Energy-efficient tech tops EMU's new $90M Science Complex

The final phase of Eastern Michigan University's Science Complex opened at the start of the fall 2012 semester, and now
university officials are in the process of seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the building. The Science Complex is the centerpiece of EMU's plan to invest over $200 million in capital projects over five years, beginning in 2009.

"From a cost standpoint, it's our largest construction project in the history of Eastern Michigan University," says Scott Storrar, EMU's director of facilities planning and construction.

The 256,320 square-foot complex has 107 labs and a newer addition with a planetarium and green roof containing 16 varieties of drought-resistant native plant species. It houses EMU's biology, chemistry, psychology, physics and astronomy, and geography and geology departments.

The project's final phase consisted of a renovation of the original 180,000-square-foot facility. A vivarium, an enclosed space to house animals for research and observation, was installed in the penthouse portion. Other amenities include new windows with sunshades and insulated glazing, a high-efficiency electrical chiller, occupancy sensors for lighting and temperature controls, and heat recovery in the air handlers.

And in what could be coined a construction breakthrough, the complex makes use of a new chilled beam technology that uses convection and water to cool the building. "That's an active system, and it's one of the first installed in Michigan," says Storrar.

The university is seeking LEED-silver certification for the complex, but could be eligible for LEED-gold status, Storrar adds.  A decision is forthcoming in the next six to eight months.

Source: Scott Storrar, EMU's director of facilities planning and construction
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar
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