Project Spotlight: UMass Research and Education Greenhouse | U.S. Green Building Council
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Published on
Posted in LEED
Published on
Posted in LEED

The greenhouses are efficient research machines. Two houses of high-tech glass and steel enclose a series of research compartments, each capable of maintaining a separate experimental environment. Sophisticated, automated controls modulate sunlight, artificial lighting, temperature, humidity, irrigation, and fertilization, adapting the interior environment in response to the sun, wind, and weather. The houses maximize plant growth while providing an open, flexible environment for botany research and instruction.

The University of Massachusetts College of Natural Sciences (CNS) Greenhouse is a new plant research facility for the University of Massachusetts-Amherst College of Natural Sciences and the Department of Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences. Its design blends the historical, agrarian character of the University’s roots with the spirit of cutting-edge research.

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What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?

Jacob Werner Project Architect, Wilson Architects, (Payette Associates during construction)

Associated credits: EAp1, EAc1/a, EQp1, EQc1

Mixed-mode Ventilation

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.

Lessons Learned

Joe Balzano, University Project Manager, University of Massachusetts

Associated credits: SSc6.1, SSc6.2

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. 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.

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