As the Nevada Living Learning Community prepared for the second year of student residents, University of Nevada, Reno officials received word that the building had achieved LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.
The Nevada Living Learning Community, named Nevada Hall, is the University's newest residence hall, opened in fall 2012 accommodating 320 students. The $32.5 million project features 124,000 square feet of student dormitories, faculty offices for improved student-teacher interactions and four classrooms.
Living-learning communities, which began six years ago on the University campus, integrate student learning with on-campus residential living. Students with similar academic interests live in the same area and help each other with homework, study together and share common experiences. The University currently offers nine living-learning communities that focus on different majors or diversity groups, including business, education, engineering, journalism, pre-nursing, science, first-year, honors/scholars, and Women in Science & Engineering.
"The building is one of only a few intentionally designed living-learning community buildings in the nation," Rod Aeschlimann, director of the University's Residential Life, Housing, and Food Services Department, said. "Student lounge areas are available in each of the nine communities, and students are offered resources like academic advising, mentoring, and cultural programs. The communities really help freshmen students make connections that will last throughout their college years."
Following a successful first year of housing students in the new residence hall, the University was contacted by the U.S. Green Building Council and awarded the LEED Silver certification. From construction to operation, the Nevada Living Learning Community has outstanding energy efficiency and environmentally friendly design.
"Receiving the Silver certification for the Nevada Living Learning Community is a great honor," Aeschlimann said. "The certification demonstrates the University's commitment to student success and to the environment. Green building practices used in the design and construction of this building was the University's way of addressing global issues with local solutions. LEED standards will be guidelines for current and future construction projects at the University."
The LEED scorecard shows that the building construction included recycled materials and construction was financially efficient. The exterior landscaping uses 50 percent less water than average irrigation expectations. Inside the building, energy is optimized with air flow and effective use of sun lightning and windows for natural day-lightning of the interiors of the building. These many efficiencies save the University in operating costs each year and met the requirements of a LEED building.
Environmentally green buildings like the Nevada Living Learning Community are awarded LEED certificates by their meeting of requirements set by the U.S. Green Building Council. Standards include design efficiency and innovation, site placement, construction, water efficiency, indoor air quality and sustainability. For each standard met, a point is awarded, culminating to levels of certification, such as Silver, Gold, or Platinum. To achieve the Silver certification, the Nevada Living Learning Community was meticulously designed by LEED Accredited Professional Peter Grove of Collaborative Design Studios and built by West Coast Contractors.
"The work of the architects and contractors was instrumental to the project's success," Aeschlimann said.
With its completion, the Nevada Living Learning Community became the second LEED building at the University. The first, the Marguerite Wattis Petersen Athletic Academic Center, was built in 2009 and continues to save the University money each year. There are currently 19 LEED-certified commercial buildings in the Reno/Sparks area, nearly 80 in the state of Nevada, and approximately 56,000 in the nation. LEED buildings are predicted, according to the Green Building Information Gateway, to cut energy bills by 26 percent. Other LEED-buildings in Reno include the 4th Street Bus Station, The Glenn Group, Somersett Town Center, and the Desert Research Institute CAVE Facility.