Students help design/builder build "green"

December 01, 2000 |

Wisconsin design/build firm Hoffman Corp. enlisted the help of engineering students to design its new 35,000-sq.-ft. headquarters in Appleton.

Company President Paul Hoffman decided that hiring four Milwaukee School of Engineering students for the summer would be a win/win situation for the company-which wanted its new $3 million building to commit to sustainable design-and for the students, who could conduct research, said Hoffman's Thomas Cox, the building designer.

The students researched sustainable- design concepts and summarized their work in a report, including a study of the company's operations with regard to incorporating desired features.

"There's not a consensus of the definition of 'green,'" says student Theresa Schey. "We had to come up with our own and determine to what extent we would incorporate green concepts." The students conducted focus groups for Hoffman's 105 employees, asking everything from, "Why should we build a new building?" to "How can a new building make a positive impact on the lives of employees and clients?"

Daylighting is the most significant sustainable design feature, eliminating the need for more than half of ambient light fixtures normally used in a comparable building, Cox said. This permitted the use of a downsized mechanical system. In the building's first six months of operation, total energy use decreased 46 percent, even though the new office is twice as large as the previous one.

The façade is oriented 15 degrees west of due south to maximize daylight exposure. Three barrel vaults that rise to 18 feet are incorporated into the design.

Occupancy sensors turn lights on and off in designated areas. Interior finishes contain either a minimum of 20 percent post-consumer or 40 percent post-industrial recycled content.

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