University of Idaho to Educate Building Community about Energy-Smart Design

Sept. 17, 2007

Boise, Idaho - With global warming gracing news headlines daily, designers now look for ways to design buildings that are more comfortable for people, require less energy to maintain and operate, and enhance the health and productivity of their inhabitants.

The University of Idaho Integrated Design Lab has received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Pacific Northwest Region to develop climate and building-type specific design strategy resources that will guide designers for years to come.

"This grant allows us to piggyback off the lab's existing educational outreach activities and progress toward carbon-neutral building design," says Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg, director of the Integrated Design Lab. "We now will be able to do more to help designers, engineers and owners with topics related to energy efficiency."

The Integrated Design Lab, located in Boise, currently provides project-based education services to designers in the disciplines of daylighting, electric lighting, HVAC and other high-performance, sustainable practices.

The Pacific Northwest Carbon Neutral Building Initiative, for which the EPA grant was funded, aims to curb global warming through energy-smart integrated design, and will provide training and education to design and owner teams on how to interpret and utilize these resources as part of an integrated design process.

Researchers at the Integrated Design Lab will analyze climates and microclimates in Idaho, Oregon, Alaska and Washington. Using the data, they will match design techniques with climate differences for maximum energy efficiency. The techniques will be assembled in an educational format readily accessible by designers.

"The climate in Moscow differs from Boise or Pocatello," notes Van Den Wymelenberg. "Our project will allow us to provide specific design tips for each area."

The initiative responds to the 2030° Challenge for global architecture and the building community. Founded by Edward Mazria, senior principal at Mazria Inc. Odems Dzurec, an architecture and planning firm in Santa Fe, NM, the challenge calls for all newly constructed buildings to be carbon neutral by 2030, which means that no fossil fuel is used to operate the facility.

The Pacific Northwest Carbon Neutral Building Initiative complements a number of other sustainability initiatives undertaken by the University of Idaho. Just this spring, the university took another step in environmental leadership by joining the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the world's first and North America's only voluntary, legally binding multi-sector market for reducing and trading greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As part CCX, the university has committed to reduce its own emissions of greenhouse gases by 6 percent below the average of its 1998-2001 baseline by 2010. The University of Idaho is one of only seven higher-education institutions that have joined CCX.

In March 2007, University of Idaho President Tim White signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, making the university a charter signatory and a member of the Leadership Circle on this initiative to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions.

The University of Idaho Integrated Design Lab will partner with the University of Oregon Energy Studies in Buildings Laboratories in Eugene and Portland on the project.

For more information on the Pacific Northwest Carbon Neutral Building Initiative, contact the University of Idaho's Integrated Design Lab at (208) 429-0220 or [email protected].

About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state's flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university's student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit

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