Loyola University’s groundbreaking digital library exceeds energy saving expectations

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Loyola University's Richard J. Klarchek Information Commons Building is exceeding the energy efficiencies designed into the building while not sacrificing design.

Advanced mechanical systems combine with popularity among students and faculty

Conventional wisdom would tell you building an all-glass building on the shore of Chicago’s Lake Michigan is probably not a good idea if you are building a high performance building that is supposed to reduce energy usage.  But that is exactly what Loyola University did with its four-story Richard J. Klarchek Information Commons Building, an all-digital research library that is attracting world-wide attention and accolades for its energy savings realization.

According to a recent case study completed by Donald J. McLauchlan, P.E. and David Lavan of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), Information Commons has achieved a 52% energy reduction below the Chicago energy code since the building’s opening in 2008.

“We…incorporated cutting-edge energy conservation technology, while not sacrificing design,” said Devon Patterson, AIA, LEED AP Principal and lead architect on the project from Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB). “People from all over the world are coming to see how we integrated the technology into the building and the resulting energy savings we are experiencing.”

View of Lake Michigan from inside the walls of Information Commons.

In addition to the high performance qualities of the Information Commons, the building has become a popular destination for the University’s students.  “The Information Commons is much more than a combination of advanced mechanical systems that have been combined to create a high performance building,” said John Lahey, President of SCB.  “We designed the library to be a functional building, providing students with a place where they can interact and meet with fellow students in addition to study, while incorporating the building seamlessly into the campus and taking full advantage of the great Lake Michigan views.”

In conjunction with Transsolar Climate Engineering of Germany, SCB designed a building that uses both natural and mechanical building systems and strategies for ventilation. According to Architectural Record, “The commons is essentially a four-story transparent box with two limestone bookends. The double-skin glass curtain wall works in concert with radiant slabs, underfloor air, and operable windows and shading devices. These integrated features allow the commons to operate as either a mechanically ventilated building, or as a naturally ventilated building, given the appropriate outdoor conditions. It can also operate as a “hybrid” building. In this “mixed mode” state natural ventilation is assisted by the cooling capacity of the radiant slab.

“These sophisticated systems are controlled by an array of sensors that monitor the temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels within the building, while a weather station assesses outdoor conditions. The windows, dampers, shades, and blinds respond to this data and adjust automatically.

Many interior materials are recycled and have low content of volatile organic compounds. Also, specific surface coatings for the glass, shades, and blinds were chosen to mitigate heat gain, and are integral to the environmental scheme.”

Information Commons, a LEED Silver certified building, is completely automated with sensor systems that monitor the temperature, humidity and CO2 levels within the building while additional sensors monitor the exterior conditions. The windows, shades and blinds all respond to the climate data and adjust automatically. The building shows fore-thought and innovation by the design team and the University as it is a flexible 24/7 library facility that will serve the students and faculty with a high quality, energy efficient space for many years to come.

About Solomon Cordwell Buenz:

SCB is an architecture, interior design and planning firm practicing internationally from offices in Chicago, San Francisco and Abu Dhabi.

Posted by on Monday, August 23rd, 2010. Filed under Fresh News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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