After several years of planning and two exciting football seasons, the University of Richmond’s Robins Stadium has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver status.
A cool roof surface that reflects the sun’s heat, low-flow water fixtures and 20 percent recycled construction materials are just a few of the sustainable features that went into the design and construction of the stadium. Robins Stadium obtained its Silver ranking after an extensive application and review process by LEED officials.
“The third-party review is really important because it makes sure that there’s a second set of eyes,” says Megan Litke, the University’s sustainability coordinator. “There’s a key set of values that are inherently included in a LEED building. If you see a LEED building — not just on campus, but anywhere in the world — you really know what it means.”
In order to meet LEED’s detailed set of qualifications, these values must be considered throughout the production process. “The LEED process really starts at design, goes through construction, and extends into occupancy,” Litke says. “It looks not only at energy efficiency, but also building materials and if they’re locally sourced or recycled. It looks at occupants and how they are able to interact with their space, to make sure the environment for them is healthy.”
The holistic approach and emphasis on the design stage allowed the construction team to address a number of challenges before shovels ever hit dirt. For example, the University’s renowned collegiate gothic architectural style, which dates back to the early 1900s, doesn’t easily lend itself to the 21st century design principles that often come with sustainable construction. While the large, gothic-style windows earned a LEED credit for using daylight, the slate roof doesn’t allow for solar panels.
The team also had to consider how to allocate priority parking to hybrid vehicles and carpools without relocating handicapped and media parking. “We had to work with Parking Services and think that through a few times,” says Dave Merchan, project engineer with University Facilities, “but they finally gave us that [credit].
“The good thing about LEED is that it brings up all these issues at the beginning, so you can address them before anything gets built,” adds Merchan.
The Robins Stadium certification marks the fourth LEED-certified structure on campus, joining the Heilman Center and Weinstein Hall, both LEED Silver, and the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness, which achieved LEED Gold. Five other buildings are currently in the certification process, and the University’s Climate Action Plan dictates that all other new construction projects should achieve at least LEED Silver designation as well.
According to Litke, the presence of LEED buildings on campus offers much more than demonstrating a surface-level dedication to sustainability. “From energy efficiency to occupant behavior, [LEED buildings] really have an impact,” Litke says. “Studies show that when you have natural lighting you’re more productive. And the education elements are really exciting. Professors can use things that are right on our campus to teach about [sustainable] technologies and what it means to have a green building.”