LEED Leadership: It’s All Academic

In the push to make green building the standard for new construction, green schools—colleges and universities in particular—are leading the way. Webster University serves as a good example of this, with a stated goal to construct all new buildings to LEED standards. The private, nonprofit U.S.-based university, which has a network of international residential campuses, has begun to make good on that promise with its new East Academic Building at its main campus in St. Louis, which was built to LEED Silver standards.

According to Greg Gunderson, Webster’s vice president and chief financial officer, both the university’s new construction and future renovations projects will be designed to green standards. “The University will use only LEED-accredited design professionals, and in fact, campus sustainability will be included in the new campus master plan,” Gunderson said in a statement.

East Academic Building

image via Webster University

The new East Academic Building, which celebrated its grand opening on March 31st, features a host of green and sustainable features, including: occupancy sensors for lighting and heating/cooling control; low VOC adhesives and paints; recyled/recyclable/locally sourced/certified sustainable building materials; rain gardens, two green roofs; and a high-performance vapor barrier.

The building site’s two rain gardens, designed to help control stormwater runoff, consist of planted depressions that allow rainwater runoff from impervious surfaces such as roofs, driveways and walkways to be absorbed and treated on site, cutting down on the amount of pollution reaching local creeks and streams by up to 30 percent.

The building’s two green roofs and low-e windows will work to reduce the East Academic Building’s heating and cooling loads and increase its energy efficiency year-round. These features, along with the building’s impermeable membrane vapor barrier envelope are expected to save the building an estimated savings of $30,000 per year over a similar, conventionally constructed structure.

During the East Academic Building’s construction, salvaged materials were returned to the University or donated to local charities. More information on the building’s green features is available online.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.