By Justin Much
The newly anointed nexus on the Western Oregon University campus just officially earned its green stripes.Ackerman Hall, which opened in September, achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum certification through the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
The Hall’s builders aimed for the Platinum rating from the onset, while its architect, Kurt Haapala, also prized the building’s physical location as a campus crossroads, connecting residential, academic and social life at WOU.
This week’s announcement officially ushered Ackerman onto the green horizon.
“In the US, Ackerman Hall is the first major higher education residence hall to achieve certification at the Platinum level,” said Rita Haberman, a sustainability advisor with Brightworks, which provides guidance in eco-friendly development strategies. “It was officially certified on July 25. Ackerman Hall is truly a national model for the direction building design and construction can and must go,” she added.
Haberman said that in Oregon there are currently 151 LEED new construction certified projects, only 20 of which are certified Platinum.
The WOU facility has fit the bill so far.
“Ackerman Hall has been an amazing addition to the WOU campus,” said WOU Dean of Students Tina Fuchs. “This building has far surpassed our expectations of a living-learning facility. The building was filled to capacity for much of the first year, and the waiting list to live in Ackerman Hall in the fall is impressive.”
WOU reports said the project earned 53 certification points; a minimum of 52 is needed to achieve Platinum status.
WOU’s new Health and Wellness Center, which opened this year, is seeking slightly less lofty certification.
“It’s going for LEED gold,” said WOU spokesperson Lisa Catto. “Since part of the project was a remodel to an existing structure, they were more limited in what they could do.”Pringle Creek Community’s Painter’s Hall, a remodeled 1938 structure, became Salem’s first Platinum commercial building in 2009. The list of area registered LEED projects includes the Kroc Center, Mid Valley IPA, Willamette University’s Ford Hall, WaterPlace on Liberty Street, Oregon State Hospital Replacement Project, Central High School remodel and Salem Alliance Church’s Broadway Commons.
Ackerman houses living, academic and meeting areas.
The school estimated Ackerman’s water savings at 75 percent of a comparable building of its size, and about a 35 percent savings in electricity use.
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