Wassaja LEED

UNIVERSITY HOUSING SHOWS COMMITMENT TO SUSTAINABLE BUILDING PRACTICES  

University of Illinois Urbana campus residence hall is the latest LEED certified building 

Champaign, Ill. — May 22, 2017 — Wassaja Hall at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, which opened fall 2016, is the newest officially certified green building on campus. Wassaja Hall was awarded LEED Gold certification this spring.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

There are four certification levels under LEED: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. Since 2010, the University of Illinois has followed the LEED system to guide the design, construction, operations, and maintenance of environmentally-sound buildings. According to the Institute for Sustainability, Energy and Environment (iSEE), LEED Gold is part of the design standard on all new construction at Illinois.

Three of University Housing’s newly constructed residence halls and new dining center, all located in the Ikenberry Commons neighborhood in Champaign, were certified in the last 6 years. In all, there are 11 LEED certified facilities on the Urbana campus.

“University Housing is pleased and proud to have been awarded LEED Gold certification for Wassaja Hall,” said University Housing Director Alma R. Sealine. “This is just one more example of our commitment to sustainability and resident-centered design, and this recognition is an honor.” 

To achieve its Gold-level certification, Wassaja Hall was judged on several factors, including water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovation.

Among the Wassaja Hall LEED highlights:

  • More than 32 percent of the materials used for the project were manufactured and sourced within a 500-mile radius from the site, including the concrete and brick. Using regional materials helps support the local economy and reduces transportation costs and environmental impacts.
  • More than 16 percent of the products used in the construction of Wassaja Hall contain recycled content.
  • More than 71 percent of the wood products were certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which comes from responsibly managed, sustainable sources.  Decorative wood paneling in the first floor common areas was from 100-year old logs reclaimed from the bottom of a lake in Maine.
  • The exterior walls and mechanical systems were designed to minimize energy use while promoting comfortable temperatures inside.  Energy cost savings are estimated at 32 percent when compared to similar buildings.
  • Low-flow plumbing fixtures are utilized to reduce water consumption by almost 40 percent compared to similar buildings.
  • Light fixtures throughout the building use LED and low-energy wattage lamps to conserve energy.
  • Roof mounted solar panels provide on-site renewable energy that offsets 1 percent of the energy costs.
  • Indoor air quality measures were implemented during the construction process to achieve a high level of cleanliness and air quality.
  • Low-emitting materials were used throughout the building, including low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, coatings, adhesives, and sealants.
  • The project site maximizes open space and no new parking was created as part of the project. In fact, an existing parking lot was removed. The landscape is designed with native and drought-tolerant plants to reduce dependency on potable water.
  • Sidewalks, pavements, and roofing materials were selected to reduce solar heat absorption, keep the environment cooler, use less energy for air conditioning, and reduce the heat island effect. Operable windows throughout the building allow for natural daylight and fresh air.

Wassaja Hall offers spacious air-conditioned single and double rooms clustered into small communities (pods) with private individual-use bathrooms. There are individual-use, gender-inclusive bathrooms throughout the building. The furniture and finishes reflect sustainable practices and were chosen based on student feedback. Residents have access to lounges, common laundry and kitchenette facilities, a business center, multipurpose rooms, a Skype room, and in-room wireless connectivity. The 152,753 square foot building is completely accessible and includes transitional rooms easing the integration of students with multiple levels of mobility.