John W. Olver Net-Zero Energy, Federal Transit Center
Greenfield, Massachusetts

Located on a brownfield site in the historic business district of Greenfield, the exterior materials of the John W. Olver Transit Center—brick, copper, and locally-sourced stone—are a respectful nod to Greenfield’s past, but the essential attributes are green: energy-saving technologies are combined with on-site energy generation including geothermal wells, solar panels, photovoltaics, and a biomass boiler. We advocated for a design which met the energy goals of President Obama’s executive order requiring all federally-funded buildings to achieve zero net energy by 2030 and were awarded significant funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It is the first zero net-energy building of its kind—combining government offices, train and bus depot—in the United States.

While brick and stone imbue the center with a rooted-in-place quality, the building’s form conveys a sense of fluidity—a visual cue of the building’s purpose. The design bends the building toward the northern end, which gives the center a sense of motion and a scalar, formal connection to transportation infrastructure. Inside, the building provides much needed community meeting space, centralized offices for county government and emergency response teams, as well as a new node for regional and interstate bus transportation and Amtrak. The Olver Center has played an important role in downtown Greenfield’s revitalization and continues to stimulate additional green projects in the region.

Program diagram (above) and massing strategy (below)

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Wood soffits protect the waiting passengers

The brick exterior dissolves transforming the solid façade into a screen; these patterns are computer-generated and control the amount of heat entering the building’s interior in summer and winter. While brick and stone imbue the center with a rooted-in-place quality, the building’s form conveys a sense of fluidity—a visual cue of the building’s purpose.

Our sustainable strategy utilized energy modeling including sunpath diagrams to develop the building form. The second story cantilevers over the waiting area providing shade and reducing summer solar heat gains.

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Lighting strategy blends natural and artificial light

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Second-level offices

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Clerestory windows provide natural light

Inside, the building provides much needed community meeting space, centralized offices for county government and emergency response teams, as well as a new node for regional and interstate bus transportation and Amtrak. The Olver Center has played an important role in downtown Greenfield’s revitalization and continues to stimulate additional green projects in the region.

Waiting area