The John W. Olver Transit Center

Charles Rose Architects and Arup collaborated on the design for the John W. Olver Transit Center in Greenfield, Mass. High-performance glazing from Viracon and Efco on the copper-skinned building's north elevation helped it reach net-zero-energy status.

Movable, perforated copper screens on the project's east and south sides help control solar gain. (The perforation pattern is an abstracted version of a local map.) The screens also allow daylight into the second-floor offices, keeping energy use from artificial lighting in check. And a low-tech solar wall on the shorter, south elevation brings sun-warmed air inside during the winter, elevating temperatures by 5 to 7 degrees.

A deep roof overhang shelters the south-facing café terrace, which looks onto a bio-retention garden. Beyond the garden lies a copper-covered boiler building and a 98kW photovoltaic array. The 7,300-square-foot array holds 416 solar panels and produces an average of approximately 123 megawatt hours per year.

The Olver Transit Center consumes just 32 kBTU per square foot, due to the reduction of energy loads through design and materials, coupled with passive energy-conserving strategies such as daylighting, solar orientation, and a thermal wheel. A combination of active systems—including the photovoltaics, 22 geothermal wells, and a biomass boiler--efficiently powers the building. The boiler uses just three truckloads of local wood scraps per year, and is needed only on very cold days.

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