The built environment contributes over 80% of the University of Cincinnati's greenhouse gas emissions. This fact had led the University of examine ways in which we can reduce the environmental and economic impacts of our buildings. UC created the Sustainable Design Policy in 2001, commiting the institution to build all new construction and major renovations, whenever possible, to LEED Silver standards or higher.
Since 2004, UC has completed six LEED-certified buildings including one Silver and one Gold. Though the era of aggressive building has come to an end, the University of Cincinnati is still committed to reducing energy usage in buildings and invests millions of dollars in energy upgrades for existing buildings and systems.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance 'green' buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality (U.S. Green Building Council).
Case studies show that LEED can directly reduce building construction and operating costs on college and university campuses. Greater durability and enhanced occupant productivity make green design features and materials even more cost-effective. While LEED is least costly for original designs, there are cost-effective ways to apply it to retrofit existing buildings as well.
The LEED rating system applies different levels of certification depending on varied design elements. Whether LEED is right for a given building depends in part on the goals of the campus planners and the types of amenities they wish to include. (U.S. Green Building Council).
|LEED Certified||40 - 49 points|
|LEED Silver||50 - 59 points|
|LEED Gold||60 - 79 points|
|LEED Platinum||80+ points (100 possible)|
The University of Cincinnati has a requirement for all new construction, and whenever possible renovations, to be certified LEED Silver or higher. This requirement demonstrates the University’s commitment to responsible design and construction. A critical aspect of this intent, particularly by example, is to reduce risks to employee and student health and safety, and to simplify the maintenance and ensure the longevity of buildings and equipment. The ability to foresee and employ technical innovations to achieve this goal becomes even more critical during times of low available operating cash or credit, which can be an inevitable part of higher education financial cycles, and which must be planned for where feasible.
During the past 16 years of Master Plan construction, The University has experienced a transformation of its campus (nearly 50%) that is historically incomparable. At a commitment of over $2 billion, the journey from departure to destination has produced a cohesive and coherent assembly of new and renovated buildings, recreation facilities, improved residential environments, athletic and performance venues, and sculpted landscapes and plazas.
In addition to how buildings are constructed, how buildings are maintained and cleaned has a significant environmental impact. UC has instituted a Green Cleaning Policy to mitigate this. The most recent formal iteration of this policy can be found here.