Bristol Community College John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building
Owner: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Location: Fall River, Massachusetts
Project site: Previously developed land
Building program type(s): Education–College/University (campus-level)
Bristol set ambitious goals of making its new science building not only elegant and inviting, but also a model of sustainability. The 50,000 sq ft building sets the standard as the first zero net energy (ZNE) academic science building in the Northeast. Providing hands-on learning opportunities and care to underserved populations, its program accommodates instructional labs and support space for field biology, biotech, microbiology, and chemistry; nursing simulation labs; clinical laboratory science and medical assisting labs; dental hygiene labs; and a teaching clinic. Taking a holistic approach to the design and construction of the Sbrega Health and Science Building, the team uncovered innovative ways to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, increase efficiency, and dramatically reduce demand.
Project goals: Replace outmoded labs with hands-on learning environments for science and health
science; provide student ‘soft’ space; build sustainably; ‘gateway’ building; enhance existing landscape framework.
Between the budget-setting feasibility study and the beginning of SD, the college started a power purchase agreement, building a 3.2 MW solar array over a parking lot. This prompted a reassessment of the original "high-performance" design, which would not have kept pace with BCC's climate commitment. The goal became to design for zero net energy (ZNE) without increasing the budget. Which was accomplished.
In the ‘high performance’ design, energy demand was driven largely by 18 fume hoods that exhaust 100 percent outside air. Switching to filtration fume hoods and air-quality monitoring unlocked a series of strategies that reduce the EUI by roughly 80 percent, including:
- 33-67 percent reduction in air changes
- enthalpy wheel heat recovery
- decoupling cooling/heating from ventilation
- using fan coil units for local control
- 67 percent reduction in airflow
- high-performance envelope
- expansion of interior temperature range to 70-76 degrees
- natural ventilation
- 22 percent window-to-wall ratio
- self-shading, and 40 percent reduction in LPD
For heating and hot water, the design integrates a dual-source heat pump and a solar-powered hot water system. Together with the solar arrays (site and roof), carbon based energy sources have been eliminated.
Utility and daylight:
- occupied by multiple disciplines
- shared daylit student ‘living room’
- lab walls are glazed, allowing for views into the labs
- outdoor rooms and spaces
- visible stormwater management
- landscape/building merge
Taken together, this approach provides triple bottom line benefits:
Social: access to job-focused education serving a growing sector of the state’s economy
Economic: operational savings of $103,000 per year (not including grants/incentives/social cost of carbon); supporting the renewable energy market
Environmental: keeping carbon in the ground, reducing stormwater run-off, increasing habitat, establishing new models of sustainable lab design