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Construction Projects Leading the Way for UT's Green Building Initiative

kao_east.jpg The stage is set for the groundbreaking of the new Min Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building, to take place Monday, May 14, 2007.

The 150,000 square foot building will be located beside Dougherty Hall, on the corner of Estabrook Drive and Cumberland Avenue, directly across from the 11th Street Parking Garage.

“We are planning for the site preparations to begin in the summer,” said Wayne Davis, associate dean for research and technology. “The architectural design is almost completed, after which the university will seek bids for the construction contract. We're hoping the actual construction of the building will be completed within two and a half years, with occupancy in late summer to fall of 2009.”

In addition to housing classrooms, laboratories, a state of the art clean room and a 2,500 square foot auditorium, the facility will also be constructed to function as an environmentally-friendly structure. UT administrators are encouraging similar design and construction techniques, referred to as green building, for several of the university's upcoming capital projects.

“The Min Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building is one of the first projects that we have tasked the architects to design for LEED certification. Using environmentally sound materials, siting the building to make best use of natural lighting and using indoor lighting that is both cost and energy efficient results in a green building,” said UTK Chancellor Dr. Loren Crabtree.

Crabtree is enthusiastic about the green building initiative and expects that future projects will follow the College of Engineering's direction in developing energy-efficient buildings.

“The engineering college leads the way,” Crabtree added. “It all fits in with what engineering is doing with alternative fuels, wind power, the biofuels initiative – all of these are ways to conserve energy.”

UT is currently in the beginning stages to construct the first new residence hall since the 1970s. Crabtree said the administration is planning to have this facility built as a LEED-certified green building as well.

The university has also employed a portion of the Facilities Fee for a Student Environmental Initiative to purchase 3,000 additional blocks of green power from the TVA/Knoxville Utilities Board Green Power Switch Program (375 blocks were previously purchased on an annual basis by the university). The 3,375 blocks amount to 506,250 KWh/month and offsets approximately 382 tons of CO2, SO2 and NOX each month and is the equivalent of removing 732 cars from the road. The purchase is about 2.6 percent of the university's annual electricity use and is sufficient to allow the Knoxville campus to become an EPA Green Power Partner.

Another project in the spring of 2006, funded jointly by the Facilities Fee, University Housing and Facilities Services, allowed students in UT housing facilities to swap 60 watt incandescent bulbs they were using in their desk lamps for compact fluorescent bulbs. Almost 2,000 bulbs were swapped, resulting in over $4,000/semester in electrical savings and over 100,000 pounds of air emissions savings per semester.

Crabtree is pleased that students, faculty, staff and administrators are all supportive of the university's goal to move forward with energy-saving initiatives.

“The UT campus administration plans to make all future buildings LEED-certified and environmentally friendly, from the new residence hall to the renovation of Estabrook and the construction of new academic buildings and the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials Science,” said Crabtree. Architectural planning/design for the Estabrook renovation is also progressing, Davis added. The project has been delayed by difficulties in the renovation of the Hesler Biology Building Phase 2. However, it is expected that a new contractor for Hesler Phase 2 will be in place by early summer. Once Hesler is completed, faculty and staff from the biology department will move back in from the current location in the Biology Annexes on White Avenue and Neyland Drive, freeing these facilities up for the temporary relocation of engineering faculty and staff currently located in Estabrook and Berry Hall.

The current schedule will provide for construction of the renovated Estabrook to begin in early 2009 with completion two years later. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) will be housed in the renovated Estabrook.

Plans are also progressing on identifying the location of the new $30 million Joint Institute for Advanced Materials (JIAM) building. The most likely site is Cherokee Farms located on Alcoa Highway (current site of the UT dairy barns). The recent budget submitted by Governor Phil Bredesen has proposed $32 million to develop the proposed infrastructure on the site near the main Knoxville campus as an academic training and research location in advanced sciences, but final approval on funding must come from the Tennessee State Legislature. JIAM will be the first building to be constructed on the new Cherokee Campus.

“These are exciting times for the university, with so many opportunities to upgrade our current buildings and construct new ones,” Crabtree added. “We must plan carefully to provide facilities that are efficient, attractive and environmentally friendly for the future of our campus.”