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New University building projects seek LEED certification, funding

Joseph McMahon | Friday, August 21, 2009

In a summer rife with economic worries and recession fears, construction continued on the Notre Dame campus with greater emphasis being placed on reducing the University’s environmental impact.

James Lyphout, vice president of Business Operations, said the University will not break ground on any project until it has 100 percent of the funds pledged and 75 percent of the cash in hand. Due to this policy, Lyphout said none of the current projects were affected by the recession because the funds were already set aside.

“Perhaps we would be moving faster if we didn’t have the recession, but we’re very fortunate to have a pretty substantial construction effort,” he said. “In the 18-month period that will end at the end of this calendar year, we will have done about $275 million worth of construction.”

Lyphout said the recession did impact raising funds for new projects, such as a free standing ice arena, remodeling of the first and second floors of the Hesburgh Library and a new center for executive education to the south of Mendoza. Nonetheless, he said the University is very close to breaking ground on some of these new buildings.

“Our construction is totally dependent upon having the money in hand, so with the recession we did have to slow down some, but we still have a pretty aggressive construction schedule,” he said. “These projects we’re working on designs for right now. We think we’re close to having the appropriate fundraising completed.”

Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves said he is also optimistic that construction on the ice rink would begin soon.

“[The new ice rink] is one of the projects we are waiting to close the funding on,” he said. “We won’t start a project until we have 100 percent of the funds pledged for the building. It is a building that hopefully we will close the funding on but we haven’t yet.”

Two new buildings were completed over the summer – Ryan Hall, a female dorm, and Geddes Hall, the new home of the Institute for Church Life, which will also house the Center for Social Concerns (CSC).

Lyphout said Geddes Hall should be the first building on campus to attain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

“LEED is the national standard in green building,” according to a July 21 press release from the Office of Sustainability. “To achieve LEED certification, a building must meet high benchmarks for energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor air quality, protection of natural resources and waste reduction.”

Affleck-Graves said the LEED certification process is lengthy, beginning when the building in question is designed, in addition to being “a little bit more expensive to do LEED buildings.”

Lyphout said a number of variables are considered by the certification committee.

“You get points for certain aspects of design as well as the construction methods used, the way the construction site is handled, the trailers that you use for the construction, the environmentally-friendly energy systems you install – there is a whole variety of points you can earn,” he said

Affleck-Graves said the University has followed the requisite procedure and he fully expects Geddes Hall to become Notre Dame’s first LEED building.

“It will be [LEED certified],” he said. “We are absolutely confident that it will be because we know what we have to do to meet the standards. But technically it is not certified yet.”

Furthermore, several buildings currently under construction are scheduled to be finished this year.

Lyphout said the renovation of the old Law School will be finished on June 1, 2010, and Stinson-Remick Hall, the new engineering building, is scheduled to be completed in December.

Several new athletic facilities are also nearing completion.

“We are completing the two stadiums,” Affleck-Graves said. “The one for soccer, Alumni Stadium, and Arlotta Stadium for lacrosse. They will actually start playing the week after next in the soccer one. The lacrosse is a little bit further behind, but they’re in the process of being completed.”