UF's football complex receives highest green building certification

May 20, 2009

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The recent addition to the University of Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium has just been ranked as one of the most environmentally friendly buildings in the U.S.

The Heavener Football Complex has received platinum certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, the highest ranking available. It is the first building in Florida and the first athletic facility in the nation to achieve platinum status. There are only 130 platinum buildings in the US and 141 worldwide.

LEED certification is based on site/location planning, energy use, water management, materials used, indoor environmental quality and innovation in the design process. The Heavener Complex earned the required 52 out of 69 possible points to receive a platinum rating.

The $28 million complex includes offices, conference rooms, an atrium with trophies from the team’s national championships, and weight-training facilities. The facility’s energy-saving features exceed state and national standards requirements by 35 percent and include low-e glazing on glass, insulation and reflective materials, which make the heating and air conditioning systems more efficient. It also contains energy-efficient lighting and light sensors that allow individual lighting preferences and turn off automatically when the room is empty. The facility also has a system for analyzing future energy use. Light-colored roofing and concrete pavement on the plaza keep temperatures lower in and around the building.

The building reduced 40 percent of indoor water use with its low-flow fixtures, dual-flush toilets and water-saving shower heads. One hundred percent of its irrigation is reclaimed water, and native plants combined with nonevaporating sprinklers allow the landscaping to use 50 percent less water. The green roof of the weight room near Gate 18 conserves energy and insulates as well by containing storm water for its plant life, rather than directing it to the sewer system.

Bahar Armaghani, assistant director of the LEED program at UF, said green buildings are not exclusively concerned with saving money through more efficient technology. They are also investments for the well-being of the people and environment.

“When we build a building, we are not just building for today but for the future,” she said.

Most of the building’s raw materials came from within 500 miles to stimulate the local economy and reduce transport emissions. Additionally, much of the building’s raw material is recyclable, and 78 percent of the construction debris recycled.

Carol Walker, assistant vice president of the UF Facilities, Planning and Construction Division, said, “UF is committed to providing a healthy building and environment for the people who utilize the facility. Long-term sustainability, responsible use of environmental resources, and a healthy and productive work environment are all important.”

The Heavener Complex has low volatile organic compound levels and carbon dioxide monitors in high-occupancy rooms, which bring in more fresh air if they detect high carbon dioxide levels. It also has Sanidoors, which open touch-free automatically, to reduce building users’ exposure to germs.

According to Walker, the facility’s construction process has exposed her division to new technology and material which has only become available recently. The application of those new methods has raised the expectations for other on-campus building projects to a minimum of gold LEED certification.

Armaghani was project manager. The contractor was PPI Construction Management and the engineers were Moses & Associates, Brown & Cullen and SEG. The architect was RDG Planning and Design, and the Commissioning Agents was TLC Engineers.