The Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building on the University of Colorado Boulder’s East Campus has earned LEED-Platinum designation for new construction from the U.S. Green Building Council. The 336,800-sq-ft facility houses more than 60 faculty and 500 researchers, staff and students from various science, humanities and engineering disciplines.

Photo courtesy of JE Dunn Construction
The Jennie Smoly Caruthers Building at CU Boulder supports life-changing research for a variety of health issues.

The Jennie Smoly Caruthers building is 30% more energy efficient and 40% more water efficient than similar, code-compliant research buildings that have been recently built. Designers maximized energy efficiency in many ways, including grouping labs with similar functions near each other to centralize the use of common lab equipment.

“Earning a LEED-Platinum rating for such a large research building highlights the engineering challenges of providing safe and practical research space while ensuring the highest level of sustainability,” said Moe Tabrizi, CU’s director of campus sustainability.

Sustainable features of the building include water-efficient fixtures to reduce building water usage by more than 30%; high-efficiency mechanical and electrical systems and energy-recovery practices to increase energy performance by 40%; lighting controls for 90% of the building’s occupants; efficient sizing of lab equipment to meet expected usage demands; and 20 designated bike parking spaces on the facility.  Of the 1,881 tons of waste generated by the project, 1,620 tons were diverted from landfills, a diversion rate of 86%.

Another factor contributing to the building’s overall efficiency was the wood paneling installed throughout. One of the most sustainable items in the building, the paneling was made from white oak—certified by the Forest Stewardship’s Council as being responsibly harvested—overlaid on an MDF core made from 100% recycled materials.

The high-tech laboratory and classroom building was born out of the University of Colorado’s vision to provide cross-disciplinary education. It will ensure that CU graduates can compete in the current business climate by bridging the gap between different academic arenas.

In addition to revolutionizing the current learning environment, the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Building supports life-changing research for a variety of health issues ranging from cancer and aging to cardiovascular and inherited diseases, as well as vaccine development and tissue engineering.

The Denver office of JE Dunn Construction served as the general contractor on the project. Robert A.M. Stern, in association with HDR Architecture, Denver, designed the building, which opened in April.

“The project achieving LEED Platinum is a crowning achievement for the entire project team,” said Matt Meyer, senior project manager for JE Dunn.