LEED BD+C: New Construction v2009
UMass Research and Education Greenhouse
LEED Gold 2013
The below stakeholder perspectives address the following LEED credits:
SSc3, SSc6.1, SSc6.2, EAp1, EAc1, EQp1, EQc1
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
Given that the greenhouses require air-conditioning in some spaces under glass, we wanted to maximize the energy efficiency of the project. The goal was to design and construct a cutting-edge research and teaching facility that meets all technical needs, while reducing energy usage.
While the greenhouse research functions require intensive water usage, the project team also sought to conserve water and minimize consumption as much as possible.
Another top goal was to have the building support academic research and teaching needs while also having the actual building serve an education tool.
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
The new greenhouse and research lab project was developed on an existing brownfield site on the university campus. There were several small greenhouse structures that needed to be tested for hazardous building materials prior to demolition. We looked at each structure for materials such as asbestos, lead paint, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's), and mercury associated with lighting fixtures or other building materials. We did identify several materials that required removal, most of which were asbestos. Once the materials were identified, we developed specifications to bring on an appropriately licensed contractor. One of the old greenhouses had asbestos in the caulking which was a particular challenge as it required special planning with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. We were required to submit a plan for approval for the bulk loading that was necessary to remove all of the demolished structure.
Photo by Warren Jagger
Rooftop shot looking toward Greenhouses
The College of Natural Sciences (CNS) Greenhouse combines natural/passive ventilation strategies with a mechanical ventilation system. Selection of high-performance mechanical systems provides almost 100% outdoor air ventilation to improve indoor air quality, promoting occupant comfort, well being, and productivity. Increased ventilation rates are particularly important inside greenhouses and laboratories, which host thousands of chemicals and biological pollutants (many of which could have significant health impacts such as asthma, cancer, or reproductive and developmental problems). Natural ventilation is provided by thermal, wind, and diffusion effects through doors, operable windows, and roof vents in the building. All building openings are secured with insect protectors to maintain a secure indoor habitat. Given the extreme climate of Massachusetts, mechanical ventilation was selected to complement this natural ventilation so that heating and cooling loads could be increased when necessary. To further maintain ventilation rate and temperature, horizontal and vertical air flow fans, positive pressure fans, and evaporative coolers were installed.
Listen to architect Jacob Werner discussing the challenges of energy modelling in a unique building type.
Enthalpy Wheel System
An enthalpy wheel system, selected by project engineers to recover total energy consumption, reduces the project's heating and cooling energy loads. Enthalpy wheels are rotary air-to-air heat exchangers in which adjacent supply and exhaust air each flow through half of the wheel. In contrast to heat wheels, which transfer only sensible heat, this enthalpy wheel transfers total heat. These wheels are quite compact and can achieve high heat transfer effectiveness with a relatively low air pressure drop (typically 0.4 to 0.7 inches of water). Freeze protection is not an issue with this system. The University has had success with these systems on other projects and approved the designer's selection because of prior experience.
Daylighting, Views & Lighting Controllability
The greenhouse and laboratories connect indoors and outdoors by introducing daylight into the regularly-occupied areas of the building and providing outdoor views to occupants. The project's daylighting reduces the need for electric lighting; this project achieved a 28% savings in interior lighting over the baseline. The greenhouse is an open space with minimum interior walls, so installing high-efficiency and insulated glass panels as the envelope allowed ample daylight to enter interior spaces. To control excess daylight, the greenhouse has shading devices on the side walls and roof. In the greenhouse and laboratories, high-efficiency artificial lights may be used on cloudy days. These lights have daylight and occupancy sensors to reduce excessive and unwanted energy usage.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
The greatest non-LEED success was integration of two different buildings - the greenhouse and laboratories/classrooms - while maintaining their interdependence. Combining these programs in one building reduced development footprint, maximizing open space. Students get all of the amenities of classroom, labs, and research facilities together in one place, reducing travel needs. Additionally, the building integration reduces investment in common needs, such as heating, cooling, electricity, water, Internet, restrooms, and security systems. The project also provides a new indoor connecting corridor from the renovated teaching greenhouses to the new greenhouses, further integrating and connecting the Sciences.
Photo by Warren Jagger
South research laboratory
Additionally, the project was designed with adaptable floor plans and land for future extension. Open interior and high bay spaces provide flexibility in using interior spaces, while adaptable floor plates reduce the need to demolish existing spaces in the case of future renovation (thereby also minimizing waste generation and the need for new construction).
Stormwater management is a challenge given the construction and expansion projects happening within our large university campus. In terms of the greenhouse site we didn't have a lot of land area to deal with stormwater. Determining how to handle our stormwater was one of our design challenges.
Listen to architect Nick Lavita discuss managing stormwater on the CNS greenhouse site.
Since the project was a greenhouse the first thought was to capture the stormwater and incorporate it into the water usage of the building. The real hurdle was that research greenhouses and the research activity doesn't allow for reclaimed water. Providing a three-foot-deep gravel stormwater retention basin to control stormwater on site solved many problems with one elegant and affordable solution. The gravel basin eliminates the need for gutters at the laboratories, as water is able to shed off of the roof, and eliminated the need for an underground water storage structure. It also prevents outdoor plants from interacting with indoor plants because the gravel serves as a biological barrier around the greenhouses.
The process of energy modeling was a particular challenge because it is a hybrid building that combines a high-tech research greenhouse with state-of-the art laboratories. Each component of the program has distinct systems and envelopes that work closely together, which required an innovative, challenging, and expensive approach to energy modeling. Additionally, modeling the process energy strategies for the greenhouses was challenging.
Photo by Warren Jagger
Greenhouse headhouse and support spaces. Glass connector leads to existing renovated Greenhouse.
What was the value of applying LEED to this project?
The LEED process encouraged the project team to think through the sustainable aspects of the project early in the process. In addition, LEED provided rigor to energy modeling, which produced a better final project. Specifically, LEED pushed the design team to clarify its approach to process energy modeling compliance.
LEED also promoted an integrative design approach, which meant that the project design team involved all key members, such as end users, owners, architects, engineers, contractors, sub-contractors, and commissioning agents from the pre-design phase. Many design decisions associated with environmental impacts were made in the first part of the design process before schematic design begins, establishing needs, expectations, goals, and related strategies that made this design successful. Given this close interaction and thought synergies from all key members, the integrative design approach helped reduce development costs. The storm water management system and integration of two programs into one building would not have been possible without the consistent attention to sustainability goals.
So, what do you think? Help us improve our new LEED project library by completing this short survey.