Sustainability as a teaching tool

James
Tuesday 01 Mar 2011

An interdisciplinary science building that uses new sustainable technologies to teach students conservation measures

The Life Sciences Center will establish new campus aesthetic standards in a modern, interdisciplinary facility for biology, chemistry and natural science. The Science Center will house teaching and research laboratories, lab support space, faculty offices, classrooms, shared public spaces, a 300-seat auditorium and a 370-vehicle subterranean parking structure.

The project objectives of achieving interdisciplinary collaboration, sustainability, and connectivity have informed the design process, resulting in a prominent campus building that will itself serve as a teaching tool. The project seeks LEED Silver certification and the design team has capitalised on established and new sustainable technologies such as: green roofs and drought-tolerant vegetation that will be used as teaching tools in Biology coursework; storm water retention planters that Natural Science will monitor for pollutants; photovoltaic and solar thermal panels that Engineering will use for alternative energy coursework; and water recycling measures that will be studied by both Biology and Natural Science.

Other sustainable strategies include reclaimed water, chilled beams, passive cooling, extensive day lighting and more. An extensive signage program throughout the building will highlight all sustainable measures in order to create an integrated teaching experience for all who use the building. The building is organised so that lower division classrooms, conference spaces and main auditorium are located on the first floor; these highly active spaces, which are populated throughout the day, are adjacent to the outdoor public plaza and garden spaces that form a courtyard between the new and existing science buildings.

Retractable walls in the public lobby space blur the line between indoor and outdoor space, taking advantage of the benign, year-round climate. The upper two floors of the building are given over to upper division classrooms and faculty office space; these spaces are augmented by public lounges and wide open corridors that encourage interaction among the users.

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