New Visual Arts Center Will be Sustainable Facility

August 16, 2010

When groundbreaking ceremonies take place at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 1, for the University of Wyoming's new Visual Arts Center, a UW official says it will mark the beginning of an effort to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards for sustainability.

The Visual Arts Center will be located on the undeveloped northwest corner of 22nd Street and Willett Drive.

"We expect the Visual Arts Center will exceed LEED Gold criteria," says Roger Baalman, director of facilities planning. "Part of the charge to the design team was to develop strategies that could provide or approach "Zero Net" energy consumption, a difficult task with lab-type facilities with high ventilation requirements."

Baalman summarizes some of the building's design features designed to decrease energy consumption:

-- The site will be developed to reduce runoff and improve runoff water quality by creating grassed drainage swales and vegetated detention areas to encourage water percolation. Irrigation requirements will be reduced by planting drought-resistant native grasses and a minimum of spray irrigated turf grass. Drip irrigation will be used for trees and shrubs.

-- The building is orientated to maximize the south solar exposure.

-- Bike racks and showers are provided to encourage alternative transportation. The building is located close to campus bus routes.

-- The building has a well-insulated envelope to reduce initial heat loss and demand on the campus steam system.

-- Air conditioning is eliminated by the use of evaporative cooling in spaces requiring cooling, operable windows are provided in offices and public spaces to be cooled with a natural ventilation system taking advantage of the prevailing winds. Unoccupied spaces will have reduced ventilation controlled with occupancy sensors.

-- Heat recovery is provided on exhaust air systems to preheat incoming make-up air. All exhaust systems are controlled with sensors or user set timers to prevent operation when unoccupied.

-- Energy systems use will be measured and real-time use will be electronically displayed in a prominent public space.

-- A significant portion of the lighting requirements are provided by daylighting (using natural light to illuminate spaces while saving energy) provided to most studios.

-- A significant portion of the artificial lighting will be on user set time controls to prevent systems from operating when not required.

-- Indoor air quality will be enhanced by the use of low VOC- (volatile organic compounds) emitting products for sealants, paints, flooring and composite products in addition to well-managed ventilation throughout.

-- Indoor air quality will be monitored during construction.

-- The contractor will recycle a minium of 50 percent of construction waste. Use of materials with recycle content will be encouraged where not specified.

-- An evacuated tube solar hot water system will improve efficiency by an estimated 31 percent over current ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) standards with the energy efficiency measures included in the design.

-- Supplemental hot water with the high number of sunny winter days in Laramie will increase the energy performance to an estimated 40 percent better than current ASHRAE standards. The building is designed for the addition of the evacuated tube solar hot water system when funding is available.

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