On November 1, 2018, the Montgomery County Committee of USGBC-National Capital Region organized a presentation and tour of Montgomery College’s Biosciences Education Center—an innovative and eye-catching facility that supports STEM education. Thank you to our presenter and tour guide Mike Whitcomb, P.E., Energy Manager Montgomery College—with support from Sandra Filippi, Maria Manfre, and a handful of Montgomery College students!
Nestled up in Germantown near the Holy Cross Hospital Center, the Biosciences Education Center has become a flagship building on Montgomery College’s Germantown campus. Opened in Fall 2014, this 145,000-square-foot facility contains offices, classrooms, laboratories, computer labs, a conference center and a high performance central heating and cooling plant.
This building both showcases the College’s drive to incorporate unique sustainability elements and embodies the College’s long-standing approach to resource conservation and energy performance standards in its facilities.
Through master planning and construction program requirements, Montgomery College developed a roadmap for this STEM-focused teaching facility. With sustainability built into all planning phases, the facility took 4 years to design and build and $87.9 million to complete.
The design team performed life cycle cost analyses to consider the full costs of equipment and systems. For example, the College opted for high-performance ductwork—which has higher upfront costs than standard ductwork—but is more energy efficient, does not require as much field fabrication and guesswork that standard ductwork, and is less expensive when the life cycle of the equipment is considered.
Other notable design features include:
In addition to reviewing and water/air intrusion testing of envelope mock-ups before construction began, the construction team also performed in-the-field testing of various envelope components. This process ensures that the building elements are installed correctly early in the process and functioning as intended after installation.
Following construction completion, the design team performed a quality assurance review and targeted lessons learned to inform design standard revisions or changes needed when Montgomery College undertakes its next construction project.
Solar energy and wind energy are incorporated into the site – enough to handle approximately 1 percent of the building’s total load. The 35 kW solar photovoltaic array on the roof and 5 kW of demonstration wind turbines are the renewable energy systems you can see outside of the building.
Inside, the Biosciences Education Center uses a 6,088-ton-hr-capacity passive ice thermal storage system. This technology acts like a battery for a building’s air-conditioning system, reducing equipment load during times of peak demand (and peak energy rate time) and reducing the size and capacity of connected rotating cooling equipment.
Ice is made during the off-peak evening hours when utility rates are lower; when the rates are high in the afternoon hours, the ice melt replaces some or all of the building’s cooling needs. This technology not only cuts down on the College’s overall energy consumption, but cuts down on utility costs.
The sustainability elements in this facility helped Montgomery College earn LEED Gold Certification for the building in August 2015 (see the LEED Scorecard).
This property is set up for success due to its thoughtful and innovative design—but a building is only as efficient as its operations and maintenance. To ensure the building is using energy efficiently, the College’s utility staff continually monitor energy performance of buildings at all three campuses and report benchmarking data to the County annually. The building also has a top-notch facilities team and utilizes certified green cleaning practices and materials. Additionally, Montgomery College is proud of their cross-departmental, multi-campus Green Team that engages on a variety of sustainability efforts including recycling and student engagement in sustainability.
For more information on Montgomery College’s educational offerings, registration for upcoming semesters, and available job openings, visit MontgomeryCollege.edu.
Interested in learning more about the USGBC-NCR Montgomery County Committee? Contact the Committee Chair, Bala Srini firstname.lastname@example.org) or come to an upcoming meeting! Meetings are held the 2nd Friday of every month at 8:30 am at DVA Architects’ offices in Gaithersburg, MD.