Architecture & Design, Higher Education, and Sustainability

GVSU’s new Seidman Center earns LEED Gold

University makes concerted effort for sustainability in all new structures.

October 4, 2013
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Seidman center earns gold
The Seidman Center is the fifth GVSU building to be certified LEED Gold. Courtesy Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University has won gold again.

As of Tuesday, GVSU’s recently built $40 million L. William Seidman Center has officially been given LEED Gold certification, said James Moyer, associate vice president for GVSU’s facilities planning.

The new center, a four-story, 127,643-square-foot structureat 50 Front Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids, is the fifth GVSU building to be certified LEED Gold, he said, with six more projects achieving LEED Silver.

Originally, GVSU was aiming for LEED Silver on the Seidman Center, but was surprised and happy to learn the work had earned gold, Meyer said.

“With its second LEED building, completed in 2005, the university devised a very proactive approach to LEED certification. We analyzed our operations and determined that our building operation and ownership strategy fit within our available operation budgets,” he said.

“We then selected products and building systems that meet our operational requirements and LEED requirements. We made these decisions very early in the design of a project and followed these decisions through the design and construction process. … After the third GVSU building that was LEED certified, we established an expectation that new projects would be designed to LEED Silver certification.”

The Seidman center earned gold, Meyer said, because of its reuse of land in an urban area located on a brownfield site, and because of the energy profile of the building, which will keep utility costs low. The LEED award gives GVSU a way to measure its progress in keeping building operating costs per square feet low.

He advises any owners looking to create LEED Gold buildings to get very involved in the details of the materials being proposed and selected and to establish goals for operational expectations, material choices and energy expectations.

“(Also) examine the records of accomplishment of your design and construction providers,” he said. “Did they seek to meet your objectives within the established budget? For example, did the contractor consistently exceed minimum standards for recycling of construction waste? Did the contractor seek ways to recycle the waste generated at the site?”

The center’s formal dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony, featuring faculty and about 400 of the center’s 600 donors, will take place 6:30-8:30 p.m., Oct. 9.

A time capsule will be placed in the center’s cornerstone earlier in the day.

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