Construction and Major Renovation
Construction and renovation on any college campus are directly related to sustainability in numerous ways. Before construction even begins, sustainability should be considered in the planning of building. During construction additional materials are being used and waste is created. The university is responsible for this waste and for the increase in energy use for construction.
There can be many challenges to keeping building construction and renovation sustainable; containing runoff and air pollution just to name a few. It is in the best interest of the campus to face these challenges before the groundbreaking.
(Sage Hall, rated LEED Gold, view of the central courtyard after construction)
A very important component of construction and renovation is life cycle analysis (LCA). LCA is important because it assesses the life a material, from creation to the end of its life. LCA also uses some externalities to assess materials (e.g. environmental costs). Materials that are sustainably sourced or created, and last a log time rate high in life cycle analysis. One example of a highly-rated building material is bamboo. Bamboo is excellent for construction as it is very strong (higher tensile strength than steel) and also stores more carbon than many other plants on Earth.
In contrast, a material that would not rate as high in life-cycle analysis is asphalt, which consumes numerous chemicals and resources, especially fossil fuels, in its creation. Asphalt also does not maintain its integrity over time, compared to other materials used for similar applications.
(View of construction work on Horizon Village, our newest fully open certified LEED Gold building on campus since 2012)
One way to tackle these challenges is to embrace sustainability guidelines and rating systems. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
Green Building Rating System, established in 1994, provides a framework of design standards for assessing building performance through a variety of environmental indicators. Constructing new buildings and renovating buildings to LEED specifications will ensure the sustainability of the building over its lifetime.
The LEED rating system addresses six major areas:
- Sustainable Sites
- Water Efficiency
- Energy and Atmosphere
- Materials and Resources
- Indoor Environmental Quality
- Innovation and Design Process
LEED recognizes achievements and promotes expertise in green building design and construction through a comprehensive system offering project certification, professional accreditation, training and practical resources.
(The Alumni Welcome and Conference Center, submitted at Gold level and waiting for approval, construction finishing spring of 2014)
LEED certification of construction projects is based upon a scoring system with a set of required “Prerequisites “ and a variety of “Credits” in the six major categories listed above. Buildings can qualify for four levels of certification:
- Certified - 40 to 50% of non-innovation points
- Silver – 50-60%
- Gold – 60-80%
- Platinum – over 80%
LEED certification is obtained after submitting an application documenting compliance with the requirements of the rating system. (Click here for detailed UWO green building descriptions)
Since the previous plan:
The goal of achieving LEED Silver on all new building construction as well as building renovations has been met. All construction projects completed after 2007 have been given a LEED rating and have achieved a “Silver” status or higher, including the newest academic building Sage Hall, which has achieved a Gold ranking. Monitoring other rating systems has not been conducted.
(CC Image of LEED symbol by Buntyshashi (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)