WCU Health & Human Sciences Building Goes For The Silver

The new building should be the university’s first LEED-certified structure.

March 16, 2012 (Asheville, NC) — Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee’s Asheville architecture studio is currently submitting documentation to prove that Western Carolina University’s new Health & Human Sciences building complies with LEED Silver standards.

The $46 million, four-level, 160,000-square-foot building will be WCU’s first LEED-rated structure.

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a points-based certification program administered by the United States Green Building Council that recognizes buildings’ environmental conservation and sustainability on four levels: basic certification 40 – 49 points; Silver, 50 – 59 points; Gold, 60 – 79 points; and Platinum, 80 points and above.

The Health & Human Sciences Building under construction. (Photo from The Reporter)

The university, located in Cullowhee, NC, asked architects Pearce Brinkley Cease + Lee (PBC+L) to aim for LEED Silver with the design and construction of the building, which is currently completing construction on WCU’s West Campus. It’s expected to open for classes this fall.

“The new Health and Human Sciences Building is another great example of our commitment to systematically integrating sustainability at WCU,” Lauren Bishop, the university’s energy manager, told The Reporter, WCU’s faculty and staff news.

The building’s array of energy conserving and sustainability features includes:

  • Reflective roof and usable rooftop garden to alleviate heat gain and the “heat island” effect, and to filter rain water.
  • A series of sand filters and bio-retention ponds near the building to minimize polluting storm water runoff.
  • Orientation of windows and sunscreens to maximize natural lighting and natural ventilation.
  • Carefully managed construction process to recycle over 50 percent of waste and scraps.
  • Interior materials that are comprised of recycled content and/or available regionally.
  • A hydroelectric power and electric heat system to reduce the amount of copper piping needed compared to a typical building of the same size.
  • Occupancy sensors for the lighting system to reduce energy use.
  • Low-flow toilets and other plumbing fixtures that use 41 percent less water than would a typical building that size.
  • A mechanical system with an individualized temperature control to use 20 percent less energy.
  • All-native plants and trees in the landscaping.

“The natural light systems designed not only reduce energy consumption and costs but also improve human performance,” said Linda Seestedt-Stanford, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “The rooftop garden provides a green space for gathering while also contributing to better air quality, storm water management and absorption of solar radiation. By protecting the environment, we benefit the health and wellness of the individuals who use it and also support the health of our community.”

Chad Roberson, principal in charge of the project, and Sara Melanson, project architect, expect the building to receive LEED Silver certification by the end of the year. For more information on PBC+L, visit www.pbclarchitecture.com

For more information on the WCU College of Health & Human Services, go to http://www.wcu.edu/2215.asp.

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