Taylor University’s Euler Science Complex is LEED Gold certified. LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” and is a designation given by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED is the top third-party verification system for green buildings, which incorporates environmental, social and economic benefits throughout the building’s entire lifecycle.
Different levels of certification are awarded based on prerequisites met and points earned in the categories of sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation in design. By choosing to pursue LEED certification through the design, planning, and construction of the Euler Science Complex, Taylor University solidified its commitment to building and maintaining spaces that reduce environmental impact, use resources efficiently, and are healthy places for its students, faculty, and staff.
Taylor is committed to being a leader in our community by practicing sustainability and good stewardship of the resources God has given us. This includes prioritizing energy and water conservation, just compensation for all of our employees, and supporting our local economy.
University policy requires the use of LEED guidelines in all new construction. This policy is anchored in the biblical concept of stewardship and is aligned with one of the academic purposes of the University by providing opportunities for students to “live consistent lives of stewardship.” The innovative, green design of Euler provides not only a great place to work and learn, but also a platform for research opportunities in areas like renewable energy preparing students to meet real-world challenges as Taylor graduates.
The following is a summary of the six main LEED categories in which the Euler Science Complex scored points. The points awarded for each of the categories led to a Gold rating for the building.
Because of its relatively large impact on the environment, energy performance received the most points available of any LEED credit. Many strategies were used to limit energy use in Euler. Several of them relate to lighting including:
The heating and cooling system utilizes variable frequency drives that, when possible, dynamically slow down pumps and motors. As well, an energy recovery system reclaims heat from the high volume of exhaust air required for lab spaces.
Incorporating renewable energy sources reduces a facility’s reliance on fossil fuel and other non-sustainable energy sources. Cooling in Euler is provided primarily by an efficient open-loop geothermal system that pumps up to 600 gallons of well water per minute through heat exchangers in the building.
A 10kw photovoltaic solar panel array on the Nussbaum roof and two 50kw Endurance wind turbines nearby provide supplemental electricity. These were projected to provide a combined 20% of the buildings electricity.
After construction, the building went through an enhanced commissioning process, which is an investigation comparing actual building performance with design specifications and goals. This especially focuses on the building automation system, which controls the heating and cooling system. It helps with energy and water measurement to allow verification of system performance.
Refrigerants are substances required for the operation of cooling systems, and contribute to stratospheric ozone depletion and climate change when released into the atmosphere. In this project, refrigerants and HVAC equipment were selected to achieve high efficiency while minimizing contributions to ozone depletion and global warming including not using any CFC-based refrigerants.
In order to offer a hospitable and healthy workplace for employees and students, green materials and practices were implemented in the design and functioning of Euler’s indoor spaces. Taylor University’s ban on smoking tobacco is enforced campus-wide. Items and finishes within Euler are considered “low-emitting” because they contain few VOCs and are unlikely to adversely impact human health. A pre-occupancy air flush was also carried out to help rid the building of any lingering airborne particles or contaminants.
Social sustainability focuses partially on the health and well being of those who occupy a building, which can be improved through attention to climate control and lighting. In the Euler building, occupants have some control over temperatures in many occupied spaces, which help balance the need for energy efficiency and comfort.
Because of the competing requirements for a science lab building, no points were earned for day lighting or views of outdoors, but any visitor to the building will notice the prevalence of windows and views. The building includes a student-designed heliostat, a large mirror that tracks the sun and reflects natural light down a four-story circular staircase into the core of the building.
Faculty and students had the opportunity to be involved early and throughout the integrated building design process. Students were involved in the design, construction, and optimization of the building, which provided them with learning opportunities, advanced industry knowledge, and improved building design and performance in innovative and sustainable ways.
In the 5 years preceding the completion of construction of the new science building, 33 students and 10 faculty members had already worked on 22 projects in 11 different courses focusing on the building. Some of their design ideas included in the final building are a heliostat, energy display room, solar and wind power, geothermal heating and cooling, and a green roof.
In addition, this collaborative approach fundamentally changed the building design as it now includes intentional areas for improvement and opportunities to continue to use the building as a living laboratory.
Euler was awarded an additional LEED point for meeting criteria that creates a learning opportunity for all who enter. Taylor set aside space specifically meant for community education including the Systems Monitoring Room. This room displays real-time energy and water use graphs as well as renewable energy generation data visitors of the complex can see in dashboard form. Additionally, extensive signage throughout the building makes Euler a “talking building,” meaning any visitor can learn about the sustainable features from the colorful signs and displays.
An additional point is available for having a LEED AP on the project team. LEED AP is a professional credential indicating an advanced depth of knowledge in green building practices. In addition to representatives from the Troyer Group, Taylor employs two LEED APs: Greg Holloway, Supervisor of Contracts and Purchasing; and Kevin Crosby, Coordinator of Stewardship & Sustainability.
The Euler Science Center was built adjacent to the existing Nussbaum Science Center to minimize exterior surface area to conserve energy and to conserve materials by making use of the existing north wall of Nussbaum. Effort was also taken to reuse other building components and materials.
Wherever possible, materials emitting low or no amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds that can cause health problems), items with recycled content, and materials processed and manufactured locally were used in constructing, equipping, and furnishing the complex. Examples of environmentally preferred materials in Euler include paints, adhesives, countertops, furniture, tile, and other pieces of equipment.
Reducing waste during the construction phase as well as once the building is occupied is an important part of green building. Careful management during construction resulted in 79% of construction waste being recycled or otherwise diverted from the landfill. The Complex includes built-in recycling stations on every floor and additional bins near high traffic entrances. Faculty and staff offices also include recycling bins. High-speed electric hand dryers in the restrooms eliminate tons of paper towel waste every year. Additionally, Taylor University also offers a universal waste recycling and biannual e-waste recycling program.
Because the energy used traveling to and from the building by its occupants is often greater than the amount of energy used in the building, location and transportation are important considerations in green building. Outside of Euler you will find bicycle racks, preferred parking spaces designated for fuel-efficiency and carpooling as well as reduced parking for automobiles to encourage alternative transportation options. Additionally, showers are available inside for those who choose to walk, run, or bicycle to work.
The Euler building and landscaping plans included designs that reduce, control, or incorporate storm water. Landscape and parking lots were designed to direct runoff into a system of rain gardens because the native water-tolerant plants thrive in a moist soil environment. In addition, plants on Euler’s green roof help reduce water runoff by taking up water.
The Heat Island Effect occurs in populated areas where darker surfaces, such as paved lots and rooftops, retain heat from solar radiation and increase the local air temperature. The sidewalks surrounding Euler are made of highly reflective light-colored concrete and the green roof helps by reflecting and absorbing the sun’s rays. Taylor did not receive a credit for light pollution reduction because of a decision to error on the side of the social human safety aspect of sustainability over environmental and financial sustainability. This consideration provided outdoor lighting levels that exceeded requirements.
Although the Euler Science Complex does not use any innovative wastewater technologies, it did receive points including an Innovation in Design credit for using approximately 40% less water than a standard building of its size and use. This was achieved by using fixtures significantly more efficient than required by federal standards in the Energy Policy Act of 1992. For example, faucets are motion activated to improve hygiene and use 0.5 gallons per minute compared to the minimum requirement of 2.2 gallons per minute.
Strategies for outdoor water conservation were employed including using primarily native plant species that are drought-tolerant and eliminate the need for a permanent irrigation system.
* Bonus points can be awarded for exemplary performance in an existing credit category. This was achieved in Euler for reducing potable water use by 40% compared to a baseline building (20% is one point and 30% is two).
You can view the full details about the points awarded on the USGBC website.