University Opens New Center for Sustainability, Energy Efficiency and Design

Courses began last week in the newest academic building, the Center for Sustainability, Energy Efficiency and Design (SEED), a more than 14,000-square-foot, grey-to-green renovated space. The building was redesigned to achieve Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)® certification, and is likely to achieve LEED® Silver status.

The Center is home to the School of Architecture graduate programs in Sustainable Design and Construction Management. Future architecture graduate programs in Interior Architecture, launching fall 2011, and Real Estate Development will also be housed in the SEED Center.

The Center is an innovative, multi-disciplinary space that serves as a regional resource for architects, engineers, builders and developers by offering specialized training, sustainable building design strategies and green product/material integration.

“We are very excited to house the School of Architecture graduate programs in this state-of-the-art facility,” said Vini Nathan, dean of the School of Architecture. “Not only is the SEED Center a shining example of where Philadelphia University is headed in respect to growing graduate programs, it is also a valuable educational resource for the greater Philadelphia community.”

The SEED Center features studio space, smart classrooms, fabrication facilities, a CAD lab, seminar space and faculty offices. The building also features an interactive energy monitoring screen that will provide real-time information on the building’s energy usage and carbon footprint.

Sustainability features in the space include building material reuse, day lighting and sunshade maximization, automated lighting controls with daylight harvesting, numerous mechanical system energy-efficiency features, and low-VOC finishes. In addition, the roof system is structured to support a future photovoltaic array for on-site energy generation.

The University received a grant commitment from the Scholler Foundation to support the renovation project. Currently, a number of other foundations, corporations and individuals are also considering becoming investors.

The building renovation was a fast-track, design-build project utilizing Nason Construction, Inc., and Spiezle Architecture Group, Inc. Philadelphia University alumnus John F. Wright ’98 AIA was Spiezle’s lead project architect on the team.

The University approved the project in November 2009; completed the preliminary design process with Spiezle and a School of Architecture collaborative committee during the fall 2009 semester; bid the project in January 2010; began construction in February; and took occupancy on Aug. 16.

The SEED Center was formerly the Hughes facility where the University’s athletics education programs and activities were held.

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