UNCG’s iconic Quad residence halls, a collection of seven buildings constructed in the 1920s and recently renovated, have been certified LEED Gold by the U.S. Green Building Council.

The certification gives the Quad dual prominence: Among the oldest buildings on campus — approaching a century of use — the residence halls now also rank among the most environmentally sustainable.

“We are very committed to building sustainable buildings,” said Fred Patrick, UNCG’s director of facilities, design and construction. “It’s a healthier environment to live in, and it’s the right thing to do.”

The Quad is the third UNCG building project to earn LEED certification, joining the LEED Gold-certified School of Education and LEED Silver-certified Jefferson Suites.

The Quad’s golden designation exceeded officials’ initial aim. “Gold is a big deal. We were targeting LEED silver, but got gold,” Patrick said. “It’s a great story and speaks to all of the work of the team of designers and contractors that went beyond what was needed.”

The $55 million renovation project included an overhaul of 224,000-square-feet of living space. Officials took care in selecting exterior and interior elements of the buildings with an emphasis on environmentally-friendly materials and systems. Sustainable features include water-efficient landscaping; sensors in common areas such as the laundry, kitchen/vending areas, study lounges and lobbies that switch off the lights when the space is unoccupied; and the use of paints, carpets and other flooring materials low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

“In the old days, when you walked into a new building, it had that new car smell,” Patrick said. That has changed with the adoption of the low-VOC elements. “It’s a healthier building and a better environment for its occupants.”

The renovated halls were designed to achieve 30 percent energy reduction and reduce water use by 40 percent. More than 80 percent of the project’s construction waste was diverted from local landfills. The Quad also scored points for the inclusion of elements that promote alternative transportation, such as indoor bike storage.

The renovation of the Quad has garnered several awards since the halls reopened at the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year, including the Star Award from the Construction Professional Network of North Carolina and the “Excellence in Preservation” award from Preservation Greensboro.