UNCG’s new School of Education building gets the gold when it comes to sustainability.

The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded the 110,500-square-foot building on Spring Garden Street LEED Gold certification. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) specs are set by the Council; gold is the second-highest certification level.

The School of Education opened to students in August. It is UNCG’s first LEED-certified building.

John Pope, design project manager for UNCG, says the building exceeds a number of LEED certification requirements in areas such as maximizing open space and water conservation.

“We were even able to divert 88 percent of the construction waste from the landfill through reuse and recycling,” Pope says. “We began with LEED Silver as our target certification level10, but by taking advantage of every possible opportunity we were able to achieve LEED Gold.”

Gold certification requires a total of 39 points on the Council’s scorecard; silver certification requires 33 points. The School of Education Building earned 41 out of 69 possible points.

Total water savings for the building was close to 50 percent, well above the required 30 percent required by LEED. Open space around the building measures more than twice the required area.

Other areas where the building earned additional points were:

• Added bicycle storage and changing rooms

• Used low VOC-emitting paints, sealants and carpet (VOC stands for Volatile Organic Compound)

• Increased building ventilation to 30 percent over LEED requirements

• Used recycled and rapidly renewable materials, and certified wood

• Installed bio-retention pond and sand filtration system to filter storm water run-off

• Installed ample thermostats throughout, allowing for efficient temperature control

The $47.5 million building’s sustainable design is estimated to save the university about 35 percent on energy costs. It includes 19 general use classrooms, two new general-use lecture halls, and a tiered case-study classroom.