DiMella Shaffer brings sustainable design to Massachusetts
Occupied in January 2012 after two years of construction, North Shore Community College, Health Professions / Student Services Building is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' first educational building that has been designed as a Zero Net Energy Building (ZNEB). It is also the fourth largest ZNEB in the United States.
The 58,000-sq-ft structure is currently in the final stages of being certified by the United States Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program at a GOLD level rating. This ZNEB has been designed to generate through clean, renewable sources at least as much energy as it consumes.
Utilising 1088 photovoltaic solar panels architecturally incorporated onto the building's south-facing steel roof trusses, the slope of the panels cleverly deals with the practical need to safely shed snow and rain from the panels onto the supporting roof below. This open truss design helps to maximise the availability of the sloping PV surfaces for sun collection while concurrently its form visually 'celebrates' its on-site electric energy generation.
Three solar panel canopies help to collect students from the adjacent parking area drawing them under the canopies and eventually into the building's front entrance. This powerful entrance promenade actually contributes to the building's need for electrical generation by presenting the importance of these additional ground-supported solar collectors as the architectural expression of the building and its site.
Contributing to the building's sustainable strategies is an abundance of natural daylight utilising sun as a managed light source thereby minimising the need for artificial light. Likewise, the building's exterior envelope is highly insulated and thereby reduces heat gain and loss. Finally, since reliance on fossil fuels for normal heating and cooling is eliminated through the incorporation of 50 geothermal wells which captures the heat and cooling from the earth's core a holistic design approach is achieved.