UCF Awarded Outsanding LEED Project and Green Hero at USGBC Central Florida LEEDership Awards

May 2, 2018

This past Saturday evening, UCF hosted the 5th annual USGBC Central Florida LEEDership Awards at the UCF Alumni Center. Not only was it an honor to host the event, UCF was also awarded the Most Outstanding LEED Operations & Maintenance Project of the Year – UCF Alumni Center and the Green Hero of the Year – Curt Wade, UES Director.

Most Outstanding LEED Operations & Maintenance Project of the Year – UCF Alumni Center

This certification project reflects the core ideologies forged and furnished in UCF’s Strategic Collective Impact Plan, by demonstrating the commitment to LEED and sustainability, enhancing the student experience, improving the built environment, and reducing campus operational expenditures related to utilities and maintenance activities.

On January 21, 2018, the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center achieved LEED® Gold certification under the LEED v4 rating system, established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI). Through the certification process, the Alumni Center’s energy use reduced by 20% with no to low cost improvements such as building automation control sensor calibration, retro commissioning, and lighting improvements. With limited capital renewal funding, and fixed plant operation and maintenance budgets coming from the State; performance-based credits in LEED have significantly contributed in reducing campus utility and operation cost at UCF for both new construction and existing buildings as high as 35% over the ASHRAE 90.1.

The Alumni Center is the 21st UCF project to achieve LEED certification, however is the first building on UCF campus to achieve certification under the Operations & Maintenance (O+M) rating system and to comply at the caliber and stringency of the v4 standards. This certification reaches a new prestige compared to those of new construction, in that it challenges existing facilities to perform at the high standards of LEED. It embodies not only what the building plans to practice, but also measures what it does practice.

A home to UCF memorabilia, ballrooms, a boardroom, a library and offices for Alumni Association staff, this first LEED O+M building set precedence. The Alumni Center accomplished significant energy reductions by using low or no-cost facility improvement measures, such as recommissioning the air handler units (AHUs), improving the solar reflective index (SRI) of the roof and changing the LED lights to a lower color temperature. These energy upgrades show a payback of 6 to 12 months, and incur a cost savings of more than two times the initial investment within one year.

In addition, the LEED energy auditing process outlined a series of capital improvement projects for the future, projecting an 8.3% reduction in energy use intensity (EUI). These measures include test and balance of all airside equipment to ensure proper airflows are distributed per design, control sensor calibration for operation efficiency, static pressure and supply air temperature reset strategies for energy conservation, refined occupancy schedules to align operation of equipment, LED lighting retrofits for energy conservation and efficiency, daylight harvesting, and demand control ventilation strategies by managing the amount of outside air flow into the building to meet code and IAQ.

This project required the close collaboration of multiple stakeholders from several UCF organizations to come together in effort to LEED certify the UCF Alumni Center. What is most inspiring about this particular project is the fact that it has laid the foundation and provided the necessary framework and roadmap to achieve additional O+M certified facilities within the education and general building portfolio at UCF. The efficient and modern technologies implored by LEED endures the expression of the emerging campus culture. These systems transform theory into practice within the built environment and not only garner more efficient education and work settings, but also teach us in return.

Green Hero of the Year – Curt Wade, UES Director

Curt Wade was dubbed Green Hero of the Year for his role in evolving the sustainability culture at one of the largest universities in the country. Wade does not settle with “business as usual” by advancing current standards and initiatives to be, as he calls it, “between cutting and bleeding edge” and pushing operational boundaries. In his current tenure, he has shown strong advocacy for environmental conservation and energy efficiency.

Under his direction, the “Energy Sustainability Policy” was created, committed to energy sustainability and ensuring a productive environment for all members of the university community. Requirements include abiding by building construction and renovation efficiency standards, workplace accountability, and building commissioning, and are to be followed by all university members, including students, staff, faculty, visiting scholars, and campus visitors. His team aims to minimize the university’s “environmental footprint through conservation, energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon mitigation and offsets… with the final goal of Climate Neutrality.” Upon his tenure, he transformed the department by putting efficiency and resiliency at the forefront of operations.

The University of Central Florida is committed to sustainable growth, and is continually striving to enlarge its high-performance building portfolio. Committing the built environment to high efficiency standards creates a catalyst for change, not only at UCF, but also setting precedence within the Florida State University System. With that, we celebrate the most recent and commendable successes within this realm.