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Challenges In Applying Sustainability Principles to the design of the Engineering School located in San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Bautista, Ariel
Russell, JEffrey
MS, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Mar 15, 2011
The Engineering School of Island University in San Juan, Puerto Rico has decided to complete a new classroom and lab facility on their campus in the year 2015. The facility will provide a home for innovative courses which emphasize a team approach to engineering design. The new facility will have 3 stories with a total of 10,000 square feet each. This research aims to address the challenges in implementing a sustainable design for the Engineering School of Island University new building, by following the principles of green engineering and achieving a minimum of a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification. For years, the AEC (Architect, Engineers and Contractors) industry has focused on key concerns in the creation of buildings. The first, of most importance to architects, is the design of the building. Particularly, whether the building is enjoyable to view and occupy. In addition, the structural engineers are concerned with safety and strength of the structural system to withstand all gravity and lateral loads. On the other hand, the primary focus of contractors is the actual construction of the building, i.e. how will the building be built and how much will the building cost. These are also the primary concerns of a client when the idea of constructing a building is addressed, so it is no surprise that architects, engineers and contractors focus their efforts to this end. Although they are significant, these are not the only concerns that should be addressed when planning the first stages of a construction process. Sustainable building design is another growing concern for building owners, due to its economic, environmental and social impact. The first building with a sustainable design in Puerto Rico was the Escuela Ecol�gica de Culebra (School of Ecology at Culebra), built in 2006. This school generates 100% of its hot water needs with the use of a solar system. It also generates between 25% and 30% of its energy use now. Since 2006 Puerto Rico is looking for more efficient ways to implement green engineering and at the moment the U.S Green Building Council, Caribbean Chapter is providing the help and motivation to the AEC industry to achieve this. With this in mind, this research focuses in evaluating the different factors that affect sustainability and the approach that the AEC industry is currently taking to make the right decisions during design and construction. This is important because the overall understanding of these factors will benefit the client and the users of the building over its life cycle in contrast to just considering the design-construction cost.
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