The past decade has seen remarkable growth in the University’s built environment. Measuring by square footage of buildings, the University is now over 30% larger than it was just ten years ago. This rate of growth outpaces most other measures: the student body has only grown by about 13%; faculty and staff have increased by less than 20%. This growth has brought the University new capabilities in research, the arts, and medicine. It has also added significantly to the University’s environmental footprint.
The energy needed to power and condition buildings contributes to 85% of the University’s greenhouse gas emissions. Lifecycle impacts stemming from the manufacture, transport, and disposal of construction materials are known to be significant, but have yet to be fully tallied.
For more than a decade, steps have been taken to reduce energy consumption in existing buildings and improve the efficiency of new buildings. But a major impediment to reduced energy consumption is that most new buildings at U.Va. consume more energy than existing University buildings. This is not to say that new buildings are inefficient. Rather, a distinction has to be made between energy efficiency and energy consumption. New U.Va. buildings, many LEED-certified and equipped with innovative energy technologies, are more efficient than the same buildings would be without these technologies. But new University buildings are being designed to accomplish much more than their older peers. From specialized laboratory equipment in new research facilities to ubiquitous air conditioning in new residence halls, the expectations placed on new buildings are driving absolute energy consumption up, not down.
While building energy consumption is a critical factor in advancing built environment sustainability, it is only one of many. Buildings cannot be evaluated solely on their energy consumption because buildings are not built solely to consume energy. Rather, University buildings provide the necessary shelter to foster new ideas, educate minds, and heal patients. The University’s most valuable resources, its people, spend most of their time indoors. Therefore, the health and productivity of the University community should be the primary objective of our built environment, and of the tools we use to evaluate it. In this context, buildings must sustain our mission as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) was publicly launched in 2001 by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) with the release of its first rating system, LEED for New Construction Version 2.0 (LEED-NC). Focusing on new construction and major renovations, LEED-C evaluated buildings using criteria in six areas: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation & Design Process. By earning points for specific credits, projects can work their way through the levels of certification: base, silver, gold, and platinum. Since 2001, USGBC has continued to develop the LEED-NC system, currently on version 3, as well as to introduce eight new rating systems, such as LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance and LEED for Healthcare.
The University has 22 LEED certified buildings, including 2 at U.Va.’s College at Wise.
LEED Certified Buildings at U.Va.
- U.Va.’s College at Wise Science Building
- Bavaro Hall
- Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center
- South Lawn Project
- Garrett Hall
- Hunter Smith Band Building
- Town Center III (U.Va. Foundation)
- 415 Ray C. Hunt Drive
- Claude Moore Medical Education Building
- Printing and Copying Services Addition
- ITC Data Center
- Balz-Dobie Residence Hall
- Watson-Webb Residence Hall
- Ern Commons
- Ophthalmology Clinic Expansion
- U.Va.’s College at Wise Multi-Purpose Center
- Physical and Life Sciences Research Building
- Rice Hall
- Primary Care Center Annex
- Baseball Stadium Renovations
- Pavilion IX
- Hospital Bed Expansion