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Washington U. Unveils One of America's Greenest Buildings

June 10, 2009

Source: Washington University


At the end of May, Washington University in St. Louis officially--an RPN memberRPN--opened its new Living Learning Center, a building on the cutting edge of sustainable design.  The building is located at the university's Tyson Research Center, 2,000 acres of woods, prairie, ponds and savannas 20 miles southwest of the main campus. The Center is where WUSTL faculty and students do environmental research.

The Living Learning Center is a 2,900-square-foot facility designed by Hellmuth & Bicknese Architects.  It was built to meet the Cascadia Region Green Building Council’s (CRGBC) “Living Building Challenge”—which seeks to be the most stringent green building rating system in the world. The center aims to be a zero net energy and zero wastewater building — two of the 16 requirements to earn "living building" recognition from the CRGBC.  If certified, the Living Learning Center would be the first in North America to meet the standard.  

To achieve zero net energy, the building will be powered by solar energy, and will in fact pump energy back into the electric grid to be purchased by the local energy company.  To conserve water, the building will capture rainwater and purify it for drinking.  Other “Living Building” requirements the Living Learning Center plans to meet include diverting at least 80 percent of its construction waste from landfills and obtaining materials from within a certain mile radius of the construction.  The building will also feature operable windows for occupational spaces to provide access to fresh air and daylight.

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