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Two campus facilities receive prestigious LEED certification – Auburn University

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Auburn University has earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold for the Academic Classroom and Laboratory Complex (ACLC) and LEED Silver for The Edge at the Central Dining Commons.

“It is extremely gratifying for these projects to be recognized with such a prestigious award,” said Simon Yendle, Facilities Management assistant vice president of Planning, Design and Construction. “We are committed to doing our part to create a sustainable campus. All our capital projects [more than $1 million] aspire to reach the silver level. Due to the work of the project teams dedicated to exceptional sustainable design and operational efforts, ACLC and The Edge reached that goal and more.”

LEED, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the foremost program for buildings designed, constructed, maintained, and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

The addition of these two buildings brings the university total LEED-certified facilities to 13, equaling nearly one million square feet of LEED certified space on campus.

“LEED certification of campus buildings is one of the most important and long-lasting contributions to sustainability we can make,” said Mike Kensler, director of Sustainability. “These buildings will be around for decades and the benefits they provide by being more environmentally responsible and enhancing the health, wellbeing and performance of the people who spend time in them will pay off throughout their existence.” 

According to the Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University, LEED certified buildings show a remarkable 26 percent improvement in cognitive ability, and a 30 percent reduction in sick building syndrome over non-certified buildings.

“Auburn deserves a lot of credit for the commitment to LEED in service to providing an exceptional educational experience for our students, faculty and staff,” Kensler said.

ACLC and The Edge were certified under LEED version three, the third generation of the LEED rating system. Key sustainable features for each building include, but are not limited to:

  • Reduced construction waste and pollution;
  • Reinforced use of public transportation, bicycles and fuel-efficient vehicles;
  • Improved storm water management for Auburn University and the City of Auburn through reduced rainwater surface runoff; 
  • Reduced water and energy usage achieved with the use of high-efficiency fixtures and equipment and innovative building design;
  • Use of local and/or recyclable materials.

The ACLC, which opened for classes in 2022, achieved LEED Gold. ACLC is a 151,000 square-foot building that includes adaptable classrooms and laboratories, engaged active student learning (EASL) classrooms and lecture halls. The adaptable classroom and laboratories are designed to provide spaces that can operate as either a laboratory or a classroom, as needed, on a semester-to-semester basis.

“ACLC is equipped with lighting and HVAC [heating and air] systems that are programmed to shut down or transition into low energy mode when the classrooms and laboratories are not in use,” said Bradley Prater, Facilities Management campus planner and a LEED accredited professional. “We also have an enormous cistern located in the courtyard between ACLC and The Edge that collects rainwater and reuses it for irrigation purposes. This helps reduce the amount of drinking water used for irrigation.”

The Edge at Central Dining Commons, which opened in 2021, achieved LEED Silver. It is a 48,000 square-foot, 800-seat dining hall with reservable dining and study rooms and retail venue space. The dining and study rooms can be reserved by faculty, staff or students. Food stations are dispersed on two levels and offer a variety of dining options.

“The Edge was designed with sustainability in mind,” said Glenn Loughridge, director of Campus Dining and Concessions. “We used wood harvested from pine trees that were onsite, Alabama river rock for the concrete aggregate and designed our salad bar with glass front coolers to feature the produce that we grow on campus.”

“We have made a tangible investment in operating more sustainably at Auburn and that allows us to showcase our commitment to the 4,000 – plus students who eat in our dining hall every day,” Loughridge said.

Continuing its dedication to sustainability, the university has more than 400,000 square feet of space currently undergoing the certification process.

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