Timber construction begins at College of Pharmacy project


As construction of the new College of Pharmacy building continues at the corner of Glen Avenue and East Huron Street, crews are erecting mass-timber structures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and emphasize a shared culture of sustainability.

Through the incorporation of mass timber, the building will reduce its embodied carbon — the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the extraction, transportation, manufacturing and installation of building materials — by 40%.

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“Mass timber poses considerable environmental upside — both during the construction process and throughout a building’s life cycle,” said Shana Weber, associate vice president for campus sustainability.

“As the university moves toward carbon neutrality, I’m excited to see the College of Pharmacy building project contributing with mass timber, among other sustainable features. Once complete, it will demonstrate a meaningful decarbonization action while providing a welcoming symbol of our commitment to sustainability.”

Photo of mass-timber construction efforts are underway at College of Pharmacy building site
Mass-timber construction efforts are underway at the College of Pharmacy building site. (Photo courtesy of Architecture, Engineering and Construction)

Total carbon avoided by the project is expected to exceed 1,500 MTCO2e — equivalent to the approximate total emissions of 357 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles driven for one year.

Additional sustainability benefits of mass timber include minimized construction waste and a visual connection to nature. Mass timber also offers increased speed and ease of construction and inherent fire resistance.

The U-M community can view construction via webcam at the Architecture, Engineering and Construction website.

Photo of mass-timber construction efforts are underway at College of Pharmacy building site
The use of mass timber helps minimize construction waste and provides a visual connection to nature. (Photo courtesy of Architecture, Engineering and Construction)

Other sustainable features of the project include:

  • A stormwater system consisting of underground storage tanks to temporarily store water following a major storm and then slowly release it into the regional groundwater system.
  • A goal to exceed an emissions target of 8 kgCO2-equivalent per gross square foot through the use of high-performance systems and energy conservation measures.
  • An expected reduction in water consumption of at least 20 percent, when compared with a similar building in compliance with the Michigan plumbing code.
  • Native and drought-tolerant plants to reduce irrigation water use.
  • Close proximity to public bus routes and bike networks to encourage use of public transit.

The 142,000-square-foot building, designed by RDG Planning and Design and engineered by TD2 Engineering & Surveying, is scheduled to be completed in fall 2025. A new teaching and research facility for the College of Pharmacy was first approved in 2019 and moved forward in October 2022 after the Board of Regents approved its schematic design and revised budget.

Ultimately, the project will include team-based learning classrooms, laboratories, associated support spaces, faculty and administrative offices, and student-focused areas. Currently, the college’s teaching, research and office spaces are distributed across several campus locations.


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