The Classroom Building has received the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.

It is the 17th Virginia Tech facility to become LEED certified.

Pursuing LEED Silver or higher certification for new construction and major renovations of campus buildings is just one of the many ways the university continues to advance its sustainability efforts.

Located at the corner of Perry Street and West Campus Drive, the three-story, 73,400-square-foot Classroom Building is home to 15 innovative classrooms and four interdisciplinary teaching laboratories and two state-of-the-art SCALE-UP classrooms, as well as study rooms and group meeting spaces. The new building was unveiled in 2016.

The Classroom Building’s many sustainable attributes include an energy-efficient HVAC system to maximize energy recovery and local temperature and air circulation control, high-performance window-glazing to help save energy, abundant daylight throughout learning spaces, and incorporation of green building materials into construction.

Located in the historic Stroubles Creek watershed, the building also includes design features that reduce site water runoff and heat build-up, critical for protecting the watershed. Water passing over and below the site leads to one of the Blacksburg campus’ most beautiful features – the Duck Pond.

To earn Silver certification, a building must achieve high marks in the following categories: Sustainable Sites (easy-to-access location, alternative transportation friendly); Water Efficiency; Energy and Atmosphere; Materials and Resources; and Indoor Environmental Quality.

What goes into attaining LEED building certification?

A long-term commitment, for starters, according to Paul Ely, associate director of capital construction and renovations.

“Sustainability is a driving factor throughout the entire lifespan of a new building or capital renovation project. It is at the forefront of architectural design and planning activities carried out by architects and engineers, Office of University Planning, University Building Official, Capital Construction and Renovation, and more. It underscores the work of our contractor and construction teams bringing these projects to life. It then continues to be top of mind for the all the maintenance and upkeep activities that go into building operations,” said Ely.

EYP, architecture and engineering firm for the Classroom Building project, agrees that sustainability is an integrative link across all phases of design and construction.

“All of the hard work that went into designing the Classroom Building was guided by three important goals: reducing energy usage, creating healthy indoor environments for the university community, and respecting the natural resources upon which the building resides. It is exciting to be a partner in bringing Silver LEED certification to fruition,” shared Paul O’Connell, EYP senior project architect.

The 17 LEED-certified buildings across campus are long-lasting representations of Virginia Tech’s dedication to sustainability. W.M. Jordan, the contractor for the Classroom Building, has led the construction of many of these buildings.

“The W.M. Jordan team is proud to be a part of the construction of numerous green constructiom projects on campus. From the Classroom Building, to O’Shaughnessy Hall, Indoor Athletic Training Facility, and the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine addition, we share Virginia Tech’s steadfast pledge to construct innovative environmentally-responsible buildings,” said Scott Brame, senior project manager for the company. 

Achieving LEED Silver certification for all new construction and major renovation projects on the Blacksburg campus is one of the 14 tenets included in the Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment.

The commitment serves as the university’s guiding framework around sustainability and energy efficiency in campus operations, facilities, curriculum, and research. In late 2019, President Tim Sands called for its renewal and revision to ensure the most stringent climate and sustainability standards are implemented as Virginia Tech continues to grow and seeks to be a leader in environmental stewardship.

The final report with updates continues to move through university governance for final approval and implementation this fall.

Now that the Classroom Building has officially been awarded its rating, it will soon receive a USGBC LEED Silver plaque that will be hung inside the building and will be added to the council’s certified database.

Learn more about Virginia Tech’s LEED certification and green building initiatives.

— Written by Christy Myers and Alexa Briehl

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