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Getting to Platinum: Higher Education Team Pushes for Sustainability

Getting to Platinum: Higher Education Team Pushes for Sustainability

Insights & Perspectives
Getting to Platinum: Higher Education Team Pushes for Sustainability

Ross & Baruzzini has been committed to energy-conscious and sustainable building design since our inception in 1953. Our most recent achievement is the LEED Platinum certification earned by our Bluford & Brooks Hall project at the University of Missouri - Columbia. This project is our 3rd LEED Platinum-certified project as a firm and the 15th Platinum-certified building in the state of Missouri.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building certification system that provides voluntary guidelines for the development of sustainable buildings of all types, including schools, universities, and healthcare facilities. Certification level is awarded based on points in nine categories – integrative process, location and transportation, materials and resources, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, sustainable sites, regional priority, and innovation – with the Platinum level as the highest achievable certification.

Ross & Baruzzini provided mechanical, plumbing, and fire protection (MPFP) engineering consulting services for the Bluford & Brooks Hall project, which included the demolition of the existing Jones Hall and the construction of two new residence halls and a new dining hall. The housing consists of single and double bedrooms, split across living modules suitable for 15-20 residents, each including one community-style bathroom, dedicated study space, and shared social lounge spaces.

The new dining facility provides seating for over 700 guests and includes a private dining room that seats 75 guests. For two of the Ross & Baruzzini team members, Niki Partney, Senior Mechanical Designer, and Randy Diemer, Senior Mechanical Engineer, the dining facility was their favorite part of the design. ”The kitchen design was interesting. It uses a high-performance, energy-saving kitchen ventilation system,” said Diemer.

Sustainable design features of the project include:

  • Total enthalpy heat recovery for ventilation systems
  • High-efficiency LED lighting
  • Daylighting controls
  • Occupancy setback control of lighting and HVAC systems
  • Demand-controlled ventilation using CO₂ and occupancy sensors
  • High-performance building envelope
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures
  • Solar domestic hot water heating system
  • Variable air volume (VAV) kitchen exhaust and makeup air system
  • Low friction-loss duct design utilizing static regain (fan energy optimization)

The new buildings are powered, cooled, and heated using energy from the campus power plant, chilled water loop, and central steam system. The campus steam system is fed from a combined heating and power central utility plant that utilizes a biomass boiler for steam production.  In addition to producing power through steam turbine generators, steam is also used to produce chilled water through steam turbine chillers. Solar photovoltaic arrays and wind turbines provide power to the University power grid, as well. Accurately incorporating this central plant into the energy model was a critical component to earning all 19 points available under the Optimize Energy Performance Credit (EA Credit 1). Another important factor was the accurate modeling of the true operation of the buildings.

Go to for additional information on MU’s combined cooling, heat, and power process.

“The biggest challenge for me was the energy model. Mizzou challenged me to fine-tune the model to include very realistic building operation schedules, space loads, and equipment efficiencies, which was a level of detail that I had not done before. In the end, it paid off!” Partney stated.

Speaking on the firm’s most recent achievement, Jeff Crawford, Senior Vice President and Director of Higher Education + Research, said “Achieving LEED Platinum certification for the MU Bluford Brooks project is a rewarding accomplishment for all of the stakeholders on this project, as everyone involved worked hard to make this happen. We were fortunate to have a client in the University of Missouri that is leading edge when it comes to sustainability, as well as great design partners in KWK Architects, Lawrence Group, Antella Engineering, David Mason & Associates, and KPFF. Sustainability is a very important part of our culture at Ross & Baruzzini and we take great pride in providing building system solutions for our clients that minimize energy consumption and offer the best life cycle cost. Utilizing detailed energy modeling to test building system options, whether it be HVAC, lighting, building automation control, renewable energy or envelope options, is the foundation upon which we help our clients make informed decisions to optimize their buildings’ performance. We are proud that we were able to contribute to this project’s success.” 

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