Wednesday, October 23, 2013

MA University Aims for LEED Gold Certification With New Dormitory

University LEED certified dorms
An outside view of the new dormitory
At Bridgewater State University, located roughly 45 minutes south of Boston, MA, the school’s newest dormitory, Weygand Hall, aims to be a benchmark of energy efficiency. Designed by Perkins+Will, the new building is 160 square feet and contains space for 500 students to live in suite-style rooms. It has a geo-exchange heating and cooling system and was built by LEED standards. It took two years to create, but it certainly seems worth the time.

In the state of Massachusetts, the building is required to obtain at least a LEED Silver Certification, but the school and designers are shooting for LEED Gold Certification. The scale for approving the building as Silver or Gold Certified is developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. If the building meets all the qualifications, they will be awarded the specific certification. With the recent completion, the school will soon find what LEED level they’ve achieved.

Per David Damon, Associate Principle on the project, Perkins+Will began the process by presenting the school with a plan of key concepts: minimize building energy usage (passive strategies), maximize energy efficiency (active strategies), generate renewable energy, and reduce energy consumption based on building operation. With this is place, they constructed eight strategies for improving energy efficiency, and found the use of mini refrigerators to be a major culprit during research. The numerous mini-fridges required more energy than many first thought. By eliminating mini-fridges in each room, it created an annual energy savings of $16,000. In their place, the school installed Energy-Star rated refrigerators in suites with four or more students. This cost the school roughly $53,000 to install, but with the savings from energy costs the money will be made back within three years.

Damon blogged: “Over the past two years, Perkins+Will has been working with the University to create a dynamic environment where students can have a new kind of interaction on campus that pushes the boundaries of sustainability. It’s one thing to design an energy-saving, green-loving, tempered-by-the-earth building – it’s another thing to operate it to its fullest potential. That was the message that we brought to Bridgewater. It’s like most things in life: you can buy the most intricate smart device, but you only get the benefits when you know how to use [it].”

With LEED being the most widely recognized green building rating system in the world, it is important to know how to use the tools of the rating systems if you’re in the AEC industry. Green Education Services offers LEED Exam Prep training and continuing education courses. This is the best way to make sure you pass the challenging LEED certification exams on your first try. Learn from the LEED Faculty Members at GreenEDU with easy-to-follow educational materials, excellent presentations, and real-world examples that will help you understand the complex concepts. We offer both in-class and online options, so take a moment to explore the opportunities we have for you.