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Work Under Way on Innovative Environmentally Friendly UW Building

December 22, 2009
Brick house
This former child care center is being upgraded and expanded to become the new home of the University of Wyoming's Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources.

Construction is under way on a building that will be the new home of the University of Wyoming's Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (ENR).

The Bim Kendall House project, located at Fremont and 8th streets, is a renovation of a 1950s prairie-style building. It will feature environmentally friendly materials and technologies, as well as an addition to the building.

"The Kendall House will be an innovative green building and one of the first at UW to seek green building certification," says Nicole Korfanta, associate director of the Haub School and coordinator for the project. "Our vision for this project is for ENR to be a leader in sustainable building, which will help advance the university's mission to work toward becoming carbon neutral."

Formerly the Verna J. Hitchcock House, the Bim Kendall House will provide office, classroom and common spaces for students, faculty and staff, including the Wyoming Conservation Corps.

A live webcam allows the public to view the construction activities until spring 2010, when the building is scheduled to open. To access the link to view the live video as well as photos of the construction process, visit the ENR Web site at

The project was made possible by a gift from Donald and Bim Kendall, long-time supporters of the Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute. Don Kendall, a former member of the Ruckelshaus Institute Board, also provided funding to launch the Wyoming Open Spaces Initiative, a UW collaborative research and outreach project aimed at improving the effectiveness of Wyoming citizens in maintaining the state's open spaces.

The Kendall House project also received funding from the Kresge Foundation's Green Building Initiative. Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky program provided funding toward photovoltaic panels, which will serve a portion of the building's energy needs. The Wyoming State Legislature provided matching funds for both grants.

ENR's new home will include an outside space for students. The Bergman Gardens are named in honor of Harold Bergman, professor in the UW Department of Zoology and Physiology who for nearly a decade served as ENR director. The xeriscaped garden will include drought-resistant and native plants to minimize water use. Funding support for the gardens is through donations by numerous members of the Ruckelshaus Institute Board and other donors.

The design team, including UW staff and architects from Architecture Plus, will seek LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The recognized standard for measuring building sustainability, Leed includes a rating system with four certification levels for new construction - Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. ENR will seek the LEED Silver level for the Kendall House.

The house will include other green elements including rapidly renewable materials such as cork and natural linoleum, and recycled materials such as rubber flooring and carpet, Korfanta says. The construction crew is working to minimize construction waste through recycling and re-use of materials such as concrete, which will be used in the landscaping.

LEED also promotes healthy indoor air quality through low-impact paints and finishes that do not off-gas potentially hazardous chemicals. Water use will be minimized through low-flow fixtures and dual-flush lavatories.

"Ultimately, we hope the Kendall House will be a model for affordable green design at UW. We think the relatively simple green elements we're incorporating into the building are also within reach for private residences," Korfanta says. "But most importantly, the Kendall House will be known as the center for UW's Environment and Natural Resources program in the future."

Posted on Tuesday, December 22, 2009

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