July 14, 2008

New UW-L Building Sets Sights on LEED Certification

By KJ Lang, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Jul. 14--The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse is taking the LEED in sustainability.

The new academic building -- Centennial Hall -- is the first in the UW System that will be LEED certified, said Bob Hetzel, UW-L vice chancellor for administration and finance. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. "We are very pleased to make that claim; it speaks very well for our campus," said Hetzel.

The move added an additional $250,000 to the project cost, bringing the total bill for the new facility to $44.25 million.

About $125,000 of that cost is for architectural and engineering fees to work toward the goal of incorporating LEED standards into the construction of the building, said Hetzel. The remaining money goes to carry out some of those designs. For instance, a majority of the funds will go toward a solar hot water heating system on the roof, said Hetzel.

However, these expenses don't ensure that the building is LEED certified, said Valentine Schute, project architect from River Architects. Final approval rests with review by the U.S. Green Building Council.

La Crosse County is also looking at LEED certification for a jail addition to the Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center, but unlike UW-L's building, the county is looking at the lowest level of certification.

UW-L is planning to go one step higher to a silver rating, said Schute.

LEED certification is measured by points that relate to energy conservation strategies, said Schute. The lowest level of certification means earning from 26-32 points while a silver rating is 33-38 points.

But don't be fooled by the one-point difference to move from one rating to the next. One point can mean a lot of work.

Both the jail and Centennial Hall designs incorporate bricks and other materials manufactured within a 500 mile radius of La Crosse, said Schute. That earned them both only one point.

It is also UW-L's plan to make the new residence hall or halls LEED certified. Those halls will replace Baird and Trowbridge halls, which are marked for demolition to allow for Centennial Hall.

Building LEED-certified buildings also reaffirms UW-L's commitment to sustainability made clear by the Talloires Declaration Chancellor Joe Gow signed this spring, said Hetzel.

The design report and project plans for Centennial Hall received final approval from the State Building Commission on June 25.

The Centennial Hall project also is contingent on the UW-L Foundation raising a total of $6 million toward the cost of the building in order to receive $38 million from the state. The foundation has raised about $1.6 million so far. The university must raise $3 million by Aug. 31 to solicit a letter of credit from local banks by Nov. 30.

KJ Lang can be reached at (608) 791-8226 or [email protected]


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