LA CROSSE, WI – The new University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (UWL) Student Union achieved LEEDâ Gold certification from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Initiated and designed by Scott Kindness and Melissa Rudolph, RA of Kindness Architecture + Planning, which was acquired by Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA) during the project, this new $55 million, student-funded, student center replaces an aging facility and serves as a gateway to the campus. Knowing this building will be a staple on campus for the next 50 years, sustainability was a focus from early conception and design through construction.
“The LEED Gold Certification provides documentation that we followed defined building performance strategies that will result in 25 percent less energy, 19 percent lower operating costs, 27 percent higher occupant satisfaction and 36 percent less CO2 emissions,” says Doug Pearson, Executive Director of UWL Facilities Planning and Management. Sustainable elements include: LED lighting, building automation system, additional daylighting, low-flow toilets and sink faucets, reduced light pollution, storm water management systems and access to alternative modes of transportation. With a focus on recycled and local materials, the building incorporates over 25 percent recycled content in its materials and 35 percent of the materials are from a 500-mile radius. During construction, over 90 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills.
The design of UW-La Crosse’s new modern student center draws inspiration from its surroundings and sought to bring the outside in. “We wanted to design a building that incorporated materials native to the region and was inspired by the surrounding parks and nature trails,” explains Rudolph, Senior Project Manager at EUA. Additionally, rain gardens and permeability were incorporated into the building’s storm water design to help keep rainwater on the site. These features add to the beauty of the site rather than take away the usability of the land.
“By using less energy and water, LEED-certified buildings save UWL students and taxpayers money, along with reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to a healthier environment,” says Pearson on UWL’s commitment to green building design.