USC LEEDing by example
The University of South Carolina has much to celebrate with South Carolina’s making the list of the top 10 states for LEED green buildings.
The only Southern state included on the U.S. Green Building Council list released March 2, South Carolina came in at No. 5 on ranking, which was based on square footage of LEED-certified space per person in 2010.
USC is a major driver of South Carolina’s success, said Michael Koman, USC’s director of sustainability.
“To see South Carolina ranked among the top states in the country is gratifying, as it shows that our commitment to sustainability and education is producing results,” Koman said. “All of this, of course, would not be possible without the partnerships we have developed with others who are committed to green building and sustainability issues, such as the S.C. Chapter of the USGBC, members of the design and construction industry, other state agencies and regional manufacturers.
USC has constructed three LEED buildings that comprise 517,983 square feet of space, Koman said. The university’s Columbia campus will more than double that figure in the next two years with the completion of several projects, including the renovation of a residentice hall, and a building on the historic Horseshoe. Add to that several buildings – 360,000 square feet – that were designed and constructed to LEED standards.
USC ushered in an era of building green in 2004 when it opened Green (West) Quad, the state’s first public LEED building and the first green residential hall in the United States. Perhaps even more important of a first was that USC was able to build Green Quad at the same cost as traditional design, Koman said.
“We showed it could be done,” he said.
In the process, USC helped build the state’s infrastructure for building green. In late 2001, when USC began its plans for Green Quad, there were no LEED accredited professionals or green-design architects in South Carolina, Koman said. To address that, USC began training building professionals, including architects, contractors and engineers, in green design at no charge to them, he said. To date, USC has trained more than 400 professionals and students. During that same time period, the state chapter of the USGBC also began to offer training.
Today, there are 1,279 LEED-accredited professionals in South Carolina.
Koman said USC also spurred the Southeastern green-product market by insisting that mostly local and regional materials be used in Green Quad and all the university’s LEED building projects.
He said that as a result of USC’s advocacy for green building, along with support from the USGBC, in June 2007, the S.C. General Assembly passed a bill requiring all state-owned and state-funded construction projects greater than 10,000 square feet and major renovation projects totaling more than 50 percent of existing building space, achieve at least LEED Silver certification level.
Building green is more than bricks and mortar at USC, Koman said. These buildings are teaching tools.
“Education about sustainability is integrated into the design and construction of all our LEED buildings,” Koman said. “In our residence halls, we meter energy consumption down to the level of floor and room so that students can understand what they consume and the opportunities to alter that consumption and lessen their impact on the environment.”
USC is committed to sustainable principles and is helping others build green, Koman said. The university has loaned personnel at no charge to aid with more than 80 LEED projects, primarily in South Carolina and, most recently, with a local school and a church.
USC’s LEED awards include a LEED Silver rating for Green Quad in 2005 and a LEED Gold rating for Honors Residence in 2010. The Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library will celebrate its award of a LEED Gold rating during Earth Week in April.
The Darla Moore School of Business is pursuing a net-zero status and LEED Platinum rating for its new building. A net-zero building produces as much energy as it uses over the course of a year. USC expects to break ground on the new business school this fall.
“If the Moore School reaches its goals, it will become the largest net-zero building in the world and the most energy-efficient building in the country,” said Koman.