Epsilon and Alfa (photo by Stefano Marchiante)

6,000 m2 for science: the Epsilon building opens in September

Epsilon, the seventh building of the Scientific Campus, will open in September. Alfa, Beta, Gamma and Delta were inaugurated in 2014, following the opening of Zeta and Eta. Epsilon has been built in less than two years and will be an example of sustainability for the way it was built (it is aiming at the LEED Gold certification), and for the teaching and learning activities it is going to host. 

Thanks to an overall investment of over €15 million, Epsilon adds 6,000 square metres of laboratories, classrooms and offices which will give new impetus to the teaching and research activities of the Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics and of Department of Molecular Sciences and Nanosystems. Moreover, this new building will complete a scientific and technological hub that includes the Institute of Polar Sciences of the National Research Council of Italy and the Centre for Cultural Heritage Technology of the Italian Institute of Technology. 

“Ca’ Foscari’s scientific campus expands even further, becoming one of the largest building complexes in the area of Via Torino, Mestre,” says Tiziana Lippiello, Rector of Ca’ Foscari. “Opening Epsilon means enriching research areas, services and teaching, with a view to promoting interdisciplinarity, sustainability and innovation. Moreover, the construction of the student residence, which will be inaugurated next year, will offer a residential service similar to that of international university campuses. This is a meaningful investment for Ca’ Foscari and it will be beneficial for the entire city.” 

On the ground floor of the building, two classrooms and two study rooms are currently being furnished, as well as campus offices and laboratories. The first, second and third floors will be reserved for research activities, thanks to 25 laboratories (about 1530 square meters) and 43 offices (about 840 square meters). 

The LEED certification

The external area along Via Torino will be converted to a parking lot with two electric car charging stations. This will bring the total of electric car charging stations on campus up to 6, while a bike shelter with solar panels will be used for electric bikes. 

The move towards electric mobility is one of the many features that will enable Epsilon to qualify for the LEED Gold certification, the most widely recognised standard in the world, promoted by the US Green Building Council. 

The certification will be awarded in recognition of the particular attention devoted to various aspects of energy saving and water efficiency, to the reduction of CO2 emissions, and to the improvement of the ecological quality of indoor space, materials and resources employed.

The indoor space is equipped with mechanical ventilation and cooling, with sensors that measure CO2. The building material is certified, the products employed have low emissions of volatile organic compounds. In order to minimise the phenomenon of the “heat island” and effects on microclimate, a special coating was used, which has a particularly high solar reflectance index (SRI) and therefore reflects much of the sun’s direct radiance, which contrasts the development of heat islands. Bathrooms have faucets with low water flow rates.  

Solar panels on the roof of Epsilon (photo by Stefano Marchiante)

Photovoltaic technology and trigeneration

A 56 kW photovoltaic system has been installed on the roof cover of the building. Moreover, after summer 2021 the entire campus will make a step forward towards sustainability and the reduction of the carbon footprint thanks to trigeneration

Trigeneration is the possibility of simultaneously producing hot water, cold water and electricity thanks to a gas-powered motor. Ca’ Foscari has invested another €1.2 million in the creation of a system that will serve the five most recent buildings, including Epsilon, as well as the new student residence complex. It is estimated that this investment will reduce the environmental impact of the campus by 25% (the equivalent of 350 tonnes of oil). 

The Epsilon building will include the following: 

  • underground level: plant rooms, changing rooms for students and teaching staff, 7 storage rooms
  • ground floor: restoration laboratory, 60-seat classroom, study room for graduands and doctoral students, 20-seat IT room, study room, 4 offices for campus services and the interdepartmental service centre, 1 study room for the Institute of Polar Science (ISP)
  • first floor: 8 research laboratories for DAIS, ISP and IIT, 11 study rooms / offices
  • second floor: 9 research laboratories for DSMN and DAIS, 13 study rooms / offices
  • third floor: 7 research laboratories for DAIS, 18 study rooms / offices. 
The building site of the student residence complex (photo by Stefano Marchiante)

The future: the student residence and the canteen 

The work on the building of the student residence is going at a record-breaking speed. The residence will include 5 floors above ground level (6,000 square metres) and one underground floor (2,200 square metres), for a total of approximately 8,200 square metres. 

The building will include 87 unites, divided as follows:

  • 32 studios 
  • 23 double rooms
  • 32 single rooms, of which 8 for people with disabilities 

In total, 142 beds will be available, thanks to a €15 million investment (of which 4.5 million were co-financed by MIUR thanks to L. 338/2000). The construction work is expected to be completed in spring 2022. 

The construction of another building on Campus, next to Canal Saiso, has been included in the three-year plan for public works. It will be a multifunctional building with one underground floor and two floors, measuring a total of approximately 1,900 square meters that will be used for a canteen, sporting facilities (such as changing rooms and a gym for rowing activities), as well as study rooms. An investment of about €6.5 million has been forecasted and the work is scheduled to start in 2022. 

Author: Enrico Costa / Translator: Joangela Ceccon