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Wilson College expansion will be first LEED-certified building in Franklin Co.

July 24, 2008|By DON AINES

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CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Quarried in Huntingdon County, Pa., most of the 600 tons of limestone that make up the facade of Wilson College's new science center are in place, along with precast concrete trim that mimics granite.

The project, which expands the existing Havens Science Center by 50 percent, takes a slab-sided piece of institutional design from the 1960s back to the 19th-century architectural roots of the campus. Not so evident are the 21st-century features that will make it the first LEED-certified building in Franklin County, Pa.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a certification handed out by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) stating that a building meets its qualifications in areas such as reduced operating costs and increased profitability; reduced waste sent to landfills; energy and water conservation; and less emissions of greenhouse gases.

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It comes as no surprise to anyone who pays electric, gas or heating oil bills that buildings use a lot of energy. In the United States, buildings account for 70 percent of electrical usage, 39 percent of all energy usage and 39 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions, according to the USGBC.

"This is a LEED building with green elements," said Dana Harriger, head of the Sciences Division at Wilson.

Among them are the dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS) and the solar water heating system.

The air exchange system is more expensive, "but the payback makes it worth it," Vice President for Finance and Administration Cheryl Sleboda said of the energy savings it will provide. The DOAS system will use less than half the energy of a conventional heating and cooling system, according to an energy modeling study.

The solar water heating system will have a conventional backup system to boost water temperature when Mother Nature is not enough, Harriger said.

Wilson received grants totaling $66,000 from the West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund to help pay for the two systems, Sleboda said.

"We're on schedule and on budget," Sleboda said.

Last week, the college was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Booth Ferris Foundation for the center, a gift that qualifies for a matching gift from another donor, President Lorna Duphiney Edmundson said.

The foundation to fund educational projects was established in 1957 under the wills of banker Willis H. Both and his wife, Chancie Ferris Booth, according to a college press release. A computer classroom and seminar room in the center will be named for the couple.

The environmental management system for the building has sensors in the rooms that can determine when each is or is not being used, automatically turning off the lights and transferring warm or cool air back into the system to heat or cool other rooms that are in use, Harriger said.

The center, which will be renamed the Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology when it opens in January, will take advantage of natural light as much as possible, Harriger said, with a huge skylight dominating the second floor of the new construction. Faculty offices on the perimeter of the building will get plenty of sunshine and classrooms will have windows into the hallways, contributing to a more open look.

To reduce the amount of scrap material from the new construction and demolition from the old building ending up in a landfill, 85 percent of those materials are being recycled, Harriger said, with metals, wood and other materials separated into huge bins.

The limestone facade of the new addition is mimicked in trim on the old, and the facade of the 1967 center is reflected in a band of brick around the new. The building will have two time capsules, from the Havens Center and another that will be filled with future artifacts from 2009, Harriger said.

The new section will have a 28-foot water wall, a natural history museum, an auditorium and lounge areas tucked about the building to create "conversational areas," Harriger said.

The complex will house the biology, mathematics, psychology, veterinary medical technology, equestrian studies, chemistry, computer sciences and environmental studies departments, Harriger said.

The project got its big financial boost in February 2007 with a $10 million gift from Wilson alumna Marguerite Lenfest and her husband, Harold F. "Gerry" Lenfest.

R.S. Mowery & Sons Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pa., is the general contractor and the retro architectural design was done by Performa Inc. of Wisconsin.

Reducing the carbon footprint



· The solar water heating system will have a conventional backup system to boost water temperature when Mother Nature is not enough.

· The DOAS system will use less than half the energy of a conventional heating and cooling system.

· The environmental management system for the building has sensors in the rooms that can determine when each is or is not being used, automatically turning off the lights and transferring warm or cool air back into the system to heat or cool other rooms that are in use.

· To reduce the amount of scrap material from the new construction and demolition from the old building ending up in a landfill, 85 percent of those materials are being recycled.

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