The following is from the Dec. 19, 2005, edition of Texas Contractor.

SMU Embrey Engineering Building

By Liz Moucka, Editor
Texas Contractor

It is very appropriate, but not accidental, that Southern Methodist University's schools of Mechanical Engineering and Environmental and Civil Engineering will be housed in the university's first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified structure.

The new Embrey Engineering Building was funded primarily by Mr. and Mrs. J. Lindsay Embrey Jr. Mr. Embrey, who died this past November, was a civil engineering major from SMU's class of 1945. He was the chairman of First Continental Enterprises Inc., a construction and development company engaged in commercial and industrial building operation, apartment building operation, and subdividing and development. In the mid-1950s, Embrey and George Underwood Jr. began developing the Richardson Heights area and later developed a major portion of the city of Richardson.

The three-story Embrey Engineering Building is located at the corner of Airline Road and Dyer Street in Dallas. Forming SMU's new East Quadrangle, the area will serve as the new east entryway to the campus. Other facilities in the new quad will include the Junkins Engineering Building, completed about a year ago by Mahattan Construction; the Laura Lee Blanton Student Services Building, and the recently completed Collins Executive Education Building, both built by Centex.

SMU uses Collegiate Georgian architecture exclusively in their buildings, and the Embrey Engineering Building will be no exception. Collegiate Georgian architecture is characterized by small narrow windows, cast stone and masonry exteriors, and a slate roof. Retaining these aesthetic features while incorporating sustainable fixtures and practices created particular challenges for the design team from Hahnfeld, Hoffer, & Stanford.

"The small windows do not allow sufficient daylight to achieve a LEED point, and skylights cannot be installed in slate roofs," explained Robert Ayers of Hahnfeld, Hoffer, & Stanford.

Instead, a three-story light column was designed to pump light throughout the interior, according to Dean Geoffrey Orsak, SMU dean of Engineering. "Many studies show that people work and learn better in settings that have natural sunlight. That will be the ultimate benefit of this building to enhance the learning capability of our students."

The channeling of natural daylight does not extend into the basement labs, where laser and controlled light experiments will be conducted, Ayers said. "Motion detectors will be incorporated into the lighting system in order to save electricity. High reflective pavers, a precast WAUSAU product containing marble chips, will reflect heat away from the building, making it easier to cool in the summer.

"Rainwater will be captured and transferred to a holding tank across the street in the Peterson Building," Ayers described other green features. "Gray water will also be captured in a sump under the Embrey Building and piped to a holding tank. This water will be used to water plants that are drought tolerant."

SMU engineering design students also became involved in the building's design, developing a student-led initiative to make the Embrey Building a showpiece that will highlight and teach what LEED is all about.

"LEED's innovation points are open to interpretation," explained Orsak. "Our student design team, all seniors, looked at conservation issues and made a presentation to the construction and design team. They designed new models for how we would collect paper and other recyclables with containers in the basement. Landscaping will utilize natural pesticides instead of poisons."

According to Dean Orsak, a vital aspect of this project is that "this entire building will be a learning lab for our engineering and environmental engineering students as well as for visitors. Our students will go through the math to quantify into engineering terminology how much material was kept out of landfills by using carpets made with a high percentage of recycled materials, for instance, or how much water the waterless urinals will save." An information kiosk will serve as a "sustainable building" educational center and provide real-time information about the temperature and power usage within the building.

SMU's excitement about sustainable building began many months before the first shovel of dirt was turned. "We have a number of advisory boards, and a few were talking about LEED certification. We had a sense that it would become a significant initiative and perfectly aligned with what we stand for," said Dean Orsak. "We found that it was feasible in terms of limited initial investment and unlimited future investment."

"The LEED certification process has to start way back prior to the builders arriving for construction," said Bob Gaston, project manager for Turner Construction, general contractor for the project. "That's what a lot of people don't realize." The choice of building site can gain or lose an owner points in the LEED process, and the project must be registered with the U.S. Green Building Council.

At this stage of construction, the contractor is concerned with two particular aspects of the LEED process: recycling waste materials and locating materials within 500 miles, with as many as possible being "green." Green materials are those that are produced with a high percentage of recycled materials, those that emit low VOC vapors, or that minimize the use of water or fossil fuels.

Lumber used in this project has come complete with "Chain of Custody Certificates," proving it was grown in certified forests, according to Joe Dudas, Turner project engineer.

In order to meet LEED requirements, stated Mike Shook, Turner Construction project executive, "We have an aggressive waste management/recycling program and subcontractors are locating local materials."

"As general contractor, Turner is primarily overseeing the process," said Dudas. "It's the responsibility of the subcontractor to find the specified materials and fixtures."

The building contractors involved also contend with the logistics of limited space and virtually no staging area on the actual job site. The jobsite trailer and staging area have been located adjacent to the site, and they rely on "just-in-time" delivery schedules.

"We were able to get our materials ordered before prices began to escalate after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but we are having to monitor delivery," said Shook. "The storms have affected delivery schedules."

At approximately 54,000 square feet of space, construction of the Embrey Building will require an estimated 200 tons of structural steel, supplied and erected by Bratton Steel, and 2,250 cubic yards of concrete, which is being supplied by TXI and placed by Sizelove Construction.

Below it all, in the substructure, a 6-foot by 8-foot utility tunnel that contains campus electric and plumbing lines runs at basement depth across the west side of the Embrey Building. Hahnfeld, Hoffer, & Stanford designed the building substructure to bridge over the utility tunnel. Shoring was used in conjunction with excavation of the basement on the east side of the building due to its close proximity to the street and public utilities.

In order to excavate a tunnel walkway joining the Embrey and Junkins Buildings, support for the Junkins side portico was rebuilt. Two new piers were drilled and poured so that the existing center support column under the porch could be removed, and the through tunnel excavated.

"A decade from now, I can't imagine constructing a building that doesn't include at least some aspects of LEED," Dean Orsak commented. "Once you've built one, you will want all of your buildings to be LEED certified."

Embrey Building Major Contractors
Turner Construction
Prime contractor
T&R Excavation Excavation
Bratton Steel Steel erection
Sizelove Contractors Concrete
Aguilar Forms Concrete formwork
Don Burden & Assoc. Plumbing/HVAC
Masters & Assoc. Electrical
Green Fire Systems Fire protection
Gay & Sons Masonry Masonry
K Post Co. Roofing
Lasco Acoustics & Drywall Drywall
Thyssen Krupp Elevators Elevators
Hallmark Casework Lab casework
Chamberlin Waterproofing & Roofing Waterproofing
Waste Management Recycling



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