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Regents Hall earns prestigious Xcel award

By David Gonnerman '90
January 15, 2009

St. Olaf College's Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences has received Xcel Energy's Best-Integrated Design award from the company's Energy Design Assistance Program. The competition evaluated more than 100 projects completed between 2006 and 2008. The award was presented during a ceremony in Minneapolis Jan. 12.

The 200,000-square-foot Regents Hall was built using the highest standards of sustainable design.
Regents Hall received the award -- accepted by representatives from builder Oscar J. Boldt Construction and the architectural and engineering firm Holabird and Root -- for several reasons. Perhaps most importantly, the building team involved Xcel early in the design process, which helped create ideal orientation and envelope design (the separation between interior and exterior environments), and maximized the effects of "daylight harvesting." Xcel awarded the college $540,000 in cash incentives intended to fund the features that resulted in six gigawatt-hours of savings (along with significant natural gas savings).

In addition to drawing power from the college's utility-scale, on-campus wind turbine, the building utilizes efficient and renewable options such as a green roof and radiant heating panels that double as a daylight harvesting light shelf in faculty offices. These and other green features result in energy savings that are 53 percent better than Minnesota state energy code requirements. The award also made note of the "great collaboration" of all participants on the St. Olaf project, including the college (which in turn saw close collaboration among faculty, staff and students), the design team, the contractors and Xcel.

Regents Hall, which was dedicated in October, is a 200,000-square-foot integrated teaching and research facility that houses the college's Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology departments. A second phase is currently underway to renovate a connecting building that will house the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics.

Contact David Gonnerman at 507-786-3315 or