Largest University Science Center Meeting LEED Platinum Standards Opens
St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, has long attracted students to natural sciences and math with the quality of programs and excellent faculty. The campus was never shabby either, but now St. Olaf has outdone itself with a new science and math building complex expected to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Regents Hall will be the largest university science center in the United States to achieve this coveted green building standard. What are the features that make Regents Hall exceptional?The 200,000 square foot, $63 million Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, designed by Holabird & Root, opened in fall 2008. The vision started over two years before, with a commitment to seven I's. The first two I's, interdisciplinary and investigative, reflect a commitment to the modern evolution of science which promotes bridges between disciplines to further the exploration of natural phenomena. Interactive, interconnected and inviting reflect St. Olaf's longstanding approach to higher education with an emphasis on liberal arts, community between students and teachers as well as across all disciplines, and an involved student body.
But it is the remaining two I's -- innovative and integrity -- that drove the project to attempt all possible LEED credits. The building must demonstrate the emerging technologies that will inspire students in their future careers. And the building must be built and used in harmony with the environment, stimulating students to consider sustainability and their impact in the world.
The result is a building which recycles nine million pounds of fly ash otherwise destined for the landfill, which saves enough energy to power 250 homes (compared to a building which only meets code), and which is furnished with tables and benches handcrafted from lumber harvested from the construction site. Students will enjoy natural light penetrating deep into the building, magnificant views and access to the green roof via a terrace. Part of the building's energy needs will be supplied by St. Olaf's on-campus windmill.
Furthermore, Regents Hall is
the first science facility -- anywhere -- designed to incorporate a green chemistry curriculum that uses water-based reactions to decrease lab waste and the need for conditioned air.Thus, students will learn first-hand the good habits of substituting lesser hazards while achieving the scientific goals that drive technological advance necessary for a modern, green revolution. They will enter industry and academia prepared to wash away the sins of the past and seek a sustainable future.
Full disclosure: the author graduated from St. Olaf College with degrees in Chemistry and Mathematics. More disclosure: the author is jealous of all the students who are enjoying studying in Regents Hall.
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