DESIGN FOR LOW ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

The MGHPCC was the first university research date center ever to achieve LEED Platinum Certification, the highest level awarded by the Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. As you can see from the MGHPCC LEED Certification Review Report, environmental design for LEED Certification requires attention to numerous details, including construction methods and materials, landscape and site design, and water conservation.

Site

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The site is part of downtown Holyoke’s former industrial district and was first used for manufacturing textiles in the 1880s. The site has also endured other operations, such as tool, cutlery, steam pump, and trolley track manufacturing. These uses have led to a contamination of the site, which was remediated as part of this project.

Landscape

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Additional site improvements included adding native and adapted vegetation such as Inkberry, Sweetgale, and Meadowsweet as part of the planned landscape. This planting, as well as other native plants, were particularly useful in the creation of several bioretention areas, which are used to remove contaminants and sedimentation from stormwater runoff.  Bioretention areas  also prevent erosion and slow stormwater runoff, to allowing time for water to infiltrate into the soil instead of adding load to the municipal storm water system.

Encouraging Energy Efficient Transportation

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The MGHPCC encourages energy efficient transportation by locating a few blocks away from the Holyoke Transportation Center, which offers public transportation connections throughout the Pioneer Valley and to Boston and New York.   Bicycle racks are available near the front door, and preferred parking spaces are available for visitors who drive a low-emitting or fuel-efficient vehicle (any vehicle that a green score of 40 or lower according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy).

Potable Water Use Reduction

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Plantings were selected so that the site does not require a permanent irrigation system. This saves both resources and expenses that would normally be needed to maintain the landscape. Additionally, this measure helps save the cost associated with installing and maintaining the irrigation system itself.

Plumbing Systems

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The project installed water fixtures that contribute to an estimated water savings of 33% in indoor potable water use as compared to EPAct 1992. THat’s an estimated water savings of 26, 680 gallons of water. Water efficient water closets with a flush rate of 1.28 gpf were used (saving approximately 6, 000 gallons of water per year). Also, waterless urinals were put in place. These fixtures use a sealing liquid that is less dense than urine. Therefore, the urine sinks through the oil, trapping the odor below the oil layer and preventing it from escaping out into the rest of the bathroom. Without the need for water, these fixtures help save 11, 320 gallons of water per year.

Energy Efficiency