Posted by Justin Rice October 14, 2011 10:27 AM
Courtesy photoWhen North Shore Community College broke ground on its new zero net energy building in November 2009, the building plans were so green, Governor Deval Patrick spent an hour with engineers going over the blueprints because he was so impressed by them.
“To have sensors in windows that adjust to shading to maximize [energy] gain when we need it and minimize [energy] gain when we don’t, those are concepts unheard of when building brick block houses,” NSCC President Wayne Burton said during a telephone interview yesterday afternoon.
Now that those blueprints have come to fruition, NSCC is set to cut the ribbon on the Commonwealth's first state-owned zero net energy building on Monday. The state-of-the-art Health Professions & Student Services Building was paid for by a $31 million state bond and meets LEED Gold certification requirements.
A zero net energy building by definition uses clean, renewable resources to generate enough energy onsite to power itself. In fact, NSCC’s building is so efficient they will be able to sell the surplus of energy it creates back to the grid.
“It’s a model other businesses are coming to look at,” Burton said. “We’ve had people from hospitals and elsewhere come look at it and say ‘How did you do this?’”
The building’s energy sustainability is generated through several architectural and engineering methods such as natural ventilation, lighting, a green roof, building orientation, chilled beams, geothermal energy technologies and photo-voltaic panels harvesting solar energy. The building's green design and energy efficiency components will also be integrated into course curriculum to teach students the principles of sustainability.
“What’s really important is we teach people how we behave ourselves,” Burton said. “As I see it there can be no daylight between the values we aspire to and the values we practice. We want our students to learn responsible stewardship of resources. To do that we have to show what that means. This building is an educational lab for faculty and students.”
The three-story 58,000 square foot building will help the college consolidate all its health programs under one roof, including nursing, physical and occupational therapy, radiology, respiratory and surgical care and animal sciences classrooms. Burton said those programs used to be housed in two or three buildings.
“They can share facilities in one building whereas before they were scattered in terms of labs, teaching spaces and coordination,” he said. “It puts them all under one roof so they can work together and it saves us a tone of money in utilities.”
The building will also house student and administrative support services.
“That’s important,” Burton said. “We’re a community college and most of our students work and are on the fly most of the time. We don’t want to make our services a scavenger hunt. We need to catch students when they walk in the building so they can get where they need for services and off to the classroom.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will run from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday at the Danvers campus and will be followed by tours of the new building.
Justin A. Rice can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.