UW’s new mass timber hall will store carbon through building’s lifetime

A photo of the façade of the Founders Hall at the Foster School of Business at Washington University (UW), which incorporates high performance glazing exposing the timber inside the building while providing views of the historical Douglas firs. Photo courtesy Tim Griffith

The newly built Founders Hall in the Foster School of Business at Washington University (UW), Seattle, is a six-story mass timber building that will store more than 1000 tons (2000 lbs) of CO2 for decades, keeping carbon out of the atmosphere for the lifetime of the building.

Aureus Earth, the world’s leading provider of carbon offsetting incentive programs for the construction industry, announced a couple of months back its first transaction valuing the long-term biogenic carbon storage in a mass timber building. The transaction was accomplished in partnership with the Foster School of Business, using the newly completed Founders Hall mass timber building as a proof of concept.

Designed by LMN Architects, the building is spread over 7878-m2 (84,800 sf), and it incorporates a mass timber structure—cross-laminated timber floors with glulam post and beam—reducing the carbon emissions by over 90 percent, and embodied carbon by almost 60 percent (in the structure, envelope, and interiors).

The interior of the building showing the mass timber structure—cross-laminated timber floors with glulam post and beam—and the stainless steel and wood staircase. Photo courtesy Tim Griffith

The building’s design takes advantage of Seattle’s weather by integrating natural and mechanical ventilation, with night flush in office spaces, to provide a comfortable environment for the building’s users with minimal reliance on air conditioning. The peeled-away brick façade paired with carefully placed high performance glazing (with low air infiltration, 0.06 cfm/sf) exposes the timber inside the building while providing views of the historical Douglas firs, giving the higher floors of the building an immersive experience with the northwest forest character of the site.

Other materials used in the building are the concrete shear cores, and steel long-span beams in classrooms. Further sustainability features are reliance on fossil-fuel-free operations, by not using the campus steam system, 79 percent projected energy use reduction, 53 percent water use reduction, native and drought-resistance plantings, bike commuting facilities, and a solar-ready roof.
“Founders Hall … adds a significant focus on operational and environmental performance with a 92 percent reduction in operational carbon. This achievement is a testament to the strong shared vision that we developed with the University of Washington, Foster School of Business leadership, our design-build team led by Hoffman Construction, and the amazing collaboration with users, university staff, designers, and trade partners,” comments Robert Smith, principal, LMN Architects.

Some of the other firms involved in the project were Magnusson Klemencic Associates with Katerra, Carla Keel, and Autoscan for structural engineering services; the civil engineer, Mayfly Engineering & Design, PLLC; lighting designer, HLB Lighting Design; mechanical and electrical engineer, PAE Consulting Engineers, Inc.; plumbing engineer, Burman Design; accessibility designer, Studio Pacifica; and envelope consultants Morrison Hershfield with McClintock Façade Consulting.

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