Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Talloires Committee

Southwestern’s new Wilhelmina Cullen Admission Building is “green by design”

  • News Image
    Skylight in the new Admission Center

Unique features make it green

Southwestern has applied for the Wilhelmina Cullen Admission Building to become certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program. Here are some of the unique features that make it “green”:

  • The bamboo floor in the lobby area fulfills a LEED requirement to use rapidly renewable resources. 
  • Low-emitting paints, coatings and carpet were used throughout the building. In addition, chemical and pollutant sources (copy rooms and microwave ovens) have been located in enclosed rooms that continuously exhaust to the outside so that the fumes do not enter the building air supply. Only approved cleaning (or other) chemicals may be used in the building.  
  • Southwestern will use an integrated pest management program for the building.  Only approved chemicals and methods will be allowed for both inside and outside pest control.
  • The building will use nearly 40 percent less energy than a typical building of the same size. 
  • More than 75 percent of the building occupants will have access to daylight and more than 90 percent of the occupants will have access to exterior views. Skylights installed in the center of the building provide daylight to the occupants in spaces without exterior windows. The glass used in the skylights is high performance and only transmits 9 percent solar energy and 3 percent ultraviolet light. 
  • All employees in the building will have custom table lamps with dimmable fluorescent lights and a soft white shade to provide comfortable and adjustable work space lighting.
  • Water use in the building will be reduced through the use of low-flow toilet flush valves, waterless urinals, and low-flow sink faucets and aerators. The lavatory sink faucets are solar-powered and touch-free. This eliminates the need for electrical power and batteries, while still promoting a hygienic environment.
  • The exterior wall system is designed to prevent mold by denying it both a food source (paper) and moisture. The system includes a paperless, mold-resistant gypsum board, an air barrier and an extruded polystyrene rigid insulation.
  • At least 20 percent of the materials used in the building were extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the project site. For example, the metal stud framing for the exterior and interior walls contains 81 percent recycled content The custom roof trusses, which remain exposed in the center of the building, were also manufactured and harvested within 500 miles of the university. Using local materials reduces the economic and environmental impact of transportation.
  • Although the roof shingles may look very similar to other campus buildings, they have a better Solar Reflectance Index (SRI), allowing the building to claim a LEED credit for a cool roof. This cool roof will reduce the “heat island effect,” which can impact the microclimate and increase air pollution. 
  • During the construction process, all concrete, steel and wood that could be reused or recycled was kept separate from what was sent to a landfill. 
  • The contractors kept the concrete slab damp as it dried by laying down mats and keeping those wet. Because the slab dried slowly, the foundation will be much stronger and will last longer. Water hoses are often used to dry slabs, but the mats are a much more cost-effective and environmentally friendly method because it conserves so much water.  
  • The concrete foundation for the building was made from about 28 percent recycled content, and the steel that was used has about 80 percent recycled content.
  • The trees that needed to be removed from the construction site were replanted near the Fountainwood Observatory and at the Dorothy Manning Lord Residential Center.
  • All of the cement and soil that was removed from the construction site was saved, reused or recycled instead of added to the landfill.
  • When the foundation was poured, a physical barrier was used to secure the building from termites, which will eliminate the need to use a chemical pesticide. 
  • The building is surrounded by landscaping that uses native plants. Plant materials were selected from Native and Adapted Landscape Plants: An Earthwise Guide for Central Texas for their natural drought tolerance. Using these plants, Buffalo grass, and a small amount of Bermuda grass should reduce the use of irrigation water by 52 percent.
  • No smoking will be allowed either inside the building or within 25 feet of all entries, operable windows or outdoor air intakes.

For more information about the LEED Green Building Rating System, visit       

http://www.usgbc.org