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Mortenson Tops Out on First-of-its-Kind Zero Carbon, Zero Energy Mass Timber Academic Facility

BELLINGHAM, WA — Mortenson, in partnership with Western Washington University (WWU), Perkins&Will, Coughlin Porter Lundeen, and other project partners, topped out the mass timber structure of the region's first carbon net-neutral collegiate facility — the new Kaiser Borsari Hall.

Project team members and the WWU community had the opportunity to sign the final beam before witnessing its placement at the top of the structure. Mortenson team members shared speeches to celebrate the commitment this building embodies and thanked the craft team members working onsite to deliver this building safely.

"Today, we mark a milestone not only in the physical structure but in our journey towards a more resilient tomorrow made possible through the dedicated work of those around me," said Michael Harder, Vice President and General Manager for Mortenson's Seattle office. "As we reach new heights with mass timber, we're not just building a facility; we're crafting a sustainable legacy for future generations. The use of mass timber underscores our collective commitment to building with a lower impact on our planet."

This four-story mass timber Electrical Engineering and Computer Science facility designed to meet the International Living Future Institute's Zero Carbon and Zero Energy Certifications is a testament to WWU's commitment to decarbonizing. On-site energy generation and storage will achieve a 63 percent reduction in embodied carbon and a 100 percent reduction in operational carbon, recently earning the project the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction's 2023 North American Bronze Award. Utilizing sustainably harvested Glulam beams and columns and CLT decks as the primary construction material also contributes to significantly reducing the building's embodied carbon footprint.

Exposed timber throughout the facility connects occupants directly to the surrounding forest, providing a warm, inviting atmosphere conducive to learning and collaboration. The building will inspire the next generation of climate problem-solvers through its intentional "living laboratory" approach, where students can study hands-on what is possible in high-performance design and building science.

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Project team members include Mortenson (general contractor construction manager), Perkins&Will (architect), KPFF (civil engineer), Berger Partnership (landscape architect), Coughlin Porter Lundeen (structural engineer), Hargis Engineers Inc. (electrical engineer), Affiliated Engineers (mechanical and plumbing), McKinstry (mechanical contractor construction manager), and VECA (electrical contractor construction manager).

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