Work began Nov. 24 on the old University Health Services building site to pave the way for a new University of Wisconsin academic and research building examining sustainable renewable energy.
The Wisconsin Energy Institute, which will be located at 1552 University Ave., will house research groups such as the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center and the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative in an effort to meet the need of enhancing renewable energy and sustainability on campus said Gary Brown, Director of Campus Planning and Landscape Architecture.
“The university selected this site as a nexus between the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering, two of the main players in the study of energy production on campus,” Brown said. “Faculty and researchers from these and other nearby colleges will be participating in research inside the new building.”
Brown said the first step in the process is salvaging the building, where UW Physical Plant staff, Wisconsin’s Surplus with a Purpose, Habitat for Humanity, and others will come in and remove anything they believe can be reused. Construction of the building will begin around the beginning of 2011.
According to Brown, Phase 1 of the project, which includes the salvaging and construction, will cost $50 million of General Fund Supported Borrowing, which is state tax dollar supported bonding.
The construction of the building itself involves many sustainability measures as well.
“There are a host of sustainability initiatives with the project, including substantially daylighting design, resulting in significant energy use reductions, using recycled and locally obtained building materials, as well as many other green building initiatives,” Brown said.
Brown also said the project is currently tracking as a potential GOLD rating through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design sustainability rating program.
Director of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center Timothy Donohue said he believes this new building will help his program, as well as many others on campus, in collaborative research on this field.
“[The building] will serve as a nexus for other renewable energy research and student training for the campus, providing an intellectual nerve center to help the UW and Wisconsin attract other research funding to make additional breakthroughs in this growing field,” Donohue said.
The flexible lab designs to adapt for new technology, the ease of interactions between scientists, staff and students, and the sustainability efforts going into constructing the building will all benefit the groups moving into the building, Donohue said.
But according to Donohue, not all of the GLBRC will be moving into the new facilities, as there are 250-300 scientists, staff, and students associated with the program, and only the major activities in the Microbial Sciences building, Genetics, Biotechnology Center building, Enzyme Institute, and a few others will be moving into the new WEI on behalf of the group.
According to Brown, when completed the main entrance of the WEI will be off University Avenue near the intersection of University Avenue and Breese Terrace, and will create no new parking on campus as the building is already close to the many programs moving into the building.