The Research and Technology Park building on the St. Croix campus has been certified green by the Green Building Certification Institute. RTPark is now considered a LEED Silver certified building, a designation given to structures that meet a series of strict requirements for energy and environmental awareness in design.
During every phase of the building process, and continuing throughout its time as an operating facility, RTPark has focused considerable attention on making choices that would reflect a consciousness of sustainability. This includes components related to energy, water, lighting and building materials that all reflect this attention on environmental responsibility. In addition, RTPark’s LEED certification has another benefit, according to Executive Director David Zumwalt, as the certification should free up about $500,000 in federal funding for the building, which can be put toward the reduction of the campus’ debt.
The LEED certification process is based on a 100-point scale in which projects can earn points in five different categories. Pre-requisites exist in each category before points will even be awarded. There is also the possibility of earning up to 10 extra credit points for design innovation and demonstrating awareness of and addressing concerns specific to the region. A building that is certified Silver has earned between 50 and 59 points. The five categories under consideration are the overall sustainability of the building site, water efficiency, energy and atmospheric efficiency, the use of materials and resources and indoor environmental quality.
The designers of RTPark put considerable focus on energy and water use efficiency. The site has storm water and rainwater systems, including underground tanks and cisterns that are designed to reduce the facility’s water demands by collecting and storing precipitation. There’s also solar power to heat the building’s water, while solar and wind are being used to reduce utility costs.
Additionally, the building itself is situated so that southern exposure is limited and easterly breezes can be taken advantage of by the wind turbine. Its light-colored exterior also reflects radiant heat during the daytime, allowing for a reduction in cooling costs.
LEED Silver certification for RTPark is a considerable achievement for the project, and as this is but one of several sustainable projects either completed or in progress at the University of the Virgin Islands, it reflects well on the school’s work toward promoting sustainability.
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