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Alamogordo addition near completion, will be first 'green building' at NMSU

The Health Sciences Center Reidlinger Addition at New Mexico State University-Alamogordo is getting the last touch-ups to open in June to secure a Silver or Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. Platinum is the highest rating.

The Reidlinger Addition to the Health Sciences Center at New Mexico State University-Alamogordo campus will be completed in June and will be NMSU's first building to receive a LEED "green building" Silver or Gold certification. (Photo by Audry Olmsted)

Reidlinger BuildingLEED is defined as a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. Sustainable buildings and communities are those that foster an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life, according to USGBC's Web site at http://www.usgbc.org/Default.aspx.

NMSU made a commitment in 2006 to make all new building projects LEED certifiable, or "green buildings." The Reidlinger Addition will be the first at any NMSU campus to attain such a rating. Two other buildings, one in Alamogordo, and another in Carlsbad have recently been approved by the Board of Regents to be built with LEED specifications, aiming toward a Gold certification. And the proposed $37.5 million, Phase I Arts Complex will also be constructed as a green building. Other buildings and additions under construction or soon to be constructed throughout the university are being targeted for Silver LEED certifications.

reidlinger building"It's a good thing to do," said Michael Rickenbaker, university architect and director of facilities, planning and construction. Rickenbaker explained that the LEED certification is a third- party verification to certify that you did what you set out to do in constructing a green building. Many buildings are constructed claiming to be green buildings but do not have the LEED certification, he said.

The V2.2 LEED certification looks at six different categories in certifying a building. They are: Sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design. Points are assessed when a building addresses these categories under the V2.2 LEED criteria, which is how the Reidlinger Addition will be evaluated. The maximum amount of points a certification can attain is 69. The point system is assessed according to the classification of the structure, such as new construction, commercial interiors, existing buildings, core and shell, homes, neighborhood development and application guides. The LEED certification criteria are now up to a Version 3, but the Alamogordo project will be evaluated under V2.2.

The Reidlinger Addition is considered a new construction project and its rating system is from 25-32 points to get a Certified status, from 33-38 points to get a Silver certification, from 39-51 points to get a Gold certification and from 52-69 points to get a Platinum certification.

"We started the project with the goal of achieving Silver (33-38 points), and it's possible that we may achieve Gold (39-51 points)," said Gary D. Williams, the project's architect of Williams Design Group, Inc.

The addition is approximately 16,716 sq. ft., and will house the Health Sciences Center with nursing lab, medical laboratory, technician lab, classrooms, student support spaces and offices. The new addition will create a multi-level, handicapped-accessible connector to the rest of the campus. Its construction cost was approximately $4.2 million, with a total cost of about $5.3 million for the entire project.

In the construction of the Reidlinger project six LEED categories were targeted:

1. Sustainable sites: The Reidlinger project was built on an already-developed site rather than native land; it encouraged alternative transportation by providing bicycle racks, showers and designated parking for hybrid cars; it provided control of storm-water runoff; and built a reflective roofing to prevent heat-island effect.

2. Water efficiency: Water-efficient landscaping using non-potable water; and reduced building water-usage 30 percent from the average.

3. Energy and atmosphere: Optimized energy performance - the computer model predicts 60 percent less usage than average; purchased Green Power generated from renewable sources; and used no ozone-depleting refrigerants.

4. Material and resources: Managed construction waste to divert 75 percent from landfills; used recycled material for 20 percent total materials used; and used 20 percent regionally (within 500 miles) extracted and manufactured products.

5. Indoor environmental quality: Increased ventilation; manages indoor air quality during construction and before occupancy; uses low-emitting carpet, adhesives and paint; and had controllability of thermal and lighting systems.

6. Innovation in design: Used a LEED-accredited professional; exemplary performance for exceeding minimum requirements by a factor of two for above items; provided educational tools about the sustainable features of the building; and used green cleaning products.