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Tiburcio Bazúa Jr.
Instructor Joey Luliano
22 November 2019
Sustainable Design & Planning Case Study: ENR2
The Environmental and Natural Resource 2 structure at the University of Arizona has truly raised the bar for sustainable buildings in the southwest region of the United States. Part of the successful impact of the building solely relies on simple energy conservation practices found in desert environments along with the newest technological advancements in climate control systems. In order to create a dynamic ever changing space that mimics the natural environment in a controllable manner, the design team involved realized the importance of multiuse systems and materials. ENR2 was designed after a natural slot canyon, where shade and humidity is often found and critical for life to thrive. This unique slot canyon design is seasonally responsive to all sorts of weather found in the Sonoran desert and is highly praised for its ability to stabilize internal temperatures despite external conditions. Not only does this space inspire researchers to collaborate on the many sustainable topics, it also provides the chance for small species to enjoy the space as well.
The 75 million dollar 151,000 square foot project was devised as early as 2003 when other national institutes pushed for campus wide efforts to reduce carbon footprints. At the same time the University of Arizona also began commitments to implement more research programs and disciplines in the environmental studies sector. The ENR2 building would be a show case of these interests but most importantly the potential of being able to create a living laboratory. “ENR2 is special because it really showcases the University and speaks to what architectural design in the Southwest can be, and in a sustainable way.”(May, Carr. 2015.) Since then, local Arizonian groups GLHN Architects & Engineers as well as Richard+Bauer Architecture have designed and constructed other energy efficient buildings on campus; such as the modern revitalization of the Universities recreational center. These groups aimed at creating a more resilient building to the challenging southwest climate found in Tucson Arizona; more specifically targeting intense heat waves as well as the complications of the monsoon season. Construction officially began in 2013 and was completed in the summer of 2015. The result was astonishing with the United States Building council awarding ENR2 the highest LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) platinum certification for water efficiency, waste management, use of sustainable materials, indoor environmental quality as well as innovative design. Becoming the greenest building on campus but also “the largest project in the state of Arizona to earn a LEED Platinum certification.”(Grozdanic, L. 2019.) It is also worth noting the additional LEED certified buildings on campus, with the university recreation center addition, the Árbol de la Vida Residence Hall and Likins Hall.
The project was developed with energy efficiency in mind, and so it incorporates seven different monitoring systems which look after everything from water, electrical, heating, cooling and even sewer output. “We’re reading electricity, chilled water, steam, potable water, and tracking them on a digital system that is able to read them--in some cases on a per minute basis”(Hoffman, Michael. 2015.) The five story rain water harvesting system which uniquely transports rain water through the multi-level terraces, can capture and then store about 52,000 gallons of runoff underneath the courtyard in a large cistern to be stored and then filtered. (Pdc.arizona.edu. 2015.) The building also collects any condensate from air conditioning units; which can then be used for irrigation or nonpotable systems like waterless and dual flush toilets with low flow plumbing. In the electrical sector of the building, you can find energy efficient light fixtures as well as vacancy sensors that regulate light but also interior temperature throughout the open office spaces. Part of the buildings versatility includes overhead power/data distribution in order to allow office space flexibility and renovation over time with quick access to all communication lines within the same floor. The heating and cooling systems in place are one of the most emphasized areas throughout the build. The slot canyon design allows the central courtyard in the building to remain much cooler through the use of shade as seen in many middle eastern designs. “The more we can build buildings that have open usable spaces outside that don’t require air conditioning—that is the most efficient building space you can have.”(Keith, Ladd. 2015.) Large windows were also placed toward the interior of the slot canyon in order to maximize natural light and reduce temperature flux. However, a dedicated outdoor air system along with overhead induction coils provide the primary heating, ventilation and air conditioning for floors 2 through 5 at approximately 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This innovative design compliments the East and West sides of the building as we see large openings that allow for natural ventilation which is aided by large circular fans near the walkway terraces to provide fresh air for nearby rooms. While it is often overlooked the health effects imposed on the buildings inhabitants can play a huge role in their productivity and even mental health. The ability to work in an environment that provides serene views as well as oxygen rich air can contribute to much healthier and happier people overall. Depending on the buildings seasonal orientation with the sun we see these rusty overhanging fins ether aide or repel heat gain in order to create comfortable interior spaces. For example, on the southside we see the fins acts as shade elements that block direct sunlight but allow passive air flow; to the north where no direct sunlight is introduced the fins only protect the building during the morning and evening glare. The fin openings on the East and West sides are strategically minimized. At each level we also see large landscape beds that are home to both native and drought resistant plants. Because of the suns orientation with the slot canyons terraces, many of these beds receive and store thermal mass energy at different times of the day. Which aids in stabilizing internal temperatures with the everchanging direction of sunlight.
ENR2 is home to a variety of uses and services that truly allow its sophisticated planning to be fully maximized in its spatial comfort. It is important to note that this building is also friendly to those with alternative transportation in their routine. As there are plenty of bike racks and even showers for personal use. You may also find yourself visiting the Slot Canyon café upon entering as it provides a variety of goods and handmade drinks. Integrated into the café are private business rooms as well as large garage door openings that make special events possible in the welcoming courtyard. This dynamic environment is perfectly suitable for small and large events during any season. On the main floor we also find a gigantic but wide lecture hall that cascades in depth toward the center stage allowing for a personal interaction with the speaker. To accommodate any individuals with hearing difficulties, ENR2 has become the first building on campus to implement an assisted listening system for users of hearing aids. (UANews. 2015.) All new modern amenities and technologies are available that can host up to 600 individuals comfortably. Starting on the second floor you can find the UA Department of Mathematics, School of Geography and Development, School of Natural Resources and the Environment and the university’s sustainable research initiative, as well as the Institute for Energy Solutions. The interior layout for these departments is quite unique as well, with many departments agreeing to open spaces instead of separated offices. This allows for interactive and collaborative work through the use of internal and external stairways. Scattered throughout you will also find a range of classrooms, offices, research and instructional laboratories. As for the ENR2 roof, which is in the process of developing a research garden center that will host special events but most importantly can also be a miniature ecosystem for birds, insects and plants. There is also plans to implement solar panel technology along with other research equipment and displays in the future. As for maintenance the durable materials used such as bare concrete and metal have allowed simple cleaning techniques that will continue to preserve the life of the building for an estimated 100 years according to the builders. “We are looking to maximize the longevity and efficiency of our buildings,” says Pete Dourlein, the associate vice president for the university’s planning, design, and construction department in charge of the ENR2 project. “As an institution, our goal is to build 50 to 100 year life buildings.”(Developing Urban Resilience. 2015) The use of simple materials in highly sophisticated manners is what partly adds to the impressive array of sustainable features and artistic appeals for newcomers.
The level of success that can be measured from the construction of the ENR2 building can be quite subjective. However, to a University who has committed their efforts to the positive effects of sustainable education in the long term, this project will continue to represent the very core foundations of which this organization was established to do. The inspiration found when great minds combine their efforts to achieve the impossible is something many strive to accomplish in their lifetimes. "It's not enough for our buildings and spaces to just facilitate, they must inspire. -building is not extravagant by any financial measure. There are simple materials, like concrete and steel, but they are used in such creative ways. The entire University and consultant team created a highly successful place that will efficiently and effectively serve and inspire the University for many years to come."(Dourlein, Pete. 2015.) Socially, ENR2 has become a hotspot for the growing student population as well as the rising interest from academic instructors as they are pleased to become apart of an organization that builds structures with the environment in mind and not just for aesthetic appeal. “Early responses indicate the building is boosting the university’s and departments’ images, a benefit in recruiting staff members and students. ‘Some of the faculty and researchers are already talking it up with their colleagues across the country and creating a buzz about this phenomenal new environment they are going to work and collaborate in. Our assets are our people. That is what the space is for, even if we may not be able to put a price to that.”(Dourlein, Pete. Developing Urban Resilience. 2015.) Financially however, this structure will undoubtably replenish its initial investments by continually saving costs year after year. With reductions in water usability in the 40 percent range, the initial upfront costs of smart plumbing solutions will save thousands of gallons and thousands of dollars. The adaptive and technologically climate controlled systems in place will also ensure longevity by around 30 percent in annual electrical costs. The well designed and thoroughly organized structure of the building will help many in their day to day activities as the interior spaces were built to encompass interactive productivity as mentioned. Externally, maintenance staff will also find themselves worrying less about mishaps with the help of data reading technology to aide in irrigation as well as the upkeep of the durable materials thus saving effort. It’s safe to say the environmental and natural resource 2 building at the University of Arizona is way ahead of its time. The process behind the development of the building has truly been considered successful by just the mere fact that it was accomplished in order to advance the development of more sustainable architecture. The ergonomics that this building provides to the average visitor is perhaps one that facilitates learning because of the living environment we are so naturally apart of; however instead we find most buildings now a days exclude nature instead of invoking it seamlessly.
Developing Urban Resilience. (2015). ENR2 - Developing Urban Resilience. [online] Available at: https://developingresilience.uli.org/case/enr2/
Dourlein, Pete. (2015.) Associate Vice President University Planning, Design and Construction. University of Arizona.
Enr2tour.arizona.edu. (2015). ENR2 Self-Guided Tour. [online] Available at: https://enr2tour.arizona.edu
Grozdanic, L. (2019). ENR2 is the largest project in Arizona to earn a LEED Platinum certification. [online] Inhabitat.com. Available at: https://inhabitat.com/enr2-is-the-largest-project-in-arizona-to-earn-a-leed-platinum-certification/
Heusinkveld, D. (2015). UA's Multilayered Sustainable Building Plan. [online] Arizona Alumni Association. Available at: https://arizonaalumni.com/article/uas-multilayered-sustainable-building-plan
Hoffman, Michael. (2015.) Energy Manager. University of Arizona.
Keith, Ladd.(2015.)Chair of sustainable Built Environment’s. University of Arizona.
May, Carr. (2015.) ENR2 Design Manager & Senior Architect for Planning, Design and Construction. University of Arizona.
Pdc.arizona.edu. (2015). Project 03-8526 | Planning Design & Construction. [online] Available at: https://www.pdc.arizona.edu/project/03-8526
Photographs 1& 2.(2019.) Tiburcio Bazua Jr. University of Arizona.
Richärd+bauer. (2015). environment + natural resources 2 | richärd+bauer. [online] Available at:
UANews. (2015). ENR2: A New Model for Sustainability. [online] Available at: https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/enr2-a-new-model-for-sustainability
UANews - University Relations. (2015). 5 Facts About UA's Greenest Building. [online] Available at: https://uanews.arizona.edu/blog/5-facts-about-uas-greenest-building