Renovations to 15 Park Place will accrue LEED credits by drawing on the site's natural landscape. The hillside behind the house is being restored with native and adapted vegetation to promote biodiversity, and invasive exotic species are being removed.
Photographer: Alyse Lamparyk
May 11, 2011
By Monica Chapman and Catherine Roebuck
The newly-opened Walter International Education Center is set to become the first Ohio University building to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, pending approval by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The building, located at 15 Park Place, was recently renovated to LEED Silver certification standards. With its grand opening slated for Saturday, the center marks the first of five Ohio University buildings to apply for LEED certification – the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability.
Drawing on the landscape
Renovations to 15 Park Place will accrue LEED credits by drawing on the site's natural landscape. The sloping hillside behind the house will be restored with native and adapted vegetation to promote biodiversity, and invasive exotic species will be removed.
Storm water from the hillside will flow into the pond below, allowing it to infiltrate the ground and reduce the risk of flooding, thereby alleviating pressure on the Athens municipal storm water sewage system.
Ohio University students have been instrumental in developing a landscaping plan for the center. Planting is currently underway, under the guidance of Professor of Environmental and Plant Biology Philip Cantino.
In addition to earning LEED credits for the building, the landscape will serve as an educational tool about native species, according to Interim Sustainability Coordinator Erin Sykes.
Optimizing energy efficiency
Renovations to 15 Park Place, the former Sigma Chi Fraternity house, placed a heavy emphasis on energy efficiency.
Features include energy-efficient lighting, insulated exterior walls and water-efficient fixtures, such as sink aerators to conserve water in the restrooms and kitchenette, according to Lynnette Clouse, LEED accredited project manager in the Office of Design and Construction.
The building has also been tied into university-wide energy distribution systems, such as the central steam and chilled water loops.
Enhancing quality of life
The renovation strives to provide a more comfortable and healthy work environment for employees – earning credits toward LEED's "indoor environmental quality" metric. This includes daylighting and controllability of systems, allowing occupants to adjust lighting and temperature to their own individual comfort level.
Priority was also given to recycled building materials and materials from local sources throughout the building process.
While current employees are among the first to reap benefits from these measures, Clouse is quick to point out the future implications.
"Pursuing LEED shows current and future students, faculty and staff that Ohio University is committed to a sustainable future," she said.
Moving toward a sustainable future
Ohio University first committed to meeting or exceeding LEED Silver certification standards for all new construction and renovation projects in May 2009.
The commitment is part of on-going efforts to improve the University's environmental performance, supported through Ohio University’s campus wide sustainability plan. The plan, presented to the Board of Trustees last month, commits to exhibiting best practices in sustainable energy, water, space, material resource conservation and efficiency for all campus buildings and grounds, according to Associate Vice President of Facilities Harry Wyatt.
"LEED Silver design as a policy was one of the early cornerstones of plan implementation, and design and certification of this building the first example of much good work ahead," Wyatt said.
For more information on OHIO's commitment to LEED certification, check out the following Compass links:
LEED certification sought on three OHIO construction projects
Former Sigma Chi fraternity given new life with LEED renovation
Schoonover Center to be largest LEED project
Chillicothe campus next in line for large LEED-certified project