UWs Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center is Awarded for Sustainable Building Features

February 11, 2013

The University of Wyoming’s Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center, home to Laramie’s only living roof, has been awarded LEED Gold certification for its environmentally and user-conscious building features.

In addition to the living roof, the Berry Center also showcases sustainable features that include locally sourced building materials, natural air ventilation, native or adapted landscape vegetation and building exhaust energy recovery.

Established by the U.S. Green Building Council in 1999, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system (LEED) is the nation’s preeminent program for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. Project certification is administered by the Green Building Certification Institute, a third-party, independently incorporated entity that also oversees the LEED Professional Accreditation program. Certification is based on a point system, with each green feature, or “credit,” receiving one or more points as determined by the rating system used. Accumulated points determine the level achieved: Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum.

“The Berry Center is a beautiful place to work,” says Carlos Martinez del Rio, director of the Biodiversity Institute, one of the building occupants, “and because it was designed to be open and inviting, it’s a perfect place for people to come together.”

Located on the northwest corner of the UW campus, the Berry Center is a 44,000-square-foot building that houses multiple groups and individuals that study plants, animals and other organisms and the ways in which they interact. The Biodiversity Institute, Stable Isotope Facility, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database and the UW Vertebrate Museum are a few of these groups. In addition to laboratory and archive facilities, the building includes four classrooms and office space for graduate students and faculty. Funding for the Berry Center was provided by Robert and Carol Berry in 2007 and matched by the state of Wyoming capital construction fund. Construction was completed in January 2011, and the facility has been in operation since then.Workers prepare native-prairie species for planting on the Berry Center’s living roof.

“It’s fitting that a bunch of scientists interested in biodiversity conservation should work inside a green building, because sustainable building practices support our goal,” says Dorothy Tuthill, associate director of the Biodiversity Institute and building administrator. “We use the Berry Center as a teaching tool. We can show that green building features not only reduce human impacts on the natural world, but that the outdoor space, including our native-prairie green roof, can actually enhance biodiversity in an urban environment.”

UW is among a network of campuses across the country that have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As part of this commitment, UW became a signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, and adopted a policy that all new buildings on campus be designed and constructed to a minimum level of LEED Silver or equivalent.

“This project shows what can be accomplished when owners, users, architects and builders keep the long-term health of occupants and the environment as a priority through the design and construction process,” says Michael Ziemann, LEED engineer for University Facilities Planning. The Berry Center is the third building on the UW campus to be formally certified at the Gold level. In January, LEED Gold certification was awarded for the Bim Kendall House, home of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources. The College of Business Building received LEED Gold Certification in 2011.

More specific examples of the Berry Center’s green features include:

-- Redeveloping a previously used site in the campus core.

-- Diverting 80 percent of construction waste from the landfill.

-- Use of recycled building materials, including recycled steel in structural beams and recycled glass in window sills.

-- Encouraging alternative transportation by providing racks to hold 140 bicycles and changing facilities with low-flow showers.

-- Low-emitting wood and agrifiber products, paints, carpets, adhesives and sealants.

-- Widespread use of natural daylight.

-- Using materials certified by the Forest Stewardship Council for at least half of all wood-based products incorporated into the building.

-- Low-flow faucets and toilets.

-- Maximizing site open space, in part with installation of a living roof on 3,600 square feet of the building’s rooftop.

Visitors are welcome to explore the building and its green features during regular business hours. Additional information about the Berry Center can be found online at www.uwyo.edu/biodiversity/berry-center.

The building and green roof were designed by Malone Belton Abel P.C. in conjunction with NJRA Architects Inc. Demolition of the previous on-site building and construction of the Berry Center was by Haselden Construction. The Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University coordinated the LEED certification process.

For more information, contact Brenna Marsicek, project coordinator, Biodiversity Institute, (307) 766-6240, brenna.marsicek@uwyo.edu.

The Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center earns LEED Gold certification for its green building features. (UW Photo)

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