This year the University of Washington Tacoma completed construction on its newest addition to the campus. The Joy Building, named after Russell T. Joy, is the first in Tacoma to receive LEED Platinum Certification in the "new construction/major remodel" category. Designed by Portland architects, the remodel incorporates 84% of the original building structure with a modern design. Several artifacts were even salvaged from the building and re-installed as a monument to the building’s history.
Under LEED certification standards, platinum is the highest and most rigorous to achieve. This level even exceeds the state’s Executive Order 05-01, requiring that all new state-funded construction and major renovation projects be at least LEED Silver ratings. UWT’s Joy Building achieved Platinum level through a number of features including a system which captures 90% of the rainwater that falls on the building; reusing it for landscaping planters that require 55% less water.
Other sustainable features included:
• 89% light reflective roofing materials utilized;
• 90% of occupied areas have access to daylight;
• 43% water reduction during building operations;
• 49% reduction in energy use;
• 95% of construction waste was recycled;
• 100% Forest Stewardship Council certified wood;
• 22% recycled content in building materials;
• 20% building materials were purchased within 500 miles;
• 30% increased outdoor air ventilation for building users.
Additionally, the new project added 56 secured bike storage locations, one electrical vehicle charging station, and chose not to add new parking. The site is also located in an urban density area, with community connectivity; and built on a brownfield site near public transportation. This building sets a great example for both Tacoma, Washington, and its government; because it shows not only the desire to create a more sustainable city, but that government and state-funded projects can lead the change and set the bar higher.
This is the hope at least. While government agencies are setting a great environmental design and stewardship example, what is the likelihood that new construction will follow suit? Tacoma’s future Point Ruston Multiplex Development and the Brewery District Redevelopment projects will rely heavily on investments from market-based companies where building and land use codes do not yet reflect sustainable practices. This means the decision to build up to the energy efficient standards of LEED is still rests on the developers.
But in our contemporary day and age, would developers continue building with outdated standards were it not for government regulations or incentives?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.