University plans sustainability projects for both campuses

Sustainability upgrades launched this semester will help the University incorporate more solar and thermal energy at GW’s Foggy Bottom and Virginia campuses.

Construction of GW’s first “solar walk” – a walkway shaded by an overhang made of solar panels – will be completed this spring on the Virginia Science and Technology Campus. Additional efficiency upgrades are in the works for five buildings on Foggy Bottom.

The sustainable pathway – connecting two of the campus’ buildings – will provide shade during the day and illuminate the overhang at night, using energy collected by the 18 solar panels.

“As the solar walk is expanded, it will not only create a pedestrian connection between buildings but will also reinforce the [Virginia Campus] as a test site for sustainable technologies, as envisioned in the University’s Climate Action Plan,” Sophie Waskow, GW’s sustainability project facilitator, said.

Sustainable improvements will also be added this spring to the renovated fifth and sixth floors of Foggy Bottom’s Ross Hall, which will house the Research Center for Neglected Diseases of Poverty – a $15 million project funded by the National Institutes of Health to study disease in poor communities.

The research center will convert about 35,000 square feet of private workspaces to an “open lab” floor plan that promotes research collaboration, Waskow said.

To reduce the large energy consumption typical of laboratories, the renovated space will recycle heat generated by the facility. Temperature and lighting occupancy sensors will also be installed to save money during hours when the building is not in full use.

The University also plans to construct a cogeneration plant, which will capture the heat created during electricity production instead of venting it. The plant will provide simultaneous heat and power to Ross Hall, the Science and Engineering Hall and three adjacent residence halls.

The research center renovations are expected to be finished in spring 2013, with the cogeneration plant reaching completion at the same time as the Science and Engineering Complex, in late 2014.

Waskow declined to say how much each project costs or what savings their installations may bring in the future.

The new research center is being built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification standards, following the 2007 Foggy Bottom Campus Plan, which included a commitment to pursue an eco-friendly certification in all new building projects.

LEED results have not yet been released for Lafayette Hall, a residence hall that reopened last fall after being overhauled to be more eco-friendly.

The sustainable additions to the University’s campuses mark a larger effort to reduce its carbon footprint since the founding of the Office of Sustainability in late 2008.

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