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Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Headquarters

Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Headquarters

Constructing a commercial zero net energy building (ZNEB) is no easy task, especially one that is 45,000 square feet and sits in Massachusetts where the winters are cold and summers often hot and humid. This is why over 100 people gathered enthusiastically in December in Westborough to celebrate the opening of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) new headquarters, the second building built by the state to a ZNEB standard and the first state office building to meet this criterion. A ZNEB generates as much clean renewable energy on site as the building consumes over the course of a year.

Standing in the atrium with daylight streaming in through the skylights and floor to ceiling windows overlooking a wide expanse of state wildlife management land, speaker after speaker praised the team that developed the initial idea for the new headquarters, as well as the design and construction team, for the successful creation of such an innovative building. The ceremony capped years of planning that included recommendations from the Zero Net Energy Building Task Force, which in 2009 released a report that suggested that state government build several zero net energy buildings for its own portfolio to demonstrate the feasibility of cutting edge design and technologies. The DFW headquarters project, overseen by the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), was cited as a prime candidate for a ZNEB demonstration project.

The resulting Richard Cronin Building, named after a former DFW Director, replaces an out-of-date 12,000 square foot building and 3 trailers. It brings together under one roof 120 employees, including staff from the agency’s Hunter Education Program as well as employees from the Office of Fishing and Boating Access, many of whom worked previously in multiple locations throughout the Commonwealth.

Hawk having dinner on a trail at the Westborough Wildlife Management Area.

Hawk having dinner on a trail at the Westborough Wildlife Management Area. Photo Courtesy of Brenda Clarkson

The 45,000 square foot building, which includes offices, labs and meeting space, employs a host of innovative technologies designed to bring energy use down by 60 percent when compared to a building built to the base energy code. To achieve this level of efficiency, the building’s design incorporates a high-performance exterior building envelope, a closed-loop geothermal system, radiant ceilings, outside-air ventilation with heat recovery, efficient R5 windows, daylighting, and advanced lighting and building controls. When energy generated by the 294 kW solar array is taken into account, the building is actually projected to be net energy positive, producing more clean energy than it consumes annually.

In addition to these innovative energy features, “the Richard Cronin Building will serve as a destination for visitors, with ample conference, meeting and educational space. The building also offers a spectacular view of the 900-acre Westborough Wildlife Management Area adjacent to the building; a gateway to a valuable recreational resource for anglers, hunters, bird watchers and other outdoor recreation users,” noted Wayne MacCallum, DFW Director, during the speaking program.

In addition to the DFW headquarters building, the Commonwealth

Proposed Visitor Center Design

Proposed Walden Visitor Center Design

  • has built another building designed to the ZNEB standard at North Shore Community College
  • is in the process of building a ZNEB laboratory at Bristol Community College
  • has efforts underway to design a ZNEB visitor center at Walden Pond.

As the speeches ended and the many attendees took their time to wander through the building, it became clear that not only had the project achieved an energy milestone to be proud of, but the building design itself was a marvel. “Energy efficient, cutting edge, and beautiful,” said one attendee, “who would have thought that was possible.”

Written By:


Director, Leading by Example Program

Eric is Director of the Leading by Example Program, a “Greening the Government” program established by Governor Patrick’s 2007 Executive Order #484. He helped develop a green building standard for new government buildings, state government’s first greenhouse gas inventory, and a mandatory Computer Power Management Standard. Eric managed $54.9 million worth of stimulus clean energy projects and the Governor’s 2009 Zero Net Energy Buildings Task Force. Eric received a B.A. in Political Science from Middlebury College and has a masters in Environmental Policy from Tufts.

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