, thus mitigating the heat load due to solar gain during warmer months. In addition, the south fašade areas were separated mechanically so that smaller systems could more nimbly combat the hot summer sun while also taking advantage of the warmth in the winter.

All of the rainfall that lands on this site is captured whether from the high membrane roofs into an 80,000-gallon rainwater cistern or absorbed into the lower, green roofs. The team achieved overall energy saving through a combination of strategies including high-performance super-insulated fašades and passive design; use of automated building controls; and energy efficient HVAC systems. A combined heating and power cogeneration plant is estimated to reduce campus's carbon emissions by more than 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

Learning Objectives

  • How to locate a major pharmaceutical company into the city fabric of Cambridge
  • Better maximize energy loads using passive design techniques such as clear v. opaque walls and equipment location
  • Energy recovery strategies in major air handling equipment with evaporative enhancement for cooling recovery
  • Adding a 3MW tri-generation (electricity, hot water, chilled water) in the central plant


A key member of the firm's Science & Technology practice, Jain brings extensive experience in designing both teaching and research laboratory buildings. Jain is responsible for promoting high-performance design through LEED certification, conducting training for the firm's professionals and high-performance design practices. Punit serves on the national board of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories and the advisory board of SEFA.


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