LEEDING WAY: One small central Iowa campus has three LEED rated buildings to promote energy conservation

You’ve probably heard the term LEED before, when it comes to green building. It stands for Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design. More Iowa buildings are meeting those standards, and you’ll find three on one small central Iowa campus.

From top to bottom, Central College Junior Michelle Stewart says, “I absolutely love it. It’s my favorite building on campus.”

She’s talking about The Roe Center on Central’s campus in Pella. She says, “You just feel the environment around you.”

That’s because the facility for classrooms and offices was built with the environment in mind. Director of Facilities Planning and Management Mike Lubberden says the building achieved the highest possible LEED Platinum rating by the US Green Building Council because of its energy efficiency and design.

Lubberden says you’ll find natural light throughout because of something called a daylight harvester system. He says, “When they come into the room, the lights they turn on based on occupancy sensors and they very stealthily will dim down to compensate for the daylight coming into the room.”

A voice alerts you if the windows need to be open or shut. And, ventilation on demand system optimizes air circulation. He says, “This takes a sample of room air and makes adjustments to the HVAC system to deliver only the amount of fresh air in the space that’s required by occupants.

On the roof you’ll find a 25 kilowatt solar array that provides about ten percent of the building’s energy, along with a garden full of plants to filter rainwater. Lubberden says, “Plus it’s a nice place for building occupants to hang out.”

Even the bathrooms feature an interesting environmental feature. The toilets use recycled rain water. Lubberden says, “We capture the roof runoff, not only from the green roof, but all portions of the roof. It’s harvested into a cistern and then we use that water to flush toilets and urinals, as well as feeding the water feature out front that’s a little babbling brook.”

Lubberden says it cost slightly more to build the $18 million dollar project. But, he says the college with see a payback in seven years because of energy savings. He says, “But, that’s not the only reason we go green. It’s because it’s the right thing to do. We want to make sure we model our operational side of our campus to hopefully allow our students to take that into our future into their professional and private lives.”

Nearly 20 central Iowa buildings now have a LEED rating, ranging from silver to platinum, according to the Iowa chapter of the US Green Building Council.

Four of those have the highest rating of platinum, including Wellmark’s headquarters in downtown Des Moines and the King Pavilion on Iowa State University’s campus.

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