Updated: Feb 27
On September 7th, 2019, the Amherst family grew one building larger. The 230,000 square foot Science Center has become the hub for research and innovation in the sciences, housing 6 academic departments, 47 research labs, and 87 offices. The building is a part of the college’s Greenway Project, a plan designed to pave the way towards a more sustainable campus.
More than 100 companies assisted with the development of the new science center, and 87% of the construction waste (1600 tons or the weight of 267 mammoths) was recycled.
A multitude of factors contribute to the Science Center’s biophilic design. The contemporary exterior of the building boasts a triple glazed glass curtain wall, a roof generously layered with solar panels, and rainwater capture. The rust colored panels covering some windows help with cooling or heating the building, and light that passes through the slots on these panels’ mimic light passing through trees. The window curtains, made from recycled water bottles, automatically adjust depending on the temperature of the building. This feature tremendously adds to the efficiency of the building’s ventilation and heat retention system.
Tucked under the main staircase on the first floor is a reflecting pool that contains water that is filtered through the campus gardens. This water is recycled back to plants all around campus. Overall, the rainwater harvesting system reduces potable water consumption by 1 million gallons each year.
Most of the classrooms, laboratories, and meeting spaces in the science center are behind glass walls. State of the art laboratories are grouped based on specialization and include collaborative workspaces. The color scheme of the building consists of earth tones; scattered across the three different floors are sets of green furniture, plants, picturesque landscape views, and ample access to natural light – all of these features tie together to further emphasize connections to nature.
The Science Center is 70% more efficient than average science buildings of the same size and uses only 30% of the amount of energy per square foot used by Merrill, the old science center. The science center's solar array had the highest levels of energy production in July 2019, with a total production of 17.4 MWh. Additional statistical energy contribution data from the solar array can be tracked here.