UM Student Activities Center to include green construction features, possible LEED certification in the future

Starting late summer or early fall, the first stages of construction on the new Student Activities Center will begin at the location of the Rathskeller.
Construction of the complex will require green building procedures for certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The center will be evaluated by LEED standards after completion and will be determined by the building’s green features, which should improve performance and energy efficiency.
Depending on the finalized design of the Student Activities Center, the building could receive a certified, silver, gold or platinum certification. Both University Center Director Dan Westbrook and Gary Tarb, the building’s project manager, hope to receive a gold or silver rating.
“Each of the levels shows an increasing commitment to energy conservation,” Westbrook said. “We are almost certain it will make silver; the architects have worked with LEED certified buildings across the country [and] have gone over the requirements to achieve that level point by point.”
In order to attain these LEED certification levels, points are gained for how the building is constructed as well as how it will ultimately run.
The design, which was originally developed in 2001, can gain points if the final product features qualities ranging from shady landscaping to low-efficiency glass that does not transmit radiant heat and keeps the interior cool. Other ways the new Student Activities Center may reach a higher LEED certification level is by reusing the waste material from the Rat’s demolition and use it to build the footings and foundation of the new center or in the realignment of the lake.
The building can also optimize its certification with points given because a locker room exists a certain distance from the building which allows bicyclists to shower before class or work.
“We need to look at our future where energy is more scarce and rethink the decisions about where we live and work,” said David Letson, the chair of RSMAS’s Department of Marine Affairs and Policy. “Talk is cheap in the classroom, but when you get a chance to think carefully about a major building like this, it’s nice to see.”

Alexa Lopez may be contacted at