Open, Energizing & Green Cemo Hall Taking Shape

Published on August 16, 2009

As Construction Progresses, Green Architectural Features Distinguish Cemo Hall

Construction of Cemo Hall has gone vertical, with steel frames erected for the building and lecture hall.

Construction of Cemo Hall has gone vertical, with steel frames erected for the building and lecture hall.

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An urban educational showplace that utilizes numerous green building materials and techniques will help the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business keep pace with enrollment growth and offer students the latest architectural features designed to enhance learning.

As numerous Bauer programs have grown in numbers and stature, the college’s physical footprint has endeavored to keep pace. But with one construction project winding up, and another in the works, that’s about to change.

Michael J. Cemo Hall, the first UH building to be constructed according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ) standards of the U.S. Green Building Council, is the latest of three construction projects to be built near Bauer’s Melcher Hall (Calhoun Lofts apartment complex is now open and a large parking garage will open this year). The newest building, a natural light-filled building with energy and cost-saving features, is expected to anchor future growth on the northeast side of campus.

LEED is the accepted standard for measuring building sustainability, and the U.S.G.B.C. awards platinum, gold, silver and bronze certifications. Cemo Hall is expected to earn the silver designation, said Theodora Batchvarova, an architect with BNIM, an architectural firm heading up the Cemo Hall project. BNIM has offices in Houston and Kansas City and has been named an international leader in sustainable building.

Even before construction began, UH President Renu Khator had singled out the building as a symbol of the university’s aspirations. “It should be very special to us all and something we should all feel proud of,” Khator said. “Not only because we’ve reached another milestone in our journey toward top-tier national status, but because, similar to the Calhoun Lofts, this project provides visual evidence that we are truly ‘building our future’ at the University of Houston.”

Bauer Dean Arthur Warga said the new 34,000 square foot building will serve as a recruiting tool, as well as giving students a state-of-the-art environment in which to learn and lead. The building is named for Mike Cemo, ’68, a former UH regent who provided the lead gift for the $9 million building project.

“Our students’ diversity of viewpoints, passion and hard work continues to inspire faculty, alumni and businesspeople who are engaged with Bauer,” Warga said. “Cemo Hall is emblematic of the growth of our programs, and the broad-based support for our students that helps contribute to their success.”

Some of the state-of-the-art features at Cemo will include:

  • Individual thermal controls for auditorium seating for personalized heating and cooling.
  • Recycled Concrete, brick, and structural steel with recycled content, much of it obtained locally.
  • Occupancy sensors to alleviate wasted energy output.
  • An infusion of natural daylight in classrooms and lecture halls which reduces the need for lighting (energy-efficient windows have a Low E coating).
  • Paints and other materials that emit low levels of Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs.
  • A rainwater collection system that may be used to supply a decorative water feature landscape irrigation in the future.
  • Design contributing to low maintenance A low maintenance design for both the building and landscape, and chemical-free cleaning processes to maintain indoor air quality.
  • Construction waste management and recycling.
Cemo Hall is the University of Houston’s newest building, a natural light-filled building with energy and cost-saving features, which is expected to anchor future growth on the northeast side of campus.

Cemo Hall is the University of Houston’s newest building, a natural light-filled building with energy and cost-saving features, which is expected to anchor future growth on the northeast side of campus.

“We wanted to use materials that improve the quality of the environment, which in turn contributes to everyone’s efficiency,” Batchvarova said. “One unusual thing is that we are trying to bring in daylight in all areas — certainly in the offices, but in the auditoriums as well. There have been numerous studies that show the presence of natural light boosts productivity and helps improve the education process, and it is a major design feature of this building. And, especially in such a large building, it will result in lower energy costs when you don’t have to use light fixtures as much.”

Cemo will house the Rockwell Career Center, Bauer’s Global Business Minor program and more. Jamie Belinne, Assistant Dean for Career Services and Executive Director of RCC, said the new environment will provide much needed space for interactions between students and potential employers – as well as enhance student experience as they explore professional options with advisers.

“I think we’ve all been in a dimly lit classroom with poorly circulated air and it doesn’t help you learn, or perform to your potential. This will be something entirely different,” Belinne said.

“This is going to give us space to connect with local employers on site, which is something they have been asking for,” Belinne said. “We will have 18 state of the art interview rooms filled with natural light. We want to make students as comfortable as possible, and this is going to help us be able to do that.”

The ambiance and privacy that will be available in the new building may also lead to a more stress-free experience for students, Belinne said.

“Career services can be one of the most frightening places to be on a campus because you’re getting ready to go into the real world. When you are in a building like this one, which is designed to be open and energizing, that has to have an impact on reducing stress, on making students feel comfortable. Another challenge that we’ve had is being in an open cube environment. It’s not an easy thing to get someone to talk about their dreams, their fears, their aspirations, when they know the person in the next cubical can hear them. We are going to be able to increase their comfort level, to have an open, positive feeling. You want an environment that helps minimize stress, and that’s what will be available to us in the new building.”

By Julie Bonnin

Posted Under: Recognition

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