CU “LEEDing” the Way

The campus adds another building to its sizable LEED Certification portfolio.

Williams Village North falls in the LEED Platinum category, the highest rating of LEED certification. The building welcomed its first residents this August after construction was completed the year before. The building now houses two residential academic programs and over five hundred students.

Sustainability is not just another buzzword at the University of Colorado Boulder campus. This year, another building was added to the University’s impressive collection of LEED-certified structures.

Williams Village North, the newest residence hall on campus, was recently given the esteemed title of LEED Platinum certification, the highest ranking of LEED certification.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized building certification program that promotes sustainable construction through a series of rating systems.

LEED measures a series of sustainability components including water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, innovation in design and awareness in education among many others. Moe Tabrizi, director of sustainability at the university says the decision to bring LEED certification to the campus was catalyzed by expressed student demand for campus-wide sustainability.

On December 1, the $46.3 million, 131,246 square foot residence hall was awarded the LEED platinum rating, making it the first building on the university campus to receive this distinction, as well as the first in the nation of its size. “A total of 9 [other] buildings on campus have the potential to be LEED Platinum,” Tabrizi said. In addition to being environmentally sustainable, the economic factor for LEED certification is one that Tabrizi believes is very important.

“When you pursue LEED certification, you put a small premium and lots of attention on green, but you end up saving in the long-run,” Tabrizi said.

Not surprisingly, two top LEED certification components, energy efficiency and water efficiency are the focus of Williams Village North. The building utilizes optimal natural light with large windows and shuts off the air conditioner if a student happens to leave the window open.

The building is insulated to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In addition to this, the building has “phantom electricity” switches for items not in constant use like phone chargers or printers. On the exterior of the building, the landscaping is native to Colorado, meaning less additional water usage and more water conservation.

Another green aspect is the newly added solar carports in the parking lot of the building which produce a substantial amount of energy for the residence hall. Susanna Horner, junior and integrated physiology major enjoys all the features of the new building.

“In each of the rooms there are occupancy light switches, so if you leave your room for over 20 minutes, the light will automatically switch off,” Horner said.Horner said she likes Williams Village North because it has a kitchen and a communal ‘fridge unlike many of the residence halls on campus.

Williams Village North is leading the way in sustainability at the University and is just one of most likely many LEED certified buildings to come.

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