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VA clinic earns LEED and Green Globes

The dramatic lobby artwork features red, white and blue, but now the whole building can claim a sustainable green.

The building housing the VA Central Western Massachusetts Healthcare System’s new community-based outpatient clinic (CBOC) at UMass Chan Medical School has been certified by two organizations that evaluate buildings for their energy efficiency and sustainability, in both construction and operations.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program designated the VA building as “Certified” and the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes program has awarded the project “Two Globes” noting it “demonstrates significant achievement in resource efficiency, reducing environmental impacts, and improving occupant wellness.”

Sustainability factored into the building’s design from the start. The site selected was previously developed and used as the Massachusetts Highway Department’s regional offices. Site reuse in this way doesn’t contribute to urban sprawl. Asbestos was removed from the old building. Steel and aluminum materials from the previous structure were recycled. The remaining brick and concrete was crushed on site and re-used as fill where needed. Very little material from the site ended up in a landfill.

The orientation of the building and the exterior curtain wall minimize solar heat-gain. The building’s HVAC system is approximately 30 percent more efficient than required by building codes. It includes heat recovery technology and advanced air filtration systems. Building automation tools and occupancy sensors reduce energy use when areas are not occupied. LED lighting is used throughout. Water conservation measures built into the plumbing system limit potable water use within the building. Outside, stormwater runoff is channeled through structures that capture contaminants.

The project included expanding the attached South Street Garage and installing 36 electric vehicle charging ports for the use of patients and visitors. These and other building elements that improve efficiency and sustainability are presented in a series of 14 posters on display in the pedestrian walkway connecting the VA clinic to the garage.

“We wanted to show the community some of the important sustainable aspects of the building, and also educate people about the rigorous process required to get a building certified by LEED or Green Globes,” said Savannah Fox Tree-McGrath, architectural designer in UMass Chan’s facilities management department who created the poster series.

The VA building is the third on campus to have an environmental certification. The Ambulatory Care Center earned LEED Silver and the Albert Sherman Center achieved LEED Gold.

The new VA clinic serves a growing population of veterans in the region and supports training of medical and nursing students at UMass Chan. The clinic includes 65 exam, consultation and procedure rooms and brings together under one roof primary care and mental health providers along with specialists. Within the building, veterans have access to a pharmacy and specialty care including radiology, echocardiology, and physical and occupational therapy. For more information about the project see