The environmental and social benefits of sustainable design and construction practices are becoming more widely understood and applied to projects around the world. As an institution of higher learning Syracuse University is in a position of opportunity to elevate its sustainable design and construction practices and demonstrate the benefits of such practices to our students and to the larger community. Perhaps the greatest benefit of creating a sustainable campus environment may be the creation of learning opportunities for our students, and the knowledge of sustainable practices they will gain through their experiences at Syracuse University can help shape their attitudes and actions throughout their professional and personal lives. Adopting the LEED rating system for our substantial projects will create an acknowledgement of the University’s sustainable design and construction practices recognizable at the local and national level.
What is LEED?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is a rating system developed the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to define and measure that which should qualify as a “green building”. The standard was published by the USGBC in 1998, and the first twelve building projects to achieve a LEED rating occurred in 2000. Since then hundreds of buildings around the country have been awarded ratings by the USGBC in one of the four categories, Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum.
Buildings at Syracuse University costing $10 million or more (and adjusted annually for inflation) will follow the LEED process and apply for a LEED rating. This threshold level will be applied to both new buildings and renovations to an entire building, and will apply to the following types:
- Academic Office and Classroom Buildings
- Residence Halls
- Student Activity and Recreational Facilities
- Athletic Facilities
- Administrative Office Buildings
Development of project budgets must include sufficient allowance to cover added project costs associated with obtaining a LEED rating, and project time schedules shall include sufficient allowance to accommodate added time requirements necessary to complete the added steps and efforts required by the LEED process. The level of LEED certification to be pursued will be determined on a case-by-case basis, but it is recognized that significant benefits of current state of the art sustainable design and construction practices circumstances are achieved under the LEED Certified rating. Higher LEED rating objectives may be set for certain projects, particularly when the educational opportunity or other reasons for achieving a higher rating warrant doing so. In such cases, necessary budget and schedule objectives necessary to achieve a higher standard must be recognized and approved at the outset of the project.
Projects smaller than $10 million will also be designed and constructed using the LEED criteria as a framework for making decisions related to sustainable design, but will not pursue LEED Certification.
Applying LEED to Projects Already Underway
Obtaining LEED certification requires an added financial and time commitment over current project practices at the University, therefore the goal of obtaining LEED certification is most appropriately considered at the initial planning stage of a project when goals, schedule, and budget parameters are first being established. The longer it takes to make this decision the more costly and time disruptive it will be to the project.