The University of Florida is adding its 75th LEED-certified campus building, strengthening its push toward a greener campus.
UF is building to LEED standards an addition to the Career Resource Center and Weil Hall. LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design,” according to the LEED website. It is the largest green building rating system in the world. The certification provides a framework to create environmentally-friendly design and features to any building, whether commercial or residential.
Dustin Stephany, the sustainable building coordinator at UF, said that the university has been working on certified LEED projects for the past 15 years, with a total of 73 buildings on campus having these requirements. UF has the third most certifications for a university.
“A LEED reviewer will essentially be given a variety of design and construction documents in which he/she verifies that a series of sustainability requirements have been met. Each credit has an associated point value to it and the greater the number of sustainability requirements that are met, the higher the number of points a project receives, placing the project at a LEED level rating (certified, silver, gold, or platinum),” Stephany said.
These buildings have certain design elements to them such as saving energy, using less water and waste and being more cost effective, according to the website.
“It’s the most widely used green building system in the world. The Heavener Football Complex is actually a platinum LEED facility…the first athletic facility in the state to be a platinum building,” said Allison Vitt, outreach and communications coordinator for UF’s Office of Sustainability.
The LEED program at UF was voted number one in the country in 2010, according to the Office of Sustainability. The UF campus has three platinum, 27 gold, 12 silver, 14 certified and 18 registered LEED buildings, as of April 2014, totaling 74 LEED buildings on campus.
“UF has required that any new building built on campus must be built to LEED standards which makes the campus better for future generations,” said UF interior design student Pari Kemp. “It is a way to ensure that buildings can function for a longer period of time.”
Ally Kayy, an interior design student at UF, said that it is impressive that UF is working towards more sustainable designs for the future. Kayy is also a sustainability studies minor and has passed the LEED certification exam.
“It’s interesting that a place like Gainesville is the largest density of LEED buildings around the area,” Kayy said. “We had structures in Gainesville that promoted sustainable acts of construction. The Reitz Union was the largest university renovation within Florida.”
Jade White, an interior design student with a sustainability studies minor at UF, said that there needs to be more LEED education for the school and community.
“Having LEED buildings on campus is a great idea but there needs to be a consistency on keeping the buildings up. With LEED, there are a lot of evaluations to keep the certification, so making sure that the buildings have these systems in place would be ideal,” White said. “It is interesting overall for people to understand the systems that go into a LEED building.”
UF has multiple projects lined up for the future, as well as improving and remodeling buildings already on campus. There are currently 12 projects in the works.
“UF will continue to find ways to design and construct resource-efficient buildings, which not only reduces our operating costs, but also helps us in reducing our overall carbon impact as a university,” Stephany said. “Further, we are looking at ways to review and certify our existing building stock to ensure that, as a whole, our campus is as efficient and healthy as possible.”