CNS Research & Education Greenhouse

Interior of the College of Natural Sciences Greenhouses

Project Overview

LEED Certification: V3 Gold
Completed: April 2011
Architect/Engineer: Payette Associates
Project Manager: Joseph Balzano

Project Purpose

This renovation provided much-needed teaching and research facilities for the Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences Department. More than 15,700 sq. ft. were added onto the existing greenhouse for laboratory and extended greenhouse space.

The project is composed of two major parts: “Greenhouse” and “Laboratory”. The design implemented contemporary state-of-the-art systems to make the facility an efficient glass and steel research machine. Sophisticated automated systems control natural and artificial lighting, temperature, humidity, irrigation and fertilization, adapting the interior environment in response to the sun, the wind, and other weather controls.

The CNS greenhouses maximize research capability and provide an open, flexible environment for instruction. The architectural language of the laboratory harmonizes with the greenhouse design, its form suggesting a modern re-interpretation of the New England barn. Project interiors are simple, in keeping with the agrarian aesthetic. Despite its apparent outward simplicity, the laboratory is a sophisticated research facility, featuring two research labs, a wet/dry classroom for botany instruction, and a core facility for seed germination. It also contains the primary mechanical infrastructure for the entire project.

Sustainability Features

Water Management: This research facility includes a unique storm water retention system that encompases the project. On all sides, a wide bed of gravel isolates the greenhouses from surrounding native plants and grasses and allows greater ease of access for critical greenhouse equipment. The project’s civil engineer increased the depth of the bed from 6 inches to 3 feet so that the system itself acts as a retention basin, barring the need for expensive and disruptive underground cisterns.

Heating and Cooling: Sophisticated heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment mitigate the building's energy use. Modular chillers and a hybrid cooling tower maximize efficiency and opportunities for “free cooling”. The lab space is outfitted with a custom outdoor air handler that has a parallel energy recovery unit, in conjunction with a heat wheel (or enthalpy wheel). The unit provides the facility with cooling and return air for laboratory rooms, as well as overall building pressurization. The air handling unit’s filters and coils are designed to accommodate low pressure drop for energy savings and energy code compliance.

Lighting Design: Classrooms, laboratories and offices are outfitted with multi-level switch-controlled lighting, occupancy sensors are provided for all rooms except mechanical and electrical spaces, and daylight sensors are installed for all spaces with glazing along the building perimeter. All rooms are equipped with manual over-ride switches and all exterior lighting is controlled by a series of photocells with a programmable time controller and contactor. Fluorescent lamps are the primary source of building illumination. However, electronic high-efficiency ballasts provide full output at reduced wattage.

Exterior of College of Natural Resources Greenhouses
Exterior of College of Natural Resources Greenhouses as seen from the parking lot
Entrance of College of Natural Resources Greenhouses