June 2, 2009

Univ. of Florida First LEED Platinum Facility in Florida

Mary Campbell, Director and Urban Sustainability Agent, Pinellas County Extension

The University of Florida has raised the bar on Green by building the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified Platinum level athletic facility in the nation and the first Platinum green building in Florida. The project is an addition to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and a focal point for the football stadium.

According to UF, "The project consists of an approximately additional 30,600 square feet of new construction and 31,800 square feet of renovated offices, meeting rooms, weight room, Interactive exhibition/reception area, and support space for the University of Florida's football program."

LEED is an internationally recognized certification system that measures how well a building performs across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. LEED certified buildings use key resources more efficiently when compared to conventional buildings which are simply built to code. LEED certified buildings have healthier work and living environments, which contributes to higher productivity and improved employee health and comfort.

Platinum is the highest level of LEED certification and there are only 130 in the entire U.S. Studies have suggested that an initial upfront investment of 2% extra will yield over ten times the initial investment over the life cycle of the building. In other words – they save money in the long term and resources. Green buildings have better indoor air quality, use less energy and water, and are built with recycled products. Most of the building’s raw materials came from within 500 miles to stimulate the local economy and reduce transport emissions. Additionally, much of the building’s raw material is recyclable, and 78 percent of the construction debris was recycled.

UF’s athletic facility has energy-saving features that exceed state and national standards requirements by 35 percent and include low-e glazing on glass, insulation and reflective materials, which make the heating and air conditioning systems more efficient. It also contains energy-efficient lighting and light sensors that allow individual lighting preferences and turn off automatically when the room is empty. The facility also has a system for analyzing future energy use. Light-colored roofing and concrete pavement on the plaza keep temperatures lower in and around the building.

Native plants combined with low flow irrigation allow the landscaping to use 50 percent less water. The green roof of the weight room conserves energy and insulates as well by containing storm water for its plant life, rather than directing it to the sewer system.

The new complex has low volatile organic compound levels and carbon dioxide monitors in high-occupancy rooms, which bring in more fresh air if they detect high carbon dioxide levels. It also has Sanidoors, which open touch-free automatically, to reduce building users’ exposure to germs.

Carol Walker, assistant vice president of the UF Facilities, Planning and Construction Division, said, “UF is committed to providing a healthy building and environment for the people who utilize the facility. Long-term sustainability, responsible use of environmental resources, and a healthy and productive work environment are all important.”

Go Gators!

UF Office of Sustainability-

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