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

<strong>Western Washington University, Mortenson and Perkins&Will Celebrate Groundbreaking of the First Zero-Energy Academic Building in Washington State</strong>

Western Washington University (WWU) officially broke ground on the first publicly funded zero-energy academic building on a university campus in Washington State on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Named Kaiser Borsari Hall, WWU’s new electrical and computer engineering, energy science, and computer science building will significantly expand capacity within the university’s electrical engineering and computer science programs and some of WWU’s fastest growing degree programs.

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 the new learning facility’s construction.

“We are thrilled to see this important project officially break ground. 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,” said WWU President Sabah Randhawa. “Our deepest thanks and appreciation go to Fred Kaiser and Grace Borsari and to our wider community of generous supporters, as well as to the state, who have made this all possible.”

“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—and we can’t wait to start building this first-of-its-kind facility while also tackling our own personal sustainability efforts on site, as this work aligns perfectly with our focus on making positive social and environmental impacts in the communities we serve and redefining how to build a more sustainable future for the greater good. We look forward to more sustainable, forward-thinking projects like Kaiser Borsari Hall becoming the norm across the board.”

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 look beautiful while reducing 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.

For updates on the project and to learn more about the new facility, visit the Kaiser Borsari project page and construction impact page.

More about Kaiser Borsari Hall

Kaiser Borsari Hall is a public-private funding partnership, named for Fred Kaiser and Grace Borsari, longtime friends and champions of WWU, who have committed $10 million to the campaign to fund the project, alongside $53 million in state-appropriated funds. Perkins&Will is performing design consulting, and Mortenson is the general contractor and construction manager.

At approximately 54,000 square feet, it will provide state-of-the-art teaching spaces and experiential learning environments, along with teaching labs, learning research labs, active learning classrooms, collaborative space, and academic administrative space. It will be located east of the WWU Communications Facility and connected by a sky bridge to maximize program efficiencies and increase collaboration opportunities.

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

Project Team

  • Contractor: Mortenson
  • Architect: Perkins&Will
  • Civil Engineer: KPFF
  • Landscape Architect: Berger Partnership
  • Structural Engineer: Coughlin Porter Lundeen
  • Electrical Engineer: Hargis Engineers Inc
  • Mechanical & Plumbing: Affiliated Engineers
  • Mechanical Subcontractor: McKinstry
  • Electrical Subcontractor: VECA