U of A Receives Community Impact Award for Efforts in Sustainable Design and Construction

The U.S. Green Building Council has announced the U of A as a 2023 Community Impact Award recipient for its comprehensive efforts in sustainability through building design, construction and operation. The honor is presented to the U of A's Facilities Management team on behalf of the university and highlights its continued achievements in ensuring every new building on campus is environmentally friendly.

The award was presented to the university at the council's South Central regional conference hosted on the university's Fayetteville campus in November. 

In 2007, the university committed all new construction and major renovation projects to meet requirements of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) as part of the U of A's commitment to the American College and Universities Presidents' Climate Commitment. 

The USGBC South Central Region determined that the U of A's consistent efforts for more than a decade to sustainable design and construction was deserving of the recognition. 

"The work of organizations like the University of Arkansas is the fundamental driving force in transforming the way our buildings are designed, built and operated," said Ryan Snow, regional director for the U.S. Green Building Council. "The Community Impact Award spotlights an organization that has supported the USGBC's local work and activities in an exceptional way. The U of A has committed to achieving its sustainability goals and utilizing tools like LEED certification to reduce its carbon emissions and waste." 

Over 1.8 million gross square feet of green building space across 25 buildings was constructed between fiscal year 2004 and 2022 on the Fayetteville campus. Of those, 21 have achieved LEED certification, including six that were awarded a "Gold" rating. Six additional projects are currently pursuing LEED-certification. 

The university has decreased greenhouse gas emissions per square foot of campus building by over 30% in the past decade, which equates to more than 16,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions. 

"Since 2004, we have been committed to being responsible in how we design and construct new buildings on the U of A campus," Scott Turley, U of A associate vice chancellor for facilities, said. "This commitment not only makes our campus more energy efficient and cost effective to operate in the present, but it also ensures a better environment to attract students and faculty in the future." 

Eric Boles, director of the U of A Office of Sustainability, emphasizes the reasons the U of A pursues LEED certification in all campus buildings is about more than just saving energy. 

"Most of the LEED strategies enhance human health and wellness by optimizing indoor air quality, lighting, biophilia, sound and other parameters," Boles said.  

LEED also extends to the construction supply chain and considers the broader environmental impacts of material transportation, the embodied carbon in the manufacture of construction materials and what happens to the disposal of construction waste. 

Building projects earn points to achieve different levels of certification. LEED certification provides strategies to achieve high performance in key areas of human and environmental health, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality. Certification levels are Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. 

The U of A will continue its efforts to design and build structures that are efficient in both construction and usage, allowing the USGBC's LEED requirements to be a guide.  

"With the majority of our campus carbon footprint coming from buildings, the USGBC LEED program has provided us with a roadmap to minimize the environmental impact from the construction and operation of new buildings," Boles said. 

Contacts

Scott Turley, associate vice chancellor for facilities
PHPL Executive Management
479-575-6181, lturley@uark.edu

Drew Watzke, communications manager
Facilities Management and Transit & Parking
479-718-1524, ajwatzke@uark.edu

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