UW Visual Arts Building Recognized for Energy Efficiency

November 5, 2012
Student painting
A student works on a project in the University of Wyoming Visual Arts Building. The facility was designed with numerous features to save energy and improve indoor air quality and the health of building occupants. (Lara Swimmer Photo)

The University of Wyoming Visual Arts Building has received national recognition for its energy efficient engineering and design features.

The new building won a Portland 2030 Challenge Design Award at the recent American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment Green Champions Summit. Only three awards were given at the competition.

The winners were picked by Architecture 2030 (www.architecture2030.org), a nonprofit organization that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the building sector. The judges considered the carbon dioxide reductions and 2030 target compliance as well as the overall sustainable design objectives.

Though the UW building’s estimated 54 percent emissions reduction falls short of the 2030 challenge’s 60 percent reduction target, the jury recognized the technically complex building for its innovative sustainable strategies and exceptional design quality.

The Visual Arts Building is projected to achieve a 54 percent reduction over the national average. One of the Architecture 2030 jurors noted that the jury was impressed with the myriad of sustainable strategies and beauty of the project.

Energy conservation in the building is achieved in several ways. Among those contributing to the award were the evaporative cooling that saves thousands of dollars in energy costs; natural ventilation; displacement air distribution; exhaust air heat recovery; exhaust air process control, which not only saves energy, but improves indoor air quality and the health of building occupants; lighting system controls; day lighting, which also enhances many art-making processes; and renewable energy from an on-site solar thermal array to produce hot water for heat.

It is the first UW facility pending a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification, says Roger Baalman, UW director of Facilities Planning. LEED, the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability, provides a rating system with four certification levels for new construction: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Among the LEED goals are lower operating costs; reduced waste sent to the landfill; energy and water conservation; a healthier and safer environment for occupants; reduced greenhouse gas; and demonstrated commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility.

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