University News

Worcester Commons Receives Gold LEED Certification

Worcester Commons, the newest dining hall on campus, has received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Massachusetts requires all new buildings achieve at least a LEED Silver certification along with many other efficient mandates that go beyond the silver certification requirements. UMass Dining chose to pursue a Gold certification due to its emphasis on sustainability.

The modern façade of Worcester Dining Commons is visible on the University of Massachusetts
Worcester Commons at UMass Amherst

Many sustainable features on campus gave Worcester an edge in achieving a Gold certification – the highly efficient Central Heating Plant that generates most of the electricity and all of the steam power used on campus, the campus bus system, the campus waste reduction and recycling programs, the compactness of campus that limits vehicle use and the integrated green spaces.

To push the effort to Gold certification, several things were integrated into the design and build of Worcester, including electrochromic glass for most south- and west-facing windows to improve the comfort of the interior space and reduce energy needed to heat and cool the building, laminate wood frames for the windows, high-efficiency exhaust hoods, energy recovery systems to capture heat waste, low-maintenance landscaping, locally sourced construction materials and some recycled construction materials, such as the large wooden dining tables in the main dining spaces.

The new 87,000 square foot Worcester Commons includes a first-floor retail café, grab-n-go, the campus’ commercial bakery, lounge spaces and a small fitness center. The dining commons is on the second floor with seating for approximately 800. The third floor is home to a full-service restaurant and bar, a Student Life suite that features soundproof music practice rooms, meeting spaces for student groups and a contemplative space, as well as office space for Auxiliary Enterprises. The outdoor space on the west side has a plaza for gathering, eating and events.