Harvard HouseZero is a Super-Eco Retrofit by Snøhetta


The Harvard HouseZero is an impressive undertaking by Snøhetta, the world-famous design firm from Norway. It’s a 1940’s building in Cambridge that was massively retrofitted to be a net-zero/passive house energy showcase, as well as headquarters for The Harvard Center for Green Buildings and Cities.

While the exterior remains relatively unchanged, a view inside shows how simplified and


As a working office, the interior is set up like many modern offices are, with clean conference rooms, and plenty of light. But the design goes so much further, with enough natural light to negate the use for any artificial light during the day. This is done with big windows, light colored materials, and also a solar chimney, which helps regulate temperature and light.


Natural ventilation is controlled by a window actuation system, which employs sophisticated software and sensors arrays to automatically open and close windows to maintain a quality internal environment throughout the year.


The HouseZero has very ambitious goals for its energy use:

  • 1.  Almost zero energy required for heating and cooling (No HVAC system)
  • 2. 100% natural ventilation  
  • 3. 100% daylight autonomy (No daytime electric light) 
  • 4. Zero carbon emissions, including embodied energy in materials 


This prototype building is a living laboratory for smart design and efficiency practices, and we’re thrilled to see it take shape in an existing, older building, showing the possibilities that innovation can offer.


See more about this house/building’s smart designs on Snøhetta’s website.