USF should continue certifying buildings for LEED

By Tara Petzoldt COLUMNIST
On March 4, 2012

Universities around the country, including USF, are making steps in the right direction to create energy-sustainable campuses.

USF currently boasts two Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified buildings, with the USF Interdisciplinary Science Building achieving LEED Gold certification just last week. USF should continue outfitting buildings with the certification, as it is vital not only to the environment, but also to the reputation and character of the University.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council's website, buildings with LEED certification aim for "sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality." Most importantly, LEED-certified buildings often help reduce large amounts of consumption and negative greenhouse gas emissions - two prominent sources of environmental degradation.

Shifting to sustainable buildings also keeps USF up to date with the sustainability missions of top national universities. According to the Harvard Crimson, Harvard has 64 projects certified by LEED and 95 that are registered for certification. Keeping pace with universities like Harvard can help put USF on the map.

Achieving the certification for the USF Patel Center and the recently added Interdisciplinary Science Building are just two steps toward keeping stride with top-ranked schools. Five more are currently registered in hopes of gaining certification: the basketball practice facility, golf training facility, the Carol and Frank Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare, the Sun Dome and the Wellness and Nutrition Center, according to the Green Building Council's website.

Some opponents of LEED certification cite the expense as a reason not to go the extra mile for the "green" certification - estimates from the Santa Monica Daily Press suggest that in order to obtain a certification, a cost of about $100,000 will be added to any project.

However, the Green Building Council would disagree.

There are construction costs as well as fees attached to obtaining certification, but an article in Long Island Business News suggests that LEED adds benefits to businesses on top of already obvious environmental benefits. Under LEED certification, buildings such as a New York City high rise can be up to 40 percent more efficient in energy costs. This energy efficiency is attractive to environmentalists, as well as businesspeople who understand the marketing values of a green building and the incentives to rent in a building with low energy costs.

The LEED certifications being sought by USF are undeniably positive for USF's image and the environment alike. The initiative to create more sustainable buildings on college campuses has the ability to generate awareness for other environmental efforts.

USF should continue leading by example and supporting this movement.

Tara Petzoldt is a junior majoring in political science.

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