Opened in January 2011, the Arboretum’s research and administration facility at Weld Hill was designed and constructed to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) specifications, incorporating many technologies designed to minimize the building’s impact on the environment and its surrounding neighborhood. Facilities include twelve greenhouses, state-of-the-art laboratories, growth chambers, study areas, and offices, functioning in close proximity to the Arboretum’s remarkable collections of woody plants.
Leveraging energy-efficient mechanical systems and innovative water management technologies, the facility reflects the Arboretum’s strong interest in conservation and sustainability. LEED certification also acknowledges the Arboretum’s choice of “green” construction methods, such as clearing only the land required for construction and employing on-site soil management and erosion control techniques.
LEED is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction, and operation of high performance green buildings. By using less energy and water, LEED certified buildings save money, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to a healthier environment. Weld Hill incorporates water-saving technologies not only in the interior of the building, such as dual flush toilets and low-flow showers for bicycle commuters, but also through the design of its surroundings. The landscape around the building consists mainly of a “cosmopolitan meadow mix,” a selection of hardy perennials developed by Arboretum Senior Scientist Peter Del Tredici. Requiring only yearly mowing and no irrigation, this sustainable alternative to grass reduces typical water requirements by half.
In addition, the topography of the landscape obscures some unique ecological components of the site. On the parcel’s eastern border adjacent to Walter Street, the gently sloping ground is shaped by soil displaced from the building site, diverting tons of construction waste that would otherwise be sent to landfills. Under the hill to the south of the building, 88 closed-loop geothermal wells draw energy from the earth to both heat and cool the entire facility. Other energy efficiencies include lighting control devices and cellulose insulation, which contribute to more than 25% savings in consumption.