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Seminar II at Evergreen State College

Credits: ©2011 Evergreen State College

Evergreen State College is situated in a secluded, forested setting near Olympia, Washington, the state capital. Environmental advocacy and social responsibility are important to its core curriculum of multidisciplinary courses where students study in “concentrations” rather than academic majors, and receive personalized evaluations instead of letter grades. Built in 2004, the Seminar II Building was the first major new structure on campus since the school was founded 33 years earlier in 1971. The building is comprised of five separate but connected learning clusters, totaling 168,000 square feet. Each cluster is organized vertically to house faculty offices, individual student homerooms, seminar rooms, a workshop, a lecture hall and a studio. The siting strategy connects to the forest while maximizing access to daylight, fresh air and views, while the connector spaces link the structures to each other. Eighty percent of the building is naturally ventilated, and a daylight factor of two percent is available in 86 percent of all teaching spaces. Students at this progressive school get their own plot of land to farm while studying there. The large Evergreen Organic Farm annual crop production area comprises 38,000 square feet (3,500 m2), and sells produce during the growing season, or donates it to a local food bank, or it is composted. (Scroll to bottom for additional resources)


Seminar II Evening

For the Seminar II Building at Evergreen State College, Sparling provided electrical, technology and lighting design for this 160,000 sq. ft., five-cluster building that focuses on sustainability, life-cycle costs and energy conservation. ©2011 Sparling

This 159,862 square foot building first began to take shape in 2002. The process of designing and building the facility took more than two years and 44.1 million dollars to complete. There were five main areas of focus when Seminar II began design: building ecology, energy efficiency, building format, the materials being used and overall good design. More than ten percent of the building is made of recyclable materials, including fly ash in the concrete walls and structural members, and re-used gymnasium flooring in some of the seminar rooms. Vegetated areas cover almost 40 percent of the rooftops, which create less impervious surfaces and allow rainwater to filter to nearby rivers and streams more naturally. Other features include hydronic heat, automatic shading, low-E glass, and digital controls that contribute to the building being almost 62 percent more energy efficient than other conventional buildings at the time it was built.

Vegetated Roofs on Seminar II
The Evergreen State College Seminar II Building in Olympia, WA was completed in the winter 2004, and it has extensive vegetated roofs on 13 separate roof areas – or 40 percent of the roof surface for a total of 24,000 sq. ft. The green roofs and waterproofing system passed 100 percent of all flood tests and infrared analysis for roof areas that total almost 50,000 sq. ft., including many roof areas that receive heavy foot traffic and were used as work surfaces during construction. Slopes were built at 1.25 percent and most are accessible and open to the public.

• Eighty percent of the building is naturally ventilated.

• A daylight factor of 2percent is available in 86percent of all teaching spaces (only 5 lecture halls do not meet this criterion).

• The average lighting-power density for the building is 0.90 W/ft2. Energy usage is 38.5 kBtu/sf (a 68 percent reduction from 2003 CBECS EUI site energy of 120 kBtu/sf for college level buildings).

• Forty percent of the roof area is vegetated, and a surface stormwater conveyance and detention feature is designed to celebrate rain.

• Every product, including furnishings, was scrutinized for harmful off-gassing.

• Ventilation rates were increased to 30 CFM/person in all mechanically ventilated spaces utilizing an under floor distribution system.

• Naturally ventilated spaces have individual controls utilizing both trickle vents and operable windows.

• Significant effort was made to specify materials and systems both from the region and with recycled content. Thirty-seven percent of all the materials used in the building were manufactured locally (within 500 miles), with 38 percent of those materials being harvested from the region.

• Cork, 100 percent recycled carpet, reclaimed wood and 100 percent recycled rubber were used as flooring finishes in addition to retro-plated concrete.

• Maple flooring was reclaimed from a Recently-demolished local gymnasium, and all wood veneers are from the fast growing NW native alder tree.

• Walls finishes are predominately structural concrete, wood paneling and acoustic panels made from recycled fabric. Gypsum wallboard, paint and color have been kept to a minimum.

• Furniture is constructed of sustainably harvested alder, and upholstery utilizes wool, recycled seat belt strapping and recycled polyester.

• In an online survey conducted by The Center for the Built Environment, Seminar II scored higher in user satisfaction than the average LEED building and far higher than a conventional building.

• The project received Gold LEED certification in 2006.

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  Seminar II Sustainable Lighting (78 kb)

  Seminar II Project Description (684 kb)

  Seminar II Building Sustainability Slides (4,104 kb)

  Evergreen State College Campus Map (1,017 kb)

  Seminar II Building Concrete Makes the Grade 2005 (162 kb)

  Seminar II Building Translucent Panels (219 kb)


Evergreen State College Master Plan Sustainable Site Case Study (Washington, USA)

Seminar II Building Online Case Study

Seminar Two at Evergreen State College Case Study (Washington, USA)