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UW College of Business First State-Funded Building to Reach LEED Gold Certification

September 23, 2011
Building interior
Daylight is brought in through the large central atrium and windows along the building perimeter -- one of the eco-friendly features of the College of Business, which recently received LEED gold certification. (UW Photo)

The University of Wyoming College of Business is the first state-funded and higher education building in Wyoming to receive gold certification from LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). It is only the fourth business school nationally to achieve gold status.

Certification is established by the U.S. Green Building Council and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute. LEED is the nation's pre-eminent program for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings, says Roger Baalman, UW Facilities Planning director. The four levels of achievement are certified, silver, gold and platinum.

"Achieving the gold level of LEED certification was a goal that was important to the college's senior leadership team," says Brent Hathaway, UW College of Business dean.  "While realizing a profit is obviously necessary for our corporate partners, today's businesses must also be responsible global citizens. Thanks to the outstanding support of the state of Wyoming, we are able to demonstrate the advantages of sustainable business practices by example."

UW has been proactive in providing buildings with "pleasant and inviting spaces to enhance a user's experience," says Keith Seebart, UW Facilities Planning associate director.

"The designs of these buildings have also incorporated current trends in utility systems that reduce operational costs and conserve natural resources," he says. "This latest award recognizes these practices and their augmentation with sustainability concepts promoted by LEED. The result is a facility that reduces its initial and long-term impact on the natural environment."

The original 53,000-square-foot College of Business building, which was built in 1960, was completely remodeled and converted into offices for faculty, staff and graduate students. Substantial efforts were made to reuse and recycle the building materials from the renovations. Additionally, upgrades to the building contribute to significant ongoing operational energy savings.

Dedicated last fall, the new 112,000-square-foot addition, adjacent to the existing building, provides state-of-the-art technology and classroom space, including a multimedia lab, experimental/behavioral lab and stock trading room. With a total area of 165,000 square feet, all business disciplines are now housed together under one roof, making communication and collaboration between departments much easier, Hathaway says.

In addition to classrooms and laboratories with motion occupancy sensors and programmable thermometers designed to save energy, the College of Business features restrooms equipped with water-conserving fixtures that offer a 30 percent annual reduction over a typical building. There's also bike storage to encourage people to avoid driving to work and naturally lit staircases to motivate people to skip the elevator.

Some eco-friendly facts about the College of Business's new facility:

-- 95 percent of the material from the old building was recycled to divert it from the local landfill.

-- 10 percent of the new building is made of recycled content.

-- 90 percent of storm water will be treated to remove a minimum of 80 percent of suspended solids from the water.

-- Native and drought-tolerant plants were selected to reduce demand for irrigation, reducing water usage by 50 percent or more.

-- The new building will achieve an annual energy savings of 15 percent while the remodeled building will realize a 29 percent savings.

-- Daylight is brought in through the large central atrium and windows along the building perimeter.

-- Outdoor air will be monitored to ensure carbon dioxide concentrations are within recommended standards.

-- Janitorial closets are separately exhausted to minimize chemical and pollutant sources.

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