A Living Laboratory
Over 60 percent of the roof is vegetated. The building's 12,000-square-foot living green roof is created with layers of insulation, roof membrane, drainage fabric, and a four-inch granular composition supporting the planting of nine different species of sedum ground cover. About nine inches thick, the roof offers more effective insulation than traditional roofs and expands and contracts with seasonal changes. It is expected to last about 40 years, more than twice the lifespan of traditional materials.
The green roof also controls and reduces water runoff. With normal rainfall, about 60 percent of the water will be absorbed by the roof while the remainder drains into a 10,000-gallon cistern to be used as "gray" water for flushing toilets and the irrigation of the campus quadrangle. A system of weirs, tile fields (composed of material made of volcanic ash), and long-rooted grasses and trees will prevent 60 percent of the rainwater that falls on the adjacent campus quadrangle from running into the Rouge River as part of a regional effort to control storm water drainage and improve the water quality and biodiversity of this portion of the Rouge watershed. This bioswale of vegetation will naturally purify the water by filtering out pollutants commonly found in snow and rain.
The most complex and sustainable aspect of the Taubman Center cannot be seen: a field of 120 geothermal wells sunk 300 feet (about as deep as the Town Center buildings across Northwestern Hwy. are high) through five geological layers under the campus quad. A system of polyethylene tubing, pumps, and fans connected to the wells utilizes water to heat and cool the building, which has no boiler, furnace, or even a gas meter. Water never leaves the tubes in the closed loop system, which transfers heat to and from the earth as needed to meet the building's cooling or heating needs. The heating, ventilating, and air conditioning systems contain no CFC-based refrigerants, HCFC's, or Halons.
Lighting in the Taubman Center is controlled by sensors and astronomically-syncronized timers that adjust three minutes a day to accommodate seasonal lighting needs. The heating and cooling system is controlled by a York state-of-the-art Direct Digital Control system, which continually monitors approximately 1,700 points throughout the building and sends signals to various valves and dampers that adjust to the demands within the building. Many of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning controls and mechanisms are visible for study by students. The concrete flooring tiles throughout the building are elevated 18 inches, making all wiring and piping easily accessible by lifting panels of the completely modular floor.