Catlett Residence Hall earns LEED Gold designation

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The University of Iowa is committed to sustainability in its campus development through the incorporation of green principles in the design, construction, and operation of new campus facilities and major renovation projects. Making that commitment requires research and development for the university and campus partners. 

Constructed in 2017, Elizabeth Catlett Residence Hall has met and surpassed the standard set by the university by incorporating various green principles and energy-saving elements. Catlett is one of 11 campus buildings that meet the standards provided through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is the nationally-recognized benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of eco-friendly, sustainable buildings. LEED certification is a third-party verified approach that validates the sustainability of facilities. The UI has total of 16 LEED facilities on campus: two platinum, eleven gold, and three silver. 

Aimed to assist in meeting this goals, all site pavement consists of white concrete to reduce the heat island effect. The building also includes energy efficient windows and the use of natural light throughout. The high-efficiency HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) and lighting systems are controlled by occupancy sensors, reducing energy costs 21 percent below the baseline, saving thousands of dollars annually. To ensure the systems and equipment perform optimally, the building envelope and all on-site energy-consuming mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems were commissioned. The ENERGY STAR-certified laundry and kitchen/dishwashing equipment, and low-flow plumbing fixtures have contributed to an estimated annual water savings of 43 percent.

A sound construction waste management plan resulted in 76 percent of waste diverted from the landfill. To maintain a high level of indoor air quality, an indoor air quality management plan was implemented, through a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) which uses a ventilation system to clean the air and capture dust particulates. The materials used inside the facility are low- or zero- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Lowering the use of VOCs, assist in improving air quality and degradation of the ozone layer. 

To minimize waste and maximize resources, 25 percent of the installed materials have a high recycle content (based on material cost), and 33 percent of the materials were harvested, extracted, and manufactured within a 500-mile radius of the jobsite, also supporting the local economy. 

After comparing the work done to the standards, the USGBC conferred Elizabeth Catlett Residence Hall a Gold certification.

“The work of innovative building projects such as Catlett Residence Hall is a fundamental driving force in transforming the way buildings are built, design and operated,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “Buildings that achieve LEED certification are lowering carbon emissions, creating a healthier environment and reducing operating costs while prioritizing sustainable practices. Because of Catlett Residence Hall, we are increasing the number of green buildings and getting closer to USGBC’s goal to outpace conventional buildings, while being environmentally and socially responsible and improving the quality of life for generations to come.”