Memorial Church renovations achieve LEED Gold certification

Photo by Jeffrey Blackwell

2 min read

The green renovation of the programming spaces in Harvard’s historic Memorial Church has achieved LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

MemChurch, as it’s affectionately called, serves as a “space of grace” for the University’s diverse and interfaith community. The 11,000-square-foot renovation sought to reorganize and update the lower level of the church, creating new programming spaces focused on well-being and efficiency, including a new Student Oasis, choir and meeting rooms, kitchen space, and offices.

Professor Jonathan L. Walton, Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church, said there is a moral commitment to sustainability.

“The way I read the Garden of Eden narrative is that God created humanity and gave us the garden and said, ‘Till and tend it.’ This is what it means to be good stewards,” he said.

For the new student spaces, the project team prioritized access to natural light and designed an open, comfortable, and inviting refuge where students needing a moment of pause from their hectic and fast-paced schedules can retreat.

Additionally, new air handling units and temperature sensors were installed to heat, cool, and ventilate the sanctuary and basement spaces efficiently and to waste as little energy as possible. High-performance, healthier LEDs were installed throughout the space, and 91 percent of the lighting load is controlled by occupancy or daylight sensors, increasing the indoor environmental quality.

Water use is expected to be reduced 31 percent thanks to the installation of low-flow fixtures and ENERGY STAR rated appliances. Water conservation efforts are also on display outside Memorial Church thanks to a new irrigation system that shuts off at the first sign of precipitation.