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WAC seeks platinum-level LEED certification

The 186,000 square foot Wedgewood Academic Center is more than meets the eye.

The building, which took 27 months of construction and opened this fall, is seeking platinum-level LEED certification.

The six areas of review for LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Certification include: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation and design.

With the potential to be the first academic building in Tennessee with platinum-level LEED certification, Belmont University’s WAC is a leader for sustainability in Nashville.

The LEED green building rating system is a feature-oriented rating system that awards buildings points for meeting a particular “green” standard.

 As a student hurrying to and from class, the green technology is easy to overlook, but the academic building has gone above and beyond in sustainable design.

The WAC features many green roofs, including one for educational purposes connected to a biology lab, garage recycling room and trash compactor, LED lighting and motion-sensors in all offices, classrooms and labs, a variable flow refrigerant heating, ventilation and air conditioning system  and cutting edge chilled beam mechanical system in conjunction with a variable air volume system throughout the building.

“The students wanted it to be a green building. We said, ‘no, all our buildings are either this limestone or this brick,’” President Bob Fisher joked at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Fisher then pointed out how the building is far from plain limestone with its colorful green roof speckled with wildflowers. The green roof captures water runoff to use for irrigation, which provides the majority of irrigation water for campus.

Belmont’s new academic building is not the institution’s first step toward caring for the environment.

“For more than a decade members of the Belmont University community have been doing their part to be good stewards of God’s creation,” said Vice President of Spiritual Development Todd Lake. Lake is also the Chair of the Sustainability Committee at Belmont University.

In 2007, Fisher signed the Talloires Declaration of the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future. The document was a commitment to increase the awareness of environmentally sustainable development, create an institutional culture of sustainability, and to educate environmentally responsible citizenship.

 “My goal for the future is that everyone who works and studies on Belmont’s campus will learn how to care for the earth, conserve resources, consume responsibly and live in sustainable ways. Belmont’s community practices are the best way to gain visibility and begin behavior change,” religion professor and founder of the Belmont Environmental Initiative Council, Dr. Judy Skeen said after the declaration was signed.

McWhorter is another academic building with a green roof. The green roofs on Belmont’s campus help prevent the “heat island effect,” which is the trend of higher temperatures in urban areas. Green roofs lower the temperature, provide a natural habitat for wildlife and reduce pollution by holding pollutants rather than washing them into groundwater, sewer or drainage systems.

The Randall and Sadie Baskin Center further exemplifies Belmont’s green initiative. The law school was awarded with gold-level LEED certification in October 2012, making the center the largest LEED-certified university academic building in Middle Tennessee and the first LEED-certified law school in the state.

Dickens features several green technologies including; variable flow refrigerant HVAC system, partially landscaped covered garage, motion sensors for room lighting, energy efficient lighting and appliances, and low emitting adhesives, sealants, paint coatings and carpet.

Seeking platinum-level LEED certification is impactful for more than just those at Belmont University. If certified, the WAC will be a vital part of history for the state of Tennessee.

“I believe that the WAC will be the first academic building in the state to have Platinum-level LEED Certification,” said Lake.

This article was written by Kate Wilke

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