Lewis Integrative Science Building Leads the Way in Sustainable Buildings

Into the doors and up the steps into the Lewis Integrative Science building is a massive atrium, with natural light pouring in through the skylight ceiling. The walls are made from bamboo wood, a highly renewable resource, and metal staircases connect the five stories together. The atrium contains walls that are writeable and erasable, almost like a white-board, for science students or researchers to gather and write their equations and findings. Construction workers are finishing up every last detail in the laboratories. The roof of the Lewis Integrative Science building contains the immense solar panels for the building, as well as a panoramic view of the entire campus. The basement floor includes private research facilities, as well as an MRI machine. Construction buildings and machines are placed strategically around two large Elm trees that have survived the four years of destruction and construction. Bustling University of Oregon students, professors and researchers will soon replace the hardhat construction workers wearing neon orange vests.

The Lewis Integrative Science (LIS) building will be opening September 1st, 2012. The $65 million building is located on the north side of University of Oregon’s campus, along Franklin Blvd. The 107,000 square feet building is composed of one-third research laboratories, and two-thirds offices, “dry” labs, and common areas. The University of Oregon calls the building “phase two” of the Integrative Science Complex, because it will connect to other buildings in the Lokey Science Complex, making it the hub of the complex.

The Lewis Integrative Science building is projected to have Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the highest certification possible. The building is very laboratory-intensive, making sustainability a challenge because of the necessity to not recycle harmful air, or chemicals throughout the building. A challenge that Lease Crutcher Lewis‘ project manager Mark Butler and engineers accepted and became creative and innovative to find ways to create a healthier building.
“There is many reasons why we build sustainable buildings, for the energy efficiency, the pay back in operation costs, but also the buildings are overall healthier,” says Mark Butler. “That’s the biggest payback, the people that inhabit the building are healthier, and happier people.”

 Fred Tepfer, project-planning manager, has been on the Lewis Integrative Science building project since the beginning. He remembers sitting down, 6 years ago, throwing out ideas with scientists, engineers, University of Oregon maintenance operations staff, and planners about how to make the LIS building as green as it could be. From that one conversation came two ideas that have actually been used in the creation of the building.

The first idea is using the waste tunnel heat that runs underneath all of campus, run it through a heat pump, to make it the primary heat source for the LIS building.  This is a free source of heat for building, and will also allow the exhaust fans in the tunnels to be turned off that kept the conditions in the tunnels cool.

The second idea is to utilize the reverse osmosis purified water that is used in the already standing Zebra fish facility. For every gallon of purified water, the process throws away a gallon of water that can still be considered EPA drinking water. The LIS building is going to flush all the toilets and urinals with that reverse osmosis wastewater.

Tepfer attributes these ideas to the basic concept of recycling, taking waste products and turning them into the feedstock of the process, giving resources a second use. He says that these creative ideas sprung from the local knowledge and desire to take the LIS building to the next level.

“It (LIS) is a landmark for the processes used to be sustainable if you want to think outside and beyond the box”, says Tepfer. “I love the feeling of having been a major part of re-imagining how we do scientific research as well as how we do science in an environmentally and socially responsible way.”

The construction workers feel that same sense of pride in the LIS building. Zeke Holder has spent over a year and a half on the construction. He began the project when there was a big whole in the ground, a tower crane, and just the basement floor with a few walls going up.  He loves being apart of this project because of the sustainability factor. A lot of the green features were new to him like the heating and cooling system, but is very proud of the building. “We strive to put out the best product we can,” says Holder.

The grand opening of the Lewis Integrative Science building is in September of 2012, and will be complete with a celebration and an official walk through.

The Lewis Integrative Science building is joining one other LEED certified building on University of Oregon’s campus; The Lillis Business Complex. Lillis opened its doors in 2003 and is LEED silver certified. Lease Crutcher Lewis was also the contractor on the LEED building.

Lillis was the first LEED certified building on Oregon’s campus, leading the way into the LEED movement. The College of Business website explains the importance of creating sustainable buildings, “If businesses do not operate in a sustainable way, they fail. If resources are not used in a sustainable way, they disappear. If business students learn these lessons well, they flourish.”

Over a decade ago, the U.S. Green Building Council developed leadership in Energy and Environmental Design . LEED is considered to be a third-party certification that a building was designed to be healthy and energy efficient. According to their website, nine billion square feet all around the world are LEED certified, growing by 1.6 million each day. LEED measures components in a building such as; sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, awareness and education, location, and innovation in design.

The movement of healthy buildings is strong in the Oregon University system. Butler says that the west coast, and Oregon in particular is on the frontline of sustainability. In November of 2004, shortly after Lillis was built, all the state of Oregon and Oregon University Systems required all publicly funded buildings to meet at least silver LEED qualifications.

University of Oregon has made it a goal to build every new building on campus up to LEED standards, publicly funded or not. Although not every building is LEED certified, because the cost involved in the process, up to $25,000 to $50,000. New publicly buildings such as HEDCO College of Education, and the University Health Center are up to LEED equivalencies, as well as the privately funded Mathew Knight Arena.

“If you have a LEED Silver equivalent building, and a LEED Silver certified, they are still performing the same,” says Tanner Perrine LIS project engineer.  “It is just that one of them has the stamp that says, yes everyone has crossed their T’s and doted their I’s.”

An example of the sustainable movement is the Energy Center at Oregon State. It became LEED Platinum certified as of January 2011. Reconstruction of the old 1920’s heat plant that provided steam to most campus buildings consisted of combining steam and electricity to co-generate and efficiently heat campus buildings by using the otherwise wasted heat from the electrical generation process.

Additionally, Portland State renovated the historic Lincoln Hall to LEED Platinum certification in 2011. According to Portland State’s campus planning website the building kept it’s traditional appearance while revamping features such as high performance windows and roof energy top solar panels.

The LEED movement is continuing to grow on University of Oregon’s campus, in hopes to extend energy efficiency to the ERB Memorial Union. Lease Crutcher Lewis is also the contractor on the reconstruction pending on the yes in the upcoming vote.

See the entire blog and photos here.  Written by Brianna Amaranthus and featured on j361neighborhoodnews.wordpress.com