The Bosarge Family Education Center at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, to achieve Net Zero Energy
The recently opened Bosarge Family Education Center is situated at one of Maine’s premier tourist destinations and is being hailed as the “greenest building in Maine.” Designed through a collaboration between Maclay Architects of Waitsfield, VT and Scott Simons Architects of Portland, ME, this project included input from design professionals, staff, board members and donors from across New England.
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens started the process of designing the Bosarge Family Education Center by laying out strict goals for both environmental performance and programming. The client set the high environmental goal of both net-zero energy and LEED Platinum, for this 8,000 square foot building sited next to their existing visitor’s center.
The client’s program included administrative office space as well as flexible classroom space that could be adapted for various larger events and gatherings.
From the beginning of the design process, creative ways of meeting the client’s goals were explored by the design team. The client was restricted by both a tight budget and schedule, as a non-profit intent on preserving the visitor’s experience during the summer season. To fulfill the client’s expectations, a panelized construction system, produced by Bensonwood of Walpole, NH was utilized, which allowed for the majority of the building envelope to be fabricated off-site and then assembled rapidly on-site. Once the shell was in place, HP Cummings, construction manager for the project, was able to work through the winter months under cover. This construction approach allowed the project to be completed on budget, on schedule and to meet the strict environmental goals set out by the client.
The Bosarge Family Education Center at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens boasts walls and a roof that are over a foot thick and achieve an efficiency rating of R-40 in above ground walls, R-60 in the roof and R-20 in below ground insulation. Triple-glazed, R-5 windows, designed and manufactured in Germany, provide passive solar gain in the winter while keeping out heat in the summer. To produce the energy load required to achieve net-zero, the building is equipped with 135 PV panels on the south facing roof as well as an additional 102 panel array on the ground, together capable of generating 55,148 kWh. This energy production will offset the building’s annual energy use, which is modeled at 19 kbtu/sf-yr, to make this building a net-zero building.
The Bosarge Family Education Center is one of a handful of net-zero non-residential buildings in all of New England, and only the second commercial LEED Platinum building in Maine. This building stands at the next frontier of building design, surpassing LEED standards to achieve much greater energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
Beyond the environmental goals, this new building at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens meets all of the programming requirements set out in the beginning of the project by connecting directly to the neighboring botanical gardens through views and access. A central gallery acts as a transparent, breezeway-like, connector. The two wings spread out from this center, one housing administrative and staff functions and the other designed as a flexible multi-use space. This can function as a large performance space or be partitioned into acoustically separate classrooms that each open into the landscape and exterior teaching spaces.
The Gardens’ vision of building a teaching tool for visitors that communicates the importance of resource and energy conservation is realized. The Bosarge Family Education Center is now open to the public. Meters inside the building and online track real-time data for lighting, mechanical systems, water use and electricity production to teach anyone who is interested in learning more about the technical aspects of the project. Through an integrated design process the strict environmental metrics were turned into a teachable mantra, one that describes the finished product, “If a plant designed a building…” Visitors to the gardens can now complete that sentence with first hand experience, “It would be powered by the sun, t would use natural materials as its building blocks, and it would harness the daylight.” If you are in the Boothbay region, be sure to visit.
GET Aug2011 page 30