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MSU’s Jabs Hall Earns USGBC’s LEED Gold Certification

Montana State University’s Jabs Hall, home of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, has earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for energy-efficient and sustainable design and construction. The building’s design means it costs significantly less per square foot to heat, cool and light than any other major building on campus, according to administrators with MSU’s Facilities Services.

Jabs Hall. MSU (Credit: Kelly Gorham)

“Earning LEED Gold demonstrates that MSU is committed to using resources wisely,” said Dan Stevenson, assistant director of Facilities Services. “Constructing Jabs Hall in an environmentally sound way was not only the right thing to do, but it will also save this university valuable resources.”

A celebration of the sustainable features of Jabs Hall will be held from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, in Jabs Hall. The event is free, and members of the public are invited to attend. The celebration will include a wealth of information about the building’s design and features, as well as an unveiling of its LEED Gold plaque.

“We’re thrilled to be able to share the success of Jabs Hall with the community,” said Kregg Aytes, dean of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship. “Not only does Jabs Hall perform great from an energy-usage perspective, but it is also a fantastic learning and collaboration space. It is both an innovative building and a building that fosters innovation in its occupants.”

Among other design features, Jabs Hall features an active solar wall and geothermal wells. It received points on the LEED rating system for innovative design, light pollution reduction, energy performance optimization, an exemplary stormwater management system, construction waste management performance and other features.

The solar wall that sits atop Jabs Hall helps reduce both the amount of energy used to heat the building as well as the building’s carbon footprint. It could pay for itself in less than 10 years and is also providing valuable data to research engineers.

The solar wall, located on the south-facing side of the building’s mechanical room, preheats fresh air coming into the building, thereby reducing the amount of energy needed to heat the building.

“It’s simple, cost-effective and brings down the overall energy costs for Jabs Hall,” Stevenson said. “And that is why it is a technology that is likely to be incorporated into almost every new building we see on campus. We replace the building’s skin with something that has energy performance built into it.”

The solar wall also includes sensors that a research team from MSU’s College of Engineering are using to study how well the technology performs. In fact, last spring, a master’s degree candidate in mechanical engineering earned an advanced degree with a thesis focused on evaluating the technology’s effectiveness.

“This is one example of how MSU’s students are brought into our building design and operation processes, using campus as a living laboratory,” Stevenson said. “These students are leveraging this experience to compete for some of the best jobs a young engineer could hope for straight out of school.”

Fifty-two geothermal wells drilled 500 feet into the ground around Jabs Hall also help support MSU’s energy reduction reduction goals, Stevenson said. Each well is connected to about 1,000 feet of tubing. Rather than extracting water from the ground, the tubing acts as a heat exchanger to either move heat to or from the earth. This makes the earth the primary source of heat energy for the building.

“On many days, the geothermal field is used to heat university buildings in that part of campus in the morning and cool them in the afternoon,” Stevenson said.

“The geothermal wells are allowing us to achieve an energy level at Jabs that’s about half that of our other academic buildings on campus. By running the heat pump and its associated equipment, heat is moved from places where it isn’t needed to places where it is. This is different than the conventional approach where we typically throw heat away in the cooling process while making new heat in the heating process at the same time,” Stevenson said.

The Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship is proud to have Jabs Hall recognized as a LEED Gold building, Aytes said. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification program recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices, and it is widely recognized as the foremost program for the design, construction and operation of “green” buildings. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification, from basic certification to platinum.

MSU earned LEED points for Jabs Hall for numerous performance factors and design features, including the following:

  • Diversion of 95 percent of construction waste from the landfill.
  • Innovative design of a main staircase in the building. The staircase’s location near the main entrance -- and far away from the elevator – encourages people to use the stairs.
  • A stormwater management system that not only captures water from the roof of Jabs Hall, but also from the roof of nearby Wilson Hall. The water is also diverted from the city’s stormwater system, which will reduce the amount of infrastructure the city needs.
  • Open space maximization.
  • Water use reduction in the building of 31 percent.
  • Selection of materials that have been manufactured using recycled materials.
  • Energy performance optimization.

Members of the team that worked on Jabs Hall included Comma-Q Architecture and Hennebery Eddy Architects, project architects; Dick Anderson Construction, general contractor/contract manager; Morrison-Maierle and Arup, engineering consultants; and Kath Williams + Associates, LEED consultant.

While alumni affiliation was not a consideration in the choice of firms, five of the firms have a number of MSU alumni either as principals or employees: Tim Eddy of Hennebery Eddy is an MSU alumnus, as is Ben Lloyd, founder and owner of Comma-Q, Erik Renna, mechanical engineer with Morrison-Maierle, and Kath Williams of Kath Williams + Associates. Dick Anderson Construction has approximately a dozen MSU alumni with degrees in civil engineering technology and civil engineering who were involved in Jabs Hall, including Marty Schuma, president; Derek Didrikson, vice president in the Bozeman office and project manager for the Jabs Hall project; and Allan Frankl, vice president in the Great Falls office.

Construction of Jabs Hall was funded by a $25 million private gift from Jake Jabs, a Montana native and Montana State College alumnus, who announced the gift in 2011. The gift is also being used for new scholarships and new academic programs in entrepreneurship, professional skills development, and fostering cooperative work between business students and students in other disciplines.

Jabs Hall is the third LEED-certified building on the MSU campus. MSU’s Cooley Laboratory, which opened in October 2012 after a renovation, also earned LEED Gold certification. A renovated Gaines Hall received LEED Silver in 2011.


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