Featured Groundbreaking Up Front

USM Breaks Ground on Passive House Project

South facing facade of USM's Career & Student Success Center / Rendering courtesy of Elkus-Manfredi Architects

Portland, ME – On May 20, the University of Southern Maine (USM) held a virtual groundbreaking for the $99.4 million Portland Campus Development Project, the second-largest Passive House building project in U.S. higher education.

When completed by June 2023, the Portland Campus Development Project will result in the addition of a three-story, 42,000sf Career & Student Success Center, the 580-bed Portland Commons Residence Hall and a one-acre Residential Quad that will become a natural campus gateway and active meeting place for the entire USM community.

Portland Commons Residence Hall / Rendering courtesy of Elkus-Manfredi Architects

The residence hall will help ensure educational access to USM students by providing them with attractive, affordable housing in a market where inventory is low and expensive. It will offer a mix of en-suite single-occupancy rooms, studio apartments, and larger apartments with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms to USM undergraduates, graduate students and Maine Law students.

The Career & Student Success Center is projected to be completed or substantially completed in Spring 2023 and will include student-service spaces devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at USM.

Rendering of Residential Quad (center), with a view of the Career & Student Success Center and Portland Commons Residence Hall

Portland Commons is designed to use 50% less energy than a normal building built to code. The new Career & Student Success Center will be built to LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) standards and feature a large, rooftop solar photovoltaic array. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) will feature prominently in the construction of the center. Through planting native and drought-tolerant plants as well as a low-maintenance lawn, it is also estimated to save 67% of irrigation water over a typical project. The two new buildings in this project represent major steps toward USM’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2040. 

Capstone Development Partners is the developer and PC Construction is the general contractor on the project. Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects Ltd. and SMRT Architects and Engineers, of Portland, are the architects and design consultants. 

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