ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability

Oct. 9, 2009
Tempe, AZ
LEED Silver

It is fitting that the Arizona State University (ASU) Global Institute of Sustainability and newly formed School of Sustainability—the first in the United States to offer transdisciplinary degree programs that explore and advance practical solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges—should be housed in a sustainably designed facility. However, that was easier envisioned than achieved, considering that these two programs are located in a once-dreary building designed in 1965.

Although ASU’s original budget of $3 million for the renovation of its former Nursing Building allowed primarily for asbestos abatement; upgrading the fire and life safety, HVAC and lighting systems; and making the elevators, stairways and restrooms ADA compliant, university officials envisioned more. So when an additional $3 million became available from ASU’s capital budget, architects from Lord, Aeck & Sargent and Gould Evans Associates collaborated to create a building that would celebrate responsible design—both inside and out.

“Our team was tasked with finding the right balance of upgrades that would give the building a visible educational component, make it energy- and water-efficient and give ASU the most bang for its buck,” says Elba St. Romain, a Lord, Aeck & Sargent architect who served as project manager for the renovation.

The result is the transformation of a dark, vintage 1960s-era structure with cavernous hallways into a bright, open, eco-friendly facility that achieved LEED Silver certification. The building is expected to save 18.7 percent on energy use and 50.3 percent on water use compared with the original building’s baseline usage.

To many passersby, perhaps the most visible educational component—and one that gives the Institute the physical presence desired by the University—is the addition of a renewable energy source: six wind turbines mounted on the roof’s eastern edge and powered by thermal updrafts. Each turbine works 24 hours daily and, when the wind blows, provides 1,000 watts of power to the Arizona Public Service grid.

Still to be added to the roof next year is a 24-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array. This installation is happening as part of ASU’s plan to install solar cells on the rooftops of campus buildings, eventually providing 7.4 megawatts of power to the University’s Tempe campus (the largest such array in the United States).

The building also makes use of a wide variety of high recycled content products such as countertops made from recycled milk jugs inlaid with shavings from recycled cans; GREENGUARD Indoor Air Quality Certified® furniture; as well as low-VOC emitting paints, carpet, flooring, gypsum sheathing, and interior signage.

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