The new Earth and Planetary Sciences Building can add another accolade to its already impressive résumé.
The U.S. Green Building Council recently designated the building as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) structure.
“The receipt of a LEED certification for our new Earth and Planetary Sciences Building is important because it sets a precedent for the campus for building and running facilities in ways that minimize detrimental impacts on the environment,” said Raymond S. Arvidson, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences.
There are only two structures in the metropolitan area that are LEED-certified — the Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise building in St. Louis County is the other one.
Launched in 1999 by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED buildings promote sustainability in five areas: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.
To this effect, the Earth and Planetary Sciences Building has environmentally friendly rugs and tiles, a highly efficient HVAC system, a proximity to public transportation (close to the new MetroLink line) and vegetation native to Missouri that is drought-tolerant, thus not needing much water. One of the predominant grasses on the east side of the building is xeric grass.
Aiming for LEED designation was at the forefront of the planning and architecture before ground was even broken at the site.
“This (the LEED designation) came about with the support of the Board of Trustees Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee,” Arvidson said. “Our department was fundamentally involved in the design, from the layout to the color schemes.”
The halls are color-coded according to research areas, with green representing land; blue, the ocean; and a reddish color, mountains.
The Earth and Planetary Sciences Building recently received three other accolades in addition to the LEED certification: The Associated General Contractors of America 2004 Construction Keystone Award Project of the Year ($20 million or more); the St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness award; and the American Institute of Architects/Construction Products Council Honor Award for masonry craftmanship.