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UVa-Wise achieves LEED Platinum for Science Center

The Science Center at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise was awarded the US Green Building Council’s highest designation for sustainable design, LEED Platinum certification.  The building is only the second higher education construction project in the Commonwealth of Virginia to achieve the prestigious rating. 

“The LEED Platinum certification for the renovation of our Science Center demonstrates that we can create a striking and productive facility that is both academically and environmentally friendly,” UVa-Wise Chancellor David J. Prior said. “UVa-Wise is committed to our ongoing efforts to build facilities that have a minimum impact on the environment and that meet the needs of our campus. We are thrilled with the commitment and hard work that everyone has given to this project.”

“The University of Virginia’s College at Wise set out to achieve LEED Platinum certification for the renovation of the college’s original Science Building in order to showcase our Department of Natural Sciences, which has been a key element in the academic success of the college, and to demonstrate our commitment as an institution toward operational sustainability and stewardship,” said Sim Ewing, Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration 

David J. Neuman, architect for the University of Virginia, indicated his enthusiasm for the LEED Platinum recognition, and further noted, 'Since 2007, we have been attaining LEED certification for all of our new and major renovation projects at the University of Virginia with the large majority either Gold or Silver level.  This is the first college project to attain a LEED certification and the first project at either Charlottesville or Wise to achieve a Platinum level award.  To have accomplished this level, with careful planning, design and execution, and not additional expense, is a tribute to the college and the entire project team."

The Platinum certification represents a long-standing effort on the UVa-Wise campus to consistently improve its environmental responsibility as it continues to grow. Efforts developed over the past decade, such as innovative campus-wide stormwater management and open-space preservation plans, contributed points toward the Platinum certification.  In fact, the campus lake, designed by VMDO Architects in 1999, earned both stormwater quantity and quality credits for the project.

Meanwhile, the design, construction and university team members (VMDO Architects, Quesenberry’s, Inc., University of Virginia and College at Wise) worked closely together to pursue almost all of the credits available to the project.  Highlights of these efforts include solar panels, which produce enough energy to offset 6 percent of the building’s energy consumption. Water use is reduced by more than 50 percent.  The LEED recognition represents a stalwart commitment to smart sustainable design across the board. 



STORMWATER:  The campus lake, originally designed in 1999, controls the stormwater from the campus (including the Science Building) and captures natural pollutants released by mining spoils.  Restoration of the stream feeding the lake was included as part of the construction project to improve the lake’s performance. 

ENERGY: With their increased need for ventilation, science buildings traditionally consume much more energy than the average academic building.  However, energy recovery and efficient systems design reduce the building’s energy consumption.  Meanwhile, on-site energy production from one hundred twelve photovoltaic panels will generate 24,070 kWh of energy.  All told, these combined efforts reduce the building’s modeled energy use by 26 percent over a code compliant building of the same size. Efforts to maintain low energy use including commissioning and metering ensure that the performance of the building will meet its expectations over time.

WATER: Waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, and low-flow faucets reduce the water consumption of the building by 52 percent.  This water savings will conserve 52,273 gallons of water per year. 

INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY: Operable windows provide fresh air to the building while carefully selected low-emitting paints and finishes maintain a healthy indoor environment. 

MATERIALS:   Collaboration with the contractors of Quesenberry’s Inc. led to significant material conservation for the project.  Materials were selected and screened for high recycled content, toxicity and embodied carbon. Examples include gypsum board and metals selected for high recycled content, agrifiber wall paneling, and linoleum.  The contractor’s management of construction waste separated and diverted more than 75 percent of the construction waste from landfills.


Renovations to the Science Building, which was originally constructed in 1964, were designed by VMDO Architects to meet the specific educational goals and teaching strategies of the current Science Department.  The renovations serve the programs of Botany and Ecology, Earth Sciences, Physics, Science Education, and Software Engineering. With new classrooms, laboratories, and equipment, the renovated building allows students to participate in collaborative learning, fully engaging the scientific process. 


The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.

LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.  Of the 3,957 projects to achieve LEED recognition nation-wide, only 233 (less than six percent) have earned a Platinum rating. 

For more information, contact College Relations at 276-376-1027.