Loyola Science Center: A Sustainable Design

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The University of Scranton constructed its new Loyola Science Center (background) to reflect its deep commitment to sustainable design, which included water efficient landscaping.

The construction of The University of Scranton’s new Loyola Science Center, one of the most innovative science facilities in the country, is an unmistakable example of the University’s commitment to continuing its tradition of excellence in science education.

Outfitted with 22 class and seminar rooms, 34 laboratories and a multistory atrium, the $85 million, 200,000-square-foot, energy-efficient facility is the largest capital project in the University’s history. Its planning and construction was a 15-year process, guided by the vision that the science facility should be a valuable resource to the entire campus community and the entire Scranton area.

“It will be the academic heart of campus,” University President Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., explained. “It will be a place of research, scholarship, teaching and discovery, a place to find God in all things.”

As part of Scranton’s mission as a Jesuit institution in the Catholic tradition, and its commitment to social justice, the University constructed the Loyola Science Center to reflect its deep commitment to sustainable design, as well as promoting a sustainable lifestyle. 

This is evident in the University’s decision to construct the center to meet the guidelines for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification, a rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. The council outlines a framework for designing, constructing and using buildings in an environmentally responsible manner. This certification confirms the Loyola Science Center’s design ensures the health of both the environment and the people who occupy the building.

To make certain the project met its sustainably objectives, a LEED-certified construction manager was employed during the planning and building process. The University also formed a “Green Team,” consisting of environmentally conscious University faculty and staff, who worked with architects to promote and highlight a sustainable design and lifestyle for users of the building. The team ensured that the center’s design would be in line with the University's culture, tradition and mission.

In addition, building materials were supplied from a 500-mile radius, including locally quarried stone for the exterior design that blends the region’s distinctive west mountain stone – seen in many downtown Scranton historic buildings, such as the Lackawanna County Courthouse and City Hall – with granite quarried from the same site as the stone used in 1867 to construct the Scranton Estate on campus.

The center’s construction included the use of wood certified by the Forest Steward Council, harvested from sustainable sources, and processed in environmentally friendly ways. 

The Loyola Science Center also optimizes the use of natural light. “You will be able to see a window from any point in the hallway,” explained George Gomez, Ph.D., associate professor of biology and project shepherd. In addition, Dr. Gomez pointed out that laboratories have been designed to maximize airflow efficiency and the building’s massive HVAC system re-circulates already heated or cooled air to save energy. 

Furthermore, the center incorporates water use reduction features, such as efficient water fixtures, occupancy sensors in its lighting and ventilation systems, and the use of “low emitting materials” in carpets, adhesives and sealants. Additionally, there are designated storage and collection areas for recyclable materials. 

By using less energy and water, LEED-certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

The Loyola Science Center is a fitting home to the University’s rich legacy of science education and, through sustainability initiatives, equipped to serve the needs of future generations of campus and Scranton communities. 

This article is also available on the University’s Campus Viewpoints microsite on The Chronicle of Higher Education website.

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