BU Law Complex Earns LEED Gold Certification

Achievement recognizes School’s commitment to sustainable building and historic preservation.

BU Law complex
BU Law’s recently renovated complex has achieved LEED Gold certification.

Boston University School of Law’s recently completed complex, which encompasses the renovated law tower and the new Sumner M. Redstone Building, has achieved a Gold certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a leading green building rating program.

Developed by the US Green Building Council, the goal of the LEED green building certification system is to “inspire project teams to seek innovative solutions that are better for our environment and better for our communities,” its website says.

BU Law, in partnership with the Bruner/Cott architectural firm and the Skanska construction team, purposefully designed the renovation of the law tower and the construction of the Redstone building to comply with sustainable building practices to earn the Gold certification.

The 17-story law tower, originally built in 1964 and designed by Spanish architect Josep Lluis Sert, is a leading example of Brutalist architecture, and the campus’ first high-rise building. The tower saw a complete renovation in 2014–2015 with deliberate measures taken within the original architect’s design in order to make the existing building more accommodating to 21st-century needs and bring it to the same efficiency standards as a new structure. Improvements include insulating concrete walls, adding double-paned glass to the many windows, extending air conditioning throughout the building, and improving the controls for the heating system.

“The law tower is an iconic structure at BU and an important part of the modernist architectural movement,” says Leland Cott, founding principal emeritus of Bruner/Cott. “In addition to increasing energy efficiency, preserving and protecting such a historic structure is an act of cultural sustainability.”

The Redstone Building, which opened in fall 2014, added nearly 100,000 square feet of modern space for students, faculty, and staff. The materials for the building were chosen for their sustainable characteristics. The carpet is designed to decrease the emission of volatile organic compounds, and the wood on the walls comes from sustainably harvested forests.

“One of key strategies to increase energy efficiency in the BU Law complex was to move the classrooms out of the law tower to the Redstone building,” says Dennis Carlberg, director of BU Sustainability. “Getting the larger auditoriums on the ground floor and increasing access to stairways makes it easier for students to walk between floors, which helps reduce elevator demand and so reduces energy consumption.”

The project took 10 years of planning and the support of the BU Law alumni community. Since its completion, the law school has earned recognition for its efforts to preserve the historic law tower, including a 2016 Preservation Achievement Award from the Boston Preservation Alliance and the 2016 Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award, given each year to recognize architectural achievements that preserve the Commonwealth’s resources, revitalizing neighborhoods, adding to the revenues of cities and towns, and preserving community character.