The Universities at Shady Grove’s (USG) new, state-of-the-art Biomedical Sciences and Engineering (BSE) education facility has been certified LEED-NC Platinum, the highest rating for sustainability by the U.S. Green Building Council and a distinction that is especially difficult to achieve for laboratory buildings.

Early in the design process for the $175 million, 228,000-square-foot BSE project, design team members from the architectural firms, Lake Flato and Cooper Carry – along with the construction management team from Gilbane, Inc. and the University of Maryland Capital Projects and USG Facilities teams – analyzed how sustainability could have a major positive impact on the shape of the building, landscape and site features.

The project team established over-arching goals intended to build on USG’s strong commitment to sustainability, on a campus-wide basis. The previous building that was built at USG, the Clifford and Camille Kendall Academic Center, opened in 2006 and was certified LEED Gold.

Key sustainability features of the BSE include:

  • Materials and resources – The BSE focuses on minimizing the embodied energy and other impacts of building materials. Interior finishes are inspired by biophilic design, using natural colors, textures and shapes. More than 68 percent of the construction waste was recycled, 20 percent of the construction materials were sourced locally, and 32 percent was from recycled content.
  • Indoor environmental quality – The BSE is designed to increase ventilation, minimize pollutant entry, and bring daylight into the building. Eight-seven percent of the occupied spaces in the building have exterior views. A living green wall improves the indoor air quality. Other features include high-efficiency air filters, individually controlled systems, natural ventilation, walk-off entry mats, and no use of products with high volatile organic compounds.
  • Sustainable sites – The design of the BSE ensures a strong connection to the local site ecology, by minimizing impacts on the adjacent wetland and local watershed. An elevated boardwalk through the wetlands/100- year floodplain immerses pedestrians into the natural environment of the campus setting. Open space makes up 43 percent of the total site area and native planting is emphasized on the property. The building was built on an existing parking lot, to conserve green space and has 14 microbioswales to naturally absorb and filter surface water runoff before entering the Piney Branch watershed.
  • Water efficiency – The BSE is expected to use 79 percent less water than baseline predictions, as low-flow fixtures were installed to conserve water. Roof rainwater is harvested , foundation drainage and under-slab dewatering is captured, and HVAC equipment condensation is recovered and piped to two underground cisterns with a capacity of 30,000 gallons. This non-potable water is processed and used to flush toilets, and for irrigation of the landscaping, reducing overall potable water use in the building.
  • Energy and atmosphere – The BSE is designed to use 36 percent less energy than a typical lab building. Real-time performance data is shared with building users via a digital green screen located in the building’s lobby. Energy conservation measures include two-pipe active chilled beams, lab air handling unit energy recovery, high-efficiency chillers, condensing hot water boilers, LED lighting, and on-site solar panels. Also, occupancy sensors, passive solar shading, the commissioning of building systems, and ongoing measurement and verification of building performance.

“In addition to providing an exceptionally rich, multidisciplinary environment for teaching and learning in science and technology fields, our new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering building was designed and is operated to reflect USG’s commitment to environmental stewardship,” said Dr. Stewart Edelstein, Executive Director of USG and Associate Vice Chancellor of the University System of Maryland. “The BSE’s certification as LEED Platinum is recognition and a validation of our commitment to sustainability and a well-deserved tribute to the work of an extraordinary project planning and construction team."

For more information about the Biomedical Sciences and Engineering building at USG, visit

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