bridges vol. 11, September 2006 / Green Buildings Focus
by Phil Wirdzek
Over the past 15 years, the green building movement has gained tremendous momentum in the United States. A wide variety of institutions - private, public, and federal - have become eager to reduce the environmental impact of new and existing facilities. As the movement progresses, it is becoming more evident that sustainable design benefits more than the environment. In fact, sustainable facilities reap numerous additional benefits, many of which are just beginning to be recognized as a by-product of green design.
In the US, green building design began to influence laboratory design in 1999, with the official launching of the Laboratories for the 21st Century (Labs21) program by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in cooperation with the US Department of Energy (DOE). Now with the co-sponsorship of the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL), Labs21 is gaining more recognition internationally and has broadened its mission to address other high performance facilities. Through partnerships within this industry, the EPA, DOE, and I2SL are promoting a new era in laboratory design across the United States. One product of this movement is the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. At the Institute, the term "sustainability" embodies a broad range of benefits associated with the green elements of its design.
Getting to green
Located in Arizona's Sonoran Desert, the Biodesign Institute occupies a 13-acre site that serves as a gateway onto Arizona State University's Tempe campus. The Institute currently consists of two state-of-the-art scientific research buildings that house 14 centers focused on discoveries in areas ranging from applied nanobioscience and environmental biotechnology to infectious diseases and vaccinology.
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