Construction of a major new environmentally friendly building for the University of Otago's Department of Psychology has been approved by the University Council.
The five-storey, 4700m2 facility will be built to a '5 Star' green rating standard. This rating signifies "New Zealand Excellence" in the New Zealand Green Building Council's Green Star system.
Announcing the move, Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg says the Department of Psychology is arguably the strongest university department in any discipline in New Zealand.
"In the Performance Based Research Fund assessment published last year, the Department of Psychology was found to include 12 academics with a grade of A, that is, world-class researchers. That number is higher than those in two entire universities.
"This new building will provide much needed space for teaching and research," Professor Skegg says.
Head of Psychology Professor Harlene Hayne says the department is extremely excited about the new building.
"We have been working in extremely cramped conditions for many years and it will be wonderful to have the much-needed space for our teaching and research programs. This building will contain state-of-the-art laboratory facilities for testing human participants, new classroom and seminar space, and it will house our Psychology Clinic.
"We are particularly pleased that the University has approved a building that is not only beautiful and functional, but environmentally friendly as well."
The new building, along with the Hunter Centre currently under construction, will be amongst the first university buildings in New Zealand to achieve a 5 Star green rating.
Among the green features are the use of sustainably-produced and manufactured materials, careful control of the construction process and recycling waste from that process, natural ventilation and controllable shades for the building, rain water harvesting and recycling, the installation of a wood pellet boiler for heating, and secure bicycle racks.
The building will consist of five stories, plus a full basement, and provide a total of 4,700m2 of space to house modern teaching spaces and laboratories, along with a central reception area and offices.
It will be located on the east side of Leith Walk and will occupy the site where Darwin House currently is, along with the carpark to the south. Darwin House will be re-sited in Clyde Street.
University Property Services Manager Barry Mackay says the project will go to tender in mid to late March and could start as early as June or July. It is expected to be ready for the beginning of the 2010 academic year.