Student Services Building
Submitted on June 24, 2011 - 12:47pm
University of Texas at Dallas
Richard M. Dempsey, Associate Vice President for Facilities Management, Facilities Management, University of Texas at Dallas
Richard Miller, Principal, Higher Education Market Sector, Perkins+Will
Tom Lund, Senior Project Manager, UTD Facilities Management, University of Texas Office of Facilities Planning and Construction
Dr. Calvin Jamison, Scott Naylor, Vince Yauger, Kelly Kinnard, Matt Grief, Peter Busby, Ryan Bragg, Dwight Burns, Daniel Day, Ashwin Toney
LEED Rating System(s)
New Construction, NC 2.2
LEED Certification Level(s) Achieved
The new LEED Platinum certified Student Services Building (SSB) serves as a “one-stop-shop” destination for all student service activities offering 14 departments under one roof. The building design improves the ease of access to student services with increased departmental efficiency. Residing on a high profile campus site, the $20,634,000, 74,343 square foot building adjacent to the new pedestrian mall, forms a gateway that is an energetic place for interaction and improved student experiences. With a welcoming and memorable first impression, the SSB offers positive interaction between students, faculty and staff. Public areas stimulate activity while creating interest, movement and exposure to the building’s primary role – the exchange of ideas, learning, and access to information.
University administrators and student initiative set the project in motion. Through the design competition process, the design team challenged, and UTD accepted a goal of designing a “green” building. The primary program goal was to consolidate all student services on campus. Before, students would have to visit the Bursar in one building, buy their parking permit in another, meet for residential life planning or find international services on different sides of campus. In order to reduce the consternation for students, and open up valuable space on campus, the idea of the Student Services Building was conceived. Students passed a referendum in April 2006 providing fees that would pay for the construction bonds, operations, and maintenance of the new Student Services Building.
Project Goals and Objectives
The project’s sustainable design goals were focused on four primary areas. First, design a building that was energy efficient especially during the long hot months in which Texas deals with temperatures in excess of 100+ degrees Fahrenheit and when it dips below freezing. The goal was to design a building that was at least 50% more energy efficient than the average of all buildings on campus; second, design a building that controlled light, solar heat gain and provided daylighting to the majority of the interior spaces; third, design a building that practiced water conservation for a region that is notorious for experiencing long periods of drought; fourth, approach space planning from the perspective of “doing more with less” and one that utilized space efficiently and created opportunities to share space without duplicating space that would sit unoccupied most of the day.
The Student Services building achieved each of the four primary sustainable design goals in innovative and cost effective ways. The building’s most notable characteristic is a system of “floating” terra-cotta louvers on the building’s exterior responds to the solar exposure in appropriate density. The signature design incorporates the louver system into a unique energy efficient shading strategy providing protection from the harsh Texas sun while reducing radiant heat gain. Meeting the 2030 Challenge, the design dramatically reduces energy consumption and Green House Gas output. The building’s energy efficiency is designed to perform 41% over Ashrae 90.1, offering $60,000 annual electrical savings representing a 63% improvement over the average of all buildings on campus.
The building maximizes Daylight Harvesting while providing 76% of all occupied spaces with natural daylight and 93% of all occupied spaces with views to the outside. The design incorporates water conservation measures such as Automatic sensors in faucets, Dual flush toilets and low flow (1 pint) urinals. There is an 86% water use reduction for domestic potable water and rain water harvesting for irrigation served by a two tank 40,000 gallon cistern. Sewage conveyance is in a primary 20,000 gallon tank supplemented by domestic water as needed and Irrigation is in a secondary 20,000 gallon tank where no domestic water is used. Drought tolerant landscaping and indigenous planting is provided.
An innovative, functional and efficient new space planning protocol was achieved by reducing the number of individual offices in favor of open office planning with multi-use spaces, shared conference and meeting rooms accessible by all departments via public corridors. The design layout activates common spaces such as the main lobby that also serves as an orientation room creating interest, movement and exposure to the functions of the building. Beyond a three-story lobby, the building opens up and is organized around a central light-filled atrium with a light scoop that directs light deep into the building. Here visitors can move vertically up through the building via a central connecting stair or elevator. The benefits of open office space and shared meeting spaces versus individual offices achieved a 73% assignable to non-assignable building space ratio. This innovative space allocation approach, in support of the “one-stop-shop” goal, made it possible to include in the project 11,000sf for the Enrollment Services department that was previously not considered for this program.
UT Dallas students approved a funding referendum to add to their tuition to make the building a reality. In response to this budget commitment, the project team pledged to provide a LEED Platinum building within budget and at least 50% more efficient than the average of all buildings on campus. The planning and programming process began as a design competition which drew on the energy of a steering committee made up of university administration, faculty, students, staff, design professionals and construction team members. Visioning sessions tasked the greater campus community with creating vivid descriptions of incoming and returning student seeking out services and education programs. Design charettes engaged participants in further information harvesting-testing the priorities, objectives and goals. Continued support from the University’s upper administration was instrumental in achieving the LEED Platinum certification for the building.
Many academic and administrative functions have suffered at the hands of the university’s success over the past several years. Specifically, a dramatic increase in student population of more than 50% within the last 10 years has driven a serious need for new facilities to accommodate basic infrastructure as well as to improve the level of service and general offerings to such a dynamic student body. From the approval of the student referendum to the start of the programming process a duration of 18 months transpired. From the start of programming to final completion/occupancy, a duration of 34 months transpired representing a total duration of 52 months.
Student referendum for a Student Services Building fee approved – April 2006
Develop / Approve Program – 10/02/07 – 03/14/08
Design Competition – 01/18/2008 - 04/25/2008
A/E Selection – 06/17/2008
Programming Validation 08/11/08 - 08/29/2008 (completed during SD phase)
Schematic Design Phase - 08/11/08- 09/25/08
Design Development Phase - 09/26/08 – 02/13/09
Guaranteed Maximum Price - GMP with CMAR 03/11/09
Construction Document Phase - 02/18/2008 – 07/03/2009
Construction Phase -14 months 05/14/2009 – 07/21/2010
Substantial Completion - 7/21/2010,
Final Completion 8/19/2010
Project Cost - $27,500,000
Budgeted Construction Cost - $21,700,000
Actual Construction Cost - $20,633,723 ($1.1m below budget)
UT Dallas students worked closely with university administrators to approve a student referendum which added a $71 fee to tuition. The fee allowed the project to be completed in a few quick years. The fee pays the construction bonds as well as the operations and maintenance costs of the building.
Project Results and Realized Benefits
The consolidated “one-stop-shop” design of the Student Services Building has met the needs of the university’s business operations, students, faculty and staff. Having all student business services and Student Affairs in one location has increased student access to services and programs such as Residential Life or the Office of Student Volunteers, improved communication amongst university business units, and significantly decreased the time and effort needed to complete new student business. Innovative functional and efficient space planning has maximized the use of space by making shared space more accessible, the planning of open office work environments filled with natural daylighting and views to the outside offering a healthy work environment resulting in increased productivity and collaboration of staff.
Having a LEED Platinum building as the centerpiece of UT Dallas’ facilities, has given the university a new sustainability identity and improved visibility of its sustainability programs. The university has created the new Office of Sustainability as of January 2010 and a new position – Energy Conservation and Sustainability Manager in May 2011, to further the practice of sustainability on campus. Student environmental groups, the university’s sustainability committee comprised of students, faculty, staff, and administration, and the sustainability office all capitalize on the buzz surrounding the LEED Platinum building to implement new conservation projects. This accomplishment has provided real numbers for energy usage in office buildings, which is allowing the setting of goals for remodels and new construction. Student organizations such as Students for Environmental Awareness and new initiatives including “Green Up, Move Out” and the implementation of “dinnerware amnesty” have boosted recycling and food-bank donations with increased student involvement and interaction. A new living learning center devoted to sustainability has been planned for freshmen that will offer a “neighborhood” concept for students community events.
Innovation in Practice
First: The integrated design process (IDP), which drew on the energy of a steering committee made up of university administration, faculty, students, staff, design professionals and construction team members, ensured the project’s goals and objectives were achieved. Clear communication with staff describing the benefits of open office space and shared meeting spaces versus individual offices achieved a 73% assignable to non-assignable building space efficiency ratio. This innovative space allocation approach, in support of the “one-stop-shop” goal, made it possible to include in the project an additional 11,000sf for the Enrollment Services department - originally desired but omitted from the initial program. The shared common spaces, conference rooms, and “day-use” offices facilitate each group’s activities, while minimizing the number of “owned” meeting space. This has maximized the daily use of each room – empty conference rooms are a waste of space.
Second: The building’s innovative solar shading louver strategy and internal light harvesting provided 76% of all spaces with natural daylight and 93% of all occupied spaces with views to the outside. The light scoop directs light from the rooftop through the center of the building. The building is a dramatic step forward in the implementation of the campus master plan providing a signature design, recognizable identity, and sustainability. The transparency of the building, with maximized daylight and glass, represents our transparent culture and environment for student services. The sustainability wall education resource, located in the main lobby, serves as an introduction to the greater benefits of sustainability and the actual SSB project achievements, factoids and metrics. The building meets the 2030 Challenge, is the first LEED Platinum certified building for UTD, UT System and first LEED Platinum certified education building in the state of Texas.
Third: In addition, the 74,343 gross square foot building was constructed 10% under budget while achieving operating costs of 63% better than the average of all buildings on campus – the value added by the holistic sustainable building completed within budget is by far the most innovative feature of the LEED Platinum building.
Project as a Model for Others
The LEED Platinum certified Student Services Building project was a great learning experience on many different levels. The building will help serve as a model and guide future sustainable projects on the UTD campus as well as serve as an example for other institutions embarking on their sustainable projects that require a balance between innovation, first cost realities and life cycle benefits.
The project is an excellent model for space utilization, LEAN business practices, efficient building operation, and green building design. Other features of the Student Services Building which may serve as a model for future projects include: renewable energy solar hot water heaters, additional xeriscaping and greywater systems, and bioswales for improved water quality, conservation and retention. Aspects of the planning process that will definitively change the design processes include the innovative space planning protocols to minimize the amount of space constructed, minimize the number of individual offices and shared meeting rooms to create efficient multi-functional spaces. The university continues to improve its operational sustainability programs by improving campus-wide recycling, using certified green products, and commissioning and upgrading existing equipment to improve energy efficiency and performance. All of the efforts and programs have been encouraged by the success of the SSB.
The Student Services Building offers great “lessons learned” that will be applied to future projects on the UTD campus as well as be transferrable to other institutions. Making smart choices early during the design process and looking for ways to offset those sustainable cost premiums by targeting potential construction savings proved to be an innovative way to “have our cake and eat it too” in order to afford our sustainable strategies. In addition, utilizing a process such as an integrated design process (IDP), allowed the team to make smart informed choices early on balanced by budget responsibility and sustainable goals. The following “lessons learned” proved to be our recipe for success.
An absolute commitment by all stakeholders – owner, program manager, contractor and design team -- is essential in order to achieve a sustainable building, especially one that is delivered within budget.
Define Sustainable Goals Early
The earlier you decide to build green, the more opportunities you will have to maximize the synergies in your building's design and performance while keeping your building within budget. The best green strategies are multi-faceted so, evaluating all sustainable goals holistically instead of individually allowed us to understand the synergies.
Sustainable Design Charrette
Conducting a sustainable design charrette in a focused and collaborative brainstorming or “think tank” atmosphere, is convened at the project start to encourage an open exchange of ideas and information allowing for integrated sustainable design strategies to evolve. In Texas we knew from the start we wanted to target our climate, specifically, sun, light and water.
Integrated Design Process Delivery Model
The method of delivery and procurement of the project is critical and should be identified as early as possible, preferably during the planning stage of the project. The UTD project utilized the Construction Manager-at-Risk (CMAR) delivery model with a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP). Based on our experience in delivering LEED projects within budget, we believe it is imperative that the contractor be at the table early during the pre-construction phases to serve as the constructability advisor and cost estimator.
Balancing the Budget
We get early buy-in on the sustainable features while identifying offsetting cost savings to keep the project within budget. We realize that some added costs may be necessary to achieve certain LEED points, but through a “horse trading” process we are able to offset some more expensive design assemblies for lesser costly features without reducing the quality of the project; the found savings could then be applied to support desired features including sustainable features.
When evaluating the potential costs of the building it is useful to create a base line for discussion and balance first cost with long-term benefits using Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA). It is advantageous for the design team and CMAR to evaluate cost options through the cost comparisons of major assemblies. Making smart choices early in the design process, looking for ways to counterbalance sustainable cost premiums against potential construction savings, seeking trade-offs that balance budget and sustainable goals, and maintaining constant vigilance on cost estimating for a project’s duration, can lead to sustainable and financial success within a university’s first cost budget.