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Wednesday, 28 March 2012 11:30

GVSU library project pushes LEED envelope

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GVSU library project pushes LEED envelope PHOTO: High Pro

ALLENDALE — While Grand Valley State University’s new library project is taking shape at the school’s main campus, students will still have to wait to turn the page to a new era at the state-of-the-art learning facility.

Construction of Grand Valley State University’s Mary Idema Pew Library began in April 2011. Contractor Pioneer Construction Inc. is close to finishing the structural steel phase and is preparing to transition into building the exterior envelope.

The project is slated for completion by June 2013. GVSU is seeking LEED-platinum certification — the highest grade possible, and the most ambitious LEED build-out acquired by Pioneer, according to project manager Scott Veine.

“This is the most intense LEED project Pioneer has taken on,” he said. “We’ve completed dozens of LEED projects and multiple gold LEED projects, but (the library) is by far the most complex.”

The 150,000-square-foot facility designed by Texas-based SHW Group LLP focuses on user-guided design principles and emphasizes sustainable building concepts, including a green roof and natural lighting. Coupled with the sustainable concepts, the building also features a unique structural design for load bearing and internal electrical and mechanical efficiency.

“Whereas most structural steel is typically bolted together, 90 percent of the building is welded together,” Veine said. “It takes longer to erect a building in this manner, but it’s much more structurally sound and better for the heavy loaded floors of a library.”

In this type of design, the exterior of the building directly affects the internal mechanical and electrical systems with respect to built-in energy-saving measures. Quartzite cut stone within the external envelope is arranged in 20 different patterns in an intricate grid system. The grid, while also an aesthetic choice, is meant to decrease the amount of power used by the heating and cooling units to avoid over-compensation in temperature control.

Veine said the triple-glazed curtain wall system being installed on the library has never been seen before in West Michigan.

“In a traditional building, some of these things wouldn’t be required,” Veine said. “It’s a constant learning of systems to meet these criteria.”

James Moyer, VP of facilities planning for GVSU, said based on energy modeling, it appears that the building may use half the energy of a similar building that was constructed with more conventional measures.

“As we’ve gone through the years and Grand Valley changed to a more sustainable approach to construction, so did Pioneer,” Veine said. “Grand Valley has introduced us to so many new and innovative ways of construction.”

These types of projects have made Pioneer a more knowledge company, he said. While the company has been practicing sustainable construction since roughly 1999, this kind of project brings all that knowledge together.

The university also plans to track the economic impacts of the green construction project. Throughout the building process, Pioneer has supplied GVSU with invoices and workforce data, which will be compiled into a final report once construction is complete.

To date, Veine said the project is 40-percent complete. Crews logged more than 31,500 trade hours at the site through mid-February.

To say GVSU needed an upgraded library is an understatement, officials say. The existing Zumberge library, built in 1968, was expected to accommodate a student body of at most 3,000 to 5,000 students. Today, the school has more than 24,000 students enrolled.

“For about 12 years, we had a library as one of our signature needs with the state for capital outlay projects,” said GVSU President Thomas J. Haas. “The library has been long overdue for the needs of faculty and staff as well as the students.”

A “comprehensive capital campaign” for the construction of the library and the Seidman School of Business in Grand Rapids has managed to raise $97.9 million as of Dec. 31 from more than 17,000 individual and corporate donors. The estimated cost of the library is $43 million.

According to Haas, the cost of construction and operation of the new library will not significantly affect the cost of tuition due to strategic financing.

Moyer said less than five full-time positions in maintenance and building operations will be added.

Read 2183 times Last modified on Sunday, 12 August 2012 10:19

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