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Green for the Albert Sherman Center

UMass Chan Medical School has earned a $1.6 million incentive payment from National Grid Massachusetts for a wide range of energy-efficient features designed and built into the Albert Sherman Center, a 500,000-square-foot research and education facility nearing completion on the Worcester campus.
The combination of efficient design and advanced technologies at the ASC will result in the new facility operating 25 percent more efficiently than a similar building of standard design, resulting in consumption of 4.1 million fewer kilowatt hours of electricity, and an annual 4.5 million pound reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. 

“Public health is tied to the health of our environment. That is why sustainability and energy efficiency are objectives we embrace,” said Chancellor Michael F. Collins. “We value our partnership with National Grid. Incentive programs like this enable us to invest in design and advanced technologies that ease the environmental impact of our campus, and save money over the long term.” 

“Once again, we’re pleased to be partnering with the UMass Chan Medical School and supporting their ongoing efforts to introduce cleaner technologies in their campus buildings,” said Marcy L. Reed, president of National Grid Massachusetts. “It’s because of the aggressive energy-efficiency legislation by the Patrick Administration and our strong commitment to delivering innovative efficiency programs that we can empower customers like UMass Chan Medical School to maximize energy savings while protecting the environment.” 

The ASC includes numerous, integrated systems that reduce energy consumption. Among the key technologies that helped earn the incentive payment are: vacancy sensors for lighting, heating and cooling of offices and conference rooms; heat recovery wheels that allow the building to exhaust stale air and draw in fresh air while retaining most of the heat in the building; variable speed fans, with sash sensors, on the fume hoods in the laboratories; daylight harvesting sensors that adjust interior lights based on the available sunlight; and a sophisticated building automation system that monitors building operations every 15 minutes and adjusts systems for maximum efficiency. 

Additionally, the physical orientation of the Sherman Center on the site and the exterior materials used contribute significantly to the building’s efficiency. On the north side of the building, where the laboratories are located, the façade is mostly glass, with long widows designed to allow in as much natural light as possible. On the south side of the building, the windows have external baffles or sun-shades designed to block much of the heat energy of the sun’s rays, and also to bounce some of the light up to the interior ceilings of the offices and educational spaces on that side of the building. The glass on the south side is also slightly more reflective than the rest of the building, again to limit solar glare and heat gain. The building’s roof is white and light grey, and the exterior terracotta lightly colored, so they reflect rather than absorb heat. The result is the exterior envelope of the ASC helps reduce the need for electric lighting, heating and cooling of the facility. 

This new incentive payment was awarded for the efficiencies of the ASC building itself. On April 9, 2012, UMass Chan Medical School received a $5.6 million incentive payment from National Grid—the largest rebate given by the utility company in the commonwealth—for an energy-efficient 14,000-square-foot expansion of the Worcester campus power plant built to help meet the demands of the growing institution. That project included installation of a high-efficiency, 7.5-megawatt, gas-fired combustion turbine and an associated heat recovery system that will boost UMass Chan Medical School’s capacity to generate electricity to serve the ASC. 

The new gas turbine replaces one of the plant’s original gas and oil-fired steam boilers, which will be taken off-line and kept in reserve as an emergency back-up. Since natural gas burns cleaner than oil, and the new jet turbine is highly efficient, the expanded power plant will actually have lower green-house gas emissions, despite its added energy capacity. Producing electricity on-site is approximately 30-percent more efficient than using electricity from the regional distribution network, because of the losses that occur when electricity travels long distances on distribution lines.