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ASU builds "green" Student Pavilion and Biodesign C buildings on Tempe campus

The University hopes to save energy and money with new construction projects underway

Students stroll past the Student Pavilion construction site on the ASU's Tempe campus on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017.

Students stroll past the Student Pavilion construction site on the ASU's Tempe campus on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017.

Northeast of the Memorial Union on the ASU Tempe campus lays a hulking 74,650-foot construction site, where the Student Pavilion will be completed by August 2017. 

The structure will feature a new event space, and office spaces for the student government, student organizations and classrooms, according to a report by ASU Now.

ASU has also set in motion the construction for the Biodesign C building by excavating a spot just east of the original Biodesign complex. Biodesign C will stand five stories tall and house labs for research. The project started in June 2016 and will be completed in June 2018, according to ASU Business and Finance.

Joanne Wamsley, the vice president for ASU's finance and deputy treasurer, said both the buildings were funded using green bonds.

“Green bonds are a method for funding projects that are sustainable,” she said. “The (sustainable) projects that ASU has done to date are energy efficient building projects.”

Wamsley said issuers can get green bonds for renewable energy projects or pollution prevention projects as well.

“When ASU funds the project, we sell bonds,” she said. “Investors purchase our bonds and provide the funding for the facilities. Then ASU repays the investors over a period of time."

Wamsley said ASU has issued five green bonds: to the two new developments, the Beus Center for Law and Society on the Downtown campus, the Academic Center on the Polytechnic campus and the ASU police department facility.

“They are just further evidence of ASU’s commitment to sustainable operations and for being a leader in sustainable operations,” she said. “They are a public representation of our commitment in designing energy efficient and sustainable buildings.”

ASU advertises that the Student Pavilion will feature “net zero energy,” “zero waste” and “90 percent project diversion.” 

Patricia Olson, the architect senior for the Office of the University Architect, said ASU President Michael Crow made Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Platinum a goal for the Student Pavilion project. 

Olson said there are four levels of LEED: certified, silver, gold and platinum. “Certified” is the lowest LEED designation, and “platinum” is the highest, in regards to a building's environmental performance.

Olson also said her team is working toward a carbon neutrality goal of zero carbon emissions and zero waste.

“Carbon dioxide contributes to climate change, so the more carbon dioxide we produce from the emissions to light our buildings, we’re adding to the climate change,” she said. “The goal is to reduce our carbon emissions so to reduce our impact.”

Olson said the building will have electric panels on the rooftop that will provide renewable energy to the building.

“There will be fossil fuel-generated energy, but ultimately the balance is that it produces more in renewable energy than is used in fossil fuel energy,” she said.

Pedro Chavarriaga, the senior project manager for the Student Pavilion, said ASU’s zero waste program is all about finding ways to recycle or reuse material instead of throwing it into a landfill.

“When things arrive on site that are not going to be needed, something as simple as a cardboard box, instead of throwing away that cardboard box in a dumpster that goes to a landfill, we’re recycling that cardboard box,” he said.

Chavarriaga said the phrase “90 percent project diversion” means an average of 90 percent of the waste is being reused and recycled.

“The end goal is to be at least 95 (percent),” he said. “We think we’re doing pretty good at 90, but 95 is the goal.”

Steve Vedral, the associate director of capital programs at ASU, said that with this design there will be natural light, creating a healthier space for students. 

Vedral also said smell is one of the components involved in making the building more pleasant. 

“You’ve probably been in buildings where you smell what is called volatile organic compounds,” he said. “So that smell is a negative, physical impact on the body. These spaces are designed not to have that.”

Vedral said energy efficiency affects students’ bank accounts.

“If we can create buildings that use less energy, it will ultimately cost less to operate that building which in turn should impact what students are paying to use the space,” he said.

Monica Perrin, the senior project manager for the Biodesign C building, said the science building must meet a LEED of silver but hopes to reach a LEED of gold or higher.

“This building will be the highest energy efficient building for science buildings on campus,” she said.

Perrin said Biodesign C doesn’t necessarily have “net zero energy” or “zero waste,” because science buildings typically use a lot of energy. 

“In other buildings, it’s a little more achievable at this point in time because other buildings don’t have to utilize this type of special equipment,” she said. She said fume hoods are an example of the scientific equipment needed in this building.

Despite this, she said she is still striving to minimize the waste and ultimately help the environment.

“We’re trying to reduce the energy it costs us at the university,” she said. “We have quite a few solar panels or solar systems in the area for the rooftops. We’re trying to utilize as much of that power that’s generated from that for this building as well.”

Perrin said the science building will have exterior sun screens and systems for lighting and air-conditioning, which will turn on only in places of the building that are occupied.

Perrin said all the effort that goes into the building helps the University bring in more research dollars.

“It gives (students) more research opportunities and more grants to work from,” Perrin said. “So that gives them more opportunities for the university students to advance their research here on this campus.”

Correction: Due to an editing error, Patricia Olson was incorrectly referred to as the senior architect and design manager for the Student Pavilion. The article has been updated to reflect the changes.

Reach the reporter at or follow @alexa_buechler on Twitter.

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