Honors college home earns LEED silver certification as 'green' building

by Jeanne Baron
| WMU News
WMU's Lee Honors College

WMU's Lee Honors College

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The home of Western Michigan University's Lee Honors College has been awarded LEED silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

LEED—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—is the national benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. Certification accredits buildings that meet rigorous standards for sustainability, water and energy efficiency, resource selection, and environmental quality.

The Lee Honors College Building designation was announced Aug. 25 by the Green Building Council. It brings the number of LEED-certified structures on the WMU campus to 10, with 10 more going through the certification process.

"The Green Building Council's stringent, third party review validates the design, construction and operations of our building assets," says Peter J. Strazdas, WMU associate vice president for facilities management.

"With 20 buildings either completed or going through the certification process, WMU is a leader in the state and region for LEED-certified buildings. As WMU continues to focus on its sustainability goals, our Facilities Management department team will continue to be successful in gaining LEED-building certifications and reducing overall energy costs."

Strazdas adds that details are being worked out to begin a graduate class next year that can give students the opportunity to earn LEED credentialing. In addition, it will provide practical experience in certifying buildings, because those enrolled in the class will assist WMU in the detailed process of collecting the data on existing campus buildings that is required for them to earn LEED certification.

The class is a collaboration among Jaime Van Mourik, Green Building Council director of higher education; professional staff members in Facilities Management; and Dr. Osama Abudayyeh, WMU professor and chair of civil and construction engineering.

"This type of relationship with the Green Building Council is new, and WMU will be one of the few universities working with the council and students," Strazdas says.

"The class aligns with WMU's strategic plan and will enhance our position in relation to the national Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System administered by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education."

For more information about LEED certifications, contact Peter Strazdas at peter.strazdas@wmich.edu or (269) 387-8584.

Lee Honors College Building

The building housing the Lee Honors College was constructed in  990 with $1.3 million in private funding. It is named in honor of Carl and Winifred Lee, who donated $500,000 toward its initial construction as well as $1.1 million for a $1.7 million renovation and expansion completed in 2012.

The 2012 upgrade, done with the intention of seeking silver-level LEED certification, doubled the number of classrooms, added a library, and included many technology and other improvements. Major sustainability features of the project that led to the facility's silver certification include:

  • Energy usage has dropped more than 50 percent—despite the building being expanded by 2,500 square feet—and is now 20 percent less than the generally accepted industry standard.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures have reduced potable water use by 30 percent.
  • Native plant species added to landscaping have reduced irrigation water usage by 69 percent.
  • All but 3 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills through reuse and recycling.
  • More than 90 percent of spaces within the building have direct views to the outdoors.

Honors education at WMU

In operation for 52 years this fall, the Lee Honors College is one of America's oldest and most highly regarded collegiate honors programs, with a student profile rivaling that of the most elite private colleges in the United States.

It serves as academic home to more than 1,700 academically talented and highly motivated members, or about 9 percent of the University's undergraduate student body. These students come from around the nation and are enrolled in disciplines across the campus.

The college enhances WMU's dynamic learning environment by providing a lively and rigorous academic experience. Members have access to small seminar classes, honors scholarships, and special mentors and advisors. They also have added opportunities to travel, study independently or abroad, and conduct research alongside established WMU faculty scholars.

For more information about the Lee Honors College, visit wmich.edu/honors, call (269) 387-3230 or contact Dr. Carla Koretsky, the college's dean, at carla.koretsky@wmich.edu.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.

Related stories
Sangren Hall earns LEED gold certification as a 'green' building | July 23, 2014
New LEED building certifications boost WMU total to seven | Feb. 8, 2013 WMU earns gold for going green | May 29, 2009