Pitt-Greensburg celebrates new sustainable office and classroom building
The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Frank A. Cassell Hall, the campus’ new sustainable office and classroom building, on Wednesday, September 5, at 11 a.m. Members of the Greensburg community were invited to join in celebrating this new facility that is named in honor of Frank A. Cassell PhD., third president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Click here to see photos from the event.
Cassell Hall is a two-story, 16,500 square-foot building that has been designed to realize 30 percent annual energy savings and reduce water usage by 50 percent. A Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designation for this building is anticipated and would be the first such LEED certification on campus. The USGBC review is expected to be completed in fall 2012.
Cassell Hall will house the following facilities:
- A state-of-the-art computer lab for 80 students with day-lit views to campus and Slate Run Creek;
- A student lounge;
- A computer classroom;
- A video-conferencing classroom for distance learning;
- Faculty offices;
- Staff offices;
- Space for computer support, including workshops and storage, as well as a student-computer-service center;
- Workspace and storage for media and instructional technological services;
- Instructional technology training classroom.
Other features include a server room, conference room, and lunch room. Student lounge areas are placed along the computer lab, and in the stair lobby/lounge.
Forty Eighty Architecture designed the building to occupy the steeply sloping hillside along the south bank of Slate Run. The design of the building specifically incorporates aspects of other buildings on campus including the historic Lynch Hall.
Key exterior features include a new campus plaza that overlooks the stream and campus beyond, as well as, two green roofs that feed a rainwater harvesting cistern. The cistern provides non-potable grey water for the building’s toilets and is expected to reduce water usage by more than 50 percent. Grey water is returned to the building for flushing of toilets, a drip irrigation system, and service water at the green roofs.
Landscaping around the building is an extension of the natural site and includes maples, river birches, azalea, ferns, switch grass, and wildflowers as part of demonstrative rain gardens and storm water bioswales for on-site storm water management. (Bioswales are landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water. They consist of a swaled drainage course with gently sloped sides and filled with vegetation, compost and /or riprap.) Native plants require less watering and help to support a health ecosystem. Rainwater from the building roof is collected, filtered through natural plantings, and stored in a 5,000 gallon cistern located below parking.
The building’s main internal stairway is enclosed in glass, allowing for an expansive view of campus. Other interior features include daylight and views of the surround woods and campus for all occupied spaces and classrooms. Particular attention was paid to sun shading and northern light. Sun shading is achieved through high performance glass coatings, deep roof overhangs, and vertical fins to help minimize unwanted heat gain. Roof overhangs, a wooden trellis, and sunshades shade the high, hot summer sun while allowing in the lower winter sun. Northern light is brought into the building through tall north-facing office windows that maximize daylight while minimizing solar heat gain. Radiant floors will provide an energy efficient way to heat spaces and keep heat low, where the people are.
Energy efficient light fixtures and daylighting strategies help to minimize the energy needed for lighting. Energy-efficient heat pumps and advanced mechanical systems with multi-zone controls will also contribute to energy savings. Roof shingles are made from recycled glass fragments to reflect away hot sun and cool the building and surrounding environment.
The energy savings from these various features will allow the building to use more than:
- 28 percent less energy for heating and cooling than a similar new facility;
- 50 percent less water than a similar new facility.
Additionally, a minimum of 25 percent recycled materials and 25 percent local and regional materials were used in the buildings construction. Fifty-percent of the scrap material created by the buildings construction was recycled or salvaged.
Materials used throughout the building were selected because of being made from recycled material or renewable resources, including floor tile, carpeting, and metal used in railings made from recycled materials, and wood for ceilings, doors, and cabinets coming from sustainably managed forests or bamboo, which grows quickly. Materials with low VOC (volatile organic compound) ratings were selected for carpeting, paints, and adhesives in order to minimize indoor air pollutants.
The building details and finishes are designed to incorporate and demonstrate materials and finishes that are healthy, recycled, and sources as locally as possible. The building contains carpet tiles, ceramic tile, acoustic ceilings, and steel framing that are all manufactured from recycled materials. The design includes countertops made from recycled glass, acoustic insulation made from recycled blue jeans, tack boards made from recycled sawdust and flax seeds, as well as renewable bamboo wall panels.
Various types of insulation in the roof, walls, and floor create a thermally “uncoupled” building envelope to minimize the transfer of heat into and out of the building. Energy efficient heat pumps and advanced mechanical systems with multi-zone controls help save energy. A Heat Exchanger (Energy Recovery Unit), mechanical equipment that transfers heat from exhaust air to temper incoming fresh air, is also part of the building’s design.
The Katherine Mabis McKenna Foundation, donor of the largest gift in the history of the Greensburg campus that was used in part to fund the construction of this new sustainable building, suggested that the building be named the “Frank A. Cassell Hall.” Other major funding received for the construction of this building came from the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Timken Foundation. Federal funds were also provided through the support of Congressman Tim Murphy.
Often referred to as the Sustainable Office and Classroom (SOC) Building during the planning and construction process, the Frank A. Cassell Hall was completed in late August 2012 and is in use at the start of the fall 2012 academic term. Construction on the project began in March 2011.