School of Medicine

Sustainability key focus in Neuroscience Research Building construction

This rendering shows a large rooftop terrace on the third floor of the Neuroscience Research Building that can be used as a gathering place for employees and as an event space. Trees, such as elms, junipers and magnolias, will provide shade to help reduce heat during hotter months. (Image: CannonDesign)

The Neuroscience Research Building under construction on the Washington University Medical Campus promises great discoveries in an environmentally friendly building that meets sustainability goals. The completed structure will contain energy-efficient, low-energy research freezers in laboratories; electric charging stations in the parking garage; and numerous other sustainability-focused elements.

The 11-story, 609,000-square-foot building at 4370 Duncan Ave. on the Medical Campus is on track to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. LEED is a green building rating program providing a framework for healthy, highly efficient, less expensive buildings. LEED Gold certification is the next to the highest rating.

“The building design was critical to ensure efficient space use and to reduce energy and the impact on the carbon footprint,” said Melissa Rockwell-Hopkins, associate vice chancellor for operations and facilities management at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “We recognized early on the importance of reducing the impact of the built footprint on the environment. In the design of this building, we have worked hard to reduce the use of materials, water and electricity while maintaining energy efficiency and without compromising anything needed to support the invaluable research that will occur in the Neuroscience Research Building.”

Researchers use ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers to store chemicals, enzymes, bacteria and other samples. About a third of the laboratories in the facility will have the most energy-efficient ULT freezers on the market, which use only half the electricity of standard ULT freezers. An average ULT freezer consumes as much energy as a single-family home.

Computer-controlled airflow systems will create a safe and healthy workspace and reduce energy use in the building, said Rockwell-Hopkins, also the associate dean for operations and facilities. In addition, for the first time on the Medical Campus, a research building will include all LED (light emitting diode) light fixtures, noted for their energy efficiency. Also, limiting water usage in the facility will be low-flow showers on the first floor for employees who ride their bikes to work; low-flow toilets and faucets throughout the building; and settings on high-performance laboratory equipment that reduce water use.

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