WWU's Academic Instructional Center awarded LEED certification for environmental design

The Academic Instructional Center at Western Washington University has been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building project is environmentally responsible, profitable and a healthy place to live and work.

Among the environmentally friendly concepts in the 120,000-square-foot facility are solar shading, natural ventilation and heat recovery, energy and water efficiency, onsite use of excavated materials and the recycling of construction waste.

“This was a tough goal to accomplish given the late decision to go for LEED certification for the project,” said Tim Wynn, director of WWU’s Facilities Management. “The entire team should be congratulated for this achievement.”

The AIC already was under way when a state law was passed requiring state-funded buildings to pursue LEED certification. Even though the building design already had been completed, WWU students nonetheless pushed for the university to seek certification for the AIC, Wynn said. That effort was a success.

“With everyone working together -- including the students, the design team, the Facilities Management project managers and the construction contractor – we were able to get this done,” Wynn said.

A few of the building’s green features, at a glance:

  • Natural ventilation through portions of the building via passive means. Instead of relying on air conditioning, ventilation hoods, noise-producing fans and other mechanical devices, natural ventilation allows the physics of air movement to moderate temperatures within the building. The natural ventilation system uses operable windows, trickle vents, radiant panels, ceiling fans and cloud ceilings to increase energy efficiency and maintain excellent indoor air quality.
  • Perimeter openings in acoustic tile ceilings, which allow air to circulate against the thermal mass of building concrete to moderate interior temperatures.
  • Passive solar shading, using louvers along the exterior of the building that help control building temperature changes during the day.
  • Heating water, controlled by the building monitoring system, which flows through radiant panels to heat offices and classrooms.
  • Water-saving dual-flush toilets.
  • Energy-saving occupancy sensors installed in offices and classrooms that turn lights off if they don't detect room occupants for a set period of time.
  • Use of improved construction adhesives and materials that reduce off-gassing of harmful chemicals.

The $50 million building, funded by the Washington state legislature, is approximately 120,000 square feet in size and is comprised of two wings, a departmental building wing and an academic wing, connected by a skybridge. The building first opened for classes on Jan. 6.

The project was designed by Seattle’s NAC Architecture in association with Opsis Architecture of Portland. The general contractor was Dawson Construction of Bellingham. More information on LEED certification is available from the U.S. Green Building Council at http://www.usgbc.org/. Print-quality photos are available online at http://news.wwu.edu/go/doctype/1538/21456/.

For more information, contact Facilities Management Director Tim Wynn at (360) 650-3496 or tim.wynn@wwu.edu.