Committed to Sustainability
Forge has a deep commitment to sustainability. We feel that sustainability can and should underpin every aspect of the design and construction of new buildings and landscapes. Designing and building responsibly should be integrated into the project delivery process for owners, architects, engineers, and contractors. In most cases, deciding at the beginning of a project to integrate modest or even somewhat aggressive sustainable features will result in minimal additional cost, and will decrease the long-term operating cost of a capital asset.
Eric Eichler is a LEED accredited professional and has been fortunate to work on several projects with notable sustainable design elements. The Logan Center for the Arts and Campus North Residential Commons were both LEED Gold certified by the USGBC, and contain elements that go beyond contributing to LEED certification.
Eric and Forge are currently working with professor Amber Ginsburg of the University of Chicago and Architect Charlie Vinz of Adaptive Operations to transform a 100 year old religious facility on the south side of Chicago to a true net-zero energy (carbon neutral) building to be known as the Narrow Bridge Arts Center.
The Campus North Residential Commons is a very innovative, sustainably designed building. Sustainability was built into the project delivery process. As part of a design competition led by Eric Eichler, the competing firms were required to meet energy use targets and to submit energy models with their design proposals.
The aggressive energy targets established by the University led the successful design from Studio Gang to feature radiant concrete slabs to temper the space, with no forced air for heating or cooling. The concrete slabs contain many thousands of feet of radiant tubing, which receive a mix of hot and chilled water depending on whether the building is in heating or cooling mode. Each floor of the building contains four zones of temperature control. The system allows slab temperatures to vary by zone depending on outside air temperature and solar exposure.
By eliminating the need for forced air to heat and cool the spaces, the building promotes the use of natural ventilation. Architectural metal grilles on the facade are not only for aesthetic purposes, but provide solar shading, and allow each student room to have fully operable windows, with the grilles also providing fall protection outboard of the operable windows.
White precast concrete façade panels, the building’s architectural signature, also contribute heavily to energy performance. The panels are as deep as 24” in some locations, allowing them to provide a super-insulated building envelope that helps the radiant system function properly.
Together, the radiant heating and cooling, insulated facade, and use of natural ventilation combine to provide an integrated design that reduces energy use and increases comfort.
The building opened in September 2016 and is projected to reduce energy use by half compared to the University’s most recent residence hall of this scale, which opened in 2009.