EKU Receives LEED Gold Plaque for Residence Hall

plaque presentation photo

Today’s prospective student certainly considers academics, faculty quality, student life and cost in making a college choice.

But, increasingly, he or she also looks carefully at an institution’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

At Eastern Kentucky University, that commitment is exemplified by New Hall, the yet-to-be named student residential facility that opened last year on Kit Carson Drive. Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) presented a plaque to University officials, recognizing the 84,000-square-foot, suite-style building as the first LEED Gold-certified residence hall on a state university campus in the Commonwealth. (LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.)

To earn the honor, the University’s first new residential facility in 40 years met stringent standards related to sustainability, energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources used in construction, and design innovations.

“Construction of a new hall was a hope and dream of many people for many, many years,” said Kenna Middleton, director of University Housing. “We wanted to be sure it was all it could possibly be.”

State legislation requires all state-funded institutions to pursue basic LEED certification, but very few facilities obtain Gold status. Several features, some immediately visible and others hidden, contributed to the hall’s Gold status:

·         Natural light in virtually every space (96 percent of regularly occupied spaces have outside views)

·         Low-flow plumbing fixtures, cutting water usage by 45 percent

·         Heavy use of recycled construction materials; 52 percent of materials sourced within 500 miles

·         Building automation system that monitors operations and utility consumption

·         Recycling rooms on each floor

·         Low-wattage LED lighting with occupancy sensors in public areas

·         Expanded greenspace and reduced paved space (the hall was built on the site of a former parking lot)

·         Lightweight insulated concrete roof with white/cool roof membrane

·         Ultraviolet lights shining on ventilation air to kill viruses and mold before they can get into building

·         Low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, coatings and flooring.

·         Use of native plants and trees, and preservation of healthy, existing mature trees

·         Interior bicycle storage

EKU President Michael Benson, whose arrival on campus coincided with the opening of the hall, said: “We may not have the biggest housing complex … but we can say today we have the best. I am so pleased and so proud that EKU is leading the way with this residence hall.”

Jeff Stivers, president of RossTarrant Architects, concurred, saying the facility his firm designed in partnership with Mackey Mitchell Architects of St. Louis “sets a new standard for residential housing in Kentucky. (LEED Gold distinction) is a big deal.”

The significance of the honor is not lost on EKU students, 255 of whom call New Hall home.

Amy MacAdams, a student member of the University’s Environmental Responsibility Committee, called the new hall “a huge symbol of pride for students. It will inspire so many students to be more active and involved in (environmentally responsible) activities … and will attract a lot of attention from potential students.”

Gregory Guess, director of the Division of Efficiency and Conservation in the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, presented a certificate from the Governor’s Office to Middleton. Lori Flanery, secretary of the Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet, presented the LEED Gold plaque to Benson and Middleton.

Other speakers during the ceremony, held in the New Hall lobby, were Keith Tate, associate director for structural services with EKU Facilities Services and Kentucky USGBC board member (EKU is a member of the USGBC); Nancy Church, executive director of Kentucky USGBC; State Sen. Jared Carpenter; State Rep. Rita Smart; and Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes.

The New Hall is just one example of EKU’s commitment to environmental stewardship. SUSTAIN magazine included an article about EKU in its recent special issue about sustainability efforts on college and university campuses across Kentucky. The article can be viewed at green.eku.edu/insidelook/eku-featured-sustain-special-issue-kentucky-campus-sustainability.

Published on August 25, 2014