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Video: Designing efficiencies for the Albert Sherman Center

Now under construction, the Albert Sherman Center will dramatically expand the medical school’s educational and research facilities. And from the beginning of the design process for the building, energy efficiency and sustainable building practices have been at the forefront.

“This building will be about 25 percent more efficient than the code requirement,” said Mark Dolny, a senior associate at ARC/Architectural Resources Cambridge, architects of the building. “We’ve tried to do everything we can, in terms of efficiencies, to meet the  university’s goals.”

Using the guidelines promulgated by the U.S. Green Building Council, nearly every aspect of the design and construction process is evaluated. For example, recycled steel from a regional vendor was used for the structure; wood treatments for the interior are sourced from sustainable forests; rainwater (and internal condensate water) will be captured for use at the campus power plant.

Even the basic orientation of the building was precisely established to make the best use of available sunlight. On the north side of the building, where the laboratories will be 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.

“In accordance with the governor’s direction, we are trying to lead by example in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability,” said Shawn McGuinness, senior architect and project manager at UMass Chan.

In this video, McGuiness and Dolny discuss some of the energy efficient elements of the building.