To further Western Washington University’s commitment to decarbonization, the University is creating the State’s first publicly funded zero-energy academic building on a university campus, the Kaiser Borsari Hall. The four (4) story mass timber building Electrical Engineering and Computer Science facility will inspire the next generation of climate problem-solvers through its intentional learning lab approach and biophilic design. The building clearly demonstrates this commitment from the exterior, featuring exposed Glulam columns and a large rooftop PV array capturing energy for the building’s operations.
On the first floor, an open common area greets visitors before they proceed to the events space, admin suite, robotics lab, learning commons, or energy labs. Walking up the staircases at either end of the building or taking the elevator to the second floor, visitors can access active learning labs and support spaces, the multicultural student lounge, and breakout study lounges. The third floor features additional state-of-the-art teaching spaces, experiential learning environments, teaching labs, research labs, and active learning classrooms. The top floor houses office and administrative space, and a sky bridge connects to the WWU Communications Facility to maximize collaboration.
Design decisions were all determined with the aim to inspire students through a “living laboratory” approach where they can study hands-on what is possible in high-performance design and building science. The team worked closely with WWU during design to analyze systems costs and evaluate options for each building component to maintain International Living Future Insititute (ILFI) Zero Carbon and Zero Energy Certification aspirations and budget without reducing educational program space. The result is a building that will surpass LEED standards for energy use, carbon reduction, and other environmental indicators.
The exposed mass timber structure visible throughout the building firmly grounds the space in the forest surrounding the building and the WWU campus. This sustainably harvested wood not only looks beautiful but also stores carbon, reducing the building’s embodied carbon footprint. Additionally, the team is maximizing the advantages of mass timber construction by prefabricating the Glulam beams and columns and Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) decks offsite for seamless assembly at the project site.
This commitment to sustainability remains prevalent through construction as the team implements the Contractor’s Commitment guidelines for green building practices. Criteria include reducing equipment carbon emissions, ensuring on-site workers’ wellness, waste diversion, preventing water pollution, and selecting healthy and sustainable building materials. All these efforts aim to reduce the environmental impact of this new facility from construction through operation.
Facts And Figures
54,000 Square Feet
Mass Timber/ CLT
Carbon Net Neutral