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WWU, Mortenson, Perkins&Will Celebrate Groundbreaking of the First Zero-Energy Academic Building in Washington State

BELLINGHAM, WA — Western Washington University (WWU) officially broke ground on Kaiser Borsari Hall, the first publicly funded zero-energy academic building on a university campus in Washington State. Elected officials, leaders from the building’s design firm, Perkins&Will, and general contractor and construction manager, Mortenson, joined WWU leadership, alumni, and members of the community to celebrate the official start of construction for the new electrical and computer engineering, energy science, and computer science building.

“We are thrilled to see this important project officially break ground," said WWU President Sabah Randhawa. "The science and engineering facility that will rise on this site will be a place for collaboration, connection, and innovation, nurturing areas of study which will be critical to the future needs of Washington state industries, employers, and communities."

“The design of Kaiser Borsari Hall is a watershed moment for Washington State public facilities as the first all mass timber, zero-energy, and carbon neutral building on a university campus,” said Anthony Gianopoulos, Principal-in-Charge at Perkins&Will. “The inspirational new building will foster an immersive learning environment for the next generation of electrical engineering experts and teachers and carbon leaders.”

“It has been incredibly rewarding to be a part of our team's collective efforts to reduce embodied and operational carbon for this facility throughout design and construction,” said Jennifer Kim, Project Executive at Mortenson. “We love taking collaborative approaches with clients like WWU to provide value-add solutions for identifying the best sustainably-focused opportunities early on."

Sustainability Firsts
  • When complete, Kaiser Borsari Hall will be one of the first publicly funded zero-energy academic facilities in the region, among a handful in the nation, and will significantly advance WWU’s vision to become the region’s first zero-energy university campus.
  • The building will be a "smart building," exceeding LEED standards for energy use, carbon, and other environmental indicators, and will pursue certification through the International Living Future Institute.
  • Building materials will include sustainably harvested wood from the region that will reduce the building’s embodied carbon footprint.
  • The building is designed to be physically and culturally accessible, with classrooms, labs, and collaborative spaces designed to support people with diverse abilities and learning styles. The project team is targeting Living Building Challenge Energy Petal Certification.
  • All of Kaiser Borsari Hall’s electrical power comes from solar panels on the roof and offsite.

Construction will continue through 2024, with completion expected early in 2025.

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