Lloyd Center aims for lean, green, energy-producing machine for new welcome center

Apr 28, 2017

The Lloyd Center is constructing the 13th building in the world to generate more energy than it uses with the help of South Coast students.

The new welcome center would follow the strictest building codes in existence — meaning not even trace amounts of specifically banned chemicals can be detected on the building materials. And, it will function on a closed-loop system, entirely disconnected from town water and sewer systems.

Lloyd Center officials announced their goal of a “living building” at the April 27 annual meeting, and their partnership with Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School students, who will help with construction. Foundation work for the 1,000 square-foot welcome center began several weeks ago, and framing is expected to start in September, said Architect Kathryn Duff of Studio2Sustain.

The building will be ready to use by the summer of 2018, said Duff.

“Seventy-five percent of all energy is used by buildings,” said Duff. “When you think of a building that can actually give back energy, that’s exciting.”

Through the Living Building Challenge, officials inspect everything. For example, with two-by-fours, officials would look at where the wood is manufactured, if it's treated with any chemicals, and even the kind of material used to lubricate the saw blades in the mill.

Unlike other green building codes, the criteria is performance-based. Instead of checking off boxes during the construction phase, the building will be tested for about a year after it has opened to ensure its design conforms to the strict regulations.

Visually, the building pays homage to the center’s natural roots with a design inspired by the forest floor, and is the result of a three-week brainstorming session with Studio2Sustain staff and interns.

“It shows the articulation of falling leaves,” Duff said. “The roof is made of white cedar, and looks like the veins of leaves.”

GNBRVT students will take an active role in the construction process while learning about green energy and engineering at the same time. Robert Gomes, the school’s community outreach coordinator, said that about 200 students will take part in the partnership on a rotating basis. Voc-Tech students participated in previous building projects for the Lloyd Center, Gomes said.

Every aspect of the building serves an educational purpose, Duff said. Even the basement — which houses two large waste composters — includes glass doors for visiting students to learn about the composting process. It will also include the town’s first greywater treatment system, which uses plants to naturally treat used water.