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Athletic building first in nation to earn "green" status

Released: September 13, 2007

Release # 07070

Karen Grava, Media Communications
(860) 486-3530

STORRS, CT —   The Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center at the University of Connecticut have been named the first silver LEED-certified building at the University and the first athletic complex in the nation to earn the green building status.

The designation was granted by the U.S. Green Building Council, which noted the complex meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards for “green” buildings. The project was granted a “silver” designation. The U.S. Green Building Council is a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of building industry leaders.

The two facilities, which opened in the summer of 2006, encompass 165,000-square-feet. 

The Burton Family Football Complex is the on-campus home for the UConn football program and includes an academic resource center, sports medicine area, coaches' offices, team meeting rooms, locker rooms and video editing/production areas. 

The Mark R. Shenkman Training Center is used by the football team, other varsity sports and the University’s recreational program.  The nine-story facility features a 120-yard, multipurpose synthetic turf field, and an 18,000-square-foot, state-of-the art strength and conditioning area.

“There are unique challenges in constructing an athletic facility to meet LEED standards,” says Richard Miller, director of environmental policy. 

“The Mark R. Shenkman Training Center is a large structure, with considerable open space, and there can be problems making such facilities energy-efficient, with their heating and cooling needs. These challenges inspired some creative ideas from our design professionals.”

Among the features are infrared heating units that keep players on the field comfortable, and are more energy-efficient than heating the entire structure to a uniform temperature, he said.

“The Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center are among the nation’s finest athletic facilities,” says Jeffrey Hathaway, director of athletics.

“These facilities have certainly placed our football program in an outstanding position to be successful both academically and athletically. We are proud that these new facilities enhance the opportunities for our student-athletes as well as the entire student population through our Recreational Services program. We are equally proud to be a leader as our University strives to meet environmentally-sustainable goals.”

To become LEED-certified – a process certifying that a building project meets a wide range of environmentally friendly criteria – UConn officials first had to decide whether it was economically feasible to incorporate the special designs and equipment required to attain environmental sustainability. Once officials decided it was – the effort would cost about one percent of the overall budget – they registered with the Green Building Council, indicating what measures would be taken.

After construction the council reviewed documentation verifying that the “green” design concepts were included in the facility and functioning as planned.  The Green Building Council has four designations: certified, silver, gold and platinum, each based on a point system.

Miller says there are more than three dozen components in the construction of the Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center that promote environmental sustainability, from site selection to building design and selection of materials, energy and water conservation, and indoor environmental quality.

Miller also says the University earned creativity points by using 7,000-cubic-feet of peat excavated from the site to help restore and create wetlands affected by the cleanup and construction activity at the former UConn landfill site on the north side of campus.

Recycled steel was used to construct the facility, and the synthetic turf for the indoor field is comprised of various recycled materials, including rubber from shredded tires and sneakers.

Although the Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center are the first buildings at UConn to be registered for LEED certification – the Green Building Council’s standards were only adopted in 2000 – architects and designers involved in

every building project at Storrs, whether new construction or a renovation – are required to follow UConn’s environmentally responsible, sustainable design guidelines, a set of principles and strategies for building projects.

Energy efficiency, water conservation, conserving materials and resources, improving indoor environmental quality, and land management are among the areas that must be considered when planning a project.

Earlier this year, with these facilities setting an important example of technical and economic feasibility, the University adopted a policy that sets the LEED-silver rating level as a minimum performance standard for all larger construction and renovation projects, Miller says.

Besides enhancing the environment, Miller says following the Green Building Council guidelines eventually will save money, through reduced operational, maintenance, repair and replacement costs, even though there may be a design and construction premium at the front end.

Some of the other energy saving features of the new building include:

  • Preserving half the site as open space;
  • Using recycled materials for 30 percent of the building and purchasing 25 percent of the materials locally;
  •   Recycling 89 percent of construction debris, including 4,100 tons of wood, concrete, metal, cardboard and asphalt; 
  • Installing infrared radiant heating in the training center and heat recovery units throughout the football complex, as well as occupancy/demand controlled ventilation and lighting. Together, these systems save $35,000 - $40,000 per year and are about 35 percent more energy efficient than is required by industry standards for new construction;
  •   Putting extra insulation in the building envelope;
  •   Incorporating special landscaping, such as rain gardens and bio-retention swales to retain storm water runoff and remove pollutants naturally through soil and plants; using integrated pest management systems for grounds maintenance, and the use of native and adaptive, drought-tolerant plants that eliminates the need for irrigation;
  • Selecting special low-emitting carpet, paints, ceiling tiles, adhesives and sealants and the using recycled woodwork;
  • Relying on energy-efficient lighting with occupancy sensors; extra window glazing that increases natural lighting but reduces solar heat gain and lowers building temperature loss; and 
  • Using water conservation equipment such as low flow showerheads, urinals and faucets, dual flush toilets; and water-efficient front loading laundry machines.



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