A Success Story: United Teen Equality Center (UTEC)

Now the Oldest LEED Certified Building in the Country



THE CLIENT: United Teen Equality Center


Since 1999, United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) has been a hub of peace, possibility and empowerment for Lowell's highest-risk  youth. In 2006, UTEC purchased a historic building, originally a church. In 2011, UTEC began extensive upgrades to the historic building while constructing a 7,500 square foot three-story addition. Within this construction, and commitment with UTEC's mission to be socially responsible and self-sustaining, they began to convert the youth center to a LEED Platinum certified green building. Now complete, the facility holds the distinction of being the oldest LEED certified building in the country.


Help More Young People Live Sustainable Lives

by doubling the number of youth the UTEC Workforce Development serves. This enduring community will be achieved  by engaging and connecting Lowell's youth with relevant programming, street outreach and environmental education;
Connect to the Environment with a Green Building that includes a 34kW Photovoltaic Panel System, Solar Chimney,Electric Vehicle Charging Station,
UTECPassive Cooling System, Recycled Materials and Natural Lighting;
Increase Revenue and offset operating expenses
by leveraging the newly installed technology in conjunction with expanded programs.


  • Create something that has never been done before.
  • Raise funds in order to reach financial goals.
  • On an extremely limited budget transform a historic church, incorporate a newly built addition into a LEED certified multi-function, multi-purpose teen center.


Transforming the historic church into a "Class A" event space was challenging. UTEC wanted the gym, home of the UTEC basketball team, and what was once the church sanctuary, to serve as a multi-use space. With a tight deadline and a minimal budget, Shanahan worked diligently to design state-of-the-art audiovisual spaces that would be ready for UTEC's grand opening. A concert-level sound system with digital console in a rolling cabinet was installedin the 
UTECmulti-purpose gym along with a less complex system containing an Extron MLC controller for source selection  and basic volume control. The room also boasts a 10' by 16' motorized screen and a Panasonic DLP HD projector. The café and adjoining courtyard AV systems are used for reproduction of voice and music playback along with a large-screen LED TV for video presentations. The UTEC students, both hospitality and culinary, will operate the café as a fully functioning restaurant open to the community. The students' newly learned skills will be demonstrated when the gym is transformed into a function hall hosting large scale events and galas. Other spaces receiving audio/video systems were classrooms, the conference room and the dance studio.

The sound and video production students are excited to train in their expanded recording studio. The training will allow students to operate and control the sophisticated gym audio system, further increasing UTEC's capabilities andofferings.


The new enterprise is helping to increase the employability and financial health of UTEC's teens.  Now UTEC also has the capacity to increase the number of youth it serves. The new conference rooms and performance center are available for training and workshops that will help sustain existing programs and allow development of new programs. The gym doubles as a performance center with the capacity to host live theater, musical performances and large-scale community events. UTEC is excited with the possibilities and is contemplating becoming a venue for future Lowell Folk Festival events.


Giving back to the community has always been close to our hearts. It meant a great deal to the Shanahan team to be involved in the project and to donate a portion of our time and materials to such a good cause. Through UTEC, teens now are building their future careers, and the community has an exciting, well-equipped and architecturally innovative building to enjoy in myriad ways.

Photos by: Peg Shanahan Photography ,


For more information, please visit our website. Let us help you turn your audio and visual requirements into reality. Give us a call at 800-786-1556 or contact us
today. One of our professionals will be happy to work with you.