Boston-based architecture firm Kennedy & Violich Architecture has flipped the script for energy-intensive greenhouses with the net-zero energy Global Flora, a sustainable botanical facility for Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Engineered to exceed the Net Zero Water & Energy requirements of the Living Building Challenge, Global Flora will follow passive solar principles and draw on geothermal energy. The botanical facility will also be integrated with an open-source Interactive Sensor Platform to allow people to gather and share real-time data about the plants, including their soil, water and air conditions.
Located next to the existing visitor center, Global Flora will comprise Dry and Tropical biomes separated by interior ETFE partitions. Unlike most greenhouses, Wellesley College’s botanical facility is almost completely closed off on the north side with a gabion wall filled with local and reclaimed stone to eliminate almost all heat loss through surfaces that don’t receive direct sunlight. Energy recovery units, geothermal-powered radiant heating and cooling and vertical water features help create local microclimates and keep energy use to a minimum. The greenhouse also includes stormwater retention tanks.