The Medical School’s energy strategy includes a focus on both reducing the energy usage of existing buildings and building new space to be green and efficient. This also includes meeting the electrical and steam needs of future growth through the efficient power plant on campus.

Co-generation Power Plant

Energy Efficiency Projects

Albert Sherman Center 

On Campus Co-generation Power Plant

The Medical School and UMass Memorial University Campus are served by a co-generation power plant, giving the campus a significant head start in reducing overall energy consumption. Generating electricity at the point of use saves up to 30-percent of the fuel that would have been used by a distant power plant to meet the campus needs. This occurs because power is lost when electricity is transported great distances over power lines, so more must be generated to compensate for those losses.  

The campus plant burns primarily natural gas to produce 100 percent of the steam required for heating all buildings on the main campus in winter and 100 percent of the chilled water used for air conditioning in summer. The steam produced for heating and cooling is used a second time to produce about half of the electricity used on campus. 

Since all buildings on the main campus are tied into the power plant, the Medical School’s overall carbon footprint over the past 30 years has been 10 percent lower than if each facility had its own separate HVAC system. Modifications to the power plant in 2002 resulted in even greater efficiencies, and greenhouse gas emissions are now 15 percent lower than if the buildings had stand-alone systems. In addition, the amount of No. 6 fuel oil used to supplement the natural gas burned has been reduced by half in the past five years. Natural gas burns cleaner than oil; therefore, this change has contributed to the decrease in emissions since 2003.

Click here to view a video on the Power Plant expansion.

Growing Greener

To accommodate the growing campus, specifically the energy needs of the Albert Sherman Center, the Medical School began, in 2010, a power plant expansion project to add a state-of-the-art, 7.5 megawatt gas fired turbine and heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) to the current system. 

Hot exhaust from the gas turbine will be piped into the heat exchanging generator to produce steam for creating electricity. Fueled primarily by natural gas, this combination will operate cleaner and more efficiently than the current boiler system. That means the improved power plant will actually have lower emissions, despite the added energy load from the new buildings. Moreover, the new equipment will contain a catalytic reduction system to remove pollutants from the smoke stack discharge.

Seeking Energy Efficiency

Part of the work of the Sustainability Committee is to identify and launch projects that improve the overall efficiency of existing buildings. Whether it is identifying projects for the institution’s long-range capital plan, or more immediate projects like swapping out lighting fixtures for newer, more efficient technology, there are myriad efforts on going to help reduce the carbon footprint of the campus’s legacy built environment.

Recent Energy Efficiency Projects

  • LED Parking garage lighting upgrade completed in 2012
  • Loading dock lighting upgrade completed in 2012
  • Installation of new Electric Chiller in Power Plant
  • Medical Equipment upgrades

Ambulatory Care Center

The Ambulatory Care Center (ACC), a seven-story, 258,000-square-foot building that houses a mix of ambulatory clinical care centers plus clinical and translational research programs, opened in 2010 as the greenest building on campus to date. It was designed to achieve LEED Silver certification. 

To help integrate sustainable features into the ACC’s design, a commissioning agent was hired to oversee the design and installation of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems, to maximize their efficiency. Several green components built in to the ACC focus on preventing solar heat gain and thus lowering the need for mechanical cooling. These include a white roof to diminish the building’s “heat island effect” by reflecting rather than absorbing heat; a tight exterior building envelope with tinted, reflective, and insulated glass; and an east-west building orientation to minimize the number of south-facing windows. 

Water use in the ACC will be reduced by nearly 30 percent with automatic low-flow/low-flush plumbing fixtures. Electricity consumption will be lowered by dual-use occupancy sensors throughout the entire building, for both lighting and heating/cooling. In addition, LEED certification points will be achieved by the use of flooring materials, adhesives and paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to reduce chemical emissions. Whenever possible, materials with recycled content were used, including in the building materials and furnishings. The application for LEED Silver will be submitted in the fall of 2011.


Albert Sherman Center

The Albert Sherman Center (ASC), now under construction, is a 512,580 square foot research and education center opening in early 2013. The center will house wet and dry laboratories, teaching areas, core research space, administrative space, a 320-seat auditorium, a cafeteria and a vivarium. The building was designed and built utilizing many sustainable design techniques that will help to reduce operating costs through decreased energy and water consumption. 

Programs located in the ASC will include the UMMS Advanced Therapeutics Cluster, comprising the RNA Therapeutics Institute, Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, and the Gene Therapy Center; the Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; and the Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation. 

Sustainable Sites

The site utilizes light colored concrete along with a white roof to help offset the heat island effect. Urban heat island effect is the change that occurs when large areas of land (that were once permeable and moist, become impermeable and dry) are covered over with buildings and roads. Temperatures are typically higher in large cities and can be anywhere from 1.8° - 22°F warmer than the surrounding area. One way to offset the heat island effect is through light colored materials. For the Sherman Center, concrete and roofing materials were selected for their higher SRI (Solar Reflectance Index) value, which helps to reflect the sun’s radiation rather than absorb it. 

The building also incorporates several alternative transportation options, including: campus and public bus systems, bicycle racks and shower facilities, 54 preferred parking spaces for Low-Emitting and Fuel Efficient Vehicles, as well as an additional 54 preferred parking spaces for carpool or vanpools. With all the alternatives to single occupancy vehicles, the Sherman Center hopes to reduce the carbon footprint created from building occupants commuting to and from work each day.

Water Efficiency

The building’s water fixtures were chosen for their high-pressure low-flow capabilities. The high-pressure low-flow fixtures use less water per use, without compromising quality. Flow and flush rates for the fixtures are as follows: lavatory faucets: 0.5 gpm, kitchen faucets: 1.5 gpm, showers: 1.5 gpm, toilets: 1.28 gpf and 
urinals: 0.125 gpf. Overall the building obtained a 35% reduction of water use in flush fixtures and a 47% reduction in flow fixtures, together this accounts for a 40% total reduction of water use in the building!

Energy Efficiency

The Albert Sherman Center achieved advanced energy efficiency through a highly insulated building envelope and the use of energy efficient equipment. The building was able to achieve a 19.81% energy use savings, which amounts to a total 25.52% energy cost savings. A significant part of this savings is contributed to the building envelope. The walls of the building are constructed with 3” insulation and shadow box treatments to the exterior, which help to reduce solar heat gain. In addition, the roof was constructed with R-30 insulation and the slab floors consist of 3” rigid insulation and vapor barrier under the 5” concrete slab on grade, along with 2” of continuous insulation to the top of the foundation wall. All windows include layered insulated glass and shading louvers were installed on all South facing glass. 

The BAS (building automation system) is used to fully integrate all systems and will monitor building equipment and provide trending data to prove building performance at 15-minute intervals. Interior electrical system loads were reduced through reducing interior lighting power density, installing occupancy sensors in labs, offices, corridors, lobbies and conference rooms, and including daylighting sensors in all perimeter spaces with daylight access. 

Efficiency in the HVAC system was accomplished through the selection of highly efficient components including: fan and economizer controls, energy recovery ventilators (that utilize enthalpy wheels and provide 76% sensible recovery effectiveness) and chilled beams which push air over heater or cooled pipes to condition the air for occupied spaces. Other conservation measures include installations of light shelves, CO2 demand control ventilation, additional insulation, and low e glazing. In addition, the chiller equipment is highly efficient and includes variable speed drives to adjust energy use as the building’s cooling demand varies.

Materials and Resources

Over 500 SF of floor space has been allocated to the collection, storage and processing of recycled materials within the building, located in each desk, in each wing, and throughout the café and multi-purpose room. Each office and cubicle location will receive a personal paper and cardboard recycling box provided.

During construction of the building, great attention was paid to the waste being generated from the construction process. In order to reduce the amount of waste created, the project team utilized a waste hauler who could provide a simple and efficient way to reduce waste sent to a landfill. Aligned with the project’s Construction Waste Management Plan, the waste hauler collected all waste materials on-site and then separated them at their facility. This process allowed for almost all items to be recycled, leaving the project with a diversion rate of 89.5%. 

Many materials for the project were also selected because of their recycled and regional content. Materials with recycled content include: cement, fly ash, structural steel, steel framing, walkway coatings, drywall, and copper flashing. Regional materials, which were extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the site include: cement, fly ash, aggregates, admixtures, some structural steel, drywall, grouts and waterproofing. All new wood products used on the project are FSC certified. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) promotes the responsible management of the world’s forests.

Indoor Environmental Quality

To provide occupants with a healthy indoor environment, low VOC Adhesives and sealants, paints and coatings, and flooring systems and composite wood systems with no added urea-formaldehyde were required for the project. Demand control ventilation was installed in the center to ensure that fresh air is always available inside the building. The ventilation system is connected to CO2 sensors, which increase ventilation when CO2 levels become elevated above 875ppm. 

During construction, care was taken to protect the HVAC system, limit emission of VOCs in the construction area, prevent cross-contamination of clean spaces, keep the construction site clean on a daily basis and schedule material deliveries with construction activities to prevent damage. The ventilation system utilizes MERV 8 filters and was completely flushed out prior to occupancy. The flush out for the HVAC system required 14,000 cubic feet of outdoor air, per square foot of building space, allowing for any contaminants to be cleaned out and caught in the filters. New MERV 13 filters are then installed after the flush out is complete. 

Innovation in Design

The project pursued four points for Innovation and Design. These points go beyond the typical LEED requirements and provide exemplary performance for existing credits or additional forms of education and increased efficiencies. 

The Albert Sherman Center has implemented a green education program, consisting of informational signage throughout the building and a project website. Both the signage and website provide detailed information on the sustainable design features that were incorporated into the building. The educational program will help to create an increased awareness for the importance of conservation. 

In addition to the fundamental and enhanced commissioning of the building, the project team chose to commission both the building envelope, and all of the laboratory fume hoods. The commissioning process helps to ensure that all system components are installed and functioning properly. Building systems are put through a variety of tests to determine where deficiencies exist and how to properly address these issues. The commissioning validates that the systems are working efficiently which helps to reduce energy demand. 

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