UMass Amherst
Crotty Hall on the campus of University of Massachusetts Amherst is designed to be a net-zero energy building.

New building for economics department at UMass Amherst is net-zero energy

April 20, 2017
The university dedicated the 16,800-square-foot Crotty Hall last month.

Crotty Hall, a 16,800-square-foot building housing 35 offices and four conference rooms for the department of economics, is the first net-zero-energy facility on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus.

The university says in a news release that it dedicated the new building, designed by architect Sigrid Miller Pollin of the UMass Amherst architecture department, last month.

Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy says the “stunningly beautiful” building advances the university’s national recognition for it commitment to sustainability.

A $10 million grant from an anonymous donor enable UMass to construct the facility, which is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes. It will use about one-fifth the energy of the average office building in the Northeast.

The entire economics faculty now will be housed in Crotty and neighboring Gordon Hall, which also hosts the Political Economy Research Institute and the School of Public Policy.

Three of the four conference rooms can double as classrooms, and the building includes well-lighted and comfortable spaces where students can study or relax.

Miller Pollin says the building achieves its energy efficiency by incorporating a number of features. The walls, roof and foundation are heavily insulated, and the roof is covered with high-efficiency solar panels, which are not visible from the street.

Eight geothermal wells reach about 450 feet deep to draw heating and cooling water that remains a near-constant 52 degrees all year. Heat is transferred by radiant panels on the ceilings, and all windows are three layers of glass. Sensors monitor building conditions.

“The building detects if your windows are open when they shouldn’t be open, and a signal is sent to the building manager,” says Miller Pollin.

A street-level dashboard tracks energy consumption and production.

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