When it came time to construct its world headquarters building, biotech firm Genzyme wanted it to be innovative and environmentally responsible; “We wanted a building that really represented who we are as a company and to integrate all of the important aspects of our culture,” said Erin Emlock, company spokesperson.

The result was Genzyme Center, which received the highest rating issued by the U.S. Green Building Council. Genzyme Center is the largest corporate office building to earn a platinum certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. It is one of only 13 buildings to receive this rating.

Genzyme Center, which formally opened in 2004, is a 12-story, 350,000-square-foot building, located in the Kendall Square neighborhood of Cambridge, Mass. Situated on the former site of an industrial plant, the building is helping to transform a polluted brownfield into a vital urban community.

“We took non-productive land and turned it to productive use,” Emlock said.

The center’s energy efficiency results from the building’s extensive use of natural light, concrete construction, waste steam from a nearby power plant for cooling and heating and an insulating second layer of glass covering one-third of the exterior. The installation of highly efficient plumbing is helping to reduce water usage. Nearly 75 percent of the materials used in Genzyme Center contain recycled content, and more than 90 percent of the construction waste was recycled.

Rick Fattila, director of Environmental Affairs for Genzyme, said the positive response from employees and the local community has exceeded the company’s expectations. “With the increased common space, natural light and transparency of the interior glass walls, employees have more opportunities to have discussions and meetings. This fosters a higher level of interaction, collaboration and creativity. And we are setting an example for other companies in the community.”

According to the U.S. Green Building Council Web site, the LEED Green Building Rating System is the “nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.      EC