We’re proud to announce that the University of Colorado Boulder’s CU CASE (Center of Academic Success and Engagement) building has been awarded LEED Gold status earning a total of 66 points and an energy-use savings of 40 percent. OZ Architecture implemented several sustainable strategies throughout the 114,000 square foot building and on the surrounding site.
The building secured LEED points in a variety of categories. The site selected for the project contributed to the certification by way of its easy access to a variety of services and its proximity to multiple modes of alternative transportation. The building sits atop an existing parking structure, thereby limiting its need for new foundations, and extending the usable life of the parking structure. By covering the parking with the building, solar heat gain on exposed concrete surfaces is limited. Additionally, the roof tile was carefully selected to optimize heat reflectance while maintaining the signature barrel tile roof CU is known for.
Within the building, the HVAC system is divided into zones, with air handling units selected specifically for the zone they serve. For example, the auditorium has a high occupant load, and therefore internal heat gain. The space also demands a quiet system, which dictates low-velocity air. This dictated a unit that is very different from the unit that serves the atrium, which has an entirely different pattern. The atrium system is coupled with an exhaust at the top, so that hot air rising can be easily ventilated. There is also a large fan in the space to encourage air circulation. The space has skylights, which flood the atrium with natural light.
The building envelope, or “skin”, was crafted to capitalize on its surroundings without admitting excess heat. The building enjoys marvelous views to the flatirons to the south, but this orientation is vulnerable to heat gain given its sun exposure. To limit heat gain while preserving views, an electrochromic glazing system was added to dynamically adjusts the tint of the glass based on sun exposure. The glazing system was used at locations in the building where the view was most important, such as the admissions area. In other locations, heat gain was limited through the use of smaller “punched” openings in the stone exterior walls.
Water use was limited on the project through low flow fixtures, and extensive native plantings, which are accustomed to our climate and require very little water to survive. Stormwater is also carefully managed through the use of permeable soil that allows infiltration and stormwater treatment from runoff and roof drainage.
Local materials were also used wherever possible. The sandstone that clads the building’s exterior comes from quarries just north of town, and the soil that makes up the iconic hillside came from excavations for other projects on campus.
When you step onto the terrace of CU CASE it’s easy to see why the building was designed with an emphasis on sustainable practices as you’re surrounded by the beautiful Colorado landscape. With the mountains in plain sight, the CU CASE project and our firm’s Colorado roots both serve as an inspiration for not only preserving our current environment but also for pushing the industry and finding the next solutions that will help improve the world around us.