Tuesday January 5, 2016

Green = Gold

The newly renovated University of Dayton Immaculate Conception Chapel is full of blue to represent the Catholic, Marianist order that founded the University. But there’s also plenty of green throughout the chapel, which isn’t quite as noticeable, that has earned the chapel a gold rating as an energy-efficient building.

The U.S. Green Building Council has issued a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certification for the chapel. LEED certification is independent verification a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in sustainable site development.

"This is an incredible achievement for the project, and the credit goes to the entire team — Heapy Engineering, Danis and its subcontractors, and architects Brightman and Mitchell. They were key to this successful effort to certify the building," said David Schmidt, University of Dayton assistant vice president for construction management in the department of facilities management.

Throughout the $12 million chapel renovation, sustainability was incorporated literally from floor to ceiling, according to Kurt Hatcher, University of Dayton environmental sustainability manager. Much of the adhesives, carpet, paint and wood in the construction are recycled or low-emitting materials that improve indoor air quality. Energy and water use in and around the chapel have improved as well. Landscaping and the chapel's plumbing system are designed to reduce water consumption by 40 percent and LED lighting cuts electric and gas consumption. For the first time, the University purchased renewable energy credits for two years to offset 70 percent of the building’s energy usage.

"As a result of the high-performance sustainable design, we estimate the chapel will be 28 percent more energy efficient than the majority of newly renovated facilities of its size and type," said John Harpest, senior principal at Heapy Engineering, who led the mechanical and electrical design for the project.

Achieving LEED Gold certification for a building built nearly 150 years ago is no easy task. Adding insulation while maintaining the building aesthetic required careful consideration by the design team. The team was able to utilize much of the 1869 building structure and refurbish major building components such as the dome and main entry door as well as find recycled items such as pews.

"More than 68 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills, allowing materials created more than a century ago to be recycled or repurposed," according to Ryan Hoffman, sustainability and energy services manager at Heapy Engineering, who helped guide the team through the LEED effort.  

Starting with the GE Aviation EPISCenter in 2013, the University has committed to ensuring all renovated and new buildings achieve at least LEED silver certification or an equivalent status.

Ten houses recently built in the student neighborhoods are certified as green buildings under National Association of Homebuilders standards.

The University's commitment to energy-efficiency in construction is among the many recent sustainability initiatives that include becoming the first Catholic university to divest from fossil fuels, holding a conference on the "how to" for organizations considering changing investment goals in line with Pope Francis' climate encyclical and joining the Second Nature Carbon Commitment, committing the University to being carbon neutral by 2050. The University already has reduced its footprint 5 percent in the last decade, despite adding more students, land and buildings, according to Hatcher.

Recognition for sustainability efforts is nothing new for the University. It has a STARS silver rating in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). The University earned positive marks for curricular education, innovation, grounds, coordination and planning, diversity and affordability, and sustainability policies in human resources, such as employee wellness programs and options for socially responsible investing in retirement. The University also is listed in The Princeton Review's Guide to 322 Green Colleges.

Find more information about the University of Dayton's sustainability efforts, visit the related link.

For more information, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of media relations, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson@udayton.edu.

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