Hansen building earns LEED Gold

CyRide bus passes in front of Hansen building

The Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center on Mortensen Road scored points for "community connectivity" -- including easy access to public transportation -- in the LEED building certification process. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

Iowa State has captured its ninth LEED certification in eight years for green construction or building renovation. Earlier this month, the Jeff and Deb Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center received Gold certification, which is second only to Platinum in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system.

The U.S. Green Building Council launched LEED in 1998 to measure environmentally sensitive building design, construction, operations and maintenance. The standards in this voluntary program have become more stringent as it evolved.

Iowa State's LEED-certified projects

Platinum: College of Design King Pavilion (2010), State Gym (2012)

Gold: Biorenewables Research Laboratory (2011), Hach Hall (2011), Small Animal Hospital at the Lloyd Veterinary Medicine Center (2013), Troxel Hall (2014), Hansen Agriculture Student Learning Center (2015)

Silver: Morrill Hall (2008), Bergstrom Football Complex (2014)

In certification process: Curtiss Hall renovations (2), Sukup and Elings halls

In construction: Marston Hall renovation

During that time, state and city building codes likewise have raised the bar in defense of the environment, as have construction-related businesses.

"This is becoming the way companies do business, so the LEED certification process isn't about spending more, it's just a little more [labor] and paperwork," said Kerry Dixon, coordinator for sustainable design and construction in facilities planning and management.

For example, Dixon said the steel industry prefers to recycle metal (it costs less than mining new ore) and concrete companies such as Iowa-based Manatt's are using a lot of recycled content in their concrete. At the same time, by recycling what once was handled as construction waste, ISU cuts back on fees it pays to the Boone County demolition landfill.

Highlights of the Hansen center

The Hansen facility features four finished classrooms (with space for two more), restrooms, serving kitchen and an indoor arena that measures 250 feet by 110 feet and has 825 permanent seats.

LEED measures achievements in five categories plus an innovation category (for exemplary performance in any of the five) and awards a credit total. The Hansen center scored a 63 on the LEED 110-credit scorecard. The university applied for 71 credits.

Highlights of the building's design and performance are:

  • A geothermal heating and cooling system (partially paid for with an ISU Live Green! loan) contributes to energy consumption that is 33 percent better than state code
  • Low-flow sink faucets, toilets and urinals reduce potable water use 43 percent
  • Paints, flooring, adhesives and sealants used in the building emit no or low levels of toxins
  • 41 percent of building materials, by value, were extracted from the earth or manufactured within 500 miles of Ames
  • 26 percent of building materials, by value, contain recycled materials
  • 60 percent of the construction waste generated at the site was recycled
  • "Super white" concrete in the parking lots reflects sunlight and is 10 percent cooler than standard concrete (reducing the "heat island" effect)
  • A half dozen premium parking stalls are reserved for fuel-efficient or low fuel-emission vehicles
  • Two CyRide bus routes serve the site
  • Site landscaping doesn't require/use a permanent irrigation system
  • The custodial plan, products and equipment comply with LEED's green cleaning policy