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Thursday, 21 May 2009

Design Professionals Follow the Physician's Precept 2

At the same time that plans for Dell were being developed, the local utility, Austin Energy—noted for being among the greenest public utilities in the country—was looking for projects in which to locate cogeneration plants. With a $1 million grant from the Department of Energy, Dell and Austin Energy established an on-site combined cooling heating power (CCHP) plant that utilizes state-of-the-art natural-gas-fired turbines. The CCHP is 75 percent more efficient and releases fewer carbon dioxide emissions than burning coal at a distant power plant.
Part of a New Urbanist development, Dell sits on a 32-acre parcel on the brownfield site of a former municipal airport.
Other low-polluting elements were used in the hospital’s interiors. These include low-VOC paints and adhesives and linoleum flooring, which requires only soap and water cleanup rather than the continuous waxing and stripping that is often done to sheet vinyl and vinyl composition tile, the most common hospital floor finishes. Even the pest control is chemical free. “I’ve never walked into a new building before that didn’t have that new-building smell,” says Kuspan. “There’s no odor whatsoever because of the materials we used.”
Instead of a single unit, air-handling units at Dell are distributed on each floor (above). Local materials appear throughout the building. A wall of red sandstone, adjacent to a bridge of indigenous mesquite wood, is used for way-finding purposes (below).
Photo © John Durant Photography; drawing: Karlsberger
Originally published in the August 2008 issue of Architectural Record

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