Ball State obtains LEED in green energy


Editor’s Note: The following is part of a class project started in the class of Ball State University professor Adam Kuban, who challenged his students to find sustainability efforts in the Muncie. Several of these stories are presented in November and December.

MUNCIE, Ind. – Over the past 14 years, a gradual revolution has occurred at Ball State University’s 731-acre main campus.

In this case, it is not the students, the faculty, or even the courses.

While this eliminates most of what constitutes the university, you will be able to see the revolution with a quick ride across campus. The changes have been there from the start. The changes have come with its buildings.

The growth on campus has been evident. It seems that each new year brings the inauguration of a new building. Newer buildings such as the Health Professions Building and Basic Science Building on the south side of the campus aim for sustainability, but similar attributes are suitable for older buildings, such as the David Letterman Building in the heart of the campus. Each of these new buildings is carefully constructed to be sustainable and achieve LEED certified building status.

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LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – is the world’s most widely used green building rating system. Its requirements are defined by the United States Green Building Council

LEED certified buildings have become a goal of Ball State because of its Energy Research / Education / Service Center. In 2001, CERES formed the Environment Council, according to the COTE website. The board meets monthly and serves to give the university recommendations on what it could or should do in terms of sustainability.

According to Robert Koester, professor of architecture at BSU, some notable changes recommended by COTE include removing lead from the campus, converting to a tobacco-free campus as well as integrating hybrid electric vehicles into the campus fleet. He also created the resolution for sustainable architecture.

“We brought in a resolution saying that all buildings on campus should be LEED certified,” said Koester, also director of CERES. “When we brought forward our resolution that Ball State should adopt LEED certification for its buildings, we were able to get an agreement for it, and the university adopted a policy that all new building construction should be at least LEED Silver. “

LEED certification plaques hang near the entrance to Ball State's David Letterman Communication and Media Building.  LEED is a voluntary environmental certification developed by the US Green Building Council.  The building was Ball State's first LEED-certified building when it was completed in 2007.

According to the USGBC website, LEED ratings are on a scale from Certified to Platinum. Silver is the second level certification on the scale, and its criteria require 50 to 59 points to be earned on their 100 criteria scale.

Factors relating to location, materials used in construction, energy and atmosphere are the categories on which LEED certification is based. The first building on Ball State’s campus to be LEED certified was the David Letterman Building, and certification was factored into its design and construction, which was ultimately achieved upon completion in 2007.

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There’s even a course at Ball State that allows students to immerse themselves in LEED certification, as well as study and document that each previously certified building is meeting its sustainability goals. This course is known as the LEED Lab and is part of a program supported by the USGBC. LEED Lab instructor Janet Fick, Associate Lecturer in Construction Management, outlined what is being done in the course.

“What we do in LEED Lab is LEED for existing buildings,” says Fick. “We look at them (the buildings) five years later. Did they save energy? Did they save water? Did they play as expected? “

This course ensures responsibility for sustainable architecture on campus.

A 2011 study published by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, one of the national laboratories of the United States Department of Energy, operated by the Battelle Memorial Institute, was also used to study and document the sustainability of LEED certification. .

The study highlighted some of the benefits of sustainable architecture, including an overall operating cost 19% lower than the industry average, carbon dioxide emissions 34% lower than buildings typical buildings and the buildings studied had an energy performance higher by 25%.

For many, the cost of obtaining LEED certification could be a counter argument to obtaining such status. Fortunately, LEED has action steps known as LEED for Existing Buildings that allow older buildings to achieve certification with little to no construction required, according to the USGBC website. Sustainable improvements to the interior of the building can earn points towards LEED certification, given the lasting effects of demolishing an old building and constructing a new one.

Even the smallest architectural changes are effective and can benefit our collective efforts to tackle environmental problems. There are LEED certifications for existing buildings that apply to cost effective interior modifications.

Small changes will lead to big changes, benefiting both a building owner’s ownership and his or her wallet.


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