The Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation received LEED Gold certification for the new research tower this week.
The tower, which was completed in 2011, added 186,000 square feet of laboratory space to OMRF’s campus.
“This is the cherry on top for us,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “We put tremendous work into planning and constructing the tower. While LEED Gold certification is nice, the real prize for us is the ability to work in such a beautiful, functional building.”
LEED—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council and measures how well a building is designed and constructed for optimum human and environmental health. Points are awarded for energy efficiency, water savings and use of “green” construction materials.
OMRF’s new tower was built from the ground up with environmental sustainability in mind, Prescott said. A state-of-the-art HVAC system uses chilled beam technology to reduce the energy needed for heating and cooling. The position of the footprint and the specially glazed windows draw natural light deep into the building’s core while shielding the scientists working inside from glare. When it does get dark, motion-activated lights are used to cut down on energy use.
The building also sports a rain garden to catch storm water discharge. The plants are native to Oklahoma and require no other watering that what the rain provides.
But the crown jewel of the environmental features literally sits on the head of the building. A wind farm containing 18 vertical turbines collects the abundant Oklahoma wind and converts it to electrical power for the building.
“Research facilities use a lot of power, and this one’s no different,” Prescott said. “But we’ve cut back where we could and added the turbines to capture as much free energy as we can. Every little bit helps.”
It’s no accident that the tower ended up with so many energy-saving features, said OMRF Executive Vice President Chip Morgan.
“Nobody lucks into being environmentally conscientious,” he said. “Working with the architects at Perkins+Will and the construction team at FlintCo, we planned and created a building that is beautiful, friendly to the environment and, most importantly, a top-notch center for medical research.”