What is said to be the world’s most rigorous green building performance standard recently awarded its first certifications around the United States, and Washington University in St. Louis is proud to say it was one of those recipients. The standard in question is the Living Building Challenge, handled by the International Living Building Institute (ILBI), and the building garnering the award is the university’s Living Learning Center, which is part of the Tyson Research Center.
In order for a building to achieve certification, according to the university, it must generate all of its own energy through clean, renewable resources; capture and treat its own water through ecologically sound techniques; incorporate only nontoxic, appropriately sourced materials; and operate efficiently and for maximum beauty. The Living Learning Center looks to have accomplished all this in its functional role as a 2,900-square-foot facility that houses a computer lab, classrooms and administrative offices for the research station.
Tyson Research Center, located 20 miles southwest of WUSTL’s Danforth Campus, contains 2,000 acres of woods, prairie, ponds and savannas for faculty and students to conduct environmental research. The Living Learning Center on these grounds, in order to meet net zero power requirements for the certification through clean energy, makes use of photovoltaic panels mounted on the roof. Because of electric production lagging behind consumption during the winter of 2009, however, insulation was added, the heating system was adjusted to be more efficient, additional solar panels were added to the roof and two visually captivating solar arrays that track the sun both vertically and horizontally were added to the front of the building.
“The Living Learning Center is a symbol of our commitment to green building,” said Washington University’s Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton in a statement. “The nine LEED-certified buildings Washington University has built in the last few years and the five others that are in the process of certification are testimony to our belief that the future must bring significant reductions in energy use. We have already announced that we intend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 without purchasing carbon offsets.”
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