Kuhlin Center earns LEED Gold certification for green design

Photo by Ian Campbell

Less than a year after receiving national recognition for its modernity, the Kuhlin Center is the recipient of another award.

The U.S. Green Building Council honored the home of the University’s School of Media and Communication for its green design. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gave the recently renovated building a Gold certification for earning 62 out of 110 points for various sustainability features.

Key design aspects recognized by the LEED Scorecard include recycled and regional materials, power from renewable resources and sustainable structural elements.

Beyond the criteria of LEED certification, the Kuhlin Center also upholds sustainable landscaping due to the support of the University’s Student Green Initiatives Fund.

Recycled and regional materials

The Kuhlin Center earned 10 out of 14 points for the Materials and Resources portion of the Scorecard.

Of all the materials used for the building, 24.96 percent were made from recycled materials.

Materials are considered regional when they’re “products that have been manufactured and extracted within 500 miles of the project site,” according to the LEED Certification Review Report. The Kuhlin Center’s regional materials made up 21.89 percent of the total building products.

Green power

Green power, the use of renewable energy resources, was another important criteria for the Gold certification.

LEED expects Gold certified buildings to “engage in at least two-year renewable energy contract to provide at least 35 percent of the building’s electricity from renewable sources,” according to the 2009 edition of the LEED Reference Guide for Green Building Design and Construction.

Additionally, the lighting of the building meets green criteria.

“Lighting controls are provided for 91.53 percent of building occupants and 100 percent of shared multi-occupant spaces to enable adjustments that meet needs and preferences,” according to the LEED Certification Review Report.

Not only do the controls of lighting reduce energy use, the windows allow significant amounts of sunlight in many of the Kuhlin Center’s rooms, eliminating the need for lights to be on in every room all day long.

The heating and cooling system in the Kuhlin Center is also a green use of power. The building’s Daikin VRV system “uses variable refrigerant flow control,” which means people using spaces in the Kuhlin Center can control the climate of the particular room they’re in, according to the Office of Campus Sustainability’s website. This separation of climate control in the Kuhlin Center leads to a decrease in energy use compared to having a constant setting for the entire building.

Sustainable structure

The reflective roof contributes to the Kuhlin Center’s green design.

“100 percent of the building roof surface has a Solar Reflectance Index meeting the credit requirements,” according to the LEED Certification Review Report.

This design choice prevents a heat island effect. Heat islands are “thermal gradient differences between developed and underdeveloped areas,” according to the LEED Reference Guide.

In a town such as Bowling Green, areas with a concentration of buildings are significantly hotter than surrounding rural areas. This causes higher energy use and increased emissions, according to the EPA. Green or reflective roofs are used to decrease this effect.

Native and organic landscaping

The University’s Student Green Initiatives Fund supported a plan to fill the beds in front of and behind the Kuhlin Center with native plant-life and “a natural soil with compost/other organic ingredients to provide nutrients for plant growth,” according to the placard in front of the Kuhlin Center.

This effort created a more sustainable environment surrounding the building, preventing the use of additional water or fertilizer to maintain the landscaping.

In March of this year, the Kuhlin Center was given the American School & University magazine Outstanding Design for Renovation/Modernization award. The magazine lauded the building’s design as green as well as modern.

“This adaptive reuse is a lesson in sustainability and effective shepherding of financial resources,” the award notification said.

Brionna Scebbi / BG Falcon Media