The new University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student union has gone gold — LEED gold that is.
The $55 million, student-funded student union opened in January recently received LEED Gold Certification. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a national green building certification system that provides third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at increasing performance, reducing waste and improving quality of life.
Sustainable strategies are incorporated in energy use, lighting, water and material use and more and as an added bonus, the buildings save money. The four levels of LEED Certification are certified, silver, gold and platinum.
Doug Pearson, executive director of UW-L Facilities Planning and Management, says the designation is globally recognized for excellence in green building. LEED certification of the Student Union was based on a number of green design and construction features including the use of LED lighting throughout the building, locally sourced building materials, storm water management systems, high-efficiency, centralized cooling system for refrigerators and freezers, low-flow toilets and sink faucets and reduced light pollution.
The project diverted over 90 percent of its construction waste. More than 35 percent of the project’s materials came from within a 500-mile radius and the building’s materials have over 25 percent recycled content. Materials selected also have no indoor air contaminants that are odorous, irritating or harmful to the comfort and well-being of installer and occupants.
The Student Union has also adopted green cleaning methods to ensure decreased cost and reduced environmental impacts associated with on-going maintenance procedures, says Pearson. And, the Student Union will soon obtain an electric vehicle to take food waste to a local vermicomposter.
“LEED’s global sustainability agenda is designed to achieve high performance in key areas of human and environmental health, acting on the triple bottom line — putting people, planet and profit first,” Pearson said. “The LEED Gold Certification provides documentation that we followed defined building performance strategies that will result in 25 percent less energy, 19 percent lower operating costs, 27 percent higher occupant satisfaction, and 36 percent less CO2 emissions.”