LEED BD+C: New Construction v3 - LEED 2009
UALR West Hall
LEED Gold 2012
The below stakeholder perspectives address the following LEED credits:
EAc1, EQc6.1, EQc6.2, EQc8.2, MRc2, WEc3
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
The top three sustainability goals were
- Housing students on campus
- Increasing energy efficiency
- Educating students about the importance of green building and sustainable lifestyle choices
As part of the Fast Forward Strategic Plan to increase student success, UALR will require freshmen to live on campus starting in fall 2013. UALR's policy paper explains the significance of on campus housing: "National and institutional research has documented that students living on-campus are more successful in making academic progress. UALR students living on campus have higher grade point averages and complete more credit hours leading toward improved retention and graduation rates. In support of student success, entering students will be required to become a part of the on-campus community." In order to house all incoming freshmen on-campus, UALR needed to construct additional dormitories like West Hall. On-campus living also promotes sustainability by encouraging walking and biking around campus and reducing the need for vehicular transportation.
UALR administrators wanted to minimize energy costs and maximize thermal comfort at West Hall. As energy efficiency was a top priority of the project team, each room constituted a separate zone for heating, cooling, and air delivery. Residents have control over the thermostat in their rooms and reduce their energy usage when heating or cooling is unnecessary. The rooms also have operable windows. On nice days, students can open their windows and enjoy fresh air from outside. Through the adaptable HVAC system, UALR hoped to create a comfortable living environment at West Hall without compromising energy efficiency.
UALR understands that environmentally sustainable growth goes hand in hand with higher education. The project team wanted to make the building educational for student residents and guests. With informational displays in the lobby and a recycling program for students, the building's design integrates environmental education into the daily life of residents. At UALR students learn about sustainability not only in their classes but also in the built environment on campus.
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
One of the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits was maximizing the building's energy efficiency without compromising thermal comfort. West Hall's envelope, HVAC, lighting, and other systems were designed to maximize energy performance. An energy model of a standard baseline and proposed building were created to evaluate and find the most efficient products. To optimize energy performance, the lighting system consists of a variety of high-efficient components, including fluorescent bulbs, occupancy sensors, and automatic daylight controls. West Hall has provided individual lighting controls for 98% of building occupants. Students are able to regulate the lighting in their rooms, which allows them to save energy and adjust the lighting to the task at hand. 50% of dorm residents also have access to individual thermal comfort controls, which promotes productivity and wellbeing. To provide a connection between indoor spaces and the exterior natural environment for building occupants, over 90% of the regularly occupied spaces have windows with outdoor views. The windows are operable, and students can increase their thermal comfort by opening or closing the windows as desired. In addition to making the dorms more comfortable, the dual-paned low-e windows contribute the building's energy savings. The combination of efficient features helped West Hall achieved 32% energy savings in comparison to ASHRAE 90.1-2007.
Photo by Janet Warlick
At West Hall 90% of regularly occupied spaces have windows with outside views. Looking out from West Hall, students see the dense, walkable UALR campus and open space filled with native and adapted vegetation.
Another notable strategy was installing low-flow faucets and highly efficient toilets and urinals. Utilizing water efficient fixtures resulted in 47% potable water savings in comparison to baseline set by the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The reduction in potable water usage will save UALR money and help students save water. With 350 students living in the dorm, it was crucial for every water fixture to be as efficient as possible. In addition to saving water inside the building, the project team reduced water usage for irrigation on site. By combining native and adapted vegetation with efficient irrigation, West Hall reduced potable water usage for irrigation by over 52% from a calculated mid-summer baseline. Through water saving measures, the project team turned the dormitory into an extremely water efficient system.
Responsible waste management helped West Hall achieve Gold certification. During construction, the project team diverted 88% of the waste generated away from the landfill. All the diverted waste was either reused or recycled. In order to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills everyday, West Hall provides receptacles for recycling plastics, metals, paper, cardboard, and glass. The recycling program encourages students to make sustainable choices in their everyday lives.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
One of the key successes on this project has been getting more students on campus and into a green built environment. On-campus living has been shown to increase student success in the classroom. The study rooms in the dormitory provide space for students to do their homework and prepare for class around the clock. West Hall's design also promotes a sense of community on campus, which is vital to students' personal and social development in college.
Through careful design, the project integrates sustainability into students' daily lives. At West Hall, students constantly learn about sustainability through the informational display in the lobby and the recycling program in the halls. With easy access to UALR's academic buildings, students can easily bike or walk to class and reduce their dependency on single occupancy vehicles. Hopefully, students will enjoy their sustainable lifestyle on campus and take their ecofriendly habits with them after graduation.
Hiring LEED consultants and working with an experienced team saved the project team time and money. UALR hired Viridian Sustainable Building consultants to help with the LEED process. Viridian consultants helped streamline the process and reduced costs associated with green construction by targeting cost-effective sustainable strategies and technologies. Through an integrative LEED process, the consultants helped ensure that the project met the owner's goals for certification, return on investment, and energy savings. The entire project team was LEED accredited and had experience working on LEED projects. With previous experience on LEED projects and knowledge of green design, the team was on the same page from the beginning of the process.
Even though this wasn't the project team's first LEED project, it was the first LEED dorm at UALR. The team had to design efficient systems that will be used over and over again throughout the building. In order to increase energy efficiency, the team conducted a dew point analysis to determine the minimum dew point for the most energy efficiency. At the last minute, they determined that the insulation in the exterior walls should be 1.5 inches instead of 1 inch. This last minute adjustment was challenging for the project team and slowed down the building's progress. In the long run, however, the extra insulation will reduce energy usage and help UALR save money on utility bills.
Photo by Janet Warlick
West Hall is comprised of two dormitories connected by a lobby in the center. The LEED-certified dorm gives freshmen the opportunity to live in state-of-the-art, sustainable housing on campus.
One of the specific LEED challenges included how to address campus-wide issues. Since the project began before campus guidelines were released, the team had to deal with the building as an individual project at first, even though it is located on a campus. The LEED Application for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects (20120 AGMBC) was released in the middle of this project, creating issues for how to handle specific credits. In addition, the documentation about this new pathway, including the process and cost for master campus credits, was unclear and undefined.
For instance, West Hall is located near existing bike racks yet it did not receive LEED points for Alternative Transportation- Bike Storage & Changing Rooms. If the project team had known about campus guidance, the project might have earned credits for the nearby bike racks because they could have been attributed to the project. The team found out about the change in campus guidelines too late to pursue this credit. If the team had known about the change before registering and working on three different LEED projects, they might have pursued this route. Instead, the change made it more difficult to document credits already attempted and anticipated.
What was the value of applying LEED to this project?
UALR has promoted the energy savings that accompany LEED certification. Utility savings will quickly offset the initial cost of the building's sustainable features. According to David Millay, the associate vice chancellor for Facilities Management, LEED design and construction practices make economic sense: "The energy efficient features and green construction practices add less than 1 percent to the cost of construction. Payback of that additional cost will usually occur within the first year or two of building occupancy." In addition, UALR realizes that LEED certification is a good marketing tool. UALR uses its green credentials to market itself to top students. West Hall is UALR's top dormitory, housing many of the university's honor students. Because of this distinction, UALR wanted to make it the most efficient and top-of-the-line dormitory on campus.
By pursuing LEED certification on this project and several others, UALR has become a leader in green building in Central Arkansas. This project is another great testament to the vision of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to become a responsible leader in the educational field and in their community. Through the LEED certification of West Hall, they are making a commitment to creating a positive and healthy atmosphere for its employees and students.
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