LEED BD+C: Multifamily Midrise v3 - LEED 2008
University of South Florida Apartments
LEED Gold 2012
Goals and motivations
What were the top overarching goals and objectives?
The top three sustainability goals for the University of South Florida project include:
- Reducing the environmental impact of new construction by developing a high-density project on a walkable and highly-connected urban infill site.
- A lower carbon footprint by adhering to stringent energy-efficiency standards.
- The Dinerstein Companies included strong indoor and outdoor water efficiency standards to reduce overall water consumption.
What were the most notable strategies used to earn LEED credits?
The thoughtful consideration of where we build greatly impacts the benefits realized from green building. The site selection and design of the South Florida Apartments project is meant to support and cater to a green student lifestyle. The project is close to university and community resources and achieved exemplary performance for public transportation access. In addition, the project achieved additional credits from the LEED Pilot Credit Library for excellent walkability and proximity to jobs and community open space. To encourage alternative means of transportation, The Dinerstein Companies included bicycle racks, preferred parking for low-emitting vehicles and residential ride share boards.
Photo by Larry Taylor
The project also considered strong water-use reduction strategies for the project and received exemplary performance points for high-efficiency irrigation system design. Additional water-use reduction strategies included the use of drought-tolerant native plants and reduced drought-tolerant turf. The irrigation system was divided into high, medium and low water use zones that provide the optimum amount of water to each type of plant material. The water source for the project was provided with ground water wells that eliminate the need for the higher quality potable water. In addition to these water saving items the irrigation control clock includes features for automatic shut-off after rain events and its programming is fully adjustable for changes to the precipitation requirements of Florida's seasonal rain fluctuation. The project achieved maximum points for site permeability, with 100% of natural precipitation runoff managed on the site.
While occupant energy use may be challenging to control, designing as efficient an apartment unit as possible serves to help occupants gain some control over their monthly utility bills. This included the installation of high-efficiency heating and cooling systems with programmable thermostats, ENERGY STAR low-e windows, ENERGY STAR appliances and bathroom exhaust fans, high-efficiency water heaters and ENERGY STAR qualified lighting. Lastly, tight construction and appropriate-sealed duct systems will not only lower energy use during extreme weather conditions, but improve the comfort of the living unit.
Aside from LEED certification, what do you consider key project successes?
A key success for the owner is the ability to communicate to their residents their corporate commitment to sustainability as well as how residents can help positively impact the surrounding environment. Collectively, all parties in their own way continue to work to reduce the overall carbon footprint while decreasing utility costs at the same time.
What one thing saved you or the project team the most time, money, or helped avoid an obstacle during the LEED process? What one thing cost you the most?
The Dinerstein Companies elected from the outset to pursue certification in the LEED for Homes Rating System in lieu of LEED-NC, relying on a rigorous process of on-site testing and verification to verify performance of installed assemblies and systems. Because this decision was made early on, the project team was able to pursue a clearly-defined integrated design process to maximize credit opportunities and achieve lowest total job cost. Consistent feedback from Project Managers indicates that having the ability to pre-plan for the additional cost of LEED and being able to cut as much cost as possible through bidding out the drawings early versus designing LEED elements late and avoiding costly change orders was a huge cost-effective strategy.
Photo by Larry Taylor
Probably the most challenging aspect of the LEED certification process was the integration of a whole-house ventilation system design with fresh make-up air for each living unit in the building, especially for the humid climate in South Florida. The design not only represented the greatest challenge, but the highest added cost and the greatest amount of time to develop a workable solution. The final solution was achieved through the early integration of knowledgeable consultants on the project. The project incorporated a supply-only ventilation strategy, using an Aprilaire Model 8126 Ventilation Control System that works independently of the thermostat. The Aprilaire system opens the damper at pre-set intervals and uses the air handling unit to bring in the fresh air. The system is programmed with the number of bedrooms and total conditioned square footage of the entire unit so it can be set to meet the ASHRAE 62.2 requirements and make appropriate decisions about when to ventilate.
What was the value of applying LEED to this project?
The advantage of LEED certification is that it helped create a more integrated design process for the project. It helped the developer and contractor understand how to make the project more energy and water efficient, leading to a better building for both the owners and for the tenants.
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