Case Study: Consulting Engineering

Ogden College Hall

Western Kentucky UniversityBowling Green, Kentucky

The Nation's First WELL Certified University Lab Building

Ogden College Hall has been recognized as one of the healthiest higher education buildings in the country by the International Well Building Institute. The new building was designed to visually illustrate STEM curriculum and the College’s research initiatives to create a showplace for scientific exploration and discovery. In this WELL Gold certified building, students learn in an environment that actively promotes their health and wellness through intentional design.

The Challenges

  • Creating a first class, sustainable, healthy research education laboratory facility within the original project schedule and budget
  • Achieving LEED Gold and WELL Gold certification within state university public funding constraints
  • Ensuring the success of WELL performance verification site survey the first time by self-testing the performance of the building and correcting issues prior to survey
  • Guiding the owner through the WELL documentation process
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We wanted this multi-departmental science building to be student friendly, utilitarian, energy efficient and a healthy environment for work and learning. We are proud of the final result and look forward to enhanced student learning in its innovative spaces. Created with Sketch.

Dr. Cheryl Stevens

Former Provost, Western Kentucky University

The Solutions

Creating a first-class, sustainable, healthy research education laboratory facility within budget is a significant challenge. The design team for Ogden College Hall went a step further proposing that, in addition to LEED Gold, the building be WELL Gold certified. Although many project teams shy away from adding complexity to a project with difficult funding constraints, project members and stakeholders can only achieve exceptional results by pushing the limits with an innovative, outside-the-box approach. WELL is the premier standard for buildings and interior spaces seeking to implement, validate and measure features that support and advance human health and wellness. CMTA’s Tracy Steward believed that WELL values were essential in an education environment and brought the experience and know-how to give the design team confidence that WELL certification could be accomplished with no additional construction costs. She found her project champion in Dr. Cheryl Stevens, who was then Dean of Ogden College Hall.

Finding a project champion within the university to be invested and supportive of the WELL certification process was essential to success. Dr. Stevens believed that WELL Certification was in keeping with WKU’s stated mission to provide a safe, healthy environment with excellent air quality and the technology to develop the minds of future leaders. She knew that the new Ogden College Hall could be a major differentiator for the university by improving student recruitment, and ultimately, student success in crucial STEM fields of study. By having her as a champion, the design team had an owner-advocate supporting their innovative approach throughout the design and evaluation process. “We wanted this multi-departmental science building to be student friendly, utilitarian, energy efficient and a healthy environment for work and learning,” Cheryl Stevens said. “We are proud of the final result and look forward to enhanced student learning in its innovative spaces.”

To create a cutting-edge project like Ogden College Hall within a fixed construction budget, CMTA implemented our First 30 approach to look for cost saving options that would not impact operations. One design change that made a significant impact on costs without negatively effecting the learning environment was changing the standard height of the fixed windows on all Biosafety Cabinets from 18 to 12 inches. This design change alone reduced initial costs for MEP systems by $1.4 million. This cost offset allowed additional square footage for the Biology Department and funded fume hood auto-closers for all 104 fume hoods in the building. This approach, while an adjustment to existing university design standards, was well within industry norms and resulted in improved overall lab hood safety, the reduction of first costs and energy costs, and additional programming space, all while ensuring the project scope was maximized within budget.

The International WELL Building Institute, unlike other building certifying agencies, requires significant documentation during building occupancy and an onsite survey of the facility by a third-party expert, as well as meeting extensive requirements, policies and guidelines . To ensure the first WELL site survey was a success, CMTA self-performed testing for several aspects of the project, including acoustics, air quality, water quality, lighting, and thermal comfort metrics. By taking the time to test the building according to the WELL metrics, CMTA was able to correct issues prior to the outside audit. These actions ensured that all required metrics were in place, avoiding curative requirements with associated fees.

The WELL certification process can feel complex and overwhelming to the owner. Supporting WKU's facility managers and leading them through the WELL documentation process was key to the success of the building metrics. Tracy Steward, CMTA’s WELL project administrator, led the stakeholders through every step of the process to identify any non-compliant items, develop a plan for resolution, and ultimately to ensure all requirements were implemented.

One of the most important tasks for WKU as the owner was to provide training and education for building occupants on Ogden College Hall’s WELL building features. WKU also conducted occupant surveys and maintained documentation of the program. As the first university laboratory building WELLv2 certified project, WKU was required to provide information that included documentation of policies, plans, standards and benefits. CMTA helped to coordinate the consolidation of information from multiple agencies across campus to ensure that all requirements were implemented and documented.

Exceptional Air Quality and Lighting

The air quality in Ogden College Hall is exceptional and supports occupant alertness and circadian rhythm. The lower biosafety cabinet sash heights, increased air changes and filtration and adjusting air flow away from the occupants all contribute to exceeding WELL air quality standards for a laboratory, and even an office setting. This is important because the Cognitive Function Test conducted by Harvard University in 2015 demonstrated the link between performance and air quality and documented that cognitive function decreases along with air quality, directly impacting the ability of students to learn.

At Ogden College Hall, an air quality cage constantly monitors indoor air metrics on the following pollutants:

  • PM-2.5 Particles
  • PM-10 Particles
  • TVOCs
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Ozone

Photosensitive Retinal Ganglio Cells-ipRGC are present in everyone’s eyes and facilitate circadian rhythm and healthy sleep. Lighting design and daylighting are key to ensuring that these cells do their job and are essential for healthy building design. By selecting the LED lights with increased blue spectrum for Ogden College Hall, CMTA helped to increase alertness and support the student’s sleep-wake sleep cycles.

The Results

Ogden College Hall is the first university laboratory building to be awarded WELL V2 Gold Certification, making it one of the healthiest science and research buildings in the world. The project was delivered within budget and on schedule while achieving LEED Gold and WELL Gold certification, as well as significant energy reductions.

Out of 19 available energy points for LEED Certification, Ogden College Hall received 15, which ultimately advanced the project to LEED Gold status, despite existing budget constraints. While lab buildings often run at over 300 EUI, Ogden College Hall averages an EUI of 159, creating significant savings in energy costs for WKU.

Through WELL design and operation initiatives, the building continues to exceed air and light quality goals. The reduction of biosafety cabinet sash height has been successful with negative impact on research or learning initiatives.

Ogden College Hall is a groundbreaking facility, proving that exceptional laboratory and learning space can be more energy efficient, safer, and healthier with minimal extra cost. It's a building that will positively impact the STEM research and study at WKU for years to come. CMTA was honored to be a part of this Ogden College Hall project.

Ogden College Hall Energy Use

What does this data mean?
Baseline: AIA 2030 Annual Energy Use Goal
Actual: The measured energy use of this project