Statesboro, GA – Georgia Southern University’s new 151,000gsf Biological Sciences Building was recently awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
SLAM programmed, planned, and designed the $34.2 million facility. According to SLAM’s president, Robert F. Pulito, AIA, the firm was one of the first 100 firms nationally to support The American Institute of Architects “2030 Commitment” to carbon neutrality design and practice to achieve carbon-neutral buildings by 2030.
The Biological Sciences Building is itself a teaching tool for sustainability. A large, high-definition video wall in the atrium is a dashboard that monitors and displays water and power usage along with air quality and room temperature, in real time. Strategically located exterior glazing allows light to penetrate deep into the building, and interior glazing enables passersby to see into research and instructional labs and experience science on display.
Steve Vives, Ph.D., chairman of the biology department, pointed out how students can learn from both outside and inside the building, “… people will be able to see creative ways to deal with storm-water runoff from the building, including bioswales where water will be cleaned before it moves on, and rain chains directing water off the building.”
The bioswales serve both as storm-water management and a living lab, while providing an attractive site amenity that integrates the building into its surroundings.
All plantings, which were installed as a student project, are indigenous and were carefully selected to reduce irrigation requirements. Additionally, the campus’ first use of on-site renewable energy by means of photovoltaic panels to produce electricity will help to reduce the electrical power required from the electrical grid. Solar thermal panels will provide a portion of the domestic hot water, reducing the need for fossil fuel to supply the boilers.
“This building demonstrates the university’s commitment to sustainability and will serve as a benchmark for future projects. It enables the department of biology to consolidate research and instruction in a state-of-the-art dedicated facility, which actively engages students in scientific exploration that will benefit both the local region and the state of Georgia,” Sidney P. Ward, AIA, LEED AP, a principal of The S/L/A/M Collaborative said.
Predictions for enrollments during the next 10 years say that U.S. colleges and universities can expect to graduate an additional one million STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) majors. “The key to meeting this goal is retaining students and keeping them interested in the fields,” Martha Abell, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics said at the Biological Sciences Building’s opening ceremony. “This building, with its state-of-the-arts teaching labs and technology-enabled and active-learning classrooms, will support our efforts to produce more STEM graduates.”
The facility, designed to encourage both collaborative and individual research projects, houses five active-learning classrooms, 10 teaching labs and 15 research labs for faculty, a vivarium and aquatics lab, and more than 1,300 undergraduate and graduate biology students. The University predicts that at some point, 90 percent of its student body will attend a class in the new building. According to the University’s master plan, this new instructional and research laboratory facility is the first major building in a new precinct of the campus devoted to sciences and research and is a first step in the development of the a new program in Coastal Plain Biology.
“This space will help us turn students into scientists and inspire their imaginations and creativity,” said Dr. Vives, “I think it’s great that the students are using the study tables and are hanging out in the building between classes. Our majors did not have this opportunity in the former biology building. I often see faculty and students talking and students studying together, which was an emphasis of the building design. We’re very pleased with that outcome.”