In 2006, planning began for a brand-new building at UH Mānoa that would house the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE), whose operations were dispersed across campus in four separate locations. Back then, Oceanography Professor and C-MORE Director Dave Karl was familiar with LEED building certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), a prestigious rating system for sustainability in construction and design established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute.
Ratings ranged from the lowest, certified, to silver, gold, and at the very top, platinum—an honor that was extremely rare and difficult to achieve. “I would have been very pleased with LEED Gold certification, but Vassilis Syrmos (Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education) and the team at Group 70 Architects thought that LEED Platinum might be within reach,” remembers Karl.
The more Karl thought about it, the more excited he became. Why not strive for the highest level of certification, since UH Mānoa has been locally and nationally recognized for cutting its energy usage and leading the charge to lessen its dependence on fossil fuel consumption? Says Karl, “After all, C-MORE scientists are committed to learning more about the natural world, and sustainability of life in the sea. So when the opportunity arose to help design a new laboratory to support their work, they were also committed to a sustainable building design.”
Fast-forward to 2012. Today, in the lobby of C-MORE Hale, located next to the Biomedical Sciences building at the end of East-West Road, is a proud display of welcome that announces exciting news. Visitors are impressed to learn that they are standing in the very first research laboratory building in Hawai‘i, and one of the few in the country, to receive the highest level of LEED certification.
The Platinum rating is based on C-MORE’s green design and construction features that positively impacted the project itself and the broader community. These attributes include:
- The use of 48% less potable water, compared to a conventional building of similar size and use, through incorporation of ultra low-flow toilets, automated faucets and waterless urinals.
- Diversion of 25,000 gallons of water from city storm drains through the implementation of an underground storm water chamber detention system.
- Establishment of a 2,400 square foot green roof that helps to reduce storm water runoff, reduce building temperature, increase carbon dioxide removal and provide a beautiful eco-habitat for insects and birds. The green roof contains a variety of native and adapted plants, including Aloe, ‘Akulikuli, Sedum and Portulaca.
- The reduction of irrigation demand by 65% in comparison to typical turf (grass) landscape typically found on campus. The landscape design incorporated dry stream beds with river rocks in lieu of turf grass, drought-tolerant planting and native landscaping like ‘Aki‘aki and Naupaka, and a drip irrigation with rain-sensing irrigation controls to reduce water demand significantly.
- Utilization of solar hot water heat recovery, which contributes to reduction of the building’s energy consumption by 52.2% over a standard laboratory of similar size and usage, translating into a 31.4% savings in energy costs a year. In addition, 78% of spaces in the building are considered day-lit, which saves an immense amount of energy. The primary building lighting is equipped with smart controls, in which occupancy sensors shut off lights when rooms are unoccupied and light sensors reduce the light levels according to the amount of daylight detected.
C-MORE Hale is also the winner of a 2011 Kukulu Hale Award from the Hawai‘i Chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties in the category New Project-Commercial/Other, 40,000 square feet or less.
“We all worked as a coherent team in bringing the building to the standards that we envisioned,” says Karl. “So here we are today celebrating this great achievement.”
C-MORE is one of only 17 National Science Foundation-sponsored Science and Technology Centers. The building provides 30,000 square feet of state-of-the-art research laboratory and support spaces focused on the study of ocean microbes. Completed in 2010, C-MORE exemplifies a new direction in research facility—one that promotes interdisciplinary collaboration, transparent connectivity and representation of its research mission.
For more information on C-MORE, see http://cmore.soest.hawaii.edu.
Top photo: An exterior shot of C-MORE Hale. Photo by David Franzen, copyright 2011