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National council pins silver star on ASU’s ISTB II


September 20, 2006

Building becomes university’s first to earn LEED certification

ASU's Interdisciplinary Science + Technology Building II (ISTB II) is like a giant kinetic sculpture. It moves, makes sounds and is visually compelling. Different textures and experiences greet spectators upon closer inspection.

Enormous fans, with 6-foot blades, circulate the air in the courtyard. During the summer, misters hidden in rock gardens release moistened clouds for 10 minutes every hour to cool the air.

Every 15 minutes or so, the sound of hawks is broadcast to keep pigeons from roosting on the mesh courtyard rafters.

All that, and it's an environmentally friendly building, too.

ISTB II has just become the first ASU building to achieve a LEED certification, much to the delight of its architects, Richard & Bauer, Architecture LLC., and ASU leaders.

ISTB II received its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). According to L. Ray Tena, associate director of engineering for University Services, that means the building is energy efficient and is built at a higher level of sustainability than normal industry standards would call for.

The architects designed the building to let as much natural light into the building as possible, while preventing the sun from heating it up.

Special attention also was paid to air quality, energy-efficient lighting, use of recycled materials and water consumption.

“We are trying to be kind to the environment, but at the same time constructing a building that is satisfying to the occupants,” Tena says.

And those who work and study at ISTB II say they like it. Joby Carlson, who is the research lab manager for the National Center of Excellence on SMART Innovations for Urban Climate and Energy, says the building – with its exposed air ducts and water lines, unpainted concrete walls, metal screening at the windows and on the roof – has a very “modern feel” and honors the building's engineering systems while maintaining visual appeal.

“I enjoy working at ISTB II because it has a lot of character,” he says. “It has the type of look that doesn't require an explanation to know that it is a top-of-the-line research facility. We are fortunate to work in a building that is as progressive as the ideas that are conceived within it. We often use it for informing our visitors and students on what is possible when sustainable concepts are effectively used in urban design.”

The LEED rating system is fairly new. It was introduced in 1998 by the USGBC to promote environmentally sustainable building.

“There are four LEED levels: certified, silver, gold and platinum,” Tena says. The highest is platinum, but that's difficult for a research building to attain.”

The LEED certification process begins even before a shovel of dirt is turned, Tena says.

“We have to start planning long before the building starts,” he says. “We tell the architects to shoot for LEED silver.”

Most major architectural firms have a LEED-certified professional so the architects know what the process means, says Tena, who also earned LEED certification.

Once designs are done, they are submitted to USGBC as the first stage of the application process. Then, when the building is completed, formal documentation for the award is submitted.

It's a long process, Tena says.

“We started a little over two years ago for the ISTB II,” he says.

ASU hopes to have more trophies to display next to the ISTB II silver medal. (There will be a LEED silver plaque displayed in ISTB II.)

“We're in the process of applying for Biodesign B and ISTB I, and perhaps Biodesign A,” Tena says. “The Foundation also may apply for the Fulton Center .”

Hassayampa Academic Village also is waiting in the wings.

“We're attempting to ensure that we have LEED certification when the building is finished in September 2007,” Tena says.

 Judith Smith, jps@asu.edu (480) 965-4821