Huntsman Hall may go green and win gold
Utah State expects new buildings that it helps fund to meet certain earth- and energy-friendly standards when it comes to designing, operating and maintaining the facilities. These standards are set by an independent, internationally-recognized organization called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED.
The private organization offers up a list of specific green building standards and awards points to organizations that meet those standards. Depending on how many points are earned, a project could win a silver, gold or platinum medal. If you want state funding, your project must qualify for at least a silver medal.
In some cases, reaching certain levels can increase costs, so we have to be strategic as we decide where to invest our limited resources. We are sure we can reach the silver level, hopeful we can earn a gold medal but think it’s highly unlikely we’ll be able to afford qualifying for the platinum medal.
We are, for example, planning on putting in the right kind of native grass in our plaza area between Huntsman Hall and the new Agricultural building to save on water costs. One standard we’d like to meet but may not be feasible is to ensure that at least 90 percent of the structure has natural light. Creating an inviting facility with lots of natural lighting has always been one of our goals. We don’t yet know if as much as 90 percent of it will have natural lighting.
By using LEED standards the state gets third-party verification that a facility and has been “built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality,” according to the LEED Website.
The organization was created by the U.S. Green Building Council in the year 2000 and uses a rating system that’s an outgrowth of an open, “consensus-based process led by LEED committees,” the website says.
So, we won’t just be talking green; we’ll be documenting what we are doing so that when the LEED assessment team visits we’ll make the grade and hopefully earn gold medal status in the process. It will be our gift to Mother Nature.