George Mason University’s (GMU) new Potomac Science Center houses the school’s Potomac Environmental Research & Education Center in a waterfront building comprised of wet labs for teaching and research; lecture rooms; offices for faculty, graduate students, and other researchers; a spatial analysis laboratory; and a library/resource center. GHT employed Revit® MEP building information modeling (BIM) software to provide full documentation for the project.
GMU has made a strong commitment to sustainable design for the Potomac Science Center. As of November 2013, it was one of only 122 projects in the world registered to pursue LEED certification as part of a beta test of LEED v4, the newest version of the LEED green building program.
In order to maximize the building’s operating efficiency and comfort, the design features a 100% outdoor air (OA) mechanical system. It utilizes an evaporatively cooled variable air volume (VAV) rooftop unit (RTU) for OA in conjunction with an air cooled chiller that feeds the building’s chilled water cooling loop.
The facility is being configured into two separate zones for heating and cooling to respond to specific space needs. Office and classroom zones receive air from Dedicated Outdoor Air System (DOAS) VAV boxes with hot water reheat, while laboratory and support spaces are served by 100% OA shutoff VAV boxes. Lab spaces will also feature exhaust systems equipped with constant speed fans, which can be adjusted based on input from connected occupancy sensors. All public, non-lab plumbing has been designed with low flow fixtures that will achieve a 50% reduction in potable water use compared to EPA minimum standards.