Western Washington University Expansion Includes Mass Timber Construction

Western Washington University, located 90 miles from Seattle in Bellingham, Washington, is in the process of expanding its ABET-accredited programs for electrical engineering, computer engineering and science, and energy science.

As part of the expansion process, the university is in the process of building Kaiser Borsari Hall, the 54,000 square foot new home for those academic disciplines that will include teaching labs, research labs, classrooms, collaborative spaces, and administration offices.

Designed by Perkins & Will to achieve net-zero energy and carbon and a 74% reduction in outdoor water use, the four-story building is scheduled for completion in January 2025. All of the building’s electricity will be drawn from rooftop solar panels, and that onsite energy generation and storage are expected to achieve a 63% reduction in embodied carbon and 100% reduction in operational carbon.

Western Washington University is also targeting Living Building Challenge Energy Petal certification. An element of that pursuit is the decision to use mass timber and cross-laminated timber construction. The glulam beams and columns, and CLT decks, were harvested sustainably.

The mass timber is being supplied by British Columbia-based Kalesnikoff, which last month opened its third production facility. The hall’s $73.6 million construction cost is being financed by public and private funds, and the building will be one of the first publicly funded zero-energy academic facilities in the region.

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