The Biological Sciences Building — home to 300,000 square feet of laboratory space, offices and classrooms as well as the U-M Natural History Museum — earned certification as a LEED Gold building by the U.S. Green Building Council.

About 75 percent of the building is lab research space, which uses more energy per square foot than traditional buildings, making it the first lab facility on the Ann Arbor campus to be LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — certified.

Since 2005 when U-M first received “green building” certifications, 15 buildings have been LEED certified.

“Incorporating sustainability and energy reduction in building design is a very effective way for U-M to reduce its carbon footprint,” said Hank Baier, associate vice president for facilities and operations. “It’s even more important when we are creating spaces that, while energy intensive, are necessary to deliver on our mission as a world-class research institution.”

LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. It recognizes sustainability efforts to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings on one of four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum.

All new U-M buildings and additions with an estimated construction budget greater than $10 million are required to achieve LEED Silver certification.

In 2011, U-M set 2025 campus sustainability goals in climate action, waste reduction, healthy environments and community awareness. U-M’s environmental stewardship approach to facility design and construction supports its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent below 2006 levels by 2025.

One of the unique sustainability design features of the new Biological Sciences Building is its exterior rainscreen wall system.

The system acts as a barrier between the building’s terra cotta exterior and the moisture-resistant barrier of the interior wall structure. It creates space for any trapped moisture to evaporate, which reduces the need for maintenance and helps to improve the thermal performance of the building to reduce energy costs.

Photo of the exterior of the Biological Sciences Building.
The new Biological Sciences Building is the latest U-M building to be LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. (Photo by Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

Another key sustainability measure is the energy-recovery effort at the fume hoods in the building’s lab spaces. Fume hoods are ventilated enclosures designed to limit exposure to hazardous or toxic fumes, vapors or dusts that may be present while working with materials in the lab.

“Fume hoods are critical safety tools in a lab, but they use a lot of energy,” said Scott Wood, lead design manager in Architecture, Engineering and Construction.

“In a typical lab, we bring in outside air, spend money to condition it, use it for general ventilation and then exhaust that conditioned air out into the atmosphere through the fume hood.

“At BSB, we are recovering energy from the air before it is exhausted into the atmosphere. The energy-recovery system uses a closed-loop coil, for safety, to recover roughly half of the energy that is within fume hood exhaust air stream.”

Other sustainability efforts of the project, include:

  • Use of a chilled-beam heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, which uses recirculated chilled water flowing through beams in the ceiling — to cool warm air that rises — to condition building spaces.
  • Reduction in water consumption through the use of low-flow bathroom fixtures.
  • Diversion of 79 percent of on-site generated construction waste from the landfill.
  • Occupancy sensors to turn off lights when spaces are not occupied.