Monday, November 01, 2010

GW to Add Science Building and Go Solar

George Washington University has another construction project in the works. Thanks to funding from Square 54 and low construction costs from favorable market conditions, the university has approved replacing an 8-story, 1200-space parking garage with an 8-story, 400,000 s.f. science and engineering complex with buried parking. The university also has separate plans to green its residences by adding what it says will be DC's largest single solar power network.

Although the city has not yet approved the science building, GW expects to start the $275m project within a year. The university’s project team includes Philadelphia-based Ballinger Architects, as well as Hickok Cole Architects, Boston Properties as the project manager and Clark Construction for pre-construction services, all of which are working on Square 54. The LEED-Silver designed building will double the space on the GW campus dedicated to science and engineering.

"The board’s decision to build the Science and Engineering Complex marks an important milestone in the development of George Washington into a world-class research university," said GW President Steven Knapp.

The science building, at the corner of 22nd and H streets, NW (see map, above), will feature two levels of below-ground program space, approximately 350 underground parking spaces and a retail venue on the ground floor along Eye Street.

The building is expected to be completed in late 2014 with occupancy expected in early 2015. Project planning has been underway since 2006. GW is using ground lease payments from Square 54 as part of the financing for the new project, and has been working to redistribute the lost parking as part of the Campus Plan, but has yet to release any details about where the 850 lost spaces will go.

At the same time, GW will implement "the largest source of on-site solar power in the District of Columbia," for "thermal" solar power, that is, not photovoltaic cells. The new solar thermal system will heat water for three residence halls, subtracting "about 70 tons of carbon annually," according to the school. The university intends to generate 10 percent of energy from on-campus renewable sources by 2040, and reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2025, and by 80 percent by 2040 when it reaches "carbon neutrality." The remaining carbon emissions will be "mitigated" through the purchase of local offsets, such as planting trees. "This is just one of the very fist steps we are taking" says Michelle Sherrard of GW, of the solar conversion.

Skyline Innovations, a one-year-old Washington D.C.-based solar energy company, will install the solar thermal units on Building JJ, 1959 E Street and Ivory Tower free of charge and sell the hot water the systems produce to the school for a fee tied to the price of natural gas. According to Aaron Block, Director of Market Development for Skyline, the company assures lower energy costs for the user with no start-up costs by guaranteeing a lower-than-market rate for energy, which it finances by retaining the renewable energy credits. That makes Skyline the number one provider of solar energy in DC (it subcontracts installation). GW won't reveal the amount that it saves with its thermal energy conversion.

The system works by converting sunlight to thermal energy via hot water rather than electricity. An array of rooftop panels collect solar energy and convert it to heat. A series of tanks in the basement loop into the rooftop collectors, a heat exchange allows the heat to be converted from the closed-loop system into the public water.

With all the new construction, the GW Hatchet reports that Foggy Bottom residents are angling for a new Metro entrance as the completion of Square 54 adds more users of the single-entrance Metro station.

Washington DC real estate development news


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