The Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE) is located adjacent to Dry Run Creek and UNI's on-campus prairie on the south side of the campus. The design places the building along an east-west axis which established a long southern exposure. Glazing on the south provides for direct gain and appropriately size overhangs shade the glass during the hottest part of the summer. Inside the building a long lime stonewall is both an attractive design element and a thermal mass. Windows are low-e, argon filled, with vinyl clad wood casings. A very important part of the solar design is daylighting in almost all interior spaces. A significant amount of the total energy savings come from this feature.

In addition to the passive solar aspect, several other energy efficiency features are built into the facility. The ceiling insulationes R-30 to R-40, while the walls are R-20. Where fiberglass batts are used in metal framing, additional rigid insulation is applied on the exterior. All lighting fixtures are high-efficiency and are equipped with room occupancy sensors. Efficient, right-sized fans and pumps contribute to energy savings as well.

The Weidt Group used computer modeling against an efficient similarly sized building to determine the CEEE advantage. Overall, they project a 37% decrease in energy used. Perhaps just as important is the fact that primarily due to the daylighting, the peak kilowatt load is reduced by 64% from the reference. Because much of the increase in efficiency comes from a reduction in higher priced electricity that is needed, the cost savings for the CEEE are even higher than the 37% in total energy saved. Further limiting the overall energy impact of the facility is the fact the UNI co-generates much of its own electricity with a highly efficient and low emissions fluidized bed boiler.

CEEE upgraded its PV system in 2014 to provide more power – an increase from 900 to 1,500 Watts – and allow the CEEE to monitor energy production live online. Reports show past production, calculate carbon offset, produce graphs, and display photographs. Each PV panel is monitored separately, allowing the CEEE to perform experiments comparing various panel orientations and measuring the effects of snow or dust. The CEEE thanks Alex Darragh, Wulfekuhle Electric, Nyle McMartin, Sierra Club, Pat Higby, and Bill Stigliani who contributed to these upgrades. Special thanks to Alex Darragh who led the initiative to get the system back on line.
Energy was not the only concern in the design of the CEEE. Building and finish materials were selected that need little or no care, both on the interior and exterior. Indoor air quality and off-gassing of materials were important considerations. Where possible, renewable materials such as wood were employed, and local sources of materials were sought to minimize transportation impacts. Use of natural and other low embodied energy materials was maximized within reasonable financial considerations. Construction cost of $104 per square foot is quite reasonable for academic buildings, especially those with the range of internal spaces (such as laboratories and an auditorium) present in the CEEE.

Daylighting and a nice sense of openness make the CEEE a most enjoyable building in which to work. It is also a great place to visit. Stop by anytime during normal university working hours or make it a point to attend one of the many events and functions that are held here each year.

For more information visit The Weidt Group.