Renovated Hampshire Dining Commons at UMass Amherst Awarded LEED Gold Certification

AMHERST, Mass. – The renovated Hampshire Dining Commons at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has been awarded LEED Gold certification for energy efficiency and sustainability and has been recognized by a lighting designers’ group for the efficiency and design of its interior lighting.

Built in 1966, Hampshire Dining Commons is a two-story, 46,000-square-foot, concrete structure in the campus’s Southwest residential area. The two-year, $15.5 million renovation was completed for the fall 2013 semester.

The revamped facility features a central oval kitchen area surrounded by themed serving stations.

Matt Hyatt, project architect with the designer, Bergmeyer Associates of Boston, said his firm believes Hampshire is the first dining hall renovation in the country to achieve LEED Gold status and is the most sustainable dining commons in the country.

Hyatt said the campus’s heating and electrical cogeneration facility helped the project reach LEED Gold because it meant there was no increase in energy demand.

Although somewhat constrained by the existing building, he said designers were able to retain almost all of the existing structure so they needed less new material and virtually nothing went to the landfill.

The floor is plain concrete, ground smooth, which reinforces the concrete aesthetic and produces a self-perpetuating sustainable finish with no chemicals and no maintenance, he said.

The project’s aesthetic goes “hand-in-glove” with the intentions of UMass Dining Services, he said.

With the central kitchen area having numerous exhaust hoods that constantly move air, designers found there was no need to install new insulated windows. That saved $1.7 million on the project. “It was a really efficient budget,” Hyatt said.

The lighting earned the Illuminating Engineering Society’s Edwin F. Guth Memorial Award for Interior Lighting Design. The award recognizes exceptional interior lighting projects that balance functional illumination with the artistic application of light to enhance the user’s experience. The award honors the founder ofthe St. Louis Brass Co., who at the time of his death in 1962 held 147 patents.

Hyatt said the lighting efficiency was achieved with the use of LEDs and some fluorescent fixtures. There is one large “asteroid belt” of light fixtures around the central kitchen area. Everything else is secondary with indirect, non-decorative lighting.

Hyatt said the role of the food experience based on the open kitchen area drove the design.

Garet Distefano, UMass Amherst director of Residential Dining Services, said the oval design reduces lines while students clearly see the variety of food offered and can have meals cooked to order. “This allows us to reduce cost, reduce waste and have a positive environmental outcome,” Distefano said.

Following surveys showing UMass students want healthier beverages, no soda is served at the Hampshire DC. Built into the design, however, is space for handling the 25 to 30 cases of fruit that are used for juices and smoothies every day.

The overall goal is to serve minimally processed foods and more plant-based items at peak season, less red meat, more sustainable seafood and healthier oils, fats and beverages.

Rachel Dutton, sustainability manager for UMass Auxiliary Enterprises, which includes Dining Services, said, “Achieving LEED Gold status fits perfectly into our UMass healthy and sustainable food system initiative. Hampshire DC is a premier campus eatery for sustainability, health and wellness.”

“This is the next generation of dining,” Distefano said.