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Project Southern Utah University Center for Health and Molecular Sciences

Project Size

48,422 sq ft

Project Dates

17 months

Project Location

167 South 300 West, Cedar City, UT

What kind of building has a greenhouse covering most of the roof? A cutting-edge university science center that earned LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

  • LEED Gold

Project Description

Southern Utah University needed a new science building to replace an aging facility. Big-D Construction built the new, $12.3 million Center for Health and Molecular Sciences Building east of the existing Science Center, creating a new home for the departments of Biology, Nursing, and Physical Science. The four-story building includes classrooms, supply areas, labs, a vivarium, a nursing center that replicates a hospital environment, a museum, and an enormous greenhouse. The exterior façade of the new building matches Southern Utah University’s existing science center, tying them together visually.

The most distinguishing feature of this unique building may be its green roof where a greenhouse hosts many different kinds of plants. In addition to providing educational opportunities, these plants capture rain water, reducing wasteful water runoff in the desert climate of Cedar City and helping to keep the building cool.

The SUU Center for Health and Molecular Sciences Building was carefully designed to include a host of eco-conscious features such as low-flow water systems, innovative LED lighting systems with auto shut-off sensors and metal shades to minimize interior solar impact. Before the outer layer of brick was applied to the exterior, the entire structure was wrapped with an “air barrier” membrane that minimizes air infiltration, keeping the building warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Together, these features helped the building achieve LEED Gold certification.

The building was recently rechristened the L.S. and Aline W. Skaggs Center for Health and Molecular Sciences, recognizing the legacy of individuals who helped fund its construction. It also signals the center’s place in the University’s educational legacy.