LEED Goes To College: Top 10 New Campus Additions

If the first month is any indication, 2013 is shaping up to be a banner year for sustainable architecture in college campuses across the United States. In January alone, dozens of laboratories, dorms, classrooms and administration buildings have earned LEED certifications. Some have been around for years, some are just opening their doors, but all have recently earned various seals of approval from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 university and community college green buildings projects that made the grade with LEED certifications in these first few weeks of 2013. Let’s hope the kids learn something from these green hallways.

1. Mesa College, Student Services Center (Gold & Silver)—San Diego, Calif.

Image by Brian Wayne via San Diego Community College District

Image by Brian Wayne via San Diego Community College District

In San Diego, Mesa College’s Students Services Center, a $45.8 million, 85,000-square-foot project was recently awarded LEED Gold certification, while the school’s $22.5 million, 38,500-square-foot Continuing Education campus earned LEED Silver.

According to the San Diego Community College District, the Student Services Center uses 40 percent less water inside the building, compared to other comparably sized structures that meet conventional building codes. The center also plans to reduce irrigation of its landscaping by 50 percent and use 35 percent less electricity through more efficient lighting fixtures. To date, the San Diego district has received LEED certification on 14 school buildings so far and hopes to receive certification on a total of 41.

2. Rice University, Baker College (Silver)—Houston, Texas

Image of new Baker College wing via Rice Thresher

Image of new Baker College wing via Rice Thresher

The new Baker College wing at Rice University was completed in 2012, but recently earned a LEED Silver designation. The project included a completely renovated kitchen, cafeteria and residential building. The new building includes a green roof, which grows produce for the students and minimizes runoff. The new Baker Kitchen has also set up a “farm-to-fork-to-farm” process in which the kitchen buys produce from a local farmer and sends back scraps to the farm for use as compost. During construction, nearly 90 percent of all waste was collected and recycled, totaling more than 2,100 cubic yards that were diverted from the landfill.

3. Western Michigan University (Silver & Basic)—Kalamazoo, Mich.

Western Michigan University's College of Health and Human Services is now one of seven LEED-certified buildings on campus. Image via USGBC.

Western Michigan University’s College of Health and Human Services is now one of seven LEED-certified buildings on campus. Image via USGB.

Six Western Michigan University buildings were awarded LEED certifications for energy and environmental design, including the new Chemistry Building, which earned LEED Silver status for features that include an underground service tunnel to preserve green space around the building. The four buildings that make up the Western View, Phase I, project all met basic LEED certification standards for New Construction with Brown Hall earned a LEED cert for Existing Buildings.

Green features include computer-controlled irrigation system, water-efficient fixtures, energy-efficient classroom lighting, bike racks, low-VOC-emitting paints, thermal insulation and the use of daylight to lower energy consumption. Along with the College of Health and Human Services, which earned a LEED Gold designation for existing buildings in 2009, the university now has a total of seven LEED-certified facilities. Six more buildings are also currently going through the certification process with the USGBC, WMU said in a press release.

4. Thomas Jefferson School of Law (Gold)—San Diego, Calif.

Image via Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Image via Thomas Jefferson School of Law

San Diego’s new Thomas Jefferson School of Law, which opened in 2011, recently received a LEED Gold certification. Some of the key green features include its 49 kW photovoltaic energy system on the main roof (producing enough electricity to power up to 32 homes), a more efficient server network, a cool roof membrane to reflect heat from the sun, and a foundation made of Hycrete, a concrete admixture that turns regular concrete into a waterproof barrier.

The building is designed to conserve about 20 percent less water than conventional buildings of its size, landscape that requires 50 percent less irrigation. In addition, the building has an 85-foot green wall on the fifth floor terrace.

Randy Woods is a Seattle-based writer and editor with 20+ years of experience in the business publishing world. A former managing editor of Seattle Business, iSixSigma, Claims and Waste Age magazines, he has covered topics that include newspaper publishing, entrepreneurism, green businesses, insurance, environmental protection and garbage hauling (yes, really). He also contributes to the Career Center Blog for The Seattle Times and edits a photography magazine called PhotoMedia. When not working, he likes to hide out in Seattle movie theaters and attend film festivals—even on sunny days.