The newly opened Bagley Classroom at the University of Minnesota Duluth is getting a whole lot of extra credit for sustainable design. Not only is the LEED Platinum building shooting for Passive House certification, but is also net zero energy. The 2000 square-foot classroom is virtually an encyclopedia of green design features in which architect David Salmela fused aesthetic criteria and building performance. From the green roof to the passive and active solar system, green materials, and state of the art construction techniques, the classroom aims to be the model in sustainable design for the chilly Northern US.
The list of the building’s achievements is remarkable. The core of the project is its super efficient walls, which are made from 16 inches of Structural Insulated Panels or SIPs. Built to Passive House energy standards, the building relies on its inhabitants to keep it heated. South-facing windows for solar heat and an electric boiler are incorporated to reduce energy demands to a mere 10% of a typical building. The integrated solar array crowning the classroom produces enough energy to offset the building’s demand, creating a net-zero energy project that will take a year of use to certify.
To achieve LEED Platinum certification the project went to great lengths to be site and materials-sensitive. Build on an unused volleyball court, the building is skinned in recycled zinc siding, and framed with reclaimed wooden beams. The bank of windows and solar tubes also allows for great daylighting. Half of the classroom’s roof is covered in green to help maintain indoor temperatures and add biodiversity to the campus. Other resources were also carefully considered, allowing the building to consume 87% less water than an average university building – in large part by incorporating composting toilet technology.
The integrated design was carefully balanced to enhance the character of the building, demonstrating how contemporary architecture can thrive in the pursuit of sustainable design.
Lead Photograph © Paul Crosby