Aug. 6, 2009
UI triples number of LEED-accredited staff
In January the University of Iowa's Facilities Management department set a goal of doubling the number of LEED-Accredited Professionals on staff to help ensure that every new building on campus is designed to be as environmentally friendly as possible. On Friday, UI President Sally Mason will recognize 17 LEED Accredited Professionals, or more than triple the number on campus last year.
The announcement comes just one week after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named the UI as one of the Top 20 On-Site Green Power Users, most notably for its use of oat hulls to offset the combustion of coal at its power plant. [See http://www.news-releases.uiowa.edu/2009/July/072709epa-top20.html]
Mason will honor the following LEED-accredited staff at 10 a.m. Friday in Room 202 of the University Services Building: Dean Dykstra, Eric Foresman, Sadie Greiner, Jeff Harney, Jan Harvey, Jennifer Hoffman, Kris Kluseman, Rodney Lehnertz, Gary Nagle, Steve Otto, Janet Razbadouski, Nic Riesenberg, Beverly Robalino, Ann Rosenthal, Lindsay Sauer, Ed Scherrer and Chet Wieland.
LEED, shorthand for The Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, is an independent certification program that provides voluntary guidelines for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Created by the U.S. Green Building Council, the program awards varying levels of certification to buildings that meet LEED rating standards in five major categories: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
To become a LEED-accredited professional, staff must attend LEED classes and take a test. Once accredited, these LEED AP's seek points for building projects based on how well the design and materials adhere to the highest environmental standards, with buildings qualifying for one of four LEED designations: certified, silver, gold or platinum.
The UI accreditations coincide with the enactment of a new Iowa Board of Regents requirement that Iowa's public universities give preference for all new major building and renovation projects to design professionals with LEED certification experience. The board also now requires that all major building projects on campus meet a minimum of LEED Silver certification.
The UI is already ahead of the curve with a long history of designing sustainable facilities prior to the new Board of Regents policy on LEED. To date, seven UI buildings and structures in the construction, renovation or design stages are registered for LEED Silver standards or higher: Beckwith Boathouse; Iowa Institute for Biomedical Discovery; State Hygienic Laboratory; Institute for Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation; Old Music Building Renovation; Hancher Auditorium complex; and College of Public Health, which may in fact achieve a LEED Gold rating.
Liz Christiansen, director of the UI Office of Sustainability, said to LEED accreditation helps staff become more knowledgeable about sustainable design, construction, operation and maintenance.
"They will be involved in the earliest stages of planning to influence and promote the use of environmentally friendly materials and design," Christiansen said. "They will also play a critical role in documentation, and in that way they facilitate the LEED certification process. The LEED AP's can also work to ensure the continued sustainable performance of a building. The professionals must stay current with the latest green building technologies, ensuring that the UI is always on the cutting edge of sustainability."
Rod Lehnertz, director of design and construction in UI Facilities Management and one of the UI's LEED AP's, said the expanding cadre of LEED-accredited staff means the UI will be better able to coordinate with outside design professionals who have LEED certification experience and critically assess their products and services.
"With a larger accredited staff, we may be able to have some individuals specialize in certain areas, such as reuse of gray water and site-specific waste treatment," Lehnertz said. "While we will rely on the consultants to lead the team, having a staff rich with LEED AP's will keep the entire team on their toes and help us ensure that consistent and creative LEED opportunities are exploited on every major project. We will also be able to better introduce LEED principles into the many small projects that would not otherwise be required to reach LEED certification."
Christiansen said that while the first cost of LEED buildings may be higher than conventional construction, there are obvious financial benefits in the long-term.
"With LEED design becoming more widely accepted and used both by design consultants and contractors, the premium for designing to a LEED level is constantly going down," she said.
More information about LEED is available on the U.S. Green Building Councils Web site at http://www.usgbc.org/.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500
MEDIA CONTACTS: Liz Christiansen, UI Office of Sustainability, 319-335-5516, firstname.lastname@example.org; Rod Lehnertz, UI Planning, Design and Construction, 319-335-1205 between 3 and 5 p.m., email@example.com; Stephen Pradarelli, University News Services, 319-384-0007, firstname.lastname@example.org