1354 The Lombardo Welcome Center: Millersville University's First Net-Zero Energy Building

Wednesday, 25 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Kathleen V. Schreiber, Millersville Univ., Millersville, PA
Manuscript (97.5 kB)

Millersville University of Pennsylvania plans to construct a $7.5 million, 15,000 square-foot campus building that is both net-zero energy and net-zero water runoff. The structure will generate as much power as it consumes over the course of a year, facilitating the campus goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2040. The completed building will house the Admissions, Marketing and Residence staff, the University’s Welcome Center, and an atrium educational center.  The building was in part made possible by a $1 million gift from Samuel N. and Dena Lombardo; Sam serves as CEO of the Benecon Group in Lititz, PA.

A variety of eco-friendly design features will work in tandem to achieve the building’s environmental objectives.  For example, indoor air temperature will be regulated by a combination of passive design and geothermal energy systems. Heating and cooling will be performed using a closed loop geothermal heat pump system connected to a geothermal well field with 20 wells drilled down 400 feet per well.  Stone markers will identify the well locations for students and staff. A radiant heating floor will appear in the lobby, with individual zone control for offices and system setbacks when office is unoccupied. A highly insulated building envelope will contain a curtain wall with an insulated, thermally broken frame, and high performance glass with a low solar heat gain coefficient.

The center will be powered by a roof-top solar array, filling the entire roof with about 500 solar PV panels.  In addition, there will be a 20-panel dual axis tracker system on the south side of the building.  This tracker will move to follow the sun and allow staff and students to see the PV and how it is able to move with the sun.

Energy efficient equipment and appliances will keep the building’s energy demand to a minimum. LED lighting will be employed throughout the building, and possess daylight controls to dim lights when there is sufficient daylight. Fixed exterior shading minimizes solar glare in the building. Sun path diagrams were analyzed in selecting window locations for quality daylighting. Low-flow plumbing fixtures minimize water heating requirements. Centrally located printer stations minimize number of printers needed, while a centrally located kitchenette eliminates need for individual appliances in offices. Energy Star equipment is used throughout. Overall, the building is designed to use less than 50% of the energy of a conventional building.

In addition to the structure’s energy efficiency features, the building also provides for storm water management, ultimately protecting the water quality of the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay. As such, the structure will feature a number of rain gardens and water retention areas. Collectively, they allow infiltration of most of the runoff into the ground and aquifers below. A “water fall” feature highlights water flowing from the roof to the rain garden to make it visible to students and staff.

Key to the university’s sustainability education mission, the atrium education center will be equipped to serve an environmental education function for net-zero energy as well as net-zero water runoff design and construction. The center will be designed for interactive learning through a media touch screen wall and interactive demonstrations. Over 10,000 annual visitors will be able to monitor, both in real-time and over time, storm water and energy production and consumption. The electricity metering system will be able to divide the energy demand into its heating, cooling, lighting, plug-in equipment, and hot water components.  The location for the Lombardo Welcome Center was chosen due to its centralized position on campus, making it easily accessible for the campus community.

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