MARQUETTE, Mich.—Another Northern Michigan University residence hall renovation has achieved sustainability benchmarks set by the U.S. Green Building Council. Hunt Hall earned a silver designation from the council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. Van Antwerp and Meyland previously received silver and certified designations, respectively. To be LEED certified, buildings are recognized for performance in five areas: sustainable site development, materials selection, water savings, energy efficiency and indoor environmental quality.

 “Earning LEED certification is more challenging when renovating an existing building,” said Brandon Sager, NMU’s sustainability coordinator. “New construction projects are easier because you can start from scratch with the goal of building green, but with renovations you have to work with existing conditions. With Hunt Hall those conditions were over 40 years old when ‘green’ was only a color.

“Many of the materials used in the renovations are made of recycled content and were regionally manufactured. Regulated water use has been reduced by up to 38 percent with the help of dual-flush toilets and low-flow showers and faucets and air flow has been significantly improved with new mechanical systems. There’s more natural light in these buildings with the addition of windows. We are also saving energy with lights that are on timers or have occupancy sensors.”

As with the three previous residence hall renovations, the Hunt Hall project was on the “fast track” – the total building renovation took only 90 days during the summer of 2008. Closner Construction of Marquette, Dressler Mechanical Inc. of Marquette and S&T Electrical of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, were the three main contractors on the project.

NMU Housing and Residence Life Director Carl Holm said that the State of Michigan several years ago directed that all state-funded capital outlay projects at public colleges and universities be designed and constructed in accordance with the LEED Green Building Rating System.  

“Residence halls are not state funded, so they don’t fall under this requirement, but NMU made the commitment to move in that direction,” said Holm when the Meyland and Van Antwerp designations were announced. “We had to be trained on the U.S. Green Building Council expectations and LEED certification because it is quite complicated and it was all so new. We were on the leading edge. It feels good to be able to say we are doing the right thing. LEED was like a tripwire that got us to pay more attention to sustainable practices and that increased focus is now reflected in [NMU President Les Wong’s] strategic road map.”             

Prepared By
News Director
August 25, 2010