John W Olver transit center; John W Olver transit center;

John W. Olver Transit Center, Greenfield, MA

The first net zero transit hub in the United States

Opened in 2012, the John W. Olver Transit Center was the first net zero transit centre in the United States. Since its completion, the 24,000ft2 intermodal transit hub, spearheaded by former Congressman John W. Olver and funded with the help of a stimulus grant from the former Obama administration, has helped breathe new life into Franklin County and further strengthened the regional transit network.

Arup provided a comprehensive suite of services for this forward-looking project, including sustainability consulting, MEP engineering, lighting design and fire/life safety. Our advanced sustainability solutions were key to helping the centre achieve deep energy savings, and earned the firm the ACEC/Massachusetts Engineering Excellence Gold Award in 2013. The project was also recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) with the 2023 Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Award, the AIA’s highest honor for sustainable design. 

Project Summary

1st net zero transit centre in the United States

24,000square foot intermodal transit hub

22geothermal wells located below the centre

Marrying architecture and engineering design to promote efficiency

Arup worked closely with Charles Rose Architects throughout the conceptual design phase to integrate a range of energy efficient strategies that work to optimise building performance and comfort.  


Heating and cooling for a clean planet

The Arup team used Trace software to create an energy model, which revealed that heating and lighting were the centre’s biggest energy demands. To boost efficiency, the team used daylight modeling to help the architect determine the optimal placement of windows and clerestory glazing. With this done, they developed a resource efficient heating and cooling scheme that relies on a biomass boiler, a ground source heat pump, a chilled beam system, and a solar wall that preheats fresh air by as much as 15°F degrees during periods of peak winter sun.

Energy optimisation through smart lighting

To alleviate the effects of lighting on the building’s energy performance, the lighting team recommended the addition of circular skylights, which were located with the help of the daylight model. They also specified the use of addressable ballasts—programmable fixtures that allow users to reprogram spaces and fixtures as needed to maximise flexibility and optimise energy usage. The overall lighting scheme brought the building’s energy needs down to a level that can be successfully offset by a freestanding 96kW photovoltaic array with more than 450 panels.

Additional design details include:

  • 98-kilowatt ground-mounted photovoltaic array, 7,300ft2

  • On-site 750 MBH (750,000 BTU/hour) boiler fuelled by wood pellets from managed sources

  • Air-conditioning provided by an active chilled beam system

  • Solar wall that preheats fresh air by as much as 15°F during peak winter sun

  • All lighting controlled by a system integrating occupancy sensors, photocells, and dimming control

  • Low-flow water fixtures yielding 35% water savings

Olver Transit Center officially opened in May of 2012. The project not only achieved its ambitious energy goals, it did so while coming in under budget. At the grand opening ceremony, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said, "We are here to not only celebrate this amazing transit hub that, thanks to President Obama's commitment to getting Americans back to work by infrastructure investments created jobs and made our Commonwealth more energy efficient, but also to thank Congressman Olver for a career that has spanned many decades."