The original Garfield House (left) and the new Garfield House (right). After an feasibility study, we found that after 4.5 years, the total carbon emissions of a more energy-efficient structure would be less than renovating the existing building. Renderings courtesy Spagnolo Gisness & Associates.

Williams College, Garfield House Residence Hall



Williams College sought to identify the best course of action for a wood-framed structure built in 1851, known as The Garfield Estate, which it has been using since 1924 as a student residence. After numerous studies over several years, Thornton Tomasetti helped evaluate the envelope, structure and energy performance of the building and assisted Williams College in its decision to build a new PHIUS+ and LEED certified structure. One of the key factors in that analysis was the study of operational carbon savings from the new building versus embodied carbon associated with the existing facility.

Thornton Tomasetti’s study found that after 4.5 years, the total carbon emissions of the new, more energy-efficient structure would be less than the existing building were it to be newly renovated. Thornton Tomasetti is providing passive house and LEED consulting, building envelope, geotechnical and structural engineering services for the new building.

The new building is designed to achieve Passive House PHIUS+ certification and LEED Gold certification. The estimated Energy Use Intensity is expected to be 28 kbtu/sf/yr and is 48 percent better than ASHRAE 90.1. The building features R-38 walls, R-60 roofs, triple-pane fiberglass windows, south brise soliel, high-efficiency energy recovery ventilation units, drainwater heat recovery and an estimated 50 kw photovoltaic array. With these features and an air-tight construction approach required for passive house design, the building only needs a small amount of electric heating in each room. By eliminating the heating system, the project is able to achieve Passive House PHIUS+ certification without any construction cost premium.

Thornton Tomasetti is also overseeing the salvage of historic architectural elements and their incorporation into the new design.

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