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Growing Green: Ambulatory Care Center gets LEED Silver

The Ambulatory Care Center at the UMass Chan Medical School’s Worcester campus has earned LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC); the first building in the school’s history to achieve this important status for sustainable design and efficient operation. 

The ACC opened in June of 2010, and after a detailed review of the building’s design, construction and operational data, the Green Building Certification Institute verified the LEED Silver certification on September 20, 2012. 

“We are pleased to have earned this important certification for the new building,” said Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor in Medicine, executive deputy chancellor, provost, dean of the T.H. Chan School of Medicine and professor of pediatrics and microbiology & physiological systems. “It is only fitting that facilities like the Ambulatory Care Center, that are designed to improve human health are respectful of the health of our environment.” 

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a third-party certification system created by the USGBC for “green building” construction and renovation projects. It’s regarded as the premier certification program for sustainable construction in the country. 

Built by UMass Chan Medical School in collaboration with its clinical partner the UMass Memorial Medical Center, the 253,000 square-foot ACC is home to a mix of patient-care, clinical research and educational activities. 

To meet the high standards required for LEED Silver certification, numerous sustainable features were integrated into the ACC. For example, the building’s design and orientation helps prevent solar heat gain, thereby lowering the need for mechanical cooling. The building has a white roof to diminish the “heat island effect” and reflect rather than absorb 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 is approximately 30-percent less than a conventional building because of automatic low-flow/low-flush plumbing fixtures. Electricity consumption is reduced by sophisticated controls for heating, cooling and lighting. A special “commissioning agent” was brought in to oversee the design and installation of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to insure they were the most efficient possible given the use of the building, and are functioning as expected. 

In addition, LEED certification points were earned for the use of interior finish materials with recycled content, wood paneling from certified sustainable forests, and building materials such as adhesives and paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to reduce chemical emissions. 

“A medical facility with patient-care and research activities has a greater demand for energy and water than a similarly sized office building,” said John Baker, associate vice chancellor of facilities management at the Medical School. “So it was truly a team effort, and a commitment from the University leadership to invest in sustainability, that has led to this LEED designation.” 

Payette of Boston was the architect for the ACC; Consigli Construction of Milford, Mass. was the construction manager and general contractor.