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EPIcenter: Montana State University's Green Building Project

The availability of "green" building technologies such as those that are energy-efficient or water-conserving, of renewable energy sources, and sustainable building materials, has created the opportunity to make new buildings into green showcases. Montana State University at Bozeman has seized this opportunity with a project called EPIcenter.

MSU plans to construct a new multidisciplinary educational building whose goal is to be the prototype of a 21st century academic laboratory facility, incorporating advanced design principles and sustainable building construction and practice. Berkeley Lab's EETD is one of MSU's partners in the project's design phase, providing expertise in energy-efficient building technology and design.

Awarded a NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) "Green Building" Demonstration Planning Grant in 1994, the planning process for EPIcenter is well underway. MSU plans to house a National Resource Center for Sustainable Building and Cold Climate Technologies (an MSUNIST collaboration) as well as other research centers, labs and teaching facilities in the 250,000-square-foot building.

Architectural cross-section of a building

Pilot Project

Before work begins on the EPIcenter building itself, MSU and the project architect, Bob Berkebile and BNIM Architects of Kansas City, Missouri, plan a smaller 28,000-squarefoot pilot facility using sustainable design principles that will house educational facilities for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. A team of EETD researchers, including principal investigator Dale Sartor, Karl Brown, Geoffrey Bell, Stephen Selkowitz, Eleanor Lee, Vladimir Bazjanac, Francis Rubinstein, and Kostas Papamichael, will work with the University to identify technology appropriate for the buildings goals and provide specific design assistance in a wide variety of areas, including laboratory air management, fume hood design and air distribution; advanced window and daylighting systems, and building design tools.

Windows, Lighting, Ventilation

"In the area of lighting and windows," says Selkowitz, Head of the Division's Building Technologies Department, "we are working with the design team to identify appropriate daylighting strategies for the pilot building and are using simulation programs such as Radiance to evaluate their performance. We'll also provide technical assistance in specifying high-performance window systems, and evaluating their performance."

According to Sartor, "We may also help them specify requirements and provide design review for lighting controls, using the experience we've gained with control systems at the Philip Burton Federal Building testbed in San Francisco [see Center for Building Science News, Winter 1997, p.4] as well as our observations of other lighting control systems. Building commissioning will also be an important part of the process—making sure that the building is functioning according to design specification after the building has been built." Sartor is leader of the Division's Applications Team (A-Team).

A second significant area of EETD assistance will be in fume hood contaminant technology. Laboratory buildings almost universally use fume hoods, and EETD researchers have recently been developing an energy-efficient version of this technology [see EETD News, Fall 1999]. The new design has been undergoing testing for compliance with various codes and standards such as ASHRAE 110, and the development team is fabricating and refining the alpha generation of the fume hood. The team will mock up and specify a beta version of the fume hood, to be designed and manufactured by Fisher Hamilton Inc., for field-testing at the EPIcenter pilot facility.

"Bringing the work of the national laboratory to commercialization is a jointly held goal of the project and LBNL. With Fisher Hamilton, Inc.'s help, we will be able to dramatically change the energy efficiency of fume hoods, while protecting the health and safety of the researchers and laboratory personnel," says Kath Williams, Executive Director of the EPIcenter project.

Other Support

Identifying the best existing technologies for the pilot project is an important part of the design process. Berkeley Lab's assistance will include evaluating information technologies such as building control and monitoring systems, building lifecycle tools to seamlessly transfer information about design specifications to the building commissioning and operation stages, and design and analysis software. The EETD team's expertise also includes advanced heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, and high-efficiency task and ambient lighting. The pilot project is scheduled to begin construction in mid-2000.

"Montana State is excited about the partnership with LBNL. The scope of work and expertise that the A-Team bring to our team will make the EPIcenter a much better demonstration of sustainable building practices," says Williams.

— Allan Chen

For more information, contact:

  • Dale Sartor
  • (510) 486-5988; fax (510) 486-4089
  • Karl Brown
  • (510) 486-5338 or (510) 643-1617; fax (510) 486-4089

Montana State University

This work is sponsored by Montana State University, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Building Technologies, State and Community Programs.

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