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The building, poised to become one of the "greenest" on campus, will house a number of UA environmental science researchers.
A new building under construction on the University of Arizona campus is designed to be an eco-friendly space where environmental researchers on campus can come together to collaborate.
The Environment and Natural Resources 2, or ENR2, building, which broke ground over the summer at 1064 E. Lowell St., has the potential to become one of the "greenest" buildings on campus, with features like shaded outdoor meeting spaces, a cutting-edge chilled-beam air conditioning system and a 52,000-gallon water harvesting tank.
On Thursday, the UA's Institute of the Environment will host a building launch celebration from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on the top of the Sixth Street Garage, which overlooks the ENR2 construction site. Future building tenants will be invited to sign their names on one of the building's walls, which will later be concealed.
The event is open to the public and will include remarks from UA Provost Andrew Comrie and Diana Liverman, co-director of the Institute of the Environment, as well as UA project manager May Carr and Henry Johnstone, president of GLHN Architects & Engineers.
Those working on the ENR2 project hope it will become the fourth campus building to achieve LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, said Peter Dourlein, assistant vice president of UA Planning, Design & Construction. The Student Recreation Center expansion and the Arbol de la Vida and Likins residence halls already have platinum certification.
In addition to its environmentally friendly features, the 150,000-square-foot ENR2 building was designed with collaboration in mind, in line with the University's ongoing efforts to promote interdisciplinary research in the earth and environmental sciences.
Once completed in summer 2015, the building will appropriately serve as the new home of the UA's Institute of the Environment, the School of Geography and Development, and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, which are currently located in separate areas of campus. Some members of the math department also will have offices in the new building.
"The idea is to have a place on campus where a lot of the environmental groups can be in one place and foster cross-disciplinary collaboration," said Betsy Woodhouse, deputy director of the Institute for the Environment. "The point is to get people interacting more and mixing more so we can create new partnerships and break down silos."
Physically modeled after a desert slot canyon, the building, when finished, will include an outdoor center courtyard and terraces of varying shapes and sizes reaching up the building's five stories, creating the look of canyon walls while providing plenty of shaded areas for impromptu outdoor meetings.
"There will be a lot of outdoor circulation space where those balconies make up the canyon, so rather than have an air conditioned space inside the building, you can be out on balconies that are shaded and usable all year," Dourlein said.
The building will have a number of offices, meeting rooms and lab spaces, as well as a small auditorium for about 100-150 people and a large 600-seat auditorium. Ample windows throughout will allow for plenty of natural light.
Landscape beds around the facility will be irrigated with rainwater run-off, captured building condensate or reclaimed water. A 52,000-gallon underground tank with a sophisticated filtration system will be used for water harvesting.
The building's heating and cooling will be controlled by a dedicated outdoor air system, combined with overhead induction coils known as active chilled beams. This combination system requires less energy than traditional building air handlers, said Carr, senior architect with Planning, Design & Construction.
Finally, the roof of the structure is designed to support solar panels and also green roof research areas for planting by faculty and students.
The ENR2 building is located east of the Dennis DeConcini Environment and Natural Resources Building, or ENR1, which houses the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
When ENR2 is finished, the USGS daily weather balloon launch, currently done from the top of the DeConcini building, will be relocated to the taller ENR2.
"The building is going to be a unique experience," Dourlein said of ENR2. "Because of the courtyard a lot more people will have access to glass and natural light, which is good for productivity. So it's about energy efficiency and being green, but it's also about having a really productive workplace."