Sabin Hall LEEDS UNI's sustainability efforts

As the University of Northern Iowa strives to promote sustainability, the renovation of Sabin Hall is fulfilling these efforts. The New Year will welcome a new, environmentally friendly Sabin Hall when classes resume on Jan. 10, 2011. Students, faculty and staff are in for some surprising changes.

At the end of fall semester in December 2008, UNI faculty and staff moved out of their offices in Sabin relocated to different areas on campus while the renovation process took place. Now, after two years of vacancy, faculty and staff are moving back into their newly remodeled "home."

But, this wasn't your average renovation project...

Sabin Hall's new features

A ceiling window lights the core of the building to introduce natural light and gives faculty, staff and students a sense of the time of day while they're inside. The renovation of Sabin Hall also features an accent wall constructed of rapidly renewable bamboo plywood called Plyboo.

Influenced by the Center for Energy and Environmental Education, Sabin Hall is working toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This third-party verification standard ensures new construction and major renovation projects are designed and constructed to be energy and resource efficient.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.

Sabin will be the first LEED-certified facility on the UNI campus and will showcase the university's commitment to innovation in teaching practices, its continued interest in resource stewardship and sustainability issues.

"Sustainability is an important priority for the campus, and we hope Sabin's LEED certification will play a part in educating the campus and broader community on the benefits of green building," said Phil Mauceri, dean of the College of Social and Behavior Sciences. "Sabin will have electronic signage highlighting key sustainability features in the building, and we plan on incorporating an educational element into the building by inviting classes from local schools, as well as UNI students, to tour Sabin Hall as a way to understand the components of a sustainable building."

The LEED Commercial Interiors (LEED CI) Rating System was chosen as the certification strategy to meet the goal of LEED Silver Certification. This strategy includes furniture and equipment in the certification process as part of a sustainable building renovation.

"Many of the building's key design elements-including the emphasis on natural lighting and the use of recycled or eco-friendly materials-are geared toward achieving LEED Silver certification," said Mauceri.

"A minimum of 27 design-phase credits are required for Silver certification," said Steve Stimmel, AIA, LEED Accredited Professional and principal at Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering LLP in Des Moines, Iowa. "After submitting credits, UNI has 'earned' 18 of those 27, but the credits are only awarded after the evaluation of the construction phase credits following the building's occupancy. And who knows? We might encounter some unexpected points we didn't think we'd earn."

These credits are organized into five environmental categories, including sustainable sites, water use reduction, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

Completed in 1914, Sabin Hall now showcases some drastically different features:

New features
Sabin Hall will become the first LEED-certified building on campus, including features such as a Light Lounge, introducing natural light into the building to help individuals who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months.
  • A covered atrium Light Lounge, which reintroduces natural light to alllevels of the building's core to help individuals who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) during the winter months.
  • New modular paving to reduce storm water runoff. Upgrades to building entrances.
  • An accent wall constructed of rapidly renewable bamboo plywood called Plyboo.
  • Terrazzo floor artwork in the atrium, which fulfills the Art-in-State-Buildings component of the project and uses recycled glass within the flooring.
  • Plasma televisions, which replaced older projectors and will last up to 20 times longer than projectors.
  • Wireless capabilities in each room.

"Something as simple as natural lighting can have an important psychological impact on students by improving learning and avoiding mental stresses," said Mauceri. "Classrooms with the latest multimedia technology, complete wireless coverage in the building, a new computer lab and UNI's first computer testing facility will all ensure that students have access to some of the most sophisticated learning instruments on campus."

While many new features were incorporated into the renovation of Sabin, anything from the original building that didn't detract and could possibly help becoming LEED-certified was reused, such as furniture, chalkboards and sound equipment, said Steve Pavelec, UNI's construction representative of facilities planning.

Now that UNI has one LEED-certified building on campus, plans to continue the trend are in effect. The new residence hall, expected to be in full use by fall 2012, will be LEED certified, as well as any other future renovation or construction that occurs on campus.

"The new Sabin Hall is proof that UNI is dedicated to promoting sustainability while still preserving the historical elements of campus," said Josh Wilson, senior political communications student who will have many of his classes in Sabin this spring. "I'm very excited to attend classes in Sabin and enjoy all of the building's new features."