Conceived as a "living laboratory" that features research and demonstrations of advanced building energy technologies and processes, the 60,000-sq-ft Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy was built in a century-old mill building in Boston. The FCSE aims to validate the reliability and effectiveness of the technologies incorporated in the building.

Nearly 40 companies donated $2.7 million worth of products for the project, which proved difficult to track because neither the general contractor nor the owner held contracts with the firms that made the donations. As a result, there was reduced accountability from the suppliers, which caused considerable challenges for the project team when evaluating potential schedule impacts and managing coordination.

Team members and product manufacturers adopted a highly collaborative and integrated approach that ensured successful installation and commissioning.

Systems featured in the building include windows that double as solar panels, walls that absorb and release heat and lighting systems that auto-adjust based on the amount of natural light. The designers also took a different approach to radiant flooring, using it to cool the building rather than its more typical application for heating space. The project was designed to earn LEED-Platinum certification.


Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy, Boston

Key Players

Owner Fraunhofer

Design Firm DiMella Shaffer

General Contractor Gilbane Building Co.

Structural Engineer McNamara/Salvia

MEP Engineer BR+A