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Professor Henry Gurr

University of South Carolina Aiken Science Building

University of South Carolina Aiken
Science Building


5 September 1989.

As the paragraphs below indicate, the USCA Science Building was designed so the building itself was to be an adjunct to student learning and a building that should be an excellent example of how to save energy and work with nature. As soon as possible this page will have a list of energy saving features and educational "built-ins".

Contact me, Henry Gurr, if you desire more information.


Functional Esthetics and Energy Efficiency and Building Vibration Minimized.

31 March 1986.

Architectural "esthetics monies" should be used to create a building that is attention getting as well as an "active learning device". The grounds, entrance way, halls, even the building, pipes, beams, machinery and construction materials should be educational experiences that invite involvement in science and stimulate more and higher quality science learning for students and the public. We instruct the building planners to be sensitive to cost effective opportunities for learning and display devices during the building design process.

Our New Science Building should be pleasant, functional AND energy efficient. and that the building should strive to work with nature instead of against nature. The building planners are instructed to be sensitive to cost effective opportunities for natural lighting, natural ventilation, solar heat (and cooling) so as to reduce long-term operating costs and consumption of energy. Such a design may thus be a constant, living educational experience for our students as to how best to design functional/economical buildings that have low operating costs.

To save energy costs, building windows, orientation, and shape are the foremost considerations. The building should have a very large south-facing side with many windows, so as to utilize natural daytime sun illumination. Our science building should be earth-recessed, so as to minimize building exposure to weather extremes The North facing side should have minimal windows. The East & West sides should be small and have few windows, since they allow glaring low-level sun (and heat) to penetrate deep into classrooms and laboratories. The "large-South-wall-with-small-East-West-wall" design also will be best for maximizing window solar heat collection in winter and minimizing heat gain in summer. Correct orientation of the building as discussed above can lead to considerable reductions to overall building energy costs. Special building site orientation operating cost and natural illumination comparison studies should be requested early in the architectural planning stages, since considerable savings can be achieved by choice of building orientation alone. The oval area south of the present USCA classroom building affords an excellent site for the optimal building orientation as indicated above.

Several areas where vibrations are greatly reduced are necessary in our new building. One of these areas, for installation of an electron microscope, should be on the ground floor on an isolated concrete slab.

Other vibration sensitive areas are 1) the vibration sensitive microscopes in biology laboratories and 2) sensitive analytical balances in chemistry.

Cost effective measures to reduce vibrations for consideration are: 1) locating large air conditioning equipment away from the building; 2) locating exhaust fans on the opposite side of the roof from vibration sensitive areas such as; 3) insisting on better than average balance of all motors and rotating machinery; 4) mounting vibration generating machinery on double vibration isolation slabs; 5) mounting sensitive instruments on vibration absorbing mounts.

 All these features are illustrated, with corresponding photos in the WebAlbums at