By Howard Wertheimer, Director, Capital Planning & Space Management, Georgia Institute of Technology
(This article appears in the November, 2012 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)
Georgia Tech is committed to the development of a sustainable campus community, creating distinctive architecture and open spaces. In keeping with this goal, Georgia Tech has a clear mission for its new Carbon Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory Building: carbon neutral net zero site energy use. The 40,000 square foot facility is intended to set a new standard for sustainable design for laboratory buildings of this type by optimizing passive energy technologies, reducing electricity loads, thoughtful day-lighting strategies, water conservation and harvesting, and maximizing the use of renewable energy, including a 290kW photovoltaic array.
The building will be anchored by Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute and will house a variety of energy research programs requiring large scale (high-bay) and intermediate scale (mid-bay) capabilities, and the design is intended to express its mission simply, directly and honestly; a “no frills” design. The building took advantage of innovative planning models that go beyond flexibility and adaptability, introducing the mid-bay laboratory concept for large-scale equipment that requires slab-on-grade space, without the necessity of a 30’ tall high bay. The building also challenged conventional energy use assumptions, and developed the energy model based on a net-zero energy approach. Through analyses of contemporary carbon neutral buildings, establishing a working definition of net zero site energy use, incorporating baseline energy modeling and studying simple pre- industrial structures, the design team created a series of four alternative building concepts. These were evaluated through energy-modeling to determine which options and which energy-savings features to pursue.
The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded the Georgia Tech Research Corporation $11.6 million to construct the Carbon-Neutral Energy Solutions Laboratory (C-NES). As one of 12 recipients of the NIST award, the project has a total budget of $24.6 million. The balance of the project was financed through GT Facilities Inc., a 501c3 affiliate partner of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The project has already received national recognitions, with awards from the New Jersey AIA, the Georgia AIA, the Georgia chapter of the ASLA, and Southern Region of ENR’s Magazine for best Green Building.