Science Center Story #2

Green Initiatives Summary

by Larry Schall

22 August 2001

This is a different kind of story, but a fascinating one I think. I have edited (mostly shortened) a piece written by a member of our design team, Doug Gehley. Carr Everbach is acknowledged within this piece, but I have want to do it one more time up-front. Carr led the College's efforts here, at the same time as he developed and maintained our great web-site. Kudos to both Doug and Carr.

One of the original concepts for the Science Center was to make it as "green" as possible, which meant that we were to design the buildings to be as energy efficient as possible while also having the least environmental impact on the campus surrounds. Einhorn Yaffee Prescott (EYP), being members of the US Green Building Council (USGBC), recommended the LEED Green Building Rating System to Swarthmore College as a guide for decision-making during the programming, concept planning, schematic design and design development phases.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and is a priority program of the USGBC. It is a voluntary, consensus-based, market-driven building rating system based on existing proven technology. It evaluates environmental performance from a "whole building" perspective over a building's Life cycle, providing a definitive standard for what constitutes a "green building".

Swarthmore College decided to use the LEED program as an evaluation tool to guide it in making "green" design decisions incorporating a consensus driven process. A special "Green Team" was formed consisting of members of the Science Center Building Committee, including faculty, staff and students of Swarthmore College, and members of the Design Team, including architects, engineers and landscape architects. Carr Everbach led this effort for the College and we can thank Carr for most of the good work that was accomplished. The Green Team's primary task was to consider green initiatives and make consensus recommendations for inclusion in the Science Center design. 

The Green Team discussed many green design initiatives, and the Team's work included review of how such proposals would impact the teaching of science both through day-to-day performance and what opportunities existed for such providing ongoing, educational examples of greenness. The Green Team evaluated suitability of green building systems and materials for the Science Center, including issues such as durability and serviceability, energy savings, life cycle costs and impact on the local and global environment. In addition, cost benefit comparisons were made culminating in a list of initiatives the Green Team recommend to the Science Center Building Committee for inclusion in the building design.

The following is a summary of the initiates that will be implemented for the Swarthmore College Science Center:

Sustainable Sites

  1. Site Sediment and erosion control plans that conform to EPA's Storm Water Management for Construction Activities, which includes preventing loss of soil during construction and preventing sedimentation of storm sewer or receiving streams.
  2. Providing suitable means for securing bicycles, with convenient changing/shower facilities for use by cyclists.
  3. The opportunity for installing an alternative-fuel refueling station in the parking lot.
  4. Controlling site disturbances, protecting trees, control lay down and staging areas while maximizing site restoration and landscaping. 
  5. No net increase of stormwater runoff from existing to developed conditions, which means no increase in stormwater runoff to Crum Creek.
  6. Providing shade on impervious surfaces on the site, including parking lots, walkways and plazas.
  7. Designing interior and exterior lighting such that zero direct-beam illumination leaves the building site.

Water Efficiency

  1. Using high efficiency irrigation technology to reduce potable water consumption.
  2. Using captured rain or recycled site water for irrigation to reduce potable water consumption.

Energy and Atmosphere

  1. Design to meet the building energy efficiency and performance requirements of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers) 90.1-1999 (more stringent criteria than building code minimums), and where possible, exceed those requirements.
  2. Zero use of CFC-based refrigerants in the new building mechanical systems, and complete a comprehensive CFC phase-out in the renovated buildings.
  3. Eliminate HCFCs or Halon from the mechanical equipment and fire suppression systems.

Materials and Resources

  1. Providing locations in the building dedicated to the collection, separation and storage of materials for recycling.
  2. Maintaining existing building shells where possible in renovation areas.
  3. Recycle and salvaging construction, demolition and land clearing waste. Of the 80 or so truck loads of demolition material which were hauled off from the old lecture hall, some 70 of those contained 100% recycled material. .
  4. Specifying building materials that are manufactured regionally within a 500-mile radius, some of which may be harvested in this same zone.
  5. Using wood based materials certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council guidelines.

Indoor Environmental Quality

  1. Meeting the minimum ASHRAE requirements for ventilation for acceptable indoor air quality.
  2. Zero exposure of nonsmokers to environmental Tobacco Smoke.
  3. Protecting the ventilation system components from contamination during construction prior to occupancy.
  4. Specifying paints and coatings that meet the VOC and chemical component limits of Green Seal requirements.
  5. Specifying carpets that meet the Carpet and Rug Institute Green Label Indoor Air Quality Test program.
  6. Specifying composite wood products that contain no added urea-formaldehyde or phenol-formaldehyde resins.
  7. Providing one operable window and one lighting control zone per 200 s.f. of perimeter occupied areas.
  8. Providing controls for individuals for airflow, temperature and lighting for half of the interior occupied areas.
  9. Complying with ASHRAE Standards for humidity control, and installing permanent temperature and humidity monitoring systems.
  10. Designing the building to allow sunlight to reach the majority of occupied areas while also allowing a direct line of sight to the exterior for the majority of the occupants.

Innovations and Design Process

  1. Special consideration for design solutions that will lessen the problem of bird impact on the building's glass surfaces, including the use of special patterned glass.
  2. Providing an analog display-learning tool in the Commons area reflecting indoor and outdoor environmental conditions, the mechanical systems energy consumption to improve indoor air quality, and the promotion of energy conservation through awareness.
  3. Use the building and landscape design to display the storm water management systems as a "feature" of the building.
  4. Outdoor "classrooms" incorporated in the landscape and building design to facilitate teaching and scientific discussion in the open air.
  5. Utilizing a certified LEED designer during all phases of the project.

By implementing the items identified above, the Swarthmore College Science Center will not only achieve certification under the LEED program, but may well qualify for a Silver Level award. If all goals are achieved, Swarthmore College will be recognized as a leader in the greening of campuses throughout the United States.

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last updated 8/22/01