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Suffolk Hosts National Sustainability Roundtable to Share Lessons Learned From “Climate Change Project of the Year”

Discussion centered on the development of the award-winning Boston University Center for Computing & Data Sciences

Suffolk, one of the largest and most innovative real estate and construction enterprises in the country, gathered leaders across the engineering, architectural, development, construction and higher education industries for a roundtable discussion with project stakeholders that focused on the end-to-end sustainable solutions implemented on the Boston University Center for Computing & Data Science project, the largest fossil fuel-free building in New England. Transforming Boston’s skyline with one of the greenest buildings in the history of the city required creative solutions, innovative thinking and close collaboration. This monumental project demonstrated that building a sophisticated and sustainable project is possible in even the busiest and most congested urban areas.

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Suffolk Design Director of Sustainability Mike Swenson (second from left) led a discussion on lessons learned from the Climate Change Project of the Year. (Photo: Business Wire)

Suffolk Design Director of Sustainability Mike Swenson (second from left) led a discussion on lessons learned from the Climate Change Project of the Year. (Photo: Business Wire)

Suffolk Design Director of Sustainability Mike Swenson led a thorough discussion with insights from Doug Russel, Director of Growth Strategy at Vertex; Dennis Carlberg, AVP at Boston University; Frank Craemer, Senior Vice President and Operations Manager at Suffolk; Chris Kenney, Senior Project Manager at Vertex; Paolo Rocha, Partner at KPMB; and Joshua Michaud, Associate Principal at BR+A. Suffolk invited individuals across industries to attend the discussion at its Boston headquarters or watch via a nationwide live-stream, paving the way for coast-to-coast conversation around building a more sustainable future.

Demand for sustainable building from clients has grown exponentially – Boston University has made a commitment to becoming a net-zero campus by 2040 – and the Center for Computing and Data Sciences is an impressive case study on meeting client expectations while accomplishing LEED Platinum status and executing a complex project in a dense urban environment.

The project team faced significant challenges when designing and building the Boston University Center for Computing & Data Sciences, one of which was the installation of 31 geothermal wells that use the Earth’s energy to heat and cool the building, eliminating the need for gas lines or fossil fuel systems. These wells were bored 1,500 feet underground – twice as deep as the Hancock Building is high and three times the depth of a standard well. Many needed to be located under the building due to space constraints. Heat pumps will use the temperature differential that the earth provides to draw heat from the ground in the winter, and then to push heat out in the summer.

This system is just one of many energy-efficient features part of this unique landmark. Others include external sun shading devices, triple glazing on the windows, enhanced heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, and dedicated outside air heat recovery systems.

“The Boston University Center for Computing & Data Sciences is truly a landmark project in the sustainability space,” said Steven Burke, Senior Director of Sustainability at Suffolk. “We have long understood how to create sustainable buildings, but this project helps prove our ability to implement these practices at a large scale, while also achieving architectural excellence and maintaining a competitive budget.”

Suffolk’s mission to redefine how America builds inspired the establishment of its Sustainability Group, led by Burke and Swenson, in 2023. Suffolk has managed some of the most sophisticated sustainable building construction projects in the country and has ranked #9 overall for green contractors nationwide in Engineering News-Record (ENR) magazine’s 2023 list of the “Top 100 Green Building Contractors.” Suffolk’s impressive portfolio includes Boston’s Winthrop Center, the largest office tower with Passive House designation in the country; and the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Electric Utility Plant (eCUP), a project to transition to zero-emission electricity for heating in the first and largest carbon neutral airport in the Americas.

About Suffolk

Suffolk is a national enterprise that builds, innovates and invests. Suffolk is an end-to-end business that provides value throughout the entire project lifecycle by leveraging its core construction management services with vertical service lines that include real estate capital investment, design, self-perform construction services, technology start-up investment (Suffolk Technologies) and innovation research/development.

Suffolk – America’s Contractor – is a national company with more than $5.5 billion in annual revenue, 2,600 employees, and offices in Boston (headquarters), New York City, Miami, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Estero, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Portland, Maine. Suffolk manages some of the most complex, sophisticated projects in the country, serving clients in every major industry sector, including healthcare, life sciences, education, gaming, transportation/aviation, federal government and public work, mission critical and commercial. Suffolk is privately held and is led by founder, chairman and CEO John Fish. Suffolk is ranked #8 on ENR’s list of “Top CM-at-Risk Contractors.” For more information, visit and follow Suffolk on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram.


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