Weird Science

The new “green” engineering building will have waterless urinals and ductless air conditioning, which will not only be green but cost a lot of green: $43 million.
“Engineering on display” is what Karl K. Stevens, the dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, calls the theme of the building, which he hopes will be completed in 2010.
“When you come into the building, you will be able to see some of the special systems that are there, as well as what they are doing. For example, there will be a monitor there that in real time [will allow you to] see how much electricity the solar panels are generating,” says Stevens.

From the ground up, this building will feature many environmentally friendly and state-of-the-art devices.

The new green engineering building will have geothermal wells, which generate energy from heat that has been collected from underground. These wells will use that energy to pump warm water and heat the building in the winter. Heat generated by computers will also be captured and used as an additional heating source.

Chill beams will be installed on the ceilings of rooms to allow for a natural flow of air, contrary to the air ducts seen around campus buildings, which force air in one direction. Cooling coils will chill rising warm air and circulate it back into the room with minimum air movement.

In order to conserve energy, occupancy sensors will turn off lights in a room when no movement is detected. Daylight sensors will control the amount of light in a room depending on how much light is entering the building.

A banquet hall on the second floor will be used to hold special events. Stevens explains that if any student meets his or her soul mate at FAU, they can use the hall to exchange vows.
“It looks like one of the nicest clubs in Boca. There is nothing like this on campus,”
says Stevens.

The new engineering building will be a living and learning laboratory for engineering students and will showcase green practices and technology to promote environmental awareness.

The idea for a green building on FAU’s grounds was developed four years ago by Karl K. Stevens and Brenda O. Coto, the director of development for the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Their brainstorming led to this idea, which is now making FAU history.
“At the time we decided to do this, a lot of people in Florida hadn’t heard of ‘green’. Now that’s all you see. It was perfect timing; we couldn’t have planned it any better,” Stevens admits.

Coto feels that as engineers, they are trying to set the example.
“We discussed [the] level of certification and decided that we would try for platinum certification because we figured that we’re going to go all the way, or it’s not worth it, especially because it’s engineering. We are trying to set the right example,” she explains.

The green engineering building will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified platinum level building in Florida, which is the highest level of LEED certification.

There are four different levels of certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum. Each has its own guidelines, which must be met in order for a building to obtain that level of LEED certification. The requirements include a lower operational cost, reduced waste, conservation of water and energy, healthier and safer environments for occupants and reduced harmful greenhouse gases.

 “The LEED certification [uses a point system] and … how many [points] you qualify for determines what level of certification you get,” says Coto.

The development of the new green building is changing the way new buildings will be constructed in the future on FAU’s campuses.
“[President Frank Brogan] signed the University Climate Commitment letter, which stated that all buildings [constructed after] he signed it last year … will have the minimum [LEED] certification,” Coto explains.

FAU’s engineering curriculum, program and research have also been tailored to keep pace with the green movement.
“Not only does this break the mold architecturally on campus, but when you see the building, you’re going to be like, ‘Whoa, how did you do that?’ It’s a project that everyone wants to be a part of. It’s setting the standard,” says Stevens.

To see artist renderings of the building, click here.

Other campus projects

Along with the platinum-level green building that will be added to the Boca campus, the Davie campus is designing a general-use building targeted for silver certification, which will be located on the west side of the campus. In addition to housing new laboratory space, classrooms and faculty offices, this four-story, $39,270,000 building will use solar panels.


Things to look forward to in the new engineering building

• The Cube: A 5,000-square-foot student study suite (S3) where students can meet and study. It will have six student study rooms and 30 study cubicles.

•    Food service area: This green dining area will be the only full-service food facility on the east side of campus and will include a waterfall feature.

• Outside roof garden: Located on the fifth floor of the building will be a large outdoor area where classes, projects and experiments may be conducted.

•    Green terrace: Located on the third floor of the building, it can be used for smaller receptions.

• Astronaut and FAU alumnus Steve Swanson left Earth on Feb. 22 for a NASA space mission to deliver power-generated solar array wings and truss elements to the International Space Station. With him he took an FAU College of Engineering flag, which will be displayed in the new engineering building.