The following is from the December 2007 edition of D Magazine. This story also was published in the September 2006 issue of D Home.
by Loyd Zisk
Dressed incognito in collegiate Georgian brick, you’d never know that the new J. Lindsay Embrey Engineering building was different from any other building on the SMU campus. But it’s built with predominantly natural materials and functions with exemplary energy efficiency. Earning a LEED gold certification — engineering’s equivalent of the Oscars — it’s a living laboratory of environmental awareness. Only a handful of these buildings exist on campuses worldwide, and it’s the first to be built in the Southwest.
The real story begins to unfold in the lobby, where a spectacular, three-story column of light cuts through the center of the building, illuminating it with natural light. Walls and floors are expanses of glass, limestone, stainless steel, woven textiles, and treated concrete. No side effects from nasty off-gassing here, since non-toxic paints, carpeting, sealants, and natural woods were used.
Considered one of the Southwest’s top engineering schools, its former building was derided for decades by students as a dreary facility that leaked when it rained and was drafty in winter. Now it’s a bastion of energy efficiency outfitted with motion detector controlled lighting, heat reflective materials, special insulation, low wattage lighting, and design elements to bring natural light into classrooms and offices. Building materials came from local sources. Water conservation measures include utilization of gray water from the central plant, drought resistant landscaping, crushed granite hardscape, and new technologies providing features such as waterless urinals.
A feat of green design, the Embrey building stands as one of the best examples of energy-efficient, environmentally sound structures in the country.
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