The new seven-story addition to the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy has become the first building on the Baltimore campus of the University to achieve a Gold certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the U.S. Green Building Council.
"I am thrilled that our new Pharmacy Hall has earned a Gold ranking, making it one of the few education and research-intensive Gold buildings located in an urban area," says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, dean of the School of Pharmacy.
LEED is a green building certification system based on water and energy efficiency, use of sustainable materials, indoor environmental quality, and sustainable site usage. LEED certifications range from a threshold of Certified to the highest level, Platinum; Gold is next to highest.
New Pharmacy Hall contains a "very significant level of automation and lighting control systems," says Robert Rowan, MS, the University of Maryland associate vice president for facilities and operations. "Throughout the building, lights are only on when space is occupied and we reduce air flows to unoccupied areas. We also have elaborate metering and monitoring systems that measure real time energy consumption and alerts us to anomalies," says Rowan.
The 128,951-gross-square-foot building was constructed with 'green' materials of low volatile organic contaminants. Renewable materials were used throughout the building.
Planning for the $85 million building began in the early 1990s, including design, construction, and equipping and furnishing. As designing evolved, the state of Maryland mandated in 2008 that all new buildings will need to meet LEED Silver certification. Prior to constructing the new Pharmacy Hall, the University already had been routinely incorporating energy efficiency and sustainable practices into its design and construction projects.
William Cooper, MBA, the School's senior associate dean for administration and finance, says that meeting the state's mandate of Silver standards wasn't just the right thing to do. "We wanted to be a leader," he says. "This is the first entire building on campus to be LEED Silver certified with a decent chance at Gold." The School of Pharmacy's facilities management division followed the University's lead to set an example for the campus. The School was partially motivated by operating in its old Pharmacy Hall, which had few windows, stark fluorescent lighting, overcrowded lecture halls, and limited communal space for group study.
With the new, brighter Pharmacy Hall, "We want to demonstrate that the environment is very important to us as an educational, research, and health care institution that shares space with area residents and businesses amid an urban setting," says Pamela Crowe, School of Pharmacy director of facilities and laboratory services. "Dean Eddington set the environmental benchmark for this project, encouraging us to do everything that we possibly could do within the budget, and aim not only to achieve but exceed the state's mandate," Crowe recalls.
Now, says Eddington, "Our new home is already proving to be an oasis on our campus because of our light-filled atrium, large gathering spaces, and calming atmosphere. I'm proud that our design, construction, and management teams were able to produce a space that is not only beautiful but that also reduces its footprint through its numerous environmentally friendly features."
Glass and light play a major role in the new building. A four-story atrium connects the new Hall with the old, nearly solid brick Pharmacy Hall. The idea was to join the two buildings without creating the appearance of two disparate structures stuck together. The glass atrium transition space floods the area with daylight, reducing the need for excessive light fixtures. The highest level of energy-efficient glass was used for thermal separation to ensure low loss of cooling in summer and heat in winter, explains Jeff Crabtree, an architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) project manager for the University. "The heavy glass is also acoustically advantageous," he adds, "because it cuts down on the noise of traffic."
In the new building, an automated "daylight harvesting" system lets spaces become dimmer or brighter depending on the existence of natural light. Also, all rooms are equipped with occupancy sensors and highly reflective, light colored floors and walls that reduce the need for bright lighting. In the office spaces alone, these innovations have cut back lighting expenses by 84 percent.
All inside spaces are accented by bright, honey-toned, European steamed beech wood paneling that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which monitors for sustainable harvesting methods. Other materials in the building such as ceiling tiles, carpet, and even structural steel, have a high recycled content.
"The credit for our success must first be given to Peter Schwab of RCG Architects Inc. of Baltimore, Ben Bogdanowicz and Ben Fry from Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. of Baltimore, and our campus facilities management engineers and architects, led by Jeff Crabtree and Ron Brown [AEC associate director] for all of their innovation, extra LEED hours, and dedication to this project," says Crowe.
Some of the most unique innovations in the building are those that most visitors will never see. The roof is covered with "a white, liquid membrane applied on concrete that is capable of holding water indefinitely," explains Schwab, the project manager from RCG, the architect of record. As rainwater collects on the white roof (that reflects sunlight away from the building, reducing solar heat gain) it is slowly drained off the roof and moved through a passive filtration system. It removes 80 percent of solid waste and 40 percent of phosphorus, preventing harmful runoff into the Chesapeake Bay. Another silent saver is the advanced energy recovery system that captures "spent" energy in the building and re-uses it.
Besides being an academic building, the new Pharmacy Hall also serves the School as a place of laboratory research. A great deal of time, says Crowe, was devoted to determining an environmentally sound means of venting a building that conducts chemistry experiments without damaging the building's energy efficiency, all while staying within the parameters of a strict budget. "We're setting the bar for a publicly funded research and academic building," she says.