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Ford Building Achieves 'Green' Status

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January 11, 2006 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The new Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center at Northwestern University has received silver level certification from the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System®, part of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Certification criteria included water efficiency, energy, recycled materials and indoor environmental quality as well as innovation in design.

The building, which opened in October, is the first at Northwestern specifically built to obtain certification in environmental sustainability. Northwestern has since adopted a policy targeting LEED certification for all future buildings.

Located at 2133 Sheridan Road, just south of the Technological Institute, the six-story, 84,000-square-foot building is the focal point for the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science’s initiatives in design education, including the Engineering Design and Communications (EDC) program for first-year undergraduates.

To keep energy costs down, the building’s design provides natural daylight to more than 75 percent of the building’s interior spaces, which is notable considering that two of the six floors are below ground. In addition, an automated solar tracking system throughout the building closes window shades in the face of direct sunlight and opens shades in areas facing away from the sun. An innovative raised-floor system provides more precise temperature control at the individual-occupant level, resulting in more efficient heating and cooling of interior spaces.

Many of the materials used to construct the building, such as steel, glass, concrete with recycled “fly-ash” content, carpeting and ceiling tile materials, have recycled content. Additionally, the building’s design incorporates effective collection, storage and management of recyclable materials.

On the exterior, a number of measures minimize the building’s impact on the surrounding environment:

- A light-reflective roof reduces the “heat island” effect of the building on the site.

- Exterior lighting lights the ground and not the surrounding sky, reducing urban light pollution near the University’s historic Dearborn Observatory.

- A specially integrated retention basin, located beneath the building, captures ground water that is used to irrigate the building’s surrounding landscape and the historic Shakespeare Garden to the east. Any excess is returned directly to ground water rather than to the city sewer system.

The University engaged a team of experts in environmentally sustainable building design from the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, Colo., to review design constraints and recommend specific measures that could be implemented to achieve LEED certification. In addition, the building committee worked closely with The Garden Club of Evanston, whose members are caretakers for the Shakespeare Garden adjacent to the building.

The building was designed by the architectural firm of Davis, Brody, Bond of New York, and Turner Construction Company was the general contractor.

Topics: University