April 30, 2001
Emory takes LEED in green building
By Michael Terrazas firstname.lastname@example.org
The view from the roof of the Whitehead Memorial Research Building is breathtaking. On a clear day in late April, it is rapturously apparent how Atlanta earned the (increasingly less appropo) nickname as The City Built in a Forest, as in between Emorys campus and the downtown skyline is a rolling sea of green merely punctuated by buoys of building tops.
But as anyone who lives in Atlanta can attest, clear, smogless days are
becoming fewer and farther between, and even the most beautiful day carries
with it the promise that more of those green trees will meet the ax. The
citys environmental problems are myriad and painfully complex, but
anyone who thinks they are beyond hope should visit Whitehead and admire
the viewnot of the skyline, but of the roof itself.
Protruding from the top of the not-yet-completed building are four cylindrical
vents, or rocket ships, as Project Manager Laura Case calls
them. These vents serve as exhaust ports for the buildings four
enthalpy or heat wheels, state-of-the-art technology that
will significantly reduce the amount of energy needed to condition the
buildings air. The wheels tagged on another $450,000 to the cost
of the $82 million Whitehead facility. They will pay for themselves in
about four years.
This design feature is one of the many initiatives Emory is undertaking,
not just in Whitehead but also in Science 2000 Phase II and the Winship
Cancer Institute, as part of the Universitys participation in the
Leadership in Energy & Environ-mental Design (LEED) program, designed
in 1993 by the U.S. Green Building Council.
LEED is a system for designing and constructing environmentally friendly
buildings, focusing on five areas: building site selection and erosion
control; water efficiency; energy and atmosphere; materials and resources;
and indoor environmental quality. Currently, only 13 buildings in the
United States are LEED-certified; if all goes well, Emory will soon add
LEED is probably the most advanced [green building] program in
the country, with the most rigorous guidelines and protocols, said
John Fields, director of Project Management and Construction for Facilities
Management (FM) and the Universitys point person for all things
The Whitehead Buildings heat wheels were already incorporated in
its design when Fields learned about LEED, but they are only one of its
green features. Others include providing natural light to 90 percent of
its occupants, using storm-water drainage for irrigation, a condensate
recovery system in its air-handling units, using carpet produced by a
100-percent solar-powered manufacturer, recycling construction debris,
and other initiatives.
Obtaining LEED certification is a lengthy process that can be done only
after a building is completed, and there are four levels of certification;
only one structure in the countryOberlin Colleges Lewis Center
for Environmental Studies, whose solar-paneled roof will soon produce
more energy than the building consumesis graded at the highest level.
Fields said he is cautiously optimistic that Whitehead, on
schedule to be completed in December, will be the first medical facility
in the United States to be certified, and the plan is to get certification
for Science 2000 Phase II and the Winship Cancer Institute, as well.
Are we using LEED on every project? No, Fields admitted.
But what were doing is using LEED as a set of guiding principles,
so even if you dont have a certified building, you can still do
some good things. Its the spirit of what were trying to achieve
Its also pushing the Atlanta construction community in the right
direction. Fields said many of the Universitys vendors and contractors
had to get themselves up to speed on LEED if they wanted to keep Emorys
business. There are pocketed areas of expertise in Atlanta,
he said, and what weve done is push that to the forefront.
Were making this tiny little contribution to the air pollution problem in this city, Fields added. If we can get 100,000 people to do the same thing? Then well be onto something.