New School of Nursing building is certified for promoting sustainability

Friday, July 22, 2016 - 1:07pm

Due to its innovative and environmentally-friendly infrastructure and design, the new School of Nursing building has been granted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, the second-highest level of certification from the council.

According to the LEED website, certified buildings are energy-efficient by using fewer resources — such as water and energy — and environmentally friendly by emitting fewer levels of greenhouse gases. Additionally, the newest version of the certification, called LEED v4, is based on four aspects: materials, taking a performance-based approach, using smart grid thinking and engaging in water efficiency.

Other sites on campus that have also been certified include the Munger Graduate Residences, every residential Quad and the Ross School of Business.

There are four steps to complete to receive the certification, according to the USGBC website. Once it is decided that a project meets LEED Minimum Program Requirements, the building or design project can be registered and an application and certification review fee can be submitted online. The application is then reviewed by the council and, if a project received the certification, a level of certification is decided. The number of points a project earns throughout review determines the level of certification it receives.

The new Nursing School building was constructed with the goal of improving instructional space needs while keeping its environmental impact in mind — the old building did not accommodate the growing number of students interested in nursing and was less efficient, Nursing School Dean Kathleen Potempa said. This is partially due to the fact the North Ingalls building was more than 100 years old and was originally intended to be a hospital facility.

“The building was not able to support the high-tech environment of today and today’s students and faculty,” Potempa said. “We did not have even Wi-Fi capability until very recently throughout the building. Certainly, it was not very energy efficient. … Basically, it was not designed to support students. It was never designed to be an academic building.”

Completed in 2015, the new building allowed for a better learning and working environment for students and faculty, Potempa said.

“Part of what we wanted was to have a light and bright but yet energy efficient environment for our students and our faculty, and we wanted to have a lot of greenery,” Potempa said.

According to the School of Nursing New Building Sustainability Summary, the 78,000 gross square feet building incorporates a number of specific energy efficiency measures, along with other sustainability features.

The building’s design and systems are projected to save roughly 27 percent of energy compared to buildings that simply meet the current energy code, according to the summary. It accommodates high-efficiency chillers, boilers and a chilled beam cooling system to reduce energy use and supply airflow requirements.

Additionally, 89 percent of the construction waste produced during building was diverted from landfills, 24 percent of the building materials were manufactured and extracted within 500 miles of the site — indicating locally-made materials — and 97 percent of the total wood-based building materials are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Potempa said it is an honor for the school to receive this certification because it is indicative that the building is representative of both modern learning and sustainability.

“We want to not have a big energy footprint while we want the environment to be comfortable, safe and a high-interactive learning space,” Potempa said. “Nursing is a high-stress field. It also is listed as one of the high-stress undergraduate majors on campus, so our students and our faculty need a place where they can feel the warmth and comfort of a naturalistic that is calm and quiet yet with the resources they need to study and learn.”

The School of Nursing will be adding a second green roof to the building next fall to continue to make it more energy-efficient.