Grounds to Get 'Greener:' U.Va. Board’s Building and Grounds Committee Embraces Sustainability

December 20, 2006
Dec. 20, 2006 -- Sustainable development, which offers optimum living and working conditions while reducing environmental impact, is the future at the University, the Board of Visitors’ Buildings and Grounds Committee heard on Dec. 11.

The committee had approved sustainability guidelines in May, developed by University Architect David J. Neuman. He presented an additional element to the committee at this meeting — Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which sets criteria for environmentally friendly design and construction. Neuman said there are now five projects that can qualify for certification.

LEED, administered by the U.S. Green Building Council, operates on a point system, with a maximum of 69 points for each project, judged on sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials, indoor environmental quality and innovation. Basic certification is a score between 26 and 32 points, while 52 or more points hits the platinum level, the fourth and highest ranking.

Hereford Residence Hall, Observatory Hill Residence Hall, phase one of the South Lawn Project, the Claude C. Moore Nursing Education Building, the Claude C. Moore Medical Education Building and the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center are all projects on which the University could qualify for certification, Neuman said.

While there are cost factors, such as additional design fees, facilities upgrades and construction costs, Neuman said there is fast initial payback on investment, through improved energy savings, increased productivity and enhanced health, comfort and productivity of the people in the buildings. The University also benefits through more efficient water and wastewater management, decreased maintenance and operations costs, limiting liability exposure and reduced impact on the environment.

Committee chair L. F. Payne applauded the efforts, noting that having “greener” Grounds maybe a factor in students’ college selection.

The committee followed Neuman’s recommendation that LEED be the standard for new construction and renovation projects on Grounds. Since the program has fiscal impacts, it was referred to the financial committee and will then be presented to the full board.

The committee also heard from Kathleen Cacciola, president of Green Grounds, a student group working with the architect’s office on sustainability. Cacciola, whose group completed an assessment of sustainability efforts, praised the University’s work in energy management, resource conservation and land stewardship. She said there were also opportunities in renewable energy and transportation access.

Neuman said the students had contributed a lot “knowledge, commitment and individual initiative. The students have a strong desire for sustainability, not just for the University but for the city and the country too.”

The committee also reviewed the construction status of the Advanced Research and Technology building at the Fontaine Research Park. Neuman said the building was designed with flexible interior space, which is supposed to encourage interdepartmental research.
In other business, the committee:

• approved a student council request for a memorial space to honor those who died while students at the University. A plaque will be placed on a brick retaining wall by the northeast entrance to Newcomb Hall. The memorial space will also include a bench and some landscaping.

• approved the demolition of four structures — three residences on Valley Road and a building used as a music department practice space on Jefferson Park Avenue —as part of the South Lawn project. The board also approved the demolition of the currently un-used Copeley Gas House at the intersection of Emmet Street and Copeley Road.

• approved easements for Dominion Virginia Power to move electric lines to accommodate the construction of Ruffin Hall, near the intersection of Rugby and Culbreth roads.