University of Colorado rec center achieves top LEED standards

University of Colorado Recreation Center in Boulder, Colo., as achieved LEED platinum certification, the building’s construction company has announced in a release.

Saunders Construction is considered a leader in sustainable construction with 43 completed projects that have achieved LEED certification – four of which achieved LEED Platinum, the highest level in certification program of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).

“For this particular project, the university understood that in order to continue attracting students, as well as satisfy the needs of current students, this rec center had to be anything but average,” said Mike Pask, construction manager of Saunders Construction. “The result was the completion of one of the most energy efficient and cutting edge student recreation facilities in the country.”

The project entailed a renovation of the existing 215,000-square-foot recreation center and an addition of 93,000 square feet. The updated recreation center provides CU-Boulder students with expanded weight and cardio space; a new ice rink with stadium seating and overhead LED lighting; a new, three-story rock climbing gym with bouldering wall; an outdoor aquatics facility; a new indoor turf gym; four lighted rooftop tennis courts; a new entrance/lobby; and renovated indoor pools, gyms and locker rooms.

Designers devised an innovative heat recovery loop, which allows excess heat from a multitude of sources to be moved around the building to where it is most needed (e.g., swimming pools, domestic hot water). Evaporative cooling, heat recovery, thermal displacement ventilation, radiant slab heating and daylight harvesting are among the many other techniques enhancing the building’s energy profile.

The design of the cooling system did not use chillers or cooling towers, as direct/indirect evaporative cooling is the primary cooling source. Solar collector panels are used to heat the domestic water and provide backup heating water.

Among the top innovative features within the facility are:

  • Direct/indirect evaporating cooling system – The system is used for both heating and cooling, and is textbook perfect for energy efficiency. The system is relatively simple; the excess heat generated by the ice arena’s cooling system is used to warm the water in the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, as well as tap water and shower water.
    • The building is also temperature controlled throughout distributing heat where it’s needed, and displacing it when it’s not. Students will find the rec center is constantly at a comfortable temperature, wasting little to no energy in the process.
  • Lighting and electrical – Saunders installed a new roof, 101 skylights, LED lighting, two large destratification fans in the indoor pool and six fans total to the gymnasium spaces — capable of producing 365,000 CFM and 74,100 CFM, respectively.

The updated Recreation Center is projected to have an energy use intensity of 35 kBTU/sf/yr, representing more than a 70 percent decrease in energy use on a per-square-foot basis compared to before the renovation. The facility is also projected to realize an energy cost savings of 43 percent (approximately $300,000 annually) when compared to a baseline standard building.


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