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LEED Platinum Dallas: Sabine Hall Science Building

Richland College has more than 20,000 students, 19 buildings and one heck of a science lab. And for a building dedicated to teaching biology, chemistry, physics and geosciences, it's only fitting that Sabine Hall prioritizes environmental sciences in its design.


Dr. Stephen Mittelstet, who was president of Richland College during Sabine Hall's construction, had a keen sense of sustainability and commitment to the environment and displayed that in the construction of Richland's $40M science building, Richland executive assistant to the president Janet James tells us.

Mittelstet and project architect Perkins + Will were working toward LEED Platinum certification nearly as soon as the 118k SF building was imagined. 

LEED certified buildings are typically offices, Perkins + Will science lab designer Gary McNay tells us. So this project presented unique opportunities when considering how to dispose of chemical waste and ventilate the hall's 16 science labs. 

Perkins + Will designed a system in which chemicals and hazardous materials are kept outside the labs. An innovative down draft exhaust system serves as an alternative to more costly fume hoods, but still keeps fresh air circulating throughout labs. The racetrack design of the laboratories offsets them from exterior walls and allows for prep stations in each lab to run through the spine of the building, Perkins + Will principal Richard Miller tells us.


Because Perkins + Will offset the labs from exterior walls, they had to find a creative way to get natural light into each one without the use of exterior windows. Perkins + Will project manager Tony Schmitz tells us that by making more than 50% of the walls glass, labs and the adjacent racetrack rely on indirect daylight to light up the spaces, made possible by the building's north/south orientation.

Developers Gilbane Building Co also utilized fly ash (a non-recyclable material that would otherwise end up in a landfill) as a concrete additive. Because the material had not yet been used in North Texas, structural engineer JQ Engineering took special precautions to ensure the concrete would be durable enough.

While the budget didn't allow for on-site renewables such as solar panels, a 49,000-gallon cistern uses reclaimed water to irrigate landscaping and flush toilets. The combination of this single cistern used for both plumbing and irrigation was one of the first in Dallas. This cistern, along with waterless urinals, dual flush toilets and censored faucets, reduced demand of domestic water by 54%.


By the time Sabine Hall opened, Gilbane diverted 80% of construction waste from going into a landfill.

Science students may occupy the labs, but all Richland College kids spend time in the building's bookstore, coffee shop and study areas. Plus, Richland really put the A back in STEAM (you know, science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) when it installed an art wall with some permanent and some rotating fixtures depicting science as art.

Gary says Richland's thoughtful and progressive leadership made the entire project possible. "Richland already had some inspiring sustainability initiatives on campus, so they were truly the perfect client."