By: Jennifer Rocha

The new building provides 45 instructional and research labs, 48 private faculty offices and 280 graduate student workstations.

Story content courtesy of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and SmithGroupJJR, US

The recently completed $95 million Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Building at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has opened for the 2014-2015 school year.  As the new, 230,000-square-foot ECE Building begins operations, the University is targeting the highest level of sustainability: Net Zero Energy, meaning the building aims to produce as much energy as it uses.

Completing the north engineering campus quadrangle, the expansive five-story building consolidates the university’s nationally ranked Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, which had been housed for more than 60 years at the circa-1948 Everitt Laboratory. The new building provides 45 instructional and research labs, 48 private faculty offices and 280 graduate student workstations. Among its most noteworthy spaces are a 4,000-square-foot instructional clean room; a 400-seat auditorium, now one of the largest gathering spaces on campus; a unique, open projects laboratory; and a variety of areas for student study and collaboration.

According to ECE Professor Philip Krein, the renewable energy strategies are projected to allow the building to supply 100% of its energy demands over each year—a major accomplishment given the building’s large size and clean room, and among the three largest net-zero building projects in the United States today. Faculty and students will examine, evaluate and adjust their behavior to optimize the building’s energy use.

The project’s total cost of $95 million includes construction, furnishing, lab outfitting, and all initial operating expenses. The university received $47.5 million in funding from the State of Illinois Capital Development Board, and raised the balance in the form of private and corporate support.