AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A ceremonial groundbreaking was held at UMass Amherst on Monday to introduce a new state-of-the-art living laboratory for the College of Engineering.

The $125-million Sustainable Engineering Laboratories (SEL) will be a 78,000-square-foot building incorporating interdisciplinary innovation and uniting the research of several UMass Amherst centers and laboratories in one location.

“The campus has made a commitment to net-carbon zero and clean energy. and this building is an important first step towards that. Its important for our state, its important for our nation to have clean energy and sustainable technology to help deal with some of the issues associated with climate change,” said Russell Tessier, Senior Associated Dean for the College of Engineering at UMass Amherst.

The facility will house university research institutions in sustainable, equitable technology and transportation: the Energy Transition Institute, the Wind Energy Center and the UMass Transportation Center. The SEL is envisioned to feature:

  • Sustainable construction (LEED-certified), achieving net-zero carbon emissions
  • Test beds for efficient and equitable methodologies to generate, distribute, use and store energy
  • A smart microgrid to couple new renewable energy generation and storage technologies to real-life use
  • An energy operations center that integrates data from campus and the surrounding region — a living lab to study and implement sustainable solutions
  • State-of-the-art flex learning classrooms and collaboration/demonstration spaces

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said, “Today, in breaking ground for the SEL, we are reaffirming and expanding the university’s leadership role in addressing the global climate crisis. When its doors open, this state-of-the-art facility will be one of the first carbon neutral, geothermal buildings on campus, thereby advancing our UMass Carbon Zero goals and serving as a model for sustainable design and construction. It will be a living laboratory and campus hub for pioneering research and education in  clean energy and sustainable engineering.”

The SEL is also intended to be a campus hub for sustainability efforts.