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The U.W. Strikes Gold

by Worldchanging Seattle local blogger, Dan Gonsiorowski:

Environmental building continues at the University of Washington's campus in Seattle with the new Benjamin Hall Interdisciplinary Research Building, the most recent structure to achieve LEED-Gold status. This building is at the very southwest tip of campus, almost under the Portage Bay Bridge. It doesn’t look like much from the Burke-Gilman, but from the front you can tell it’s designed with a spectacular view— looks over the water towards downtown. The university employed a Design-Build-Operate-Maintain model similar to what was planned for the ill-fated Green Monorail line in Seattle. Since the same entity is responsible for constructing and managing the building, there is more focus on the long-term energy costs built into design. For example, an electrical contractor might be advised to install thicker gauge wiring, which has a higher initial cost, but in the long-term life of the building, it would end up being the most efficient and cost-effective.

Richard Chapman, UW vice president for Capital Projects says:

The decision to build the research center as a DBOM was made for several reasons, which include, obtaining true life cycle cost analysis in energy consumption, speed of delivery of the building, and lowest overall cost to the University.

Three firms involved with building and operating the Research Center— M.A. Mortenson Company the lead and construction contractor; Collins Woerman, architecture and Johnson Controls, building management.

While we can look forward to more LEED-certified buildings at the University of Washington, Design-Build-Operate-Maintain won’t be the standard construction model. Richard Chapman, again:

“DBOM is a great tool and has its place in our execution strategies for a limited amount of opportunities. For our bigger projects (DBOM by State law has to be for projects costing more than $10 million) GC/CM (General Contractor/Construction Manager) or Design-Bid-Build are the best tools.?

Six other univeristy facilities intended to achieve LEED-Silver or greater are currently under design or construction. The most famous existing LEED-certified UW structure is Merill Hall, which was built to replace the horticulture center, destroyed by arson in 2001. The Nordheim Court single-student housing fascility is LEED certified as are the Tacoma Branch and the Educational Outreach Center.

Other resources: Real time report of the solar electricity being generated at Merrill Hall.

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