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Birmingham-Southern's new residence halls are first on a college campus in Alabama to achieve LEED certification
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Birmingham-Southern College's new Lakeview North and Lakeview South residence halls have achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) certification, making them the first residence halls on a college campus in Alabama to be recognized with the highest environmental standards a construction project can achieve.
LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system. Developed by the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council in March 2000, the system provides verification that a facility was constructed with energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and other sustainable features.
Birmingham-Southern's Lakeview North and Lakeview South residence halls opened to 160 students in fall 2010. The four-story, suite-style living facilities overlook the college's Urban Environmental Lake and Park area which serves as an outdoor laboratory for the Urban Environmental Studies academic program and as a place of recreation and leisure.
Among the many sustainable features that helped earn the LEED certification include the use of regional, recycled, and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) materials throughout the buildings. Other sustainable features include Energy Star appliances, recycled-content carpet, low-flow shower heads and faucets, dual-flush toilets, high performance windows, heavily insulated walls, and a high performance, variable refrigerant volume heating and air system.
In addition, the two residence halls were carefully oriented to minimize solar heat gain by avoiding exposure to the Western sun for maximum energy efficiency. A 15,000-gallon water storage cistern buried between the buildings captures the rainwater from the roof to use for landscape irrigation, saving as much as 50,000 gallons of water each year.
"The college is committed to building and operating in an environmentally sustainable way," said Lane Estes, BSC's vice president for administration who oversaw the construction of the new residence halls. "The most easily recognized validation of this is the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification. It allows students, parents, and prospective students, in a shorthand way, to see that the college has a commitment to sustainability. The LEED certification of these two buildings is just one of numerous ways that the college embodies this commitment."
"The Lakeview residence halls are a practical example of good environmental stewardship balanced with a comfortable and attractive living environment," said Jonathan Lucia, director of residence life at BSC. "Our students are learning by living—learning that one can be comfortable and be a responsible consumer of resources."
The architect for the building project was ArchitectureWorks of Birmingham, which led the team from the early stages of design through construction and the LEED documentation process. The general contractor was Golden & Associates of Birmingham.
Birmingham-Southern has been recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the 286 "Greenest Colleges" in the nation. The college has employed several environmental initiatives in recent years, including parking lots with porous asphalt designed to reduce storm water runoff by allowing the water to be absorbed back into the ground; hybrid vehicles for campus police; an ongoing recycling program, including oil; low-flow shower heads in student living facilities; energy efficient light bulbs in campus buildings; significant reduction of paper use; and motion detectors which allow lights to turn on and off based on occupancy, among other past and ongoing initiatives.