Think Green -- Sorrell Center awarded LEED Certification

Story contributed by HDR, Inc. | May 11, 2009

picture disc.The Michael F. Sorrell Center for Health Science Education building has achieved LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The $52.7 million facility, designed by HDR Architecture, Inc., is the first building throughout the University of Nebraska system to become LEED certified, and one of an elite few to achieve certification throughout the state.

"Green building and LEED certification is starting to pick up steam in Nebraska," said Bruce Maine, sustainable consultant with HDR. "The Sorrell Center is a great example of a LEED project that was done at little extra cost to the client.

"Our team utilized simple and manageable sustainable building techniques to create a sophisticated, world-class learning facility that is mindful of the environment and to the University of Nebraska's budget."

About LEED

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the USGBC's principal rating system for designing and constructing the world's greenest, most energy efficient and high-performing buildings. LEED verifies environmental performance, occupant health and financial return, and was established for market leaders to design and construct buildings that protect and save precious resources while also making good economic sense.

The new 131,296-square-foot education building opened its doors on June 26, 2008, and is the home to UNMC's College of Medicine. The building creates a "heart" for the campus and facilitates student-faculty interaction, inter-professional exchange and a richer campus experience. As one of the newest facilities in the University of Nebraska system, the Sorrel Center has set a new standard in the way the university views design -- a "green" standard.

"Now that LEED is being adopted by more and more hospitals and academic facilities, the university thought it was time to set a sustainable standard for its buildings," Maine said. "Since following LEED building guidelines in the Sorrell Center, the university has adopted LEED principles into its building code regulations for all new construction."

Key sustainable design features of the Michael F. Sorrell Center include:

  • Drought-tolerant landscaping and native grasses that reduce site irrigation by 50 percent;
  • Locally harvested construction materials including brick and limestone;
  • Locally manufactured materials, many with post-consumer and post-industrial content;
  • Low- or no-VOC paints, adhesives and sealants;
  • Carpeting that complied with the Carpet & Rug Institute Green Label Plus program for low emissions;
  • Extensive use of windows to maximize daylight infiltration and views to the outdoors;
  • A campus greenway that features extensive grassy areas and park-like settings;
  • Low emitting and low/no-VOC furniture and seating certified by the Green Guard Institute;
  • Recycling or salvaging 75 percent of construction waste; and
  • Period of extended air changes prior to occupancy to remove any unnecessary toxins in the air that may have resulted from construction.