August 7, 2012

The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts is sporting the University of Chicago’s first renewable energy installation, which was partially funded by a $221,500 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

The grant financed 60 percent of the cost for installing solar panels on the Logan Center.

University officials estimate that the panels will be capable of powering more than 600 light bulbs or more than 200 computers daily and save the University an estimated $7,500 annually in utility costs.

“We are thrilled to be able to install these solar panels with the support of this grant, both because it will allow us to reduce the non-renewable energy we use in the building and also because it will become a symbol of the importance of sustainability on this campus,” said Logan Center Executive Director Bill Michel.

Solar panels have been installed on the south-facing portions of the building’s sawtooth roof. “The sawtooth roof serves three purposes,” said Steve Wiesenthal, associate vice president for facilities services and university architect. “The first is to take advantage of the natural light to the north. The second is to harness the southern exposure for solar-panel orientation. And third, the roof will be reminiscent of the vernacular industrial architecture of Chicago.”

The solar installation serves as one of the most visible elements in the University’s plans to earn LEED Silver Certification for the Logan Center from the U.S. Green Building Council. Further, it will reduce the center’s reliance on the power grid, said Boyd Black, UChicago’s assistant vice president for capital project delivery.

“As part of a larger campus effort to increase energy efficiency and encourage conservation, the solar installation will help the University begin to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions,” Black said, in connection with UChicago’s Office of Sustainability.

Plans include the installation of a web-based dashboard that will display information on energy production and environmental benefits stemming from the Logan Center solar project. There is also a green roof atop the portion of the building containing the performance hall, theater east, and Gidwitz Lobby.

Designed by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and scheduled to hold its opening celebration, the Logan Launch Festival, October 12-14, the Logan Center will provide a home for the arts on the University’s growing campus south of the Midway.

“One of the great things about Tod Williams and Billie Tsien as architects is that they’re very committed to sustainability and have designed a building that will be LEED Silver,” Michel said. “Many of the students and faculty members engaged in the Logan Center are also very committed to sustainability and are working to make sure that we are reusing materials as much as possible in the creation of art.”

That process has already begun. During Earth Week in April 2010, participants of a sustainable design workshop explored creative re-use options for some paint-spattered flooring that was removed from the painting studio during the restoration project of the adjacent Midway Studios. Further, when part of the studios was torn down for the restoration, many of the removed bricks were saved for reuse in the construction of an outdoor enclosure. More recently, the Logan Center co-hosted with the Office of Sustainability a building workshop with reusable materials found on site in the building’s large shop facility.

The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation awarded UChicago’s sustainability program its first grant from any foundation in 2009. The $78,000 grant funded installation of energy-efficient lighting in the Ratner Athletics Center and at Henry Crown Field House.