Students, Tech, COVID Drive Higher Ed Design (Source: Consulting-Specifying Engineer)

Oct 27, 2020

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer

College and university building design is being driven by student needs, technology and new air quality demands.

What’s the biggest trend in college and university buildings?

Kristie Tiller: Due to COVID-19, the biggest trend in college buildings right now is indoor air quality considerations. These considerations include enhanced filtration, disinfection technology and increase in air changes per hour.

Tom Syvertsen: Energy efficiency has been the trend for a long time, but now, in light of current circumstances, occupant wellness is the current focus. Many temporary or even permanent, modifications to promote wellness greatly impact energy-saving strategies, but are being deemed more important, at least for now. We are also seeing open, collaborative, flexible spaces that can be used in a variety of ways. This trend leads to different design challenges in terms of providing the appropriate heating, ventilation and air conditioning or connectivity solution (electrical, information technology, etc.). We have also seen concerns over utility requirements for future growth and flexibility. This trend requires us to not only look at the owner’s current program, but to have discussions with faculty concerning what types of programs they envision over the next five to 10 years.

Randy C. Twedt: The incoming generations of students grew up in technology-rich environments where they often exert a lot of control regarding how they experience space. They expect the same level of integration and control in the academic environment. They want to customize their experiences in terms of lighting and temperature, and they demand access to high-speed internet at all times. Thus, the systems increasingly need to provide technology-rich, customizable environments and also allow management to override customization to control for efficiency.