Work is now underway on Millersville University’s (MU) first net zero energy building, the Lombardo Welcome Center. The building is named for Samuel N. Lombardo and his wife, Dena. The couple gave Millersville University a $1.2-million gift to help build the welcome center.
While there is only minor work being done currently, project manager, Steve Strock says things will start happening quickly this spring.
The building will serve as the welcome center for the University which hosts thousands of prospective students and visitors each year. Construction on the project is expected to be completed late this year.
A net zero building is a facility that makes as much (or more) energy than it uses each year. The Lombardo Welcome Center will have solar panels on the roof and mounted next to the building to generate energy. Even though they make energy, net zero buildings are still connected to the electricity grid. The building will use the grid energy at night, when the solar panels aren’t producing energy. In the winter, the building will often use more energy to keep the building warmer than the solar panels can generate. Geothermal wells also provide a very efficient heating and cooling solution for the facility. The building will use energy from the grid at times, but the annual energy generated will offset grid usage.
The total cost of the project is expected to be a little over $7.5 million dollars. The new building will be approximately 14,627 sq. ft. Some of the unique features of the building include:
- Approximately 560 solar panels used to generate electricity
- Special glass on the south side of the building that also generates electricity
- Heating and cooling from 20 geothermal wells drilled 400 feet deep
- Radiant floor heating in the lobby will help improve comfort and save energy
- Energy saving LED light fixtures throughout the building
- “Smart” controls for lighting and mechanics that can turn off lights or let the temperature drift in unoccupied offices
- Low flow water fixtures that help minimize the amount of hot water needed
- Energy metering throughout the building allows everyone to see how much energy is used on things like lighting, heating, cooling, and plug-in equipment
- Information on how much energy is used and how much energy is made will be available on monitors in the lobby so everyone can see how the building is performing
An engineering team with experience in net zero building design was hired to guide the project on the net zero energy side of design. Guidance included careful design of the building envelope, mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Systems were carefully selected for this project but are not anticipated to require more maintenance than systems on other campus buildings.
For more information on this project and other sustainability efforts at MU, visit http://www.millersville.edu/sustainability/.