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UMass gets $37.5 million for environmental projects

AMHERST — Gov. Deval Patrick has signed legislation that authorizes the borrowing of $1.9 billion for environmental projects statewide, including $37.5 million at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and two university-run sites in eastern Massachusetts.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said, “This is a new source of funding that will enhance the university’s ability to serve communities across the commonwealth.”

The legislation allows the state to borrow money for a host of projects over four years. As funds become available, they will provide for significant improvements on the Amherst campus.

Included is $5 million for technology and space upgrades for the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. The money will fund infrastructure and technology upgrades to link the Stockbridge School through teleconferencing with community colleges and vocational schools across the state.

Another $5.5 million is for the UMass Cranberry Station in East Wareham. The money will be used for design, construction, retrofitting and outfitting laboratory space and equipment. The goal is to the reduce environmental impact of work at the station and improve the sustainability of cranberry production in Massachusetts.

And $3 million is to help construct a new Integrated Design Building at UMass Amherst off North Pleasant Street and next to the Studio Arts Building. This 87,000-square-foot building will be constructed using wood frame construction rather than steel frame construction and will serve as a showcase for the Building Construction Technology group at UMass Amherst. The total cost of the building will be $53 million, with construction set to begin in March 2015 and completion by January 2017.

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