First UNT building earns LEED certification

Life Sciences Complex
Life Sciences Complex
Thursday, June 23, 2011

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The more than 24,000 square feet of newly constructed lab space in the University of North Texas' Life Sciences Complex designed to expand research and learning at the nation's 33rd largest university recently received gold-level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, an indication of the university's continuing commitment to lessening its environmental impact.

LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in March 2000. The program provides building owners and operators with a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

The new portion of the Life Sciences Complex is a four-story state-of-the-art research facility that houses the university's biochemistry and molecular biology, developmental physiology, genetics and plant sciences. The building features a four-cell climate-controlled rooftop greenhouses and one of the country's most sophisticated aquatics laboratories with more than 2,500 tanks.

The building's environmental-friendly features include:

  • Bicycle racks and a designated area for showering and changing to encourage walking, bicycling or jogging to work.
  • Conservation of existing natural areas and restoration of damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. Native or adaptive vegetation make up most of the landscaping.
  • Water-efficient landscaping, which will need half the amount of water that traditional landscaping requires. This is achieved by incorporating plants that require less water and the design of a more efficient irrigation system that collects and reuses rainwater.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures use 30 percent less water than traditional fixtures.
  • About 20 percent of the construction materials came from regional sources that were less than 500 miles from the building site, and nearly all wood-based materials were certified that the wood came from environmentally responsible forest management sites.

•              About 85 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills to recycling plants.

The new facility officially opened in October 2010. It is the first building at UNT to receive LEED certification, and the third LEED certified building for the UNT System, which also includes the UNT Health Science Center, UNT Dallas and the UNT System Building in downtown Dallas.

Academic Building 2 on the UNT Dallas campus received gold-level certification earlier this month and the Medical Education and Training Building at the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth received gold-level certification in February.

In 2008, UNT became Texas' first large public university to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, pledging to adhere to more stringent environmental standards and promising to achieve at least LEED Silver certification on new buildings.

UNT's new Business Leadership Building, which is slated to open this fall, also plans to apply for gold-level LEED certification. The UNT System will be seeking LEED Gold or Platinum certification for the new UNT Mean Green Stadium, which will officially open in September. If the project is awarded LEED Platinum, it will be the first athletic, new construction, college football facility in the country – and perhaps world – to receive LEED's highest level of certification.

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