Construction soon will begin on a new $1.3 million research facility near the edge of the Mississippi State University campus.
When complete, scientists will use the 6,635-square-foot structure, planned behind the USDA Forest Service's Southern Research Station, to conduct research on products used to control termites, beetles and other wood-destroying insects.
Construction is scheduled to be to completed by April 2011.
The Wood Products Insect Research Unit within the Forest Service's Southern Research Station will work in the facility's four new laboratories, growth room and supporting space. Scientists with the unit now work in laboratories at Mississippi State.
The new facility will provide some much-needed work space for researchers participating in the Forest Service's termiticide testing program, said program Director Terence Wagner.
"We are very excited about this new facility," Wagner said. "Labs at universities are always premium space. There are never enough labs on university campuses. We've been very grateful to the university for allowing us to use some of their labs ... but we've been working on trying to get new facilities up here for the unit for a very long time."
Corporations send termiticides to the Forest Service, where they are tested for possible impacts on human health, the environment and the insects they are designed to combat. Researchers who conduct the termiticide testing program then provide data on those products to the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulators, who decide whether to register or reject the products.
The scientists who test these pest-control products provide a valuable service to home and property owners, Wagner said, as termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage every year across the U.S.
"Most people don't realize the Forest Service does this kind of research," Wagner said. "But this is very valuable. Termites can cause some serious structural damage, especially here in the Southeast where you see so many."
Ten employees will work in the new facility. The existing building will remain as office space.
"The new facility will give Forest Service researchers a modern laboratory where they can better serve landowners, homeowners, the regulatory community and industry by meeting the increasing demand for testing termite and other control products," said Southern Research Station Director Jim Reaves. "This laboratory is an investment in Starkville and the nation that will pay dividends today and in the future."
While the new facility will allow for advances in the pest-control field, it also has been designed to meet standards required to receive the United States Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, Silver certification.
The building will feature an Energy Star-rated standing-seam metal roof over structural insulated roof panels, which will reduce heat gain during the summer and reduce the air conditioning load for the building.
Also, glass block assemblies will be incorporated into exterior walls to maximize daylight in laboratory spaces and, subsequently, reduce the use of general area lighting.
The building also will include energy-efficient light fixtures, which will be operated with a lighting control system to maximize energy efficiency. Occupancy sensors will turn off light fixtures in unoccupied short-term use areas of the building and a master time clock will ensure that no lighting is inadvertently left on when the building is not occupied.
A daylight sensor will work in conjunction with the master time clock to energize the exterior building lighting only when it is needed.
Seven small, highly efficient HVAC split systems will allow zoned heating and cooling of occupied spaces in the new facility. When a room is not in use, that area of the building can be isolated to lower heating and cooling demands.
Among other features, no ozone-depleting refrigerants will be used in building systems; extensive use of local and regional materials will reduce the amount of fossil fuel used for material transportation; the Southern Research Station extensively will use building materials manufactured from recycled materials; the low volatile organic content of building materials, paints, caulks and adhesives will contribute to indoor air quality; and all work spaces will have operable windows to allow occupants access to fresh outdoor air.
The Southern Research Station, which is comprised of about 120 Forest Service scientists and several hundred support staff who conduct natural resource research in 20 locations across 13 Southern states, is paying for the project.
Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, http://www.cdispatch.com