The Utah Science Technology and Research building—USTAR—is an interdisciplinary scientific hub, generating collaboration between research and industry. Located on the Innovation Campus of Utah State University in Logan, the new 110,000-sq-ft, LEED-Gold laboratory is a model of sustainable design.

Photo courtesy of Gramoll Construction
The new 110,000-sq-ft, LEED-Gold USTAR laboratory is a model of sustainable design and construction.

Designed by ajc architects, Salt Lake City, and built by Gramoll Construction, North Salt Lake, the $55-million, three-story building with mechanical penthouse is a steel-frame, cross-brace structure with 7.5-in.-thick, cast-in-place concrete floors that help ensure vibration control, a critical component of high-tech laboratory research.

A high-performance building envelope, with carefully placed layers for thermal, water, air and vapor control, contributes to the building's efficiency. Other sustainable features include individually controlled environments, daylighting, water-efficient landscaping and site design, and ecologically responsible construction materials and methods.

The USTAR building's peak demand is mitigated mainly by use of a mechanical system that utilizes indirect evaporative cooling and heat recovery.

“It's a challenge for most research facilities to achieve LEED-Gold certification,” says Jill A. Jones, principal architect, ajc architects. “While the USTAR building doesn't employ alternative-energy sources or onsite renewable energy, the design achieves almost 48% energy savings over the baseline, which is fairly significant for a high-tech lab building that requires 100% outside air.”

Cost Control

To control project costs, the floor-to-floor building height was kept at a minimum. This created a real challenge to locate all of the complex mechanical and electrical systems in the available ceiling space, says Jim Gramoll, president, Gramoll Construction.

“Through the use of building information modeling we were able to efficiently organize the systems in the ceiling space and, as a result, no work had to be relocated after it had been installed,” says Gramoll. This saved the project significant time and cost, helping it to be completed ahead of schedule and within budget.

The facility is one of the most complex—and most successful—projects Utah State University has ever built. And that has everything to do with the quality of the construction, says Joseph Beck, USU Facilities Design and Construction.

Research at USTAR focuses on bioengineering, microbiology, anti-viral, biochemistry and integrated biosystems. USTAR seeks to generate more technology-based start-up firms, higher-paying jobs and additional business activity, leading to a statewide expansion of Utah's tax base.

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