At Wellesley College, the 1920s greenhouses of the Ferguson Greenhouse complex have been transformed into a hub for interdisciplinary scientific research and teaching with Global Flora, a place of exceptional environmental quality for researchers and visitors, in harmony with inviting architecture that invites you to linger.
In addition to thermal comfort for researchers and visitors, it offers optimal conditions for plant growth and is an example of innovative sustainable design. Transsolar has investigated various technologies and operating strategies using detailed simulation models and thus had a decisive influence on the greenhouse design. The shape of the building, the choice of materials and the orientation of the transparent surfaces are optimized for maximum utilization of solar radiation while minimizing heat loss through the building envelope. The EFTE-Cushions were chosen because their lightness allows large elements and reduces the supporting structure, which has a very positive effect on the grey energy balance. EFTE is also more affordable and allows UV radiation to pass through, which requires a special laminate for glass.
The specially designed and verified natural ventilation strategy uses natural forces such as sun and wind to create the required greenhouse environment, with very little mechanical equipment and energy consumption. Motor-controlled opening sashes on the south facade and in the ridge area make it possible to dispense with mechanical exhaust fans, which benefits the architectural vision of a "light" double-layer ETFE roof. Without mechanical cooling, appropriate climatic conditions in summer are created for people and plants. The orientation, design and materiality of the building envelope are optimized for the cultivation of plants, including desert and tropical plants, at their location and in the local climate. A movable internal sun protection, the thermal mass of the north wall and air movement by means of local ceiling fans help to ensure that the plants thrive. The Global Flora was originally planned as a zero-energy greenhouse, whereby regenerative energy was to be generated directly on the property (geothermal + photovoltaic). However, it was decided to connect Global Flora to the campus local heating network, which will gradually become CO2-neutral over the next 30 years.
2017 LafargeHolcim Award Bronze