SAU Science Center wins state and regional technology awards

The state-of-the-art Science Center at Southern Arkansas University recently received state and regional awards for its use of technology.

The 61,000 square-foot Science Center earned first place out of seven entries in the New Educational Facilities category at the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Arkansas Chapter competition. The award was issued on April 3, 2013, by Mark Mizell, chairman of the Chapter Technology Transfer Committee.

The Science Center went on to receive a regional ASHRAE technology award for Outstanding Application of Technology. The region comprises 15 chapters in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and Mexico.

“The Science Center is going on to compete at the ‘Society Level,’ where it will square off against projects from all around the globe,” said Mizell. “The Society Level award will be issued during a ceremony as a part of the ASHRAE Winter Meeting in New York City next January.”

Mizell explained that buildings with laboratory elements tend to use a lot of energy, since they typically require more air to be exhausted than the average classroom building. The SAU Science Center uses an energy recovery air-handling unit to exchange heat and moisture between the exhaust air leaving the building and the raw outside air entering the building. The Center also uses hydronic systems and an energy-saving direct-digital control system incorporated into the HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) design. With this technology, the building is capable of automatically turning off or throttling back the lighting, air-conditioning, and laboratory hoods when they are not needed.

“None of these technologies are new to the industry,” said Mizell. “Their effective use in an economical fashion is where the SAU Science Center excels.”

The SAU Science Center was submitted to the ASHRAE awards competition by Michael Fullerton, professional engineer and project manager for TME, Inc. in Little Rock.

Construction on Science Center began in October 2008 at a cost of more than $17.2 million. The general contractor for the project was CDI Contractors of Little Rock, and the architects were WER Architects/Planners of Little Rock.

The Science Center opened in May 2010. The facility houses the departments of biology and biochemistry, chemistry and physics (engineering) in the College of Science and Technology.

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