UConn goes for the (LEED) Gold!

Happy 4th of July to friends and followers of the OEP!  Here’s some UConn green campus news also worth celebrating.

Earlier this week, UConn’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously, on the recommendation of its Building, Grounds & Environment Committee, to upgrade UConn’s longstanding Sustainable Design & Construction Policy.  The new mandatory performance standard for all construction and renovation projects exceeding $5 million will be LEED Gold, as certified by the USGBC.

Our minimum performance standard under the old policy had been LEED Silver since March 2007, when UConn was among the first public universities in the nation to require certification at this level.  Since then, our green building track record has been excellent, much to the credit of our Planning Architectural & Engineering Services Department at Storrs and the Planning, Design & Construction Department at the UConn Health Center in Farmington.  Since 2007, UConn has had 34 projects that were at least LEED Silver registered or certified, representing more than 3.3 million square feet, and including four LEED Gold certified projects. We’ve won green building and energy efficiency awards for many of these projects, and they’ve been a significant factor in our high green campus rankings over the past five or six years.

UConn’s resource-efficient new construction, together with our steady commitment to energy efficiency measures in existing buildings[1], is saving the University millions of dollars each year in energy costs and keeping us on track with our Climate Action Plan goal of reducing our carbon footprint by at least 20 percent by 2020 (against the 2007 baseline). This achievement is well within our reach, despite the concurrent growth in enrollment and campus building square footage during this 10-year period.

This upgrade of our green building policy was overshadowed by other agenda items covered at the June Board meeting, including approval of UConn’s operating budget for the next fiscal year and the unprecedented revocation of an honorary degree granted to comedian Bill Cosby in 1996. But, for UConn’s strong network of environmentally-minded students, faculty, staff, alumni and others, this LEED Gold policy news doesn’t take a back seat to anything else.  If you happen to see a senior administrator or UConn Board of Trustees member, thank them for keeping UConn on the leading edge of green building!



[1] These energy conservation measures include more than 20 significant building retro-commissioning projects, the ongoing campus-wide retrofit of all interior and exterior lighting to LED by 2020, and the extensive steam/condensate system replacement project.