New buildings to conserve energy

New buildings to conserve energy

By Megan McNamara

A new attitude toward building design has swept campus, and it is all about sustainability. According to the Building a Lasting University Environment Illinois Web site, sustainability refers to a state in which communities achieve a balance between economic and environmental well-being, now and in the future.

The University is looking to conserve energy in building design.

“We got to a critical point on campus where we realized we can’t keep building the same old way,” said William Sullivan, director of the University’s Environmental Council.

A key project is the new Business Instructional Facility, which will be built across from Wohlers Hall.

“It’s going to achieve significant energy savings,” said Matt Malten, the University’s campus sustainability coordinator.

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It is planned to be about 75 percent more energy efficient than older buildings on campus, such as Lincoln Hall, and 40 percent more efficient than some of the newer buildings, Sullivan said.

The building has been designed in accordance with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, which was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The rating system addresses five major areas: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

In addition, the system offers four levels of accomplishment: LEED-certified, silver, gold or platinum, according to how well the building meets criteria in the rating system.

The Business Instructional Facility is the first building on campus designed and targeted to be a LEED-rated building and will be rated as a gold-level building.

The building will be constructed with triple-pane windows, which are highly efficient and insulate better, Malten said.

Additionally, “technologies like solar panels help make the building sustainable,” said David Lange, professor of civil engineering.

“This is the first substantial use of solar panels on a U of I building,” Sullivan said. “Seven percent of its electricity will come from solar panels on the roof.”

Additionally, two sections of the roof will have vegetation planted strategically to control rainwater runoff and provide cooling during the summer.

The indoor air ventilation system will also provide energy savings.

“They are using fewer chemicals that are volatile in the paint on the walls and selected carpets that don’t produce as many chemicals in the air,” Sullivan said.

“When you do that, you can have less air moving through the building while still maintaining a healthy environment. So you don’t have to use the ventilation system as much,” he added.

Once the building is completed, it will have a green housing plan, Malten said.

“The cleaning supplies will have low VOC, or volatile organic compounds,” he said.

The building’s landscaping will also save energy.

“People will notice that we are using drought-resistant planting, which requires less watering,” Malten said.

“This building is a real landmark for our campus,” Sullivan said.

“I’m really excited that the first gold-level green building is for the College of Business because business students will get to know this as a standard. And hopefully when they’re out in the business world, they’ll make environmentally conscious decisions about building materials,” he added.

Malten agreed.

“The biggest impact it’ll make is the lessons we’re going to learn from it,” he said. “We are completely revising building standards, and we’re now going to target the LEED silver level for all new buildings.”

The University has big plans for construction of LEED-certified buildings in the next several years.

“Besides the business building, our new dining facility will be constructed at Illini Orange,” Malten said. “The entire six pack is slated to be rebuilt over the next 15 years.”