The Northern Arizona University (NAU) Extended Campuses & Arizona Universities Network Building in Flagstaff received Platinum LEED certification in June 2010. The Applied Research and Development (ARD) building uses 43 percent less energy for lighting and air-conditioning compared to convention building of same size. Clad in aluminum composite metal panels and northern Arizona sandstone, the 2,100m2 building incorporates many resource-frugal technologies to achieve an advanced level of sustainability.
Flagstaff, Arizona is called the “City of Seven Wonders” because of its proximity to internationally-renowned treasures including the Grand Canyon. With the LEED Platinum certification of the ARD building, the Northern Arizona University now boasts nine LEED-rated buildings on campus.
The university is also included in the Princeton Review’s Guide to 322 Green Colleges for 2012, which noted the NAU’s nine LEED buildings and a number of campus initiatives, including the No Impact Jack Sustainable Living Certificate Program, the Student Sustainability Ambassadors Program, Green NAU, the Environmental Caucus and the President’s Coordinating Committee for Campus Sustainability.
Our dedication to building ‘green’ demonstrates our climate mitigation commitment,” explains NAU President John Haeger, “and is further proof of the institution’s stewardship of place.”
Connected to the School of Communication, the building is a striking and compatible addition to the NAU campus. Its contemporary expression in form and material integrates well into the physical context of the university.
Challenges at new heights
The ARD building, which officially opened in September 2007, was the greenest building at such a high altitude. Flagstaff’s elevation of 2,100m above sea level posed engineering challenges not found at lower elevations. The design was required to accommodate northern Arizona’s “freeze and thaw” temperature variations and the intense ultraviolet light that can quickly damage materials.
Energy sources for the ARD building include a photovoltaic solar power system that provides at least 20 percent of its electricity. Automatic shade controls, venting windows and a “enthalpy wheel” regulate the building’s temperature. The design and automated systems result in an overall reduction of energy consumed by 60 percent compared to traditional buildings.
90 percent of waste materials generated from the building’s construction made its way to recycling rather than landfills. About 30 percent of the building’s supplies are from recycled materials, including thousands of pairs of denim jeans used for insulation.
The building’s design includes no volatile organic compounds in its paint or carpet. To help insulate the buildings temperatures, a “green roof” on the building’s conference unit will serve as a place to grow and maintain an indigenous vegetation cover requiring minimal irrigation. Reclaimed water replaces potable water for landscaping use and flushing toilets, and water-efficient features such as low-pressure faucets and toilets reduce total water needs by 60 percent.
Although the ARD parking lot was the first installation in the state to use pervious concrete, allowing water to be captured in natural aquifers to be used for irrigation purposes, the concrete was replaced in August 2012 because the material failed. The concrete deteriorated in Flagstaff’s freeze-and-thaw climate. There were several reports of tripping hazards and twisted ankles, especially during the winter months.
Natural light abounds through the open design and provides 75 percent of the lighting that includes an atrium area supporting collaboration among its occupants, including environmentally based organizations such as the U.S. Forest Service and NAU’s Center for Sustainable Environments.
Capturing the wind
A 21-meter (70-foot) Skystream wind turbine was installed outside the ARD building in November 2011. It was the fourth such installation done by the NAU-run Arizona Wind for Schools project. The turbine will provide power to the LEED Platinum building, which houses the Wind for Schools project and the university’s sustainability program. Data from the turbine will be used for NAU classes and by K-12 schools across the state.
Equipment and staff expertise were donated in part by Southwest Windpower, with design work donated by GLHN Design. The remainder of the project costs were covered by NAU’s Green Fund, which provides funding for student-initiated sustainability projects.
Sustainable design pays off
The ARD building cost USD 26 million to construct. Although the cost of construction exceeded conventional structures by around 10 percent, the design principles developed and knowledge gained during the design and construction of ARD will allow NAU and others in the state to build high-performance buildings for much less in the future, and the energy-saving features will make up the cost difference in the long run.See more
The Applied Research and Development facility at Flagstaff, Arizona, USA received acknowledgement for collaboration on an interdisciplinary level to reduce the project’s ecological footprint.Prizes awarded to sustainable construction projects in North America »
The entry presents not only an ambitious effort to harness the resources of natural energy, but also to collaborate on an interdisciplinary level with specialists from other fields to effectively implement such an ambition. The import of expertise could prove highly beneficial to local industry. The project successfully demonstrates a sound and integral implementation of state of the art building technologies, such as passive solar buffer collectors, solar shading, natural ventilation, as well as thermal mass for cooling and nighttime purging.
Further potential for savings are introduced through the implementation of waterless urinals, reclaimed water use, and zero degree landscape irrigation. Of equal significance the direct involvement of public stakeholders in funding the project, thus raising the level of collectively vested interest in issues pertaining to sustainable construction.
As a return, the community receives a specimen case study in the skillful deployment of ecologically considerate systems that effectively reduce the ecological footprint of human development. Low operational costs may even prove a compelling deterrent to future economic risk. The project convincingly combines the pragmatics of providing shelter with the material poetics of place making.See more
The ARD integrates a range of innovative sustainable strategies including: low embodied energy materials (high volume fly ash concrete, high content recycled metals, local ponderosa pine, long life cladding); passive design optimization (passive solar buffer collector, optimized day lighting, natural ventilation, exposed concrete as thermal mass for cooling, night time purging, external shading), efficient mechanical systems (raised floor plenum displacement ventilation system, ultra-low pressure drop central air plant systems with thermal recovery & component bypasses, BMS optimized low energy lighting, BMS controls of ventilation, integrated solar water panels, 20% of electricity generated by PV tracker), and water saving strategies (waterless urinals, ultralow flow toilets, reclaimed water use, no landscape irrigation).Download project entry poster (PDF, 3.53 MB) »
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