by Kim Davis and Leslie Cranford
New Rawls Building Designed to Achieve High Performance in Areas of Human and Environmental Health
After years of planning and fundraising, the new Jerry S. Rawls College of Business Building is now open to students and faculty.
Students say the new building is something they are proud of and can help as a recruiting tool for future business students.
For more information on the new building visit the Rawls College of Business Grand-Opening website.
If you are interested in learning more about undergraduate, graduate and executive education opportunities, visit the Rawls College of Business website.
Thompson and Gaston Halls were wiped from Texas Tech’s campus in 2009.
And yet, in a strange paradox, they remain.
That’s because 1,600 tons of the brick, concrete and masonry from the original buildings were crushed and reused as fill to re-level the site where the new Rawls College of Business Building stands today.
That was just one of many recycling steps that architects and designers took to create a new facility that would meet LEED certification, and one of many points of pride for the project, said Paul LaBrant, a registered interior designer and LEED-accredited professional at Parkhill, Smith & Cooper which oversaw the certification process.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is the level of attention paid to the demolition of Thompson and Gaston Halls,” LaBrant said. “We saved 90 percent of the construction waste from going into a landfill. That was just huge. The contractor worked with local organizations and nonprofits, such as Habitat for Humanity and Catholic Family Services, that accepted many of the fixtures, some of the furniture and the hardware from the buildings. About 1,800 tons of the original buildings’ fixtures and hardware were either recycled this way or salvaged.”
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, gives a framework for practical and measurable green building design to building owners and operators, according the U.S. Green Building Council.
LEED certification gives independent, third-party verification that a building, home or community was designed and built to achieve high performance in key areas of human and environmental health, states the council’s website. The key areas include sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
About 9 billion square feet of building space are ranked currently by the rating systems, and 1.6 million feet certifying per day around the world, the site stated.
LaBrant said the building currently should attain a strong silver rating, though designers are waiting to find out if it will receive gold. The new College of Business Building is the first LEED-certified building on campus.
A Green Environment
Architects and designers began sharing ways to create a sustainable, green environment with people at Texas Tech as planning began in earnest, he said. Overall, the building saves 20 percent of energy and 23 percent of energy costs as well as 47 percent of water usage for a like-sized building not built to LEED standards.
“We found unilateral support throughout the project, specifically from the university’s Facilities Planning & Construction and the design team,” he said. “We were pretty heavily pursuing energy efficiency and reduction of potable water use. We really looked at storm water, and created the water retention basins because storm water runoff is a huge issue on campus.”
Allen McInnes, dean of the Rawls College of business, said it made sense to construct a green building.
“There are only a few LEED-certified buildings in Lubbock,” he said. “We wanted to step up to the challenge of LEED certification to teach our students concern for the environment is important. We incorporated environmental factors that would serve the most benefit to the college and save money for years to come.”
Images courtesy Artie Limmer, Associate Director in the Office of Institutional Advancement. Click images to enlarge.
To save transportation energy, supplies for the building came from within a 500-mile-radius. Windows block 40 percent to 60 percent of the sun to conserve energy. Drought-tolerant landscaping, waterless urinals and low-flow toilets save water. And designers used recycled materials in floors and countertops.
Throughout the building, the opportunity to recycle plastic, paper and aluminum is available at nearly every turn.
“Recycling is happening all over this building,” McInnes said. “Our new generation of business leaders will be trained in a facility that shows concern for the environment.”
In addition, McInnes said staff will spend the next six months to a year learning how to best utilize the technology in the new building to save the most energy and water.
The Importance of Air Quality
All wood products in the building are urea-formaldehyde free to increase air quality performance. Click to enlarge.
Even inside, air quality performance was a major concern, LaBrant said. At the new tobacco-free facility, smoking isn’t allowed within 25 feet of any door or air intake for the building. Not only that, entrances feature metal grates to capture dust and dirt, thereby increasing the building’s air quality and reducing the amount of energy and chemicals it takes to keep it clean.
“We were also very concerned with indoor air quality and how you experience a building,” LaBrant said. “Case in point, the material for all wood products in the building are urea-formaldehyde free, which has been found to be an irritant for asthma. This included all the doors, windows, cabinets, wood trim and wainscoting, the wood backing in the walls and the majority of the furniture. Studies have shown there’s less absenteeism in LEED buildings because of the higher quality of indoor air.”
Parking lots and roofs went green in the project as well, he said. Bike trails abound. Light concrete pavement reflects heat instead of trapping it, just like light-colored roofing material. And special parking spaces exist for low-emission car owners and carpoolers.
“The whole LEED aspect is to save energy and be a better steward,” LaBrant said. “I like to look at many of the LEED credits as benefits to the users.”
Michael Molina, vice chancellor of Texas Tech University System Facilities Planning & Construction said the new business building has set a precedent on campus that will be followed in the future.
“This is our spearhead project into the LEED initiative,” Molina said. “As we move forward with new projects, all will be held to a LEED-certified minimum standard. This was the first kickoff of that, which was amazing. The design team provided outstanding performance and kept us on track. We will not only reduce our carbon footprint, but also reduce operating expenses. This strategy creates a benchmark for our future campus planning.”
The Rawls College of Business
Jerry S. Rawls doesn’t even try to contain his pride in the new structure that bears his name.
“All of the years of planning, and all of the years of dreaming, and finally it’s a reality,” said Rawls. “This building sets the standard that Texas Tech will use forever as the baseline of what academic buildings should look like.”
Students, both undergraduate and graduate, began classes in the massive state-of-the-art structure in January.
The main purpose of the new building is to improve student learning, said Debbie Laverie, professor and Rawls College of Business senior associate dean.
“Business education has moved to experiential learning–students doing things, thinking about what they are learning and applying that,” said Laverie. “This occurs through case method, service learning, personal response systems and role playing, among others.”
“Technology is available in all classrooms and common space. Mediasite, which is the leading webcasting platform that captures class instruction, is in every classroom as well, and students enrolled in the class can review the lecture until they understand the course material. That tool has been very powerful in our experiments with the technology and student learning in accounting.”
However, business students in all majors throughout the college will benefit from the educational value of the building’s amenities. Programs such as the global supply chain management concentration, the energy commerce program, and graduate programs like the Master of Science in Accounting and the executive-style MBA will find new dynamics using the new tools.
Every room is equipped with personal response system recorders. Students answer questions using clickers or smartphones, and their answers are captured and stored electronically–great to assess learning and engage students, Laverie said. Additionally, document cameras are in all rooms for faculty to display timely examples.
The new facilities also will allow for more conferences, symposiums, presentations and banquets that will strengthen ties between the school and business leaders. Recruiters also will have convenient access to prospective students in a Career Management Center that mutually benefits employers and candidates. Stronger relationships between academia and business will create a synergy of fresh ideas that will enrich faculty, students and professionals.
“The building is going to be key in recruiting in the broadest sense,” Rawls said. “I don’t care whether you are recruiting somebody for the business school, the engineering school or if you want a football player to come here, the answer is they’re going to bring them over here and walk them through this building and say this is the kind of school that Texas Tech is. And it’s going to be important also in recruiting faculty members. My hope has always been that one of the real impacts of this building is going to be in our ability to attract the very best and brightest faculty members.”
Laverie said the college has 3,600 students. Based on the faculty they currently have, that is a good number from an accreditation standpoint where student-to-faculty ratio is important. The college has a full-time teaching staff of roughly 100 in five departments: accounting, finance, information systems and quantitative science, management and marketing. The college also offers an accredited weekend MBA for Working Professionals program.
Kim Davis is Founder and CEO at Nomiss Communications. Leslie Cranford is a Senior Writer in the Office of Communications & Marketing at Texas Tech University. Videos produced by Scott Irlbeck, Senior Editor of Research & Academic Communications for the Office of the Vice President for Research at Texas Tech University. All other photos courtesy Neal Hinkle.