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Green Building Features: Richard C. Seaver Biology

The Richard C. Seaver Biology building includes a 2.5 kW solar photovoltaic array.

Pomona College's Richard C. Seaver Biology Building has been awarded a silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED system, placing the building in the top one percent of all academic laboratory building the country in terms of energy-conscious design. To achieve this, architects and builders had to satisfy a wide range of criteria, from choosing a sustainable building site to maximizing water efficiency to recycling building materials. Features include a charging station for electric vehicles, solar panels, water-efficient California-friendly plants, and much more. The result is a building that exceeds California energy-related design codes (Title 24) by 25 percent, yielding an estimated $75,000 per year in energy savings compared to a building that meets current Title 24 energy requirements. The building opened for classes in Spring 2005.

The building's annual 280 mega-kilowatt-hours (mWh) of energy savings is the equivalent of the annual energy use of 13 average homes. This savings mean 114.1 tons of CO2 emissions are saved per year, or the equivalent of 22 cars taken off the road for the whole year. Where do these savings come from? Here are some of the contributors:

  • The building's 2.5 kW photovoltaic solar array provides 5 mWh of electricity each year (translating directly into the same amount of energy savings). This is the equivalent of keeping on 25 100-watt light bulbs all day for a year, making 25,000 pots of coffee in an electric coffee maker, or running a microwave for 208 days straight. Based on the college's normal energy portfolio, this solar array saves 1.5 tons of CO2 emissions per year, or the equivalent of 155 gallons of gas, 3,480 miles not driven, or 950 pounds of waste diverted from the landfill.
  • Seaver's "cool roof" materials generate an energy savings of 8,623 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year by reflecting more sunlight (and thus heat) back into the atmosphere, meaning the building requires less energy to stay cool. This energy is the equivalent of doing 1,819 loads of laundry in the washing machine and dryer or running a vacuum all day for the entire year. It also results in 2.6 tons of CO2 savings per year, the equivalent of 269 gallons of gasoline and 1,580 pounds of waste diverted from a landfill.
  • The Seaver building's low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and other water-saving techniques save 35,200 gallons of water each year, or the equivalent of taking two 10-minute showers every day for the entire year, doing 782 loads of laundry, flushing a normal toilet over 7,000 times, or doing 2,347 loads of dishes in a dishwasher.
  • Innovative runoff-retention technology keeps 24,356 gallons of water from running down storm drains each year. This keeps pollution out of natural waterways, allowing soils and plants to clean the water the way the earth intended.

Building Features

Sustainable Sites

  • EV (Electric Vehicle) station
  • Bike racks and nearby showers
  • Carpool spaces
  • Alternate transportation of bus lines and trains
  • Stormwater management and flow reduction during construction and of finished site
  • Cool roof and paving surfaces to reduce heat island effect
  • Reduced light pollution with cut off fixtures and no up-lighting

Water Efficiency

  • Efficient irrigation system
  • Water efficient California friendly plants
  • Waterless urinals and double flush toilets

Energy & Atmosphere

  • Efficient lighting system including daylighting and occupancy controls, efficient fixtures, excellent daylighting design
  • Efficient mechanical system including thermal energy storage
  • Elimination of CFC's and Halon refrigerants
  • Photovoltaic system
  • Building commissioning to ensure that systems function as designed

Materials and Resources

  • Design for recycling
  • 75% recycled and salvaged construction materials from demolition
  • 10% recycled material in new materials
  • 20% of locally or regionally manufactured materials
  • 10% locally harvested, extracted, or recovered materials
  • Certified wood
  • Elimination of unnecessary materials (e.g. exposed concrete floors) and rapidly renewable materials

Indoor Environmental Quality

  • IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) performance during and after construction
  • Low-emitting materials, adhesives, sealants, paint, carpet
  • Entryway grills to keep pollutants out of building
  • Operable windows to give occupants control and to provide fresh air