What Can LEED Sustainability Offer Academic Institutions?
As leaders in the field of progressive thought, it is no wonder that many colleges and universities are striving to incorporate LEED sustainability efforts into their campus buildings and dormitories. Taking this step allows an academic institution to improve their energy efficiency, conserve their resources, and enhance the environmental quality of their buildings. When a project manager who is working with buildings at a higher institution decides to pursue LEED certification, they have several avenues that they may work within.
When working on new construction or major renovations, they may apply for LEED-NC. That kind of project on a college campus can, of course, apply for and receive credits within the five LEED categories: Sustainable Site, Water Usage, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources and Indoor Environmental Quality. However, most project managers will discover that they will also be able to also achieve a lot within LEED’s sixth category: Innovation and Design. This category allows the project manager to explore environmental categories like education and community enhancement. These categories can be uniquely dealt with on a college campus.
LEED certification can also be invaluable when applied to existing buildings. The LEED-EB certification is ideal for dormitories. This certification helps buildings become better stewards of the environment, but it also helps them become healthier places for their occupants. This is especially relevant when considering older structures like dorms that were built decades or even a century ago. Because students live in and spend much of their time in these buildings, campus directors should look closely at how they can be improved.
However, making a campus more sustainable does not just lie in the realm of changing individual buildings. In fact, a lot of LEED credits can be earned by implementing new campus-wide efforts. College and universities can apply sustainability efforts to the entire life cycle of their campus. They can draft plans that address everything from the campus’s master development plans to the campus’s operations and maintenance.
The goal for any university or college should not be to create one new LEED certified building or to make one old building greener. Ultimately, their goal should be to institutionalize the LEED sustainability efforts and reduce the campus’s carbon footprint overall.