Working Off Pounds, Energy Costs At Iowa State Gym

It’s the first week of January, so gymnasiums all across the country are now packed with people resolving to lose a few pounds — odds are they won’t be quite as crowded by February. But until then, students and athletes looking to stay in shape in the Ames, Iowa, area can now feel better about treading lightly on the environment while they work off that fruitcake.

In December, Iowa State University’s (ISU) extensive renovation of several athletic facilities officially earned LEED Platinum status for New Construction, after achieving the highest level of energy and resource conservation results under the U.S. Green Building Council guidelines.

The bike-friendly exterior of Iowa State University's new LEED Platinum State Gym. Image via RDG Planning & Design.

The bike-friendly exterior of Iowa State University’s new LEED Platinum State Gym. Image via RDG Planning & Design.

The project, which was completed in January 2012 by architecture firm RDG Planning & Design, involved the renovation of, and addition to, the university’s State Gym and Beyer Hall recreational facilities, totaling more than 163,000 square feet. ISU and RDG also made significant improvements to the HVAC system at the school’s 40,000-square-foot Lied Recreational Athletic Center.

View of new climbing wall and aquatic center at ISU's State Gym. Image via RDG Planning & Design.

View of new climbing wall and aquatic center at ISU’s State Gym. Image via RDG Planning & Design.

According the Iowa State Daily, Robert Holzwarth, ISU’s project manager for facilities planning and management, said the university reused between 80 and 90 percent of the original State Gym structure during the renovation, including the old wooden floor of the gym.  As a result, Holzwarth said that the State Gym project earned 53 out of the highest possible 63 points possible under the LEED scoring system, which placed it in the Platinum category.

The State Gym's new basketball court, which reused most of the wood flooring from the original building. Image via RDG Planning & Design.

The State Gym’s new basketball court, which reused most of the wood flooring from the original building. Image via RDG Planning & Design.

During construction, one quarter of all building materials were sourced from within 500 miles of Ames and 65 percent of the wood was grown and harvested to strict sustainable forestry standards. Also, 86 percent of the total construction waste was recycled, adding up to more than 1,560 tons, the university said.

Green roof, which was recently planted atop the State Gym roof. Image by Kerry Dixon-Fox via Inside Iowa State.

Green roof, which was recently planted atop the State Gym roof. Image by Kerry Dixon-Fox via Inside Iowa State.

The State Gym now includes a green roof on a portion of the structure, as well as a system to collect rainwater runoff and reuse it for low-consumption flush toilets. About 84 percent of the regularly occupied spaces in the gymnasium are illuminated with daylight and come with sensors that adjust artificial lighting as natural light changes during the day.

Other green building features include sinks and showers with low-flow faucet heads; low-toxicity interior paints, adhesives and flooring; and outdoor landscaping using native plants that don’t require irrigation.

The State Gym is now the fifth building on ISU’s campus to become LEED-certified, and the second to achieve Platinum status (the King Pavilion in ISU’s College of Design building). Two other buildings have Gold status and one has earned a Silver cert.

Holzwarth also told the Daily that ISU has other plans to work for LEED certification in future projects, such as the ongoing construction of the Troxel Hall lecture facility, a new football training facility and the College of Veterinary Medicine small animal hospital.

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.