ISU's New Meridian Center a Model of Efficiency

When natural light beams through the windows of Idaho State University's new health-sciences building in Meridian next year, the interior lights will automatically dim. If it's cloudy outside, the lights will brighten.

"It's called daylight harvesting," says Ed Daniels, the building's principal architect and an owner of Hummel Architects PLLC of Boise.

Daylight harvesting is just one of numerous energy-efficiency features that Daniels and his team are incorporating into the design and renovation of the 102,000 square-foot building.

The building, located north of I-84 between Locust Grove and Meridian roads, is scheduled to open in late summer 2009. It will house ISU's Treasure Valley health-professions programs, science laboratories, administrative offices and clinics. Importantly, it also will accommodate expansion of the pharmacy program.

In daylight harvesting, photo sensors detect the amount of natural light in a space and adjust the level of electrical lighting to create a balance. The process conserves electricity and lowers energy costs, says Daniels.

Another energy-saving feature is a direct digital-control management system—or DDC—that will allow maintenance workers to monitor and adjust interior temperatures from an off-site location.

A 2006 international study conducted by China's Beijing Institute of Civil Engineering and Architecture found that a DDC system can cut gas and electrical consumption rates by 20 to 50 percent in some buildings.

The new building also will include a high-performance HVAC—or heating, ventilation and air conditioning system—that will control the amount of fresh air entering the building, limiting the unnecessary heating and cooling of outside air.

New carpet and floor tiles will be made of recycled materials that meet green initiatives established by the construction and architectural industries.

Daniels and ISU senior campus architect Denton Dance agree that the building's most sustainable feature is the fact that Idaho State University is adapting an existing building—the electronics manufacturing area of the former Jabil Circuit building—and adapting it to serve ISU's highereducation mission in the Treasure Valley. An alternative would have been to construct a brand new building on a plot of bare land.

"Not only have we saved money on demolition costs, we've limited the amount of debris added to landfills and been able to recycle or salvage materials from the original structure," says Daniels. "That's important when you talk about sustainability."

ISU has recouped approximately $92,000 from the salvage of materials that couldn't be used in the renovation. The savings may be applied to other project costs, says Dance.

Chris Gabettas
ISU Magazine