SMU Takes the "LEED" with New
Environment-Friendly Engineering Building

DALLAS (SMU) – The first university building in Texas built for gold-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is now open for classes at SMU. The J. Lindsay Embrey Building houses the Mechanical Engineering Department and the Environmental and Civil Engineering Department in SMU's School of Engineering. A dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday, September 8, 2006.


See a slide show of
the building's features.

 “It is appropriate that a building devoted to educating engineers represent the responsible use of resources through innovation in design and systems,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “The building itself will be a teaching tool for engineering students, who will take its lessons and apply them to their own studies and careers. We are grateful for the foresight and generosity of the Embrey family in making this gift to benefit current and future generations.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings account for 39 percent of the nation’s energy consumption.  Universities, with their large physical plants including lecture halls and laboratories, require a great deal of energy to operate. To reduce energy costs while also reducing the impact on the environment, SMU built the Embrey Building to meet standards for LEED certification at the gold level. The building will save the University an estimated 30 percent in energy, water, and maintenance costs annually in comparison with a non-LEED building.

“The Embrey Building will not only be a living laboratory for our students, but also will serve as a showcase of sustainable design for other projects across this country,” said Geoffrey Orsak, dean of SMU’s School of Engineering.

The 56,700-square-foot building contains classrooms, laboratories, research facilities, and faculty offices. It includes more than 30 miles of data wiring, two distinct water systems, and the latest in high-tech research equipment. To comply with LEED standards, nearly all of the building materials came from within a 500-mile radius of SMU, and more than 75 percent of the construction waste was recycled rather than ending up in a landfill.

The building's environment-friendly design includes several features to reduce energy consumption, such as large windows and a centralized three-story natural light column designed to allow maximum daylight and reduce the need for internal lighting. The building recycles water from the University’s HVAC system and includes waterless urinals that annually save 40,000 gallons each.

The LEED Green Building Rating SystemŽ is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings that are certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. The system offers four levels of accomplishment: LEED certified, silver, gold, and platinum. Factors determining levels include sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and a special category rewarding innovation and design.

The new campus building is named for the late J. Lindsay Embrey, who earned two degrees from SMU — a B.S. in civil engineering in 1945 and a B.B.A. in 1947. Embrey, who died in 2005, was a trustee emeritus of SMU. He was chair of First Continental Enterprises Inc., a construction and development company engaged in commercial and industrial, apartment, and subdivision development. He and George Underwood Jr. began developing the Richardson Heights area in the mid-1950s and later developed a major portion of the city of Richardson. Embrey and his wife, Bobbie, gave $7.5 million in 2003 toward the construction costs of the new SMU engineering building. The Embreys' cumulative giving to SMU through the years totaled more than $13.7 million.

In addition to other major donors, The Kresge Foundation has made a commitment of up to $850,000 to the Embrey Building. This includes a $600,000 challenge grant contingent upon SMU's success in completing funding for the $15.9 million building by December 31, 2006, while also doubling the number of donors contributing to the project. Other top-level donors to the Embrey Building include M. Lee Halford, Huitt-Zollars Inc., Bobby B. Lyle, the Stemmons Foundation, and Robert C. Womack.

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