University of Arizona facility earns highest LEED status
Photo courtesy of University of Arizona
The Environment and Natural Resources 2 building at the University of Arizona has achieved LEED platinum certification, the highest possible certification and one of the most distinguished sustainability designations in the country, according to the campus website.
In the process, ENR2 simultaneously became the largest project in the state of Arizona, by square footage, to earn the prestigious LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED v2009 rating system.
"The University of Arizona ENR2 building's LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership," said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chairman of USGBC.
"Buildings are a prime example of how human systems integrate with natural systems. The ENR2 project efficiently uses our natural resources and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations to come."
The news that ENR2 is platinum-certified came nearly a year after it was formally dedicated Sept. 10, 2015.
Globally, LEED platinum buildings and projects represent a unique breed. About 11 percent of all certified projects currently hold the certification, according to USGBC data.
"Under the University of Arizona's leadership we employ innovative and extraordinary sustainable practices which reduce energy use and water consumption while making healthier work spaces that actually improve productivity," said Peter Dourlein, the UA's assistant vice president for planning, design and construction.
"This commitment to efficient and green design and construction saves more than 30 percent in energy and operations cost over typical commercial construction.”
The 151,000-square-foot ENR2 joins three other UA buildings with LEED platinum certification: the Student Recreation Center expansion, the Árbol de la Vida Residence Hall and Likins Hall. Also, five other UA buildings have earned either LEED gold or silver.
For ENR2, which was developed with human and environmental health in mind, "LEED platinum was the goal of the team from the beginning of design and we achieved that," said UA alumnus Henry Johnstone, the principal for GLHN Architects & Engineers, the design professionals for the project.
Conceptually, ENR2's sustainability features were meant to be functional and inspirational: functional by creating tangible cost-savings for the institution while reducing waste; inspirational in its slot canyon-mimicking design, interactive and shared spaces, and its overall aesthetic, which are meant to evoke collegiality and an appreciation for the natural environment.
As such, many of ENR2's inhabitants actively engage in and promote sustainable practices in both their private and professional lives, whether through active recycling, the use of alternative transportation or the investigation of complex environmental challenges worldwide.
For LEED platinum, ENR2 gained points for its water efficiency, waste management, use of sustainable materials, indoor environmental quality and innovative design.
Of note, the building has an outdoor air system and induction coils, or active chilled beams — an innovative system that, when combined, works together to heat, cool and ventilate the building. Since it went online last year, ENR2's HVAC system is projected to produce a 32 percent reduction in the building's annual energy budget, as compared with a baseline required for national LEED buildings. ENR2 also contains low-flow faucets and vacancy and temperature sensors that control lights and cooling in individual offices.
The future-minded building also is efficient in its water usage, resulting in a 40 percent reduction in the amount of water used annually — a reduction of about 640,000 gallons. The water harvesting system, which can be seen in action throughout ENR2 during and after rainstorms, is expected to capture 260,000 gallons of rainwater runoff each year. Rain is an event at ENR2; in August 2016 alone, the building captured 22,000 gallons of rainwater.
Also, no potable water is used for irrigation, which is fed from a 52,000-gallon underground holding and filtration tank located under the building. When harvested water is not available, reclaimed water from a reclaimed water system is offered as a supplement.
Toward the end of construction in the summer of 2015, a female black-chinned hummingbird built a nest on the end of an internet cable and raised two babies, nicknamed "Jack" and "Jill." University Information Technology Services installed a video camera nearby, allowing people around the world to watch the babies grow, thrive and eventually leave the nest.
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