Students to have key role in LEED certification process for Nelson Hall


Work began recently to upgrade Nelson Hall, home of the Poole College of Management, to qualify for LEED for Existing Buildings certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

This fall, students in a new interdisciplinary course offered by the College of Design will learn what it takes for an existing building to qualify for the sustainability designation as they lead the documentation process required for this certification.

The course, LEED Laboratory (ARC 590-012), will bring together students from business, engineering, architecture and environmental related fields, providing real-world experience in upgrading campus facilities for utility savings and long-term sustainability.

The students also will gain the documented experience required to take the LEED AP exam, a professional certification in green building.

“This project-based, experiential learning course is designed to boost student skills, experience and career marketability while fulfilling the university’s commitment to sustainability,” said Dr. Traci Rose Rider, one of three co-instructors for the course and the College of Design’s coordinator for the Design Initiative for Sustainability and Health.

NC State maintenance staff recently began installing energy-efficient LED lighting in Nelson Hall. Occupancy lighting sensors and water-saving dual flush toilets are among other energy-saving upgrades that will be made as part of the certification process.

“Poole College has already taken major steps in advancing sustainable business practices in the classroom, in research and in industry. It’s important that the college also operate in a sustainable manner, demonstrating to those who walk our hallways the financial, environmental and health benefits of a green building,” said Jessica Thomas, director of the Poole College Sustainability Initiative.

“It is extremely important that students who will be working with the built environment understand how to work with existing buildings as they move through their education and out into professional roles,” Rider said. “There’s no better place to start gaining that knowledge than by working with buildings here on campus.”

“Our goal is to make NC State leaner, smarter and stronger – and sustainable buildings help accomplish that by improving building efficiency. That our students are leading this transformation is a great example of how the campus can be a living lab for learning, sustainability and real-world skills development,” said Liz Bowen, also a co-instructor and coordinator of the Sustainability Program in the University Sustainability Office.

The sustainability enhancements planned at Nelson Hall will provide a number of bottom-line benefits, including less water and energy use and reduced operations and maintenance costs. A recent Deloitte report indicated that the average LEED certified building uses 32 percent less electricity and saves 350 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually. Positive health impacts have also been reported among green building occupants in 17 separate studies, including one that suggested present value benefits of $37 to $55 per square foot based on increased productivity and decreased sick days alone.

A true collaborative course, ARC 590-012 is a campus partnership including Poole College of Management; College of Engineering; College of Design; University Sustainability Office; Waste Reduction and Recycling; Energy Solutions, whose Assistant Director Kevin Martin is the third co-instructor for the course; and NC State’s Energy Management, which funded and coordinated the building’s energy and water upgrades.

Industry partners, such as Schneider Electric, are also involved. This company is providing dashboard hardware and software that will enable building occupants to view real-time utility use beginning this summer.

“Our current prospective and entering undergraduate students expect the university to be environmentally conscious and to practice sustainable activities,” said Thomas Griffin, director of undergraduate admissions. “Buildings that are well-designed and environmentally conscious will improve the campus environment while also responding to changing expectations.”