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Cutting-edge marine lab awarded for environmental stewardship

SOLOMONS, MD —The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s R.V. Truitt Laboratory Building has been awarded the 2017 U.S. Green Building Council Maryland Community Leader Award for Higher Education in recognition of overall commitment to sustainability and efficiency. The building was lauded as an example of how a highly technical scientific building can be constructed utilizing methods with low environmental impacts and long-term occupant comfort, without compromising scientific integrity.

The cutting-edge marine biology research building, located on the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory campus in Solomons, Maryland, opened in the fall of 2016. It was dedicated to Dr. Reginald V. Truitt, one of Maryland’s forefathers of conservation and founder of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, the oldest publicly supported marine laboratory on the East Coast.

"As the premier institution conducting work on the environment in the State, it is critical that the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) lead the way both in our research and in our operations,” said Tom Miller, director of the UMCES’ Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. “It was a real challenge to construct a sophisticated research lab that meets the needs of the scientists while being as energy efficient as possible. This award reflects dedication from all involved in the planning, design, and construction. Our commitment to our research mission requires us to go the extra step.”

The 14,000-square-foot, two-story, LEED silver-certified building boasts five state-of-the-art research labs and one-of-a-kind experimental facilities, including a running seawater system and controlled environmental chambers. For example, precise temperature controls allow scientists to conduct experiments with Arctic clams in freezing water or coral reef fish in balmy conditions, and lights can be programmed to mimic a slow sunrise or setting sun to recreate natural conditions in the lab.

The R.V. Truitt Laboratory building incorporates a number of sustainable design elements, including window glazing and shades to filter light, LED and occupancy-sensor controlled lighting throughout the building, and Greengard-certified furnishings. A 450-ton modulating air cooled chiller allows for the total load of the Truitt building and other campus buildings to be met while reducing energy consumption. The total energy savings for this building has resulted in 1.49 billion BTUs decrease annually, about a 28% energy saving.

Native and adaptive plants that surround the building do not require irrigation, and a micro-bioretention management facility is designed to treat runoff and remove impurities prior to the water finding its way to the Bay, which is just steps away.

In the parking lot, there is a dual-car charging station and dedicated spots for electric cars and carpoolers, and a bike rack. Fewer spots are meant to encourage walking, carpooling, and all part of an effort to reducing demands on fossil fuels and emitting harmful emissions and increasing use of renewable energy.

“As a research institution committed to understanding and the protecting the environment, we must be a leader in efforts to manage our campuses in ways that reduce energy consumption and increase sustainability,” said Peter Goodwin, president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. “The R.V. Truitt Laboratory at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory is an example of how we make progress in being stewards of the environment while working to understanding it.”

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is a signatory to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (Second Nature) and has launched several programs aimed at reducing our environmental footprint, including setting goals for reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions at each of our laboratories, upgrading aging infrastructure to newer, more energy-efficient alternatives, and building all new campus buildings to at least the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Silver standard or equivalent.

A 10-acre solar field, as well as a four vehicle-charging station under a new solar canopy, will be completed on the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory campus in Cambridge, Maryland, this spring. It is expected to generate approximately 50% of the campus’ annual energy consumption.

 

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