Institute of Environmental Sustainability
Chicago, Illinois / United States of America
The Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago boasts Chicago’s largest geothermal field, comprised of 91 wells reaching a depth of 500 feet. The system uses the earth’s consistent temperature to create a comfortable interior environment, heating and cooling the Institute and reducing the building’s energy costs by 30 percent.
A crucial element in achieving the building’s sustainability goals, the geothermal system also presented an opportunity to engage and educate users on how the system functions. Understanding that it can be a challenge for a layperson to grasp the infrastructural magnitude and scientific complexity of geothermal systems, the design team sought to offer a user-friendly way to experience this fundamental—and normally invisible—building feature.
The design team embedded glass floor panels into the IES lounge floor—the most highly-trafficked area of the building—to showcase the geothermal system and present clear, real-time temperature read-outs on LCD display screens and colorful graphics that depict how geothermal heating and cooling works. By elegantly exposing the guts of this hard-working building, this unique detail offers architectural transparency, insight into the design process, and a dramatic and revelatory learning experience that draw users closer to the building’s goals and the University’s mission.
Architect of RecordSolomon Cordwell Buenz
ContractorLoyola University Chicago
General ContractorPower Construction Company, LLC
- Elara Engineering
- Halvorson and Partners
- Transsolar, Inc