Photo of New UMass Amherst Central Heating Plant

21st Century Facilities

The University’s ambitious capital plan for cutting-edge additions brings the future to life with form and function

Above right: New UMass Amherst Central Heating Plant

Photo of Robert C. Holub, Ph.D. Chancellor, UMass Amherst

“This has been a decade of renewal, with the University of Massachusetts investing $1.7 billion in new construction and renovation; creating the campus facilities that our students, faculty, and staff need and deserve; and ensuring that UMass will compete and prosper in the 21st century.”

Robert C. Holub, Ph.D.
Chancellor, UMass Amherst

The award-winning Central Heating Plant at the University of Massachusetts Amherst sets new standards and is expected to save the campus $1 million a month in energy costs.

Charlton Family Creates Incentive for Learning Pavilion

Can a building be aesthetically pleasing, environmentally friendly, and provide heat for an entire university campus? Just look to the new Central Heating Plant at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for proof.

With its distinctive south-facing glass wall, rounded roof, and bright red exterior, you might assume the building is an architecturally innovative performing arts center or a sparkling new sports arena. In reality, it is one of the cleanest heating plants in the nation, cutting the campus’s carbon footprint by 30 percent.

The state-of-the-art, $133 million facility is a part of UMass Amherst’s larger commitment to becoming a “green” leader and fostering campus-wide sustainability practices. It comes two years after University leaders signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a national pledge to neutralize institutional greenhouse gas emissions and to accelerate research and education efforts addressing global warming.

Photo of the dedication of the Central Heating Plant in April 2009 (L-R): Theodore Carroll, John A. Mathews, Robert P. Thornton,  Edward W. Collins Jr., Jack M. Wilson, Robert C. Holub, Robert K. Sheridan Philip Giudice, Joyce M. Hatch

Above (L-R): At the dedication of the Central Heating Plant in April 2009 (L-R): Theodore Carroll, John A. Mathews, Robert P. Thornton, Edward W. Collins Jr., Jack M. Wilson, Robert C. Holub, Robert K. Sheridan Philip Giudice, Joyce M. Hatch

The award-winning plant sets new standards and is expected to save the campus $1 million a month in energy costs. It generates both electricity and steam, uses natural gas and oil, and can be expanded to burn such biofuels as wood chips, according to James Cahill, director of Facilities and Campus Planning. It replaces an obsolete, coal-burning facility dating back to 1918.

The facility is designed to meet all the campus’s needs for heat and will be capable of producing 80 percent of its electrical load after an additional steam turbine is installed. The plant complies with some of the most rigorous air-quality requirements in the country and uses advanced combustion turbine burners and pollution-control equipment to reduce emissions by approximately 75 percent.

The plant recovers 80 percent of the energy used per pound of fuel consumed, twice the average of current power plants. The operation also will conserve 65 million gallons of clean drinking water annually by using treated gray water from the Amherst wastewater treatment plant to replace water lost in steam distribution and use. In 2008, the Combined Cycle Journal, an international publication that recognizes outstanding power plant constructions around the world, awarded the facility its “Pacesetter Plant Award.” The new plant represents a major step in transforming the campus into a statewide showcase for energy efficiency.

To advance our goal of attracting the finest students and faculty, the University of Massachusetts is committed to modern living and learning facilities that enhance the depth and value of our educational environment.

The University has embarked on an ambitious capital plan for 300 building and renovation projects across the five UMass campuses. With support from the Commonwealth’s higher education and life sciences bond bills, the University will invest $2.6 billion in new 21st century facilities, energy improvements, and deferred maintenance over the next five years.

Priorities include research labs, classrooms, and student facilities that foster alliances among academic disciplines—thereby exposing students to faculty whose research yields expert knowledge, and teaching them to work with classmates worldwide.

With these investments in cutting-edge facilities, we have every reason to be confident in and optimistic about the future of the University and the students who are destined to become 21st century leaders.


Here’s a look at some of the projects that are underway...

UMass Amherst: The completed Integrated Science building and Central Heating Plant reduce our carbon footprint. Design is being completed for the new Laboratory Science Building.

Photo of students working out in UMass Amherst's new Student Recreation Center

Above: Students work out in UMass Amherst’s new Student Recreation Center

UMass Boston: The completed Venture Development Center includes lab space for entrepreneurs. Construction of a new Integrated Sciences Complex will provide faculty researchers with advanced labs.

UMass Dartmouth: A 22,000-square-foot, three-story addition to the Learning Pavilion at the Charlton College of Business is planned. Renovation of the Claire T. Carney Library will include assembly and study space.

UMass Lowell: UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center provides housing for hundreds of students. Acquisition of the Tsongas Arena will provide events as in past years. The new $40 million South Campus academic building will address dramatic growth in the nursing, criminal justice, English, and psychology programs.

UMass Medical School: The Albert Sherman Center will be a state-of-the-art biomedical research and academic support center, including the Advanced Therapeutics Cluster, to enhance progressive RNAi, gene therapy, and stem cell research.