University of California, Santa Barbara, Bioengineering Building, Santa Barbara, CA

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The UCSB Bioengineering Building is a four-story, three above grade, cast-in-place concrete structure. The building is located adjacent to the main campus library and is meant to serve as a hub between multiple scientific fields. The building features a vivarium in the basement, laboratories on the upper floors, office space for staff and students and a 100-seat lecture hall.

Numerous utilities ran through the existing site to serve the adjacent main campus library and had to be relocated prior to the start of work. The coordination of the utility shutdowns was very critical as the campus keeps this library open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to accommodate students.

Syska’s strategy towards energy efficient design first recognized and appreciated that the Bioengineering building was a mix of low intensity faculty and graduate offices with high intensity laboratory spaces. With this understanding, Syska’s first strategy was to approach these spaces independently.

For the office areas, the design aggressively focused on passive design strategies. All spaces were designed to be fully daylit and fully naturally ventilated. Offices surrounding the central atrium core included operable windows at the façade and at the transoms. This allows for air to be drawn in at the façade and then out through the transom exhausting at the top of the atrium. For daylight, each office space offers light from at least 2 directions, the daylight is balanced between perimeter daylight and borrowed light from the atrium.

Offices not located around the central atrium similarly included “chimneys” that draw air in from the perimeter façade across the occupied space and out to the roof. These offices also offer daylight from multiple directions through the use of Solatube light shafts located near the chimneys.

For the laboratory portion of the building, Syska’s intent was to minimize the airflow through the laboratory spaces to just what was needed for exhaust. Active Chilled Beams (ACB) were employed so the thermal and ventilation requirements could be addressed independently from each other. Spaces are kept under negative pressure to control the flow of lab exhaust.

Chilled water is supplied by the campus central plant, but Syska installed onsite condensing boilers for space heating that operated at a significantly higher efficiency than the central plant. The result is a building with an overall source energy savings of 30 percent. However, with the significant laboratory process loads, the regulated energy savings is over 43 percent.

LEED Status
LEED NC Platinum

62,000 sf (3-story Building), 16,000 sf (Basement)


Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners

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