Case Study

A Transformative Project for the University of Kentucky

Lexington, KentuckyUniversity of Kentucky

Energy Modeling for Massive Savings

A regional leader in higher education, the University of Kentucky recently demolished three outdated buildings and constructed a brand-new Jacobs Academic Sciences building. Housing lab spaces, classrooms, and TEAL (technology enhanced active learning) rooms, the new Academic Sciences building required CMTA to provide detailed energy modeling as part of the data driven design.

The Challenges

  • Achieving energy savings while maintaining lab safety
  • Assessing every energy-using system in the building
  • Providing a modern learning environment for University of Kentucky students

This building is going to be transformative for teaching science on this campus.

Mark Kornbluh

A&S Dean

The Solutions

The University of Kentucky contracted CMTA to provide consulting services on the construction of their new 263,000 square foot Academic Sciences building. Our expertise in energy modeling and Data Driven Design was relied upon to select a mechanical system for the building while maintaining safe laboratory environments. Multiple systems options including chilled beams were analyzed on a life cycle cost basis. These efforts resulted in changes to the campus standards that allowed for greatly reduced airflows in the labs during unoccupied hours.

Moreover, the University was interested in achieving energy savings throughout the new building. One of the recurring comments about the previous lab building was the interior spaces lacked any natural light. Extensive efforts were made to provide a façade design with extensive glazing, 40% of the overall walls, that utilized multiple shading techniques to allow for views to the outside while minimizing direct sunlight and reduced thermal loads. The shading techniques incorporated into the design included large overhangs, vertical columns angled to maximize shading, and horizontal slats integrated into the glazing system for critical areas.

Another factor that was important to the client was the learning environment that the building would provide upon completion. The acoustics of the classrooms were a key component for the University, as well as incorporating a great deal of natural light. CMTA was able to design an HVAC system for the lab spaces that provides up to forty air changes per hour – a lot of air flow – while remaining below industry standards for noise generation.

Advanced Learning

The TEAL classrooms leverage state of the art audio-visual technologies to improve the group learning experience. The integrated groups can vary in size from 6 to 120 people depending on the needs with each student and professor having the ability to display content from their electronic device to monitors and projection screens throughout the space. These rooms currently track a usage rate of over 85% throughout the day as they are in demand well beyond just the Science departments.

The Results

We were able to help the University of Kentucky save money with a focus on energy efficiency in their brand-new 263,000 square foot Academic Sciences building. By engineering a new solution to laboratory energy usage – an exhaust system that can be turned off when not in use – CMTA saved the University $50,000 annually through the fume hood airflow reductions alone. In addition, our site-wide audit of all the energy-using systems meant that the new building could be included in the University’s central energy plant system while still reducing energy usage by 37% over the baseline building.

The overall result of this project is a beautiful, energy-efficient building that is a destination for students, even when they aren’t in class. The energy cost savings gives the University more opportunities to enrich the lives of their student population, while the open atrium and public seating areas provide gathering spaces that didn’t exist in student laboratory buildings on the University of Kentucky’s campus before.

UK Academic