Final Report: Fostering Sustainability: Designing a Green Science Building at a Small Maine College

EPA Grant Number: SU831873
Title: Fostering Sustainability: Designing a Green Science Building at a Small Maine College
Investigators: Otto, William , Choiniere, Ashley , Leach, Chris , Abelson, Elisa , Sullivan, Elizabeth , Hostert, Ellen , Baker, Emma , Beasley, Rebecca , Carter, Sarah , Gaudette, Shannon , Sprangers, Sherrie
Institution: University of Maine - Machias
EPA Project Officer: Page, Angela
Phase: I
Project Period: September 30, 2004 through May 30, 2005
Project Amount: $6,623
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2004) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The University of Maine at Machias is planning construction of a new science building to house programs in Biology. Environmental Studies. and Marine Biology. The building will be designed to meet the LEEDTM Green Building Rating System, focusing on reducing energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions. Other important LEED design considerations include reducing stormwater runoff, maximizing natural light and using environmentally friendly building materials, all while incorporating uniquely Maine features. Our remote location, cold climate, high heating and electricity costs. high transportation costs and the paucity of local contractors with expertise in this type of construction all add to the challenge of this project.

The undergraduate design team will investigate a variety of options in the design and siting of the building. Pilot projects will include investigating the 1asibility of solar and md power generation and the use of lowbush blueberries ( Vaccinium angustifolium) on a green roof to reduce stormwater runoff and moderate temperature fluctuations in the building. The team will evaluate the feasibility of placing solar collectors over a parking area, incorporating a greenhouse for natural lighting and passive heating. using gray water for plants in the greenhouse, and supplementing campus meals with greenhouse-grown produce.

The team will address the challenge of high energy costs via renewable resources. Reduction of greenhouse gases associated with current modes of electricity generation will be addressed. Reduced energy and maintenance costs will contribute to campus prosperity. Community prosperity will he enhanced by the reduction of stormwater runoff and the development of local expertise in meeting LEEDTNI Green Building guidelines. The incorporation of natural light and a greenhouse will contribute to the health and well-being of those who use the building and consume the produce.

Energy sources, building siting, etc. will be evaluated by comparing construction, maintenance, and energy costs with similarly-sized traditionally constructed projects and with the existing science building on campus. Implementation of the design will occur with the construction of an environmentally-friendly building on the campus.

The University incorporates its mission in all aspects of campus life. The design of the building will he incorporated into courses including Environmental Issues. Environmental Chemistry, Special Topics in Environmental Studies, and Facilities Design. To disseminate the results of the team’s research, a decision matrix will be made available on the University’s website. allowing other entities to evaluate the benefits of incorporating these projects into their construction.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

The overarching goal of the project ‘as to develop a feasibility study of building design and construction that takes into account the various local conditions, optimizes energy savings. use of building materials, and long term sustainability of the structure. The optimal site based on environmental impacts of the three possible building sites was determined. A list of feasible energy conservation measures including a green roof with low bush blueberries was developed. Of the alternative energy production methods investigated solar energy production is feasible while tidal. wave, and wind are not feasible for our location A lean-to greenhouse that uses passive solar heating and gray water will be attached to the new building. however, it was determined that it would not he feasible to raise additional produce for campus use in the greenhouse. A Living Machine® is likely to be feasible. A list of environmentally friendly building materials was developed. In addition, a room with a bike rack and a room for recycling were added to the building to encourage alternative transport and recycling.


The feasibility study provided the background information needed for using environmentally friendly components in the building design that take into account the various local conditions. optimizes energy savings, use of building materials, and long-term sustainability of the structure.

Proposed Phase II objectives and strategies:

The proposed work for the phase II of this project is built around the conclusion from phase I: solar power is the most feasible renewable energy production method for our location. The specific project for phase II will be to have undergraduate and high-school student teams build and help install photovoltaic-thermal hybrid units at the Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research and Education facility.

The specific objectives for phase II of the project are to:

  1. minimize the cost and emissions associated with pumping and heating 8.000 gallons of seawater every other day.
  2. minimize emissions for the 6,500 kWh of electricity currently used per month.
  3. provide students with hands-on instruction on how a solar photovoltaic panel works and how to build a unit.
  4. involve local high school and college students to maximize the educational impact.

The strategy for minimizing the emissions from heating the significant quantity of seawater and from the electricity used will he to install photovoltaic-thermal hybrid units. These units will use reflectors to focus more solar energy onto photovoltaic cells to increase electrical production per solar cell unit. This will address the second objective. The excess heat produced in the solar cells will he captured with a heat sink connected to the reflector and a pipe to conduct this excess heat to fluid in the pipe. This fluid will then be piped through a water storage unit to preheat the seawater. There will likely need to be an additional heating source. hut the use of the hybrid units will minimize the use of non-renewable resources to heat the seawater.

Supplemental Keywords:

Northeast, sustainable development, cost-benefit. life-cycle analysis, renewable, waste reduction. and waste minimization,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Sustainable Environment, Energy, State, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, green design, sustainable development, alternative building technology, ecological design, environmental conscious construction, green building design, emission controls, green home building, engineering, energy efficiency, solar power, Maine (ME), wind power, environmentally conscious design