Sustainability at Union South

April 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm Leave a comment

The new Union South opens this week at the UW Campus and the building is definitely something the University can be proud of. Besides being beautiful architecturally, the building is LEED Gold certified. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the standard quantitative tool for measuring sustainability in building and development. There are 4 levels: certified, silver, gold and platinum. There is only one other LEED Gold certified union in the U.S., which is the University of Vermont.

Here are some sustainability highlights for the new Union:

Water: The building features a water wall and storm water reservoirs to help decrease the water use and runoff from the impermeable surface around the building. Protecting what goes into our water as well as how much we use is just as important. They also have low flow toilets in faucets throughout the building.

Materials: The wood used was certified by the forestry stewardship council in order to make sure it was harvested sustainably. Construction waste was recycled according to LEED standards as well. There was a large focus on local materials and the building features many reused, historical fixtures and materials too. This gives the building a link from past to future.

Energy: Union South features natural ventilation design so they can cut their energy use by 37%. The building was designed to encourage natural ventilation and they use what they termed ‘big ass fans’ that stand 24 feet high in order to push hot up upward in the summer and pull it down during winter. In order to use the most amount to natural light, the union not only features many windows, but was also built at a strategic direction and angle so as to maximize sunlight.

Transportation: The Union has adopted a transportation demand management strategy in order to encourage alternative transportation among workers and decrease the amount of single occupancy vehicles.

It’s easy to see why Union South is a building we can all be proud of here in Madison. Be sure to check out their list of Grand Opening Events and search for all of their wonderful sustainability efforts. If you want to learn more about their sustainability plan, visit their website.

~Kayla Baake

EnAct Intern

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