Amherst College

Finegold Alexander teams with Salas O’Brien to assess energy-saving options at Amherst College

Amherst College Energy Study | Feasibility & Phase 1
Amherst College
Amherst, Massachusetts

Amherst College has committed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. A major part of this plan is for energy transformation across the campus - the decarbonization of their entire campus energy system. This involves a shift from steam to low-temperature hot water, and future installations of geothermal wells and distributed heat pumps. Finegold Alexander has been working with Salas O’Brien and Amherst College since January 2020 as Amherst seeks to determine the implications for these changes to their existing building stock.

Our initial feasibility scope with Salas involved assessing eight existing campus buildings (ca. mid- 1800s to 2004) for thermal issues and potential enve­lope improvements. The purpose of these assessments was to understand implications of the planned campus change to low-temperature hot water for buildings of various vintages and energy use intensities. Through site visits and review of existing conditions documentation, we evaluated building envelopes for synergistic Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) such as better air-sealing, glazing replacement or installing additional insulation when replacing aged, flat-roofing materials. We also identified code and accessibility issues within the buildings that might require upgrading should cost thresholds be reached. Our final report documented the existing envelope conditions together with the recommended ECMs. Costs for the ECMs were estimated by Salas. These ECMs provided Amherst with a blueprint for addressing their building envelopes by type and vintage as they proceed with the work of decarbonization.

Phase 1A of the project involves mechanical, electrical and architectural work associated with the replacement of steam and high temperature hot water systems at 26 campus buildings, as well as the creation of a schematic design for a new campus Energy Center. The Energy Center will house mechanical equipment to support distribution of low temperature hot water and chilled water produced by the new campus geothermal system being designed by Salas O’Brien as part of the larger plan for decarbonization. The Energy Center was also planned as a low-em­bodied carbon structure.

Finegold Alexander’s architectural support for these efforts has involved careful review of existing conditions, coordination of new heating infrastructure routing to minimize scope where possible and detailed drawings for the replacement of heating terminal units in historic millwork.

We look forward to continuing our work with Amherst to transform their existing buildings for a zero-carbon future.

Campus-wide building assessments
Select building renovation Design Documents

Building envelope assessments
Existing building assessment for code + energy concerns

Architectural scope documentation associated with MEP infrastructure changes
Schematic Design for new Campus Energy Center

Photo Credit:
Hero image of Fayerweather Hall on the Amherst College campus, photo by: Kenneth C. Zirkel, CCBY-SA 4.0 <>, via WikimediaCommons;
Page URL:,_Amherst_College.jpg

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