Finegold Alexander teams with CMTA to conduct a deep energy audit at MIT’s Building 66

Building 66 Deep Energy Audit
Client: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

MIT has made a commitment to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2030. In order to meet this commitment, energy use by existing campus buildings must be assessed and paths forward for energy use reduction determined. This is no small feat for an institution replete with buildings constructed anywhere from the early 1900’s through 1990’s, many of which house energy-intensive laboratories, where health and safety requirements dictate exhaust and fresh air requirements.

One such structure is MIT’s Ralph Landau Building—also known as Building 66. As a subconsultant to CMTA Engineers, Finegold Alexander provided envelope and architectural consulting for a deep energy audit of the building. Designed by IM Pei and constructed in 1976, Building 66 functions as the main research building for Course 10, the Chemical Engineering department. It is also a historically significant campus building, being one of four I.M. Pei-designed buildings on the campus. The primary question(s) posed given the existing systems, including a recent renovation: what approaches could be taken to reduce the GHG emissions that still support researcher wellness and without a wholesale building renovation?

Our team worked hand-in-hand with CMTA to assess the building envelope and existing architecture. Close review of existing conditions documentation including original construction drawings, as well as site visits, gave us a complete picture of the building’s envelope, including the challenges presented by a building of this era and type. Concrete frame structures pose unique challenges for envelope upgrades as the structure and envelope are essentially one. While some projects of this era are being overclad to provide for an insulated shell, this approach was not appropriate for a building of this architectural significance.

A Focus on Glazing: Monolithic plate glazing was installed directly into pockets within the building’s cast-in-place concrete frame, creating pathways for air infiltration – potentially a significant source of envelope heat gain/loss. Finegold Alexander determined—based on document review and confirmatory field work—that removal of existing interior stops and trims would enable the single-pane glazing to be replaced. New IGUs could fit, and were proposed to be glazed directly into the pockets with appropriate tapes and sealants. The proposed solution would maintain the building’s original architectural integrity and contribute to proposed EUI reductions.

We also worked closely with CMTA and MIT to examine the best location for potential high-plume exhausts from a structural and aesthetic perspective – preserving sightlines and the visual composition of Building 66 that exists together with IM Pei’s accompanying buildings nearby.

Given that the driver of energy use within the building is air flow, the envelope work may not proceed. Finegold Alexander has, however, provided the Institute with a framework for examining other buildings of this construction type and vintage, and an approach balancing the building history with energy use needs that is applicable under different conditions.

133,710 SF

Assessment of envelope for potential deep energy retrofit
Review of proposed work for compatibility with historic nature of building

Study for MEP and envelope upgrades for reduction of GHG emissions

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