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Showing Off Sustainability at Arizona State


Global Institute of Sustainability / Arizona State University


On a campus that uses LEED Silver as its standard for all new buildings, the recently renovated Global Institute of Sustainability facility at Arizona State University needed to stand out even more. That’s because the facility houses the university’s new School of Sustainability, a one-of-a-kind program for students that prepares them to solve the sustainability challenges of tomorrow. The school awarded the nation’s first ever master’s degree in sustainability in December.

One feature of the renovation that screams sustainability is the six wind turbines situated on the building’s roof. Each turbine is powered by thermal updrafts and is capable of generating 1,000 watts of power. The facility includes a dashboard in the lobby that displays energy use and building performance.

Prior to the $6 million renovation, the 1960s era building was depressing, like a “chicken coup” or “hospital ward,” according to Jonathan Fink, director of the Global Institute of Sustainability. Maximizing daylight was one strategy the designers employed to turn the building from drab to dramatic. Designers removed offices in the center of the floorplate where possible to create an open floorplan. Windowed conference rooms were added on the east side of the top two floors, and windows were added to the northeast and southeast corners of the building. The building also includes a sensor-controlled lighting system and sunscreens along the east, west and south windows to reduce solar gain and control glare.

For water efficiency, the building includes waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, timer-based faucets and an automatically monitored irrigation system. Pervious paving surrounding the site controls stormwater runoff.

The interior of the building makes use of a variety of high-recycled-content products, such as countertops made from recycled milk jugs inlaid with shavings from recycled cans and GreenGuard Indoor Air Quality Certified furniture, as well as low VOC-emitting paints, carpet, flooring, gypsum sheathing and interior signage.

The renovation of the 48,800-square-foot building was completed in March 2008, and is on target for LEED Silver Certification. This year, the university is planning to build a 24-kilowatt solar array on the roof of the building, adding to the renewable energy already generated by the wind turbines.

posted:  4/6/2009

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