Taking the Leed

The-Oaks-LEED-certified

By Bob Cunningham

Leadership is often taught in the classroom, but it also can be in the building itself. 

The Bowling Green State University campus has five LEED-certified buildings, with more on the horizon. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a rating system devised by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) to evaluate the environmental performance of a building and encourage market transformation towards sustainable design.

Not only do LEED-certified buildings use less water and energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they also save money.

The  Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation lab, which opened on BGSU’s campus in 2014, just received a LEED Silver certification.  

“Opening the new BCI lab at Bowling Green was an exciting milestone. It added the latest technology and increased capacity to help the crime-fighting efforts of Ohio’s law enforcement agencies,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “And this certification confirms that this important work is being done in a facility that is environmentally friendly and energy efficient.”

In building the BCI, a 30,000-square foot facility, more than 20 percent of the materials cost went toward recycled products. Also, 90 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills because materials were recycled or reused. 

"We're proud to have the BCI facility on our campus for the opportunities it offers our students and faculty, and especially pleased that it reflects our goal of achieving carbon neutrality and being a good environmental role model for the citizens of Ohio," BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey said.

The other LEED-certified buildings on campus are  The Oaks Dining Center, LEED Gold;  Stroh Center, LEED Gold;  Carillon Place, LEED Silver; and Wolfe Center for the Arts, LEED Silver. The Student Recreation Center also is pending certification for LEED Silver. The Greek Village, currently under construction, also is expected to receive LEED Silver certification.   

LEED Silver certification has become the minimum standard BGSU aims for with new construction or major renovation to existing structures.

“The University has made a great change in direction in philosophy with its efforts in sustainability,” said Steven Krakoff, vice president for capital planning and campus operations. “When I came here seven and a half years ago we didn’t have any LEED-certified buildings. As the Stroh Center and the Wolfe Center for the Arts were nearing the end of construction, we decided to pursue LEED certification and that really set the tone going forward as far as LEED certification for buildings. It was a year or two after that that we decided everything was going to be at least Silver.”

Plus, there are other factors to consider, especially when it comes to state funding.  

“As a state agency, and because we receive funding from the state of Ohio, any new building or major renovation of a building with the state funds needs to be a minimum of LEED Silver,” said Barbara Shergalis, University architect and director of the Office of Design and Construction. 

The process starts at the initial design of the building. Every design and engineering decision that’s made has the potential to contribute to the points necessary for LEED ratings system, Shergalis said.

There are six categories for LEED certification — Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation in Design — in which buildings can earn up to 100 points. There are four levels of certification: Certified, 40 to 49 points, Silver, 50 to 59; Gold, 60 to 79; and Platinum, at least 80.

“It shows you the kinds of things that USGBC deems a positive impact on lowering energy usage and making the interior environment of the building a better place to work,” Shergalis said. “It runs the gamut from tracking the amount of waste materials that are diverted from a landfill by virtue of recycling or reuse on the project to getting into interior materials and paints that don’t off-gas or perhaps are made locally so there wasn’t a lot of carbon used in either its production or transport to the building site.” 

Points can be achieved for attributes such as daylighting, indoor air quality, building location and being located in a walkable community. Points also can be gained for building on existing campus grounds or within a city center rather than consuming a greenfield site. 

Shergalis said that she anticipates other ongoing projects to receive LEED Silver certification, such as South, Moseley and University Halls. 

“All three of those buildings are in process,” she said. “We also did work at the Health and Human Services building. That one was a challenge because there was so much existing building that wasn’t being utilized. I think our architects were pretty creative and got us in the door for the LEED Silver there.”

Having LEED certification as part of normal operating procedures just makes sense because environmentally friendly is the proper mind-set to have, Krakoff said.  

“The way architecture and engineering and even construction are practiced today, any forward-thinking company in those disciplines is going to be doing these things as a matter of standard affairs,” Krakoff said.

“They’re going to do it because it’s the right thing to do. Society has an expectation about that. Quite frankly, when we give tours to prospective students and their parents, they will often ask about it. That wasn’t the case five or six years ago, but it happens a lot now. People care about the environment. They expect you as a pubic institution to be stepping up and doing the right things.”