FGCU's New Building for Science Laboratories and Research, Academic Building 7, Achieves LEED Platinum Certification,
the Highest Standard of Environmentally Sound Construction
FORT MYERS, FL - Florida Gulf Coast University's Academic Building 7 (AB7), the University's new facility housing science laboratories and classrooms for the College of Arts and Sciences, recently achieved Platinum level certification, the highest level awarded in the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, green building rating system. The LEED rating system provides external verification that buildings are designed and built to save energy, conserve water, reduce CO2 emissions, improve indoor air quality, and demonstrate stewardship of resources.
According to the summary report from U.S. Green Building Council, AB7 joins the elite ranks of about 310 facilities worldwide with this Platinum level designation. With more than 5,440 certified projects to date, the FGCU facility is bumping elbows with the top 5% of all LEED certified projects. AB7 is officially the 4th Platinum level project in Florida. It is the second University building and the first University academic/lab building in Florida to achieve this honor.
"Achievement of Platinum LEED status reflects a level of institutional commitment that rises to international standards. This is especially significant because of the severity of the summer climate conditions in Southwest Florida and the challenges and complexity of environmental requirements for laboratory science buildings," said FGCU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs Ronald Toll.
The 62,000 square-foot, four-story building, houses labs for physics, biology and chemistry as well as math labs, specialized research labs and a Geographic Information System (GIS) computer lab. The facility also accommodates offices, conference rooms and a 160-seat lecture hall. International architecture, planning, engineering, interior design and program management firm LEO A DALY provided full architectural services for the project.
"Science buildings are very energy consuming by nature, which make this achievement even more significant," said Robert J. Thomas, LEO A DALY's principal of Science & Technology. "The new science building, which is the first platinum project for LEO A DALY, validates the universities' commitment to sustainability and sets a goal for other universities to follow."
"Coming to the table with the goal of LEED certification for our new science building was a true team effort," said Donna Henry, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at FGCU. "The university, architectural, and construction management team worked closely to plan and construct a state of the art academic science research building, while actively selecting systems that would reduce the impact on the environment."
Designing and constructing the building to LEED specifications was especially challenging since the structure houses a number of laboratories and research spaces, which do not easily lend themselves to green design features. For example, the research labs contain chemical exhaust hoods that send conditioned air to the external environment. Design of AB7 compensated for this with the use of electronic systems that measure indoor humidity levels and adjust air conditioning systems accordingly.
Other environmentally sound qualities include high efficiency lighting fixtures, windows and insulation that reduce energy requirements by 18 percent, saving more than $50,000 annually; a high-performance reflective metal roof; and shade overhangs and high-efficiency bathroom fixtures that reduce water usage. The building landscaping was designed to be drought resistant and incorporates native and Florida friendly plants that will need no watering after they are established. During construction particular attention was paid to recycling and re-using materials: more than 75 percent of the construction waste for this building was recycled instead of being sent to a landfill; more than 20 percent of the materials used in the construction of this building contain recycled content; and at least 20 percent of the materials for the building construction were manufactured within 500 miles of the building. To reduce individual transportation needs, AB7 is less than ¼ mile walking distance from a bus line stop and has easy access to other university facilities, and showers and changing rooms are provided to encourage bicycling to campus.
"Buildings are a prime example of how human systems integrate with natural systems," said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. "The FGCU project efficiently uses our natural resources and makes an immediate, positive impact on our planet, which will tremendously benefit future generations to come."
According to FGCU president Wilson Bradshaw, "the platinum certification of AB7 is simply the latest example of the University's commitment to sustainability initiatives on our campus. Since we opened our doors in 1997, our commitment to the environment has been reflected across the University, from our curriculum and degree programs to maintaining native vegetation while eliminating invasive species on our campus."
FGCU integrates environmental sustainability practices into campus life and the community. A 15-acre solar field, which began operating in December 2009, consists of 10,818 solar modules that produce 2 megawatts of electricity, enough to power hundreds of homes. FGCU uses most of that energy to power Holmes and Lutgert halls, as well as AB7, at an annual cost savings of about $700,000, roughly 18 percent of FGCU’s payments to Florida Power & Lighting. The university operates one of Florida's largest ice thermal storage plants, generating ice at night when the demand for electricity is low. Biscayne and Everglades residence halls get hot water from rooftop tanks heated by the sun. Campus swimming pools use geothermal energy to heat and cool the water, and campus architecture is geared to the region's subtropical climate, providing shade in and around buildings.
FGCU plans to build all future buildings to achieve LEED certification.
For more information contact Ken Schexnayder, associate vice president for Community Relations and Marketing at (239) 590-1081.