Ceremony to Mark RU's First LEED Gold Award
Radford University celebrated certification of its first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold building and marked an important milestone in its sustainability efforts at a noon ceremony on Friday, Nov. 9.
"RU aspires to be the Commonwealth’s greenest campus. By achieving LEED Gold certification here in Jefferson Hall, we are showing that our aspirations are matched by our actions," RU President Penelope W. Kyle said at the outdoor ceremony on the steps of the residence hall, built in 1968 and recently renovated. In the audience were members of the RU Board of Visitors and the RU Sustainability Steering Committee.
Kyle joined Board Rector Linda Whitley-Taylor and Steve Sunderman of the Southwest Virginia Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in unveiling a plaque certifying that the residence hall is designed, constructed and operated according to the USGBC's exacting standards in a way that demonstrates environmental stewardship and social responsibility.
"When installed, this plaque will be a visible reminder and inspiration to us all as we continue on the path of sustainable growth," Kyle said.
Sunderman, speaking for an international organization that has certified more than 9 billion square feet of commercial and residential space in 30 countries, told the group, "High-performing schools create high-performing students, and I applaud RU for its commitment to sustainability."
The renovation of Jefferson Hall, completed in 2011, included installation of air conditioning, fire protection and sprinkler systems as well as upgraded electrical and plumbing systems. Jefferson Hall now incorporates numerous sustainable strategies, such as use of rapidly renewable bamboo and responsibly harvested wood as certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. To maximize water and energy conservation, the residence hall now uses low-flow toilets, sinks and showers, and it has energy recovery equipment that recaptures heat from air before it is exhausted from the building. Water savings are projected to be 493,500 gallons annually, and energy usage is projected to fall 15 percent due to the building's high-efficiency chiller alone.
LEED is a voluntary program that provides verification of green buildings by the USGBC. The council asserts that LEED-certified buildings lower operating costs, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, reduce waste sent to landfills, conserve energy and water, and are healthier for their occupants.
Other RU buildings currently under consideration for LEED certification are the College of Business and Economics complex, which opened in September, and the recently renovated Madison and Moffett residence halls.
"We are very happy with LEED gold certification, but platinum is the best, and that is the level to which we ultimately aspire," Kyle said Friday.
Construction is now under way on a $49 million, 115,000-square-foot Center for the Sciences that will include faculty and staff offices, teaching and research laboratories, a vivarium and space for the Museum of the Earth Sciences and the RU Planetarium. EYP, a top national green design firm, is directing the project.
RU is also planning a $32 million, 112,000-square-foot Student Fitness and Wellness Center that will include facilities for recreation and exercise, an indoor graded track, a 10,000-square-foot multiple activity court, racquetball courts, as well as classroom, office and support space.