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Energy-Efficient Research

top1The Energy Biosciences Building at the University of California at Berkeley is home to the Energy Biosciences Institute, a collaborative project between the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, along with the energy company, BP. The program addresses challenges in climate change, global warming, and the rising price and diminishing supplies of carbon-based fossil fuels.


Completed in August 2012, the 113,200-square-foot facility designed by SmithGroupJJR, San Francisco, is LEED-NC Gold certified. Situated on a sloped site on the northwest corner of the university's 1,232-acre campus, the building rises to six floors on the northern end and five on the south, tapering to three levels and then one at the southernmost end.


General contractor Rudolph and Sletten, Redwood City, Calif., worked closely with glazing contractor Royal Glass, Rancho Cordova, Calif., and Wausau Window and Wall Systems, Wausau, Wis., to accomplish the project's design and daylighting goals. Designed to perform almost 20 percent better than California's energy code, the building's wedge-shaped design and divergent ceiling heights allow natural light to deeply penetrate the interior space. Royal Glass installed approximately 40 of Wausau's 4250 thermal windows on the north elevation, and 29,000 square feet of Wausau's structurally glazed, 7250i-UW Series unitized curtainwall on the south-facing offices, meeting space and entry lobby. Wausau-based Linetec supplied the polyamide thermal barriers and three-coated painted finish, while Viracon Inc., Owatonna, Minn., fabricated the glass.


top2The 4250 thermal windows' acoustic performance is tested for Sound Transmission Class ratings of 34 to 43, which is key for the building's north side that is home to specialized analytical research laboratories, laboratory support space, offices and other support functions, creating a comfortable and productive interior environment.


Additionally, the building features automated shades programmed to activate based on the sun's path; a sensor-activated lighting control system; sash closers on 50 laboratory fume hoods with sensors that control access, thereby reducing stress on the HVAC system; a new air exchange system that automatically adjusts fan activity based upon occupation; individual office air system with heating and cooling controls; and low-flow faucets and fixtures.


The new facility integrates within the city's existing urban fabric, offering a public plaza to the south, tree-lined pedestrian pathway to the west, and a commuter transit hub to the east. Additionally, nearly half of the landscaped plant species are native to California or adapted, while an efficient irrigation system uses 58 percent of its maximum water allowance under California's landscape water conservation ordinance.


Energy Biosciences Building, Berkeley, Calif.

Award: Overall Sustainable Design Award by the Higher Education Energy Partnership Program of California

Owner: University of California, Berkeley

Architect: SmithGroupJJR, San Francisco

General contractor: Rudolph and Sletten, Redwood City, Calif.

Daylighting/lighting: Loisos + Ubbelohde, Alameda, Calif.

Civil engineer: Creegan & D'Angelo, Fairfield, Calif.

Structural engineer: Rutherford + Chekene, San Francisco

MEP engineer: Gayner Engineers, San Francisco

Glazing contractor: Royal Glass, Rancho Cordova, Calif.

Curtainwall: Wausau Window and Wall Systems, Wausau, Wis.,

Glass fabricator: Viracon Inc., Owatonna, Minn.,

Glass finisher: Linetec, Wausau,