From the time of its first imagining, UD’s newest academic building, SB Hall, was intended to be sustainably and efficiently designed and maintained in keeping with the values promoted by both the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business and UD as a whole. As part of a vision for the future of the university, on April 21, 2016, SB Hall officially received Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Building Design and Construction (BD+C): New Construction Silver certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).
LEED certification works on a point system and has four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum. SB Hall obtained the Silver level with 50 points, earned by taking into account a variety of factors including (but not limited to) wall thickness, light bulb wattage and the bicycle rack out front.
“One way to earn points was to use local resources,” explained Associate Vice President for Administration and Business Services Patrick Daly. “In looking at furniture and materials, if there wasn’t much difference between two products other than that one was from a local company and the other would have to ship across the country, you would get points for choosing the local one.”
The rationale behind the bicycle rack?
“You want to show that you’re supporting more environmentally friendly, low-fuel modes of transportation,” said Daly. “Our DART station and the bus stops also helped.”
According to Mary Dickinson, LEED specialist at Perkins+Will (the architectural firm that designed SB Hall), resource conservation was prioritized. Throughout SB Hall, water-conserving features reduce overall water use by more than 40 percent with the use of low-flow faucets, toilets and ultra-low-flow urinals. The indoor water savings alone amounts to over 89,140 gallons per year, which is the equivalent of filling a small city’s water tower.
The landscaping around SB Hall further reduces the use of potable water with native plants, a native sod mix and drip irrigation that together result in an additional 64,000 gallons per year saved. Improved mechanical systems, exterior shading and a near 20 percent reduction in interior lighting power all lead to the building’s annual energy cost being reduced by 12 percent compared to an average building.
The UD and Perkins+Will teams also emphasized indoor occupant health by using low-VOC-emitting finishes and furnishings as well as optimized ventilation. The maximized use of daylight aids in keeping students’ attention in class and promoting the general comfort of the building’s occupants.
“It uplifts all of our spirits,” said Greg Bell, Ph.D., associate dean of faculty affairs and associate professor of management in the college of business. “Research suggests that healthy buildings lead to improved employee morale, overall happiness and less absenteeism.”
Bell himself teaches courses and has co-authored a book on the subject of sustainability; he also helps lead the school’s Sustainable Business Network (SBN), which hosts events and speakers on campus. At a recent SBN event, Perkins+Will’s Mary Dickinson gave a presentation on green buildings, LEED certification and how much these things affect our health and well-being, discussing everything from the pollutants found in newborn infants from their mothers’ environments to how the lack of access to natural light in workplaces and schools poses a very real health hazard.
As arduous a process as LEED certification can be, the benefits seem to far outweigh the hassle.
“SB Hall provides a visible symbol of UD’s and the college of business’ dedication to sustainable business,” said Bell. “We already had a robust program and classes, but now everyone can walk in and see sustainability in action.”
The college of business also regularly brings in guest speakers for its Executives on Campus program as well as other events.
“Having a LEED-certified building is a strong discussion point with external guests,” said Bell. “It’s a real point of pride for us.”