Historic Yarbrough Steam Plant earns sustainability certification

Yarbrough Steam Plant received certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) at the silver level.

One of the oldest buildings on NC State University’s campus is now renovated and certified nationally for sustainable construction and energy efficiency.

Following a significant renovation, the 1920s era Yarbrough Steam Plant received certification forLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) at the silver level.

“It is a great accomplishment that one of the oldest buildings on campus is now recognized for its modern sustainability features,” said Liz Bowen, a University Sustainability Office program coordinator specializing in sustainable buildings.

As part of the utility network that supplies energy to campus buildings, the large mechanical equipment within Yarbrough uses significant energy and generates excess heat. The renovation included major efficiency upgrades such as replacing boilers and related mechanical systems as well as improving the building’s insulation and ventilation.

Best known for its landmark “State College” smokestack, Yarbrough is the university’s sixth campus building to achieve LEED certification and the first major renovation to be certified.

“By renovating an existing building instead of constructing a new building, we maintained an iconic, historic building on campus  while also significantly reducing construction and demolition waste,” Bowen said.

The renovation included high efficiency plumbing fixtures and lighting as well as exclusive use of paints and sealants certified for low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, which optimize the building’s indoor air quality. Half of the wood-based construction material used during the renovation was certified sustainable and 20 percent of construction materials contained recycled content. Outside, native vegetation reduces the need for irrigation and bicycle racks encourage alternative transportation.

NC State has several other buildings amid the LEED certification process, including Cates Utility Plant, Wolf Ridge Student Apartments, Talley Student Union and the Carol Johnson Poole Clubhouse.