‘The most technologically advanced CLT building in the country’

The John W. Olver Design Building wins the prestigious Architecture Institute’s COTE Top Ten Award, a distinction for sustainably designed architecture  The American Institute of Architecture’s (AIA) Committee on the Environment (COTE) announced recently that the John W. Olver Design Building on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus is a winner this year of its highest honor, the COTE Top Ten Awards. Projects “illustrate the solutions architects have provided for the health and welfare of our communities and the planet,” the AIA citation says.    The COTE jury wrote of the Olver Building, “The space is made possible by an innovative wood truss system showing us how to reach beyond the cross-laminated timber (CLT) systems to make larger spaces. Its courtyard guarantees views and access to campus to everyone within the building and is well integrated into the larger campus.”  Called the most technologically advanced CLT building in the country, the Design Building opened in 2017 to house the campus’s Department of Architecture, Building and Construction Technology Program (BCT) and Department of Landscape...
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Invasive disruption vs. biodiversity benefits —a conservation debate

Ecologists highlight the importance of considering both an invasive species’ potential for disruption and biodiversity   For many years, the conservation community has embraced the idea that improving connectivity so species can follow their preferred climate will benefit biodiversity.    Toni Lyn Morelli from the UMass Amherst Climate Adaptation Science Centers notes that, “I also work with invasive species experts and conservationists who know that new species can be problematic. So one community is saying yes, species arrivals are good, the other one says species arrivals are bad, and so far they aren’t talking much.”  In a new perspective paper with co-first author Piper Wallingford at the University of California, Irvine, Morelli and other colleagues address that disconnect. Writing in Nature Climate Change, they propose that reconciling these differing views will allow for better management of species that are shifting their ranges because of changing climates.  "By adapting existing invasion risk assessment frameworks, we can identify characteristics shared with high-impact introductions and thus predict potential impacts.” Morelli says, “This is us saying let’s...
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A community-focused approach to solar energy

New clean energy grant seeks to bring solar energy to rural Western Massachusetts towns by engaging residents and municipal representatives  A team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Clean Energy Extension recently was awarded a 15-month grant to lead development of community-focused solar siting and financing procedures in three rural western Massachusetts communities - Blandford, Wendell and Westhampton.    The project will demonstrate “bottom-up” solar siting processes driven by community residents and municipal officials, and offer models for evaluating financing mechanisms that can keep solar benefits within the community, says project leader Dwayne Breger, director of Clean Energy Extension in the campus’s Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment.  Among other goals, it will develop clear protocols and templates to support other rural New England and New York communities who wish to repeat the solar siting and finance processes in their own areas, he says. It is one of eight awarded nationally this year by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory Solar Energy Innovation Network...
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Rooted in science — a guide to eco-friendly gardening

Ecologists’ gardening guide educates gardeners on how they can support local ecosystems by growing more native plants instead of potentially invasive species  An estimated 80% of ornamental plants for sale at garden centers and other outlets are non-native, which means “the average yard does a poor job of supporting native flora and fauna,” says invasive plant expert Bethany Bradley, environmental conservation.    She and her colleagues at UMass, at the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (NE CASC) and elsewhere in New England and New York recently created an illustrated, downloadable pamphlet available free online for Northeast gardeners who want their yards and plantings to assist in increasing biodiversity and to avoid introducing potentially harmful invasive species.  Bradley and other members of the Northeast Regional Invasive Species and Climate Change (RISCC) Management Network point out that “by shifting our plantings towards natives, we can dramatically increase the diversity of bees, butterflies, birds and other animals. In contrast, non-native plants do not support local food webs...
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Weinzapfel Associates (Boston) Receives 2020 AIA COTE Top Ten Award

Weinzapfel Associates (Boston) Receives 2020 AIA COTE Top Ten Award

Boston, MA – May 21, 2020 – Conferred by the AIA Committee on the Environment, the COTE® Top Ten Awards is the industry’s best-known award program for sustainable design excellence. Each year, ten innovative projects are recognized for their integration of design excellence with environmental performance.*  Bringing together the previously dispersed departments of Landscape Architecture, Architecture, and Building Technology programs, the John W. Olver Design Building is a dynamic space of exchange, collaboration, and experiment, celebrating a shared commitment to sustainability. The first, and at the time, the largest, cross-laminated timber (CLT) academic structure in the US, the LEED Gold project demonstrates emerging technologies of mass timber as a renewable construction resource with economic and aesthetic advantages. The building’s integrated sustainability maximizes passive design impact, and engineering solutions minimize its operational energy use. Its timber structure reduces embodied energy, and the building envelope is highly-efficient, with mechanical equipment zoned for maximum efficacy. Radiant flooring and chilled beams also provide savings. Glazing and skylights maximize interior daylight, reducing the need for...
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