Boldt rep defends “green” Hiett

Peter Snyder

For nearly two months, students have been familiarizing themselves with the tiniest details of Hiett Hall. On Nov. 16, they had the chance to understand Lawrence University’s newest dormitory from a different perspective when a representative from Boldt Construction, the company that designed and built Hiett Hall, came and explained the technologies that were used to mitigate the building’s effect on the surrounding environment.From the outset of the hour-long talk, the Boldt representative defended Hiett Hall as being an environmentally friendly building.

Many members of the Lawrence community had expressed frustration and surprise that the administration did not seek LEED certification.

The LEED certification program, technically named the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, is a system created by the U.S. Green Building Council to encourage and recognize environmentally responsible construction.

In order to achieve LEED certification, a building must earn at least 26 points. A building earns a point for fulfilling one of the items on the LEED Project checklist. For example, a building can earn a point for getting five percent of its total energy needs from reusable energy, and another point for using certified sustainable wood.

According to the Boldt representative, although Hiett Hall “probably” would have qualified for LEED certification, Lawrence University choose not to apply for certification for three different reasons.

First, applying for LEED certification, coupled with the documenting procedures the application process demanded, would have cost upwards of $125,000. Second, there was no guarantee that Hiett Hall would have qualified for LEED certification. While Boldt construction predicted that the project would have achieved 26 of the points necessary to achieve certification, Hiett Hall would have fallen short of the five-point buffer that the LEED certification committee recommends all applicants have.

Applying and paying for LEED certification without reasonable certainty of success was a risk that the administration was not willing to take.

However, despite Hiett Hall’s lack of certification, the building incorporates a number of different technologies and techniques for lessening its impact on the surrounding environment. For example, the building contains an exhaust-air heat recovery system, which captures heat from air being ventilated out of the building and uses it to warm new air being brought in, decreasing the amount of energy needed to heat the building.

In addition, Boldt Construction decreased Hiett Hall’s environmental footprint by embedding 16 miles of one-inch tubing in the building’s flooring. When steam is passed through these tubes, the floor radiates warmth, providing an efficient way of heating the building.

Boldt Construction will also come back during the summer of 2004 to replace the rye grass that currently lives on the hill next to Hiett Hall with native plants.

Other environmental technologies that Boldt utilized include, but are not limited to:

* Variable speed fans and pumps, allowing electricity usage to be pared down as demand for heating and/or cooling decreases.

* Highly efficient tinted windows to allow light in while blocking the heat from the sun, lowering the amount of energy used for cooling the building during the summer.

* Extensive recycling of materials during construction, including wood, metals, and even drywall scraps.

* Using “blast furnace slag,” a byproduct from industrial furnaces, in their concrete, effectively decreasing the amount of new concrete needed in construction.

Some students and faculty members are already researching ways to ensure that the next University building, predicted to be a new student union, will be LEED certified. Since the completion of Hiett Hall, Boldt Construction has built an office complex in Wisconsin that was LEED certified.