Les Norford Lecture: “Buildings, Urban Environments and Electricity Grids”

On Tuesday, November 28 at 5:30pm, Les Norford will give a talk entitled “ “Buildings, Urban Environments and Electricity Grids: Opportunities for More Comfort and Less Carbon.” The event will be held at the Center for Green Buildings and Cities at One Bow Street, Suite 420, Cambridge, MA. Norford is currently the George Macomber Professor in Construction at MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning. He specializes in energy studies, controls, and ventilation, and is seeking to improve the way buildings use the earth’s resources. Read his full bio here.

Pratik Raval Lecture: “Climate Design for Built Environments”

On Thursday, November 16 at 6:00pm, Pratik Raval will give a talk entitled “Climate Design for Built Environments.” The event will be held at the Center for Green Buildings and Cities at One Bow Street, Suite 420, Cambridge, MA.

Pratik helps lead Transsolar KlimaEngineering’s New York team. He provides direction for high-comfort low-environmental impact design on a diverse range of projects throughout the world and will discuss a sampling of them with the GSD. Many of his projects feature groundbreaking climate-design solutions resulting in measurable improvements in experiential quality in built environments. Pratik teaches at MIT, has lectured at other universities, and is an advisory board member of New York City College of Technology’s Department of Architectural Technology. 

Vivian Loftness Lecture: “Research Supporting Biophilic Design”

On Thursday, November 9th from 8:30am-9:30pm, Vivian Loftness will be presenting a lecture entitled, “Research Supporting Biophilic Design.” The talk will be held in Gund Hall, Room 124.  This lecture is sponsored by the MDes Energy and Environment concentration and is open to all.

Biophilia is the psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital. 

Vivian Loftness, FAIA, LEED AP, is a University Professor and former Head of the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. She is an internationally renowned researcher, author and educator with over thirty years of focus on environmental design and sustainability, advanced building systems integration, climate and regionalism in architecture, and design for performance in the workplace of the future. She has served on ten National Academy of Science (NAS) panels, the NAS Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment and has given four Congressional testimonies on sustainability. Vivian is recipient of the National Educator Honor Award from the American Institute of Architecture Students and the Sacred Tree Award from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). She received her BS and MS in Architecture from MIT and served on the National Boards of the USGBC, AIA Committee on the Environment, Green Building Alliance, Turner Sustainability, and the Global Assurance Group of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. She is a registered architect and a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Steve Kemp Lecture: “Great Enclosures Enable Great HVAC Design”

On Wednesday, November 8th from 1:30-2:45pm, Steve Kemp will be presenting a lecture entitled “Great Enclosures Enable Great HVAC Design: Towards Developing New Rule of Thumb Design Shorthand for Architects and Engineers.” The talk will take place in Gund Hall, Room 111. This lecture is sponsored by the MDes Energy and Environment concentration and is open to all.

Great envelopes enable great HVAC systems. It has long been extolled that as the building enclosure improves, the HVAC systems can be downsized, right-sized, or designed out of existence. However, what are the thresholds and rules of thumbs regarding enclosure performance that enable significant innovations in the types of HVAC systems that can be employed? What is the common language that both architects and their HVAC consultants can use to drive integrated design forward in a more efficient manner? The changes to codes, standards, and expectations for building performance are making this conversation essential.  In this lecture, case studies will be presented followed by a forward-thinking approach to identifying envelope performance targets that enable smaller and more efficient HVAC technologies and more importantly HVAC designs (not just sizing!) to greatly increase the sustainable performance of your building. Tools, new rules of thumb, and building science will also be presented.

Steve Kemp, M.A.Sc., B.Eng., B.Sc., P.Eng, is a building science engineer specializing in energy modeling and design, and sustainability. He is currently a Principal and Senior Energy and Sustainability Specialist at RDH Building Science. His work experience includes a wide range of projects including green building design facilitation, renewable energy technology studies and energy research. Steve has developed energy modeling software for Natural Resources Canada, the US Environmental Protection Agency as well as utilities and product suppliers.

Steve has undergraduate degrees in Physics and Engineering as well as a Masters of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering from Dalhousie University. He is a registered professional engineer in Ontario, a past-president of the IBPSA-Canada, and past-chair the Energy & Engineering Technical Advisory Group for the CaGBC and a Director for the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance. In 2014 the Canadian Green Building Council honored him with the Green Building Champion Leadership Award, and at Greenbuild 2017, the Green Building Certification Institute named him a LEED Fellow.   

Harvard Geography Colloquium: Andres Sevtsuk on Urban Design and Analytics

Andres Sevsuk, CGBC Faculty Advisor and Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, will present at the Harvard Center for Geographic Analysis’ “Harvard Geography Colloquium.” This event hosts leading geospatial researchers who present cutting edge geographic research in a seminar format. The goal is to provide the Harvard community with a forum to highlight the unique perspectives, findings, and directions of contemporary geography. The event will take place from noon – 1:30 on Thursday, November 2 in room S354, CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge St. Lunch will be served.

Urban design and urban analytics have emerged as equally important, but separate fields of scholarship. Those concerned with design, work with a forward-looking epistemology, assessing ideas based on their normative merits in an uncertain future. Those who work in urban analytics, use social, natural and computer science methods to explain urban phenomena as they are now or as they were in the past. The difference between forward- versus backward-looking orientation has kept the disciplines apart and created a methodological as well as practical divide, whereby good urban analytics do not necessarily lead to good urban design, nor does good urban design require good urban analytics. Investigating this divide, I explore how the domains of design and analysis can be better integrated in an exploratory design process, using two projects as examples. The projects include a planned integration of light rail stations in Surabaya with the surrounding urban fabric with the aim of supporting higher ridership, and a planned placement and sizing of community retail and service clusters into newly designed large-scale public housing environments in Singapore. In both cases, an iterative design – analysis process required a) that normative goals be determined for assessing design outcomes, b) that well-defined measurement techniques be adopted to evaluate how closely the goals are achieved in each design scenario and c) that numerous design scenarios be generated and tested via computerized simulations. To generalize the processes, their pros and cons, I discuss which types of urban design problems an integrated design-analysis approach is suitable for and what this could mean for urban analytics curricula in urban planning degree programs.

More info here.



Harvard Worldwide Week: The Future of Cities

The Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Harvard Business School Global Initiative will host “The Future of Cities” in honor of Harvard Worldwide Week, a University-wide series of events showcasing the breadth, depth, and diversity of Harvard’s global work.

What will the city of the future look like? How will contemporary urbanization challenges establish the groundwork for the next generation of innovations? Who will spearhead the investments and institutional arrangements needed to address such issues as sprawl, climate change, socio-spatial inequality, and rapid technological change? This panel showcases a range of experts, innovators, and thought leaders in the fields of technology, infrastructure, and governance of cities. Drawing on experience from Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the U.S., panelists will share their views on how best to address the fact that more than 70% of the world’s population is projected to be living in cities by the year 2050 (with close to 90% of the increase coming from Asia and Africa). Debate will revolve around the impacts of intensified urban growth on the basic political, economic, and social arrangements that have come to define cities, as well as on the role of new technologies and infrastructures in modifying urban footprints and quality of life.

John Macomber, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School

Diane Davis, Chair, Department of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design
John Fernandez, Professor, MIT; Urban Metabolism Group, African Urban Metabolism Network
Christian Irmisch, Principal, Siemens AG, Mobility Division
Stefan Knupfer, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company; Leader, Sustainability Resource Productivity Practice
Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group
Efosa Ojomo, Research Fellow, Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation
Harriet Tregoning, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Planning and Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

The event will be held in the Askwith Lecture Room, Longfellow Hall, 13 Appian Way Cambridge, MA from 3:30-5:30pm. Free and open to the public. More info here.

Harvard Consortium for Energy Policy Research: Ali Malkawi on HouseZero

On Monday October 30th, CGBC Founding Director Ali Malkawi will give a talk entitled “HouseZero: A first-of-its-kind, ultra-efficient retrofit” as a part of the Consortium for Energy Policy Research’s seminar series. Housed at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government in the Harvard Kennedy School, the Consortium for Energy Policy Research is dedicated to advancing Harvard’s energy policy research and fostering collaboration across the University in cooperation with the Harvard University Center for the Environment.

The event will occur from 12pm-1:30pm in Bell Hall, 5th Floor, Belfer Building at the Harvard Kennedy School. More info here.

Harvard Club of France Lecture: Founding Director Ali Malkawi on HouseZero

On Monday, July 10, the Harvard Club of France will present a lecture entitled “HouseZero: A first-of-its-kind, ultra-efficient retrofit on Harvard campus” by CGBC Founding Director Ali Malkawi. Professor Malkawi’s presentation will focus on the Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities’ HouseZero project: a retrofit of its headquarters, a pre-1940s stick-built house on Harvard campus in Cambridge, into a prototype of ultra-efficiency. The structure will use no HVAC system, no electric light use during the day, 100% natural ventilation, almost zero energy, and produce zero carbon emissions.

HouseZero will feature an ultra-healthy, flexible, comfortable indoors that works to fundamentally redefine how a home connects with and responds to its natural environment to promote health and efficiency. All components of the building contain sensors that essentially turn HouseZero into a living lab, generating data that will allow the building to adjust itself and fuel further CGBC research focused on actual data and simulated environments.

HouseZero hopes to prove that by retrofitting existing houses, we can help curb climate change, reduce building operating costs, and achieve new levels of efficiency. By using current technologies at our fingertips, we have the power to change the way we design, construct and operate buildings—leading to billion of dollars in savings per year and substantial shifts in the way we approach sustainable energy in our daily lives.

The event will be co-sponsored by Paris Sciences et Lettres, a world-class research university driven by innovation and value creation.

Event details are available here.

Harvard Climate Week: Bud Ris on “Climate Ready Boston: Planning for the Challenges Ahead”

Time: 2:00pm
Location: Piper Auditorium, Gund Hall
48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Questions? Please contact Jeff Fitton (
Audience: This event is open to the public.

The Harvard University Center for the Environment, in cooperation with a wide variety of partner institutions across the Harvard campus, has organized a week of climate change-related events called “Climate Week.”  This week-long program will give the Harvard community, as well as the interested public, exposure to some of the best scholarship and thinking related to climate change that we have at the University. More information about Harvard Climate Week is available here.

On Monday, April 24th, the Center for Green Buildings and Cities will present: “Climate Ready Boston: Planning for the Challenges Ahead” with Bud Ris, Co-Chair, Climate Preparedness Working Group, Boston Green Ribbon Commission, and Senior Climate Advisor, Barr Foundation.

Bud Ris’ career in environmental policy and non-profit leadership spans more than forty years. Currently he co-chairs the Climate Preparedness Working Group of the Green Ribbon Commission and is an advisor to the Barr Foundation. He has been actively involved in the design and implementation of the Climate Ready Boston project, which focuses on making Boston a more resilient city. From 2005 to 2014, Bud served as President and CEO of the New England Aquarium, where he led a successful, multi-year campaign to renovate the institution’s signature exhibits and strengthen its programs on marine conservation. Under his leadership, the Aquarium launched a nationwide educational program on climate change that now includes more than 100 museums and aquariums. Prior to that, Bud was a Senior Fellow at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, where he led the Davos group’s program on climate change for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. From 1984 through 2003, Bud served as the chief executive officer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has long been in the forefront of research, education, and policy advocacy on climate change. Bud is a Trustee of Boston Harbor Now and the Greenway Conservancy and has served on many advisory committees for the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts focused on climate change and waterfront development. In 2014 he was honored for his leadership on behalf of New England’s environment by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

CGBC Lecture Series: Gordon Gill

“Discovering Form Through Performance: From Master Planning to the Tallest Building in the World”
Location: Room 111, Gund Hall
48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Questions? Please contact Jeff Fitton (
Audience: This event is open to the public.

Gordon Gill is one of the world’s preeminent exponents of performance-based architecture. His work, which ranges from the world’s largest buildings to sustainable communities, is driven by his philosophy that there is a purposeful relationship between formal design and performance; and that there is a language of performance, which is the basis of his practice: Form Follows Performance.

A founding partner of award-winning Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, Gordon’s work includes the design of the world’s first net zero-energy skyscraper, the Pearl River Tower (designed at SOM Chicago), the world’s first large-scale positive energy building, Masdar Headquarters, the world’s tallest tower, Kingdom Tower in Jeddah Saudi Arabia and most recently the design of Astana Expo 2017 and its sustainable legacy community for Astana, Kazakhstan. These landmark projects pursue energy independence by harnessing the power of natural forces on site and striking a balance with their environmental contexts. Gordon’s designs also include performing arts centers, museums, strategic carbon planning and urban master plans across the globe.

His work has been published and exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally and his designs have repeatedly been recognized by the American Institute of Architects. In 2009 he was selected as Chicago’s Best Emerging Architect by the Chicago Reader and in 2013 Gordon was elected to The College of Fellows at the American Institute of Architects.

Prior to founding AS+GG in 2006, Gordon was an Associate Partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and a Director of Design for VOA Associates.