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This blog post will let you share (and participate, in a fashion) in a tour I just took today of a landmark new building in Boston – the Data Sciences Building at 665 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, on the campus of Boston University.

Some numbers:

  • It’s 19 stories (or 305 ft tall), 345,000 square feet in total, and cost $305 million.
  • It will house the school’s mathematics, statistics + computer science program when it officially opens to students later this year.
  • The building is 100% free of fossil fuels, in alignment with BU’s Climate Action Plan. It’s poised to be the largest carbon-neutral building in Boston.

I was lucky enough to have a private tour for a small group of sustainability liaisons from BU’s individual Colleges, led by Dennis Carlberg, Adjunct Professor and Sustainability Director for BU.

I will share some photos here and link you to a full album of pictures and a couple of short videos.

One takeaway for project managers is that we, as agents of change, can push for innovative, sustainability-minded solutions based on benefits that show themselves in non-traditional ways and/or only after time has elapsed – and therefore are not measured very easily.

Here’s one example from my tour.  When the team decided early on to use geothermal heating and cooling for the building, one non-apparent (but HUGE) benefit was the amount of real-estate this made available in the building for use by students, faculty, and staff, that would have been otherwise taken up by gigantic heating and cooling units.  90% of these needs are taken care of by the geothermal system.  Sure, the geothermal system involved pushing thirty-one 6-inch specialty tubes (see photo below of a model) into silt and bedrock, but the payoff is huge in the long-run.

Professor Carlberg showing a model of one of the 31 pipes used for the geothermal system.  The real ones are 6 inches in diameter and go into the ground twice as long as the John Hancock Tower is high.

And sure, it took extra effort to place green roofs all around in the space made available by the Jenga-like construction, but again, this makes the building more attractive and livable and assists greatly with the handling of rainwater.


(photo taken from the 5th floor of the building)

(the plants are mostly sedum)

Aside from the tremendous (and also measurable) benefits which this yields in terms of meeting BU’s Climate Action Plan, the fact that valuable Boston real estate is being more effectively used is a big deal and was considered in the project’s cost benefit analysis. 

Are these sorts of benefits – and is this sort of thinking considered in your projects’ cost-benefit equations?

The tour was amazing – the building is amazing – as you can see from the photos and videos.

I highly recommend that you take the tour yourself, and you can do it RIGHT NOW from the very device on which you are reading this blog post (unless that device is a piece of paper).

Go here:

This will take you to a highly-interactive tour of the building and provide technical insight into how this became such a successful project.  You will basically get a chance to see on your screen what I saw demonstrated on a gigantic touch-screen by Professor Carlberg (see photo below).

This is in the lobby of the building - the "Sustainability Wall" - a giant touchscreen.  Experience it yourself RIGHT NOW by clicking here.


I suggest you visit at least the following (each only runs for a few seconds to a minute or so).

  • 3. Embodied Carbon
  • 4. Geothermal System
  • 6. Fresh Air
  • 7. Terraces
  • 8. Light and Views
  • 15. Why Net Zero?

As project managers – or rather, project leaders, we have the chance to push for projects like this, or at a minimum to push the product owner, sponsor, and/or Senior Management to put in place thinking such as that which went into this amazing building.

See an album of the pictures (see screen capture below) from my tour by clicking here.

You will get to see details and videos from the tour.

Come visit! I hope you have a chance to visit the actual building at the campus of Boston University!

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: March 28, 2023 05:35 PM | Permalink

Comments (3)

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Nice blog! Here are some more pictures.

Thanks for sharing and for your tips!!

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