Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

115-Year-Old Cambridge, Mass. Building Wins LEED Platinum Certification

Nonprofit that calls the building home felt it important to make building environmentally friendly

Media Contact:
Michael Givens, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, mgivens@uusc.org, 857-540-0617 (c)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Tuesday, February 19, 2019—In late January, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), an international human rights organization and owner of 689 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Mass., received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification for Operations and Maintenance. The site joins one other building in Cambridge and 11 in all of Massachusetts to have a Platinum certification in the Operations and Maintenance category for an existing building, according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) website.

“UUSC is proud to be a leader in conservation and environmental sustainability for our staff and building visitors,” said UUSC CEO and President Mary Katherine Morn. “What better way to live our values than by ensuring that our more than a century old building in the heart of one of the nation’s oldest cities is helping to balance our delicate ecosystem. From composting, to using recyclable batteries, to conserving water, to commuting to work, we are happy to live out our values in a way that respects and protects our planet and its people.”

LEED certification, according to the USGBC, “provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings” and supports “an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.” Overall, LEED-certified buildings generate less waste, are more energy efficient, and help save water. The program is in more than 165 countries, according to the USGBC.

UUSC began the process of LEED certification in 2014 and has spent the last five years making a number of key improvements aimed at making the building more environmentally friendly.

Improvements include:

  • Upgrading the lighting system to LED lights;
  • Installation of an energy efficient building management system to control heating, air conditioning, and fresh air ventilation;
  • Enacting a robust recycling program as well as a composting program that provides material for the building’s rooftop gardens;
  • Implementing the use of plant-based cleaning agents in keeping the building clean;
  • Eliminating the building’s upward light footprint by projecting exterior lights downward, which reduces municipal light pollution at night; and
  • Retrofitting faucets, toilets, and other appliances to more efficiently distribute water.

“Achieving LEED for Operations and Maintenance Certification at the Platinum level is a significant achievement that demands a great deal of effort, attention to detail, and most importantly, a deep commitment to sustainability,” said Summer Minchew, managing partner of Ecoimpact, a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm and member of the USGBC that worked with UUSC to ensure its LEED certification. “UUSC, using a whole-building approach, implemented advanced strategies which encouraged alternative transportation to and from the building, reduced energy and water use, promoted environmental purchasing and improved occupant comfort. UUSC is leading by example and all building owners can and should take action toward a lower-carbon future.”

UUSC advances human rights and social justice around the world, partnering with those who confront unjust power structures and mobilizing to challenge oppressive policies.

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