With its low-flow water units and recycled construction materials, the new Multi-Purpose Student Center has been given the gold standard in energy efficiency.
Set to open this fall, the building has gained Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is a standard that is quickly being adopted around the country in homes, schools and commercial buildings.
In order to get certified, a building must go through a credit review process created by the building council. Points are awarded for innovation and design, location and linkages, sustainability of the site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and indoor air quality. The points add up to LEED ratings of silver, gold and platinum.
The certification was made possible by student-run initiatives and through a portion of the student green fee, which was set up by the Student Green Energy Fund. A fee of one dollar per credit hour adds up to more than $110,000 a year for USFSP to put towards capital investments in environmentally friendly projects.
Student David Pacetti has been sitting in on the credit review process for the building and went on a guided tour open to students on Feb. 29. During the tour, students were led through the student center and learned about the aspects that made the building LEED certified. Students were shown the dining hall and kitchen, the ballroom and the dorms.
“This tour was a great way to combine the green initiatives that are talked about in class, to seeing them evolve in a real-world application,” Pacetti said.
Besides the sustainable water units and recycled materials, the building also has sustainably harvested wood, low E glass and a loop system for chill-water cooling. About 91 percent of the construction waste is being recycled, and the insulation has some recycled materials within it. The paint and adhesives used are made with low volatile organic compounds.
The day of the tour, the Student Green Energy Fund distributed information and talked to students about the fund to help gain more support for campus renewable energy. Solar Source, the largest solar contractor in Florida, brought its mobile unit to show and explain the benefits of solar energy and how anyone can have it in their home.
Zachary Westmark, co-director of the Department of Sustainability Initiatives for Student Government, hopes that the projects being done with the Student Green Energy Fund and newly certified student center will engage students in green practices and give them a chance to see how a green campus is run.
Pleased with the student turn out, coordinators for the event are planning to have more tours of the student center once the construction progresses and when the center is complete.
Photo by Daniel Mutter
Caption: Zachary Westmark talks to students about green initiatives on campus. Westmark’s laptop and cell phone were plugged into the Solar Source Mobile Training Unit, which educates people about the many opportunities that come with solar power.