A two-foot gap between the insulated metal panels and copper screen, coupled with openings in the screen, creates a ventilated cavity where the air temperature between the two skins is balanced with the outdoor air temperature. The copper screen acts as a shading device that reduces the surface temperature of the inner façade by roughly 65 degrees on hot summer days. In turn, the shade reduces the interior surface temperature of the building’s walls, significantly reducing the cooling load on perimeter spaces.

Beyond the energy-saving use of copper in the building’s façade design, the metal alone is environmentally friendly. “Copper is truly one of the most versatile and sustainable building materials available,” said Stephen Knapp, a director with the Copper Development Association.

Copper boasts one of the highest recycling rates of any engineering material. Copper roofing or cladding isn’t discarded and doesn’t wind up in landfills; because of its value, it can be easily salvaged and recycled.

It is also highly durable and requires little or no maintenance. Copper’s longevity is due to a natural patina it develops with age, weathering naturally to a lovely blue-green or nut brown color depending on climate. Unlike rust oxidation, the copper patina is a protective barrier that retards further corrosion, maintaining copper’s long life.

“As the green building trend continues, we expect to see the material increasingly utilized to achieve various certifications and environmental goals,” Knapp said.

Among Biodesign Institute C’s other accolades, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the facility the prestigious LEED platinum certification. Biodesign C is the fifth ASU building to receive a platinum certification, the highest green building ranking under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — program, which recognizes buildings that are designed and constructed for high standards of energy efficiency and sustainability.

"Building C is unique on so many levels,” said Biodesign Executive Director Joshua LaBaer. “Its design and construction, including the sleek copper façade, really reflect the ideals of the institute itself, where so many innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to science are unfolding. This award is further testament to that.”  

In addition, Engineering News Record, a publication focusing on engineering and construction news, designated the building as a national Best of the Best Project in the Higher Education/Research category. Approximately 200 projects across America were considered for the honor.

Biodesign Institute C houses critical lab and research support space designed to accelerate ASU scientific research and enable the creation of cutting-edge, collaborative research clusters. The building will be home to the first-of-its-kind compact X-ray free electron laser.

From the outset, aspirations for the building’s design were set very high. A goal was to create a new research building that provided highly flexible and adaptable space for reliable research. ASU challenged the design team to create a dense web of workspace options that would promote and empower the formation of collaborative research clusters, while increasing opportunities for chance interactions among different research groups.

“Our research at ASU is growing all the time, and I believe a big draw for researchers is Biodesign Institute C,” said Monica Perrin, ASU Capital Programs senior project manager. “I’ve spoken to researchers, and they love the fact that it’s a collaborative space, they enjoy the environment, and the design helps them to be successful in their research.”

Written by Lori Baker