WCU earns eco kudos for new building

out wcu hhsWestern Carolina University’s new Health and Human Sciences Building has received gold LEED-certification for its comprehensive energy-efficient and environmentally friendly features.


“Our unique location and educational mission makes our campus a great living laboratory for engaging our students, faculty and staff in regards to sustainability,” said Lauren Bishop, chief sustainability officer at WCU. “If we can build a green building that helps to connect us with the outdoors, is energy efficient and provides comfortable spaces for educating our community, then we are making the right choice for creating a sustainable and resilient campus.”

The U.S. Green Building Council recently awarded the four-story, 160,000 square-foot building its gold LEED status — which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The building was assessed in five categories — sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design. 

The building includes features like reflective surfaces on the roof and a rooftop garden to keep heat absorption at bay. The orientation of windows and sun screens maximize natural daylight to reduce energy needs for lighting, while at the same time reduce the need for heating and air conditioning through strategic positioning. Other green design elements range from using regional products to incorporating water conservation measures.” 

The building was designed by architects with the firm of PBC+L (now Clark Nexsen.) 

WCU is currently seeking gold LEED certification for its Harrill Residence Hall after completing a $15.5 million renovation project that included features such as a geothermal heating and air-conditioning system. Also, the building’s exterior wall insulation and canopies control sunlight entering the building. A display panel in the lobby shares information about the building’s features as well as current energy use.  

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