UMass Celebrates Groundbreaking of New Sustainable Building

AMHERST, Ma. — The University of Massachusetts (UMass) recently celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of its $52 million, energy-efficient Design Building. The ceremony honored the state-of-the-art academic facility and the innovative wood construction technologies it will incorporate.
About 100 people celebrated at the event, which featured remarks from UMass President Marty Meehan. Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Katherine Newman and State Rep. Ellen Story also spoke.
“It’s bold, beautiful, and brilliant,” said Subbaswamy of the building, which he said will be “the most advanced wood structure in the United States” once completed, yielding zero carbon emissions, according to his comments to the Daily Collegian.
The structure, which will be 87,200 square feet, will house three areas of academic study from three separate colleges. These include Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the Department of Architecture in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts and the Building Construction Technology program in the College of Natural Sciences, according to a statement.
“It’s going to be a very exciting new building,” UMass Project Manager Burt Ewart told the Daily Collegian. “It’s being designed as a modern showcase of timber technology.”
The super sustainable four-story structure will feature wood frame construction rather than common steel and concrete construction types, according to information gathered by the Daily Collegian. It will be built with recyclable and renewable materials and will utilize high-tech wood technologies made possible by the Environmental Bond Bill passed by the Massachusetts state legislature in 2014.
Proposed designs show the wooden superstructure will include a two-story central courtyard, classrooms, studios, lounges, materials testing labs, offices, meeting rooms, research spaces and a café.
The university will incorporate a green roof outdoor courtyard and garden on the third floor, which will help maintain moisture and prevent storm-water runoff, keeping the building cooler and reducing the need for air-conditioning.
Other sustainable features include low-flow water fixtures, light sensors and energy-efficient heating and ventilation systems, according to the Daily Collegian. Space will be left on the roof for the possible installation of solar panels.
The project is being financed through the UMass Building Authority, which hired Boston-based Leers Weinzapfel Associates to design the building. Construction of the Design Building began in the spring and is expected to be finished in 2017.


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