Thornton Tomasetti and SGA Achieve First Passive House Residence Hall Certification in Massachusetts, Largest in New England

Wheaton College (Photo: SGA)

NORTON, Mass. – Thornton Tomasetti, the international engineering firm, announced that Pine Hall at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts is the first student residence hall to achieve passive house certification in the state as well as the largest in New England.

The 45,000-square-foot, L-shaped building was a collaboration between Thornton Tomasetti and SGA, a Boston- and New York City-based architecture and interior design firm.

Thornton Tomasetti provided passive house consulting and whole building energy modeling, as well as building envelope and structural design services, to SGA. The residence hall features 178 beds for students and a 2,000-square-foot common space for programs and events, such as gaming competitions, meetings, yoga classes and mini conferences.

“We are extremely proud of our collaboration with SGA on what is now the largest university housing project to achieve passive house standards in New England,” said Thornton Tomasetti Vice President and Portland Office Director Michael Pulaski. “This remarkably efficient building was designed to use up to 50% less energy than a building built to current code and meets Passive House Institute’s (PHIUS) extremely rigorous criteria.”

To achieve these goals, the team used highly insulated airtight construction methods, including high-performing walls (R-32), roofing materials (R-50), and triple glazed windows. It also optimized exterior shading and employed high-efficiency heating, cooling and lighting systems. The building was designed and constructed with a girder slab framing system and a steel-and-precast-concrete system, which was prefabricated and then assembled on site.

The benefits of designing under passive house standards extend to student health and wellness as well as operating costs. Furthermore, reducing Wheaton College’s overall ecological footprint can also be key in attracting students, especially as sustainability starts playing a key role in their decision-making process.

“We hope Pine Hall at Wheaton College serves as an example of what can be achieved when project teams work together toward creating sustainable and energy-efficient spaces,” added Pulaski.