HITT Contracting Inc., a national general contractor, held a ceremony today to celebrate the opening of Co|Lab, a space dedicated to the research and testing of emerging materials, approaches, and technology that will rapidly transform the construction industry. Designed by William McDonough + Partners, the state-of-the-art facility features a Glu-lam and Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT) structure, a roof canopy solar array, and healthy and sustainable material selections.
Co|Lab is a collaborative space bringing together the architecture, engineering and construction community to incubate innovative solutions to today’s complex building challenges. The design and construction of the new facility is the first step in illustrating that vision. The structure is the first CLT structure in Virginia and the first commercial mass timber building in the DC metro area. CLT is a composite wood product able to accommodate design flexibility while minimizing carbon footprint as compared to traditional steel and concrete structures. 100 percent of the wood in the building (except for the reclaimed maple and cherry harvested on site) is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, a standard that ensures wood is harvested from responsibly managed forests.
“Co|Lab is designed to challenge norms and inspire new ideas, and we couldn’t be happier with the end result,” said Katie Rothenberg, Vice President of Sustainability and Innovation at HITT. “We have a responsibility to collectively shape the future of our industry. By investigating new ideas, we can create efficiencies, improve health outcomes, lessen costs, and reduce our environmental footprint.”
Co|Lab meets the most rigorous environmental standards, demonstrating what is possible with shared goals and perseverance. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) presented the building with its LEED v4 Platinum certification plaque during the ribbon cutting. The building will also pursue the prestigious Petal Certification from the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) later this year by completing the requirements for the Materials, Place, and Beauty petals. Co|Lab will generate more energy than it consumes and is anticipated to earn Zero Energy Certification from ILFI once 12 months of performance data is collected and analyzed.
Design strategies include an ultra-efficient MEP design, 100 percent LED lighting, a roof-mounted photovoltaic solar array designed to provide 118 percent of anticipated energy use, zero combustible energy used onsite, extensive daylighting strategies, a high-performance façade, and low flow plumbing fixtures. Healthy materials were emphasized given their role in the health of building occupants and craftspeople, and the growing focus on transparency and awareness of the impact chemicals have on our everyday lives.
Co|Lab meets McDonough’s Design for the Circular Economy™ tenets through design for disassembly and next use, choosing to utilize a mass timber structure for carbon sequestration properties, as well as utilizing many Cradle to Cradle Certified™ products and materials throughout the facility. For an 8,600-square-foot building with few finishes, Co|Lab boasts 13 Cradle to Cradle Certified products – globally recognized as the highest quality product certification. It also features 27 DECLARE products, 35 products with Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and 25 products with Health Product Declarations (HPDs). The building illustrates the true potential for the built environment to embrace new materials, adopt non-traditional approaches, and test cutting-edge technology.
“We designed HITT’s Co|Lab based on our concept of building like a tree. Instead of just talking about minimal environmental footprint we talk about beneficial environmental footprint – not just minimizing negative emissions – we talk about optimizing positive emissions.” said the architecture firm’s founder William McDonough. “A tree emits oxygen, distills water, provides habitat for hundreds of species, emits bird song, food and beauty among other things. We apply this ambition to all our buildings and all types of construction. It is especially delightful to use the new forms of commercial construction using cross-laminated timber and wood because it directly connects to this idea even in a building’s basic materials. A building like a tree, made from trees.”
Rothenberg said, “Now that the building is complete, we will focus on collaborating with industry partners and academia to test concepts and advance smart building techniques – and we invite you to join us.” The six seed projects at Co|Lab range widely in topic and include new technology for water intrusion, methods for biocontainment in healthcare, low-voltage lighting, and a material study for self-growing brick.
Additional key building partners for Co|Lab include Staengl Engineering and Simpson Gumpertz & Heger. To learn more about the facility and its mission, please visit colab.build, and follow Co|Lab’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
ABOUT HITT CONTRACTING:
HITT provides our clients a wide range of services, from base building construction and renovation, to corporate interior fit-outs, to service and emergency work—there’s no job too large for us to tackle, and no project too small for us to deliver. In 2018, our revenue topped more than $1.9 billion. As one of the top 50 largest general contractors in the nation with 1,000+ team members, we deliver quality construction from coast-to-coast. Our success is a direct result of the relationships we’ve formed with clients, partners, and subcontractors, and we don’t take that for granted. Never content to settle, we are continually evolving to better serve all of our stakeholders. We may operate from 10 locations nationwide, but we have one singular motivation: to elevate the business of building. Visit HITT.com for more information.
ABOUT WILLIAM McDONOUGH + PARTNERS:
William McDonough + Partners is a globally recognized leader and pioneer in green architecture and urban design firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia. Mr. McDonough was recognized in 2019 by Fortune Magazine as one of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders (number 24) in large part for his role in bringing green architecture to the mainstream. The firm applies a positive, principled design philosophy inspired by Cradle to Cradle Design™—an approach that takes its cues from living systems and processes and seeks to expand on enduring standards of design quality. For more information on William McDonough and the work from his architecture firm, visit McDonoughPartners.com.