Inside the new EWU Catalyst building


Keri Kelly

The Catalyst building was created to conserve energy while serving the EWU community.

By Summer Sandstrom, Contributor

Spokane’s slogan “Creative by Nature” not only describes the goal of the city, but also highlights the innovation and creativity of the new Catalyst building.

Located in downtown Spokane, the Catalyst is the city’s first zero-energy building and is one of the largest of its kind in North America. The solar panels powering the building provide enough energy for about 27 average sized homes per year.

It was constructed with cross-laminated timber, which greatly cut down on the building’s carbon emissions since the wood was a substitute for steel and concrete, which require a lot of energy to be produced.

It houses EWU’s Spokane campus and has provided a new space for the university to provide students with unique experiences and to be part of creating innovations and change in Spokane.

The Catalyst building has many services offered at the Cheney campus, such as a library, IT help, printing and scanning services, and a food pantry.

Students often park on Sprague Avenue or nearby in Spokane. (Keri Kelly)

Approximately 1,000 students are expected to take classes at the building, and in the future about 30 of EWU’s departments are likely to start offering classes at the Catalyst.

And it has made the logistics of offering night classes much easier and more attainable for many students.

It has also opened the door for students to easily interact with local businesses due to their proximity.

According to Lisa Denker, the Senior Secretary for EWU’s creative writing, public administration, and urban and regional planning programs, having a campus downtown has made it easier for students and faculty to interact with local businesses.

 “Internships with courses are easier this way,” she said.

While there are many benefits of offering classes at the Catalyst, there are also some issues that come with it.

Although the night classes offered at the building are of benefit to many graduate students, it can provide issues for students in terms of scheduling with other classes in Cheney or with transportation.

And due to EWU not owning the building, there have been some difficulties working out some issues regarding security on the campus. The campus is currently well lit and has a security guard that patrols the parking lot and the building, but the university is working with the building owners to make sure the building is as safe for students and faculty as possible.

The university is listening to feedback regarding changes students and faculty think are needed at the Catalyst building, and they are working on making improvements to it in a timely manner.

“Having the first innovative Green Building is bound to come with a few things to work out, so please have patience with us all as we get through them,” said Denker. “In the end, I truly believe it will be worth it!”

For more information on the building, visit EWU’s Catalyst building website.