Last month, Central Texas College (CTC) was granted the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council for its efforts to construct an energy-efficient and eco-friendly building with its nursing center. The 86,792-square-foot, two-story building opened in 2011 and cost nearly $23 million. It houses state-of-the-art equipment, classroom and lab space and a variety of simulated healthcare, emergency and hospital space to provide students a unique learning experience.
The LEED program is a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. It is a recognized green building certification system acknowledging a building or community, designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
CTC’s nursing facility was designed for LEED certification as it met the requirements of energy efficiency, water efficiency, materials and resources, indoor air quality, use of recycled materials, regional materials and the collection of recyclables. The building was cited for the installation of environmentally-conscious features including a water use reduction system, lighting control system, storage and collection of recyclables capabilities and water-efficient landscaping.
Energy-efficient lighting was installed with occupancy sensors and natural light through the installation of additional building windows. Also, water-efficient low-flow plumbing fixtures were installed in all restrooms. Outdoors, low-water use landscaping with native plants and a low-water use irrigation system was installed.
For materials and resources, CTC used renewable resources on interior finishes such as the bamboo wall finishes in main lobby area. Exterior brick was harvested and manufactured regionally and recycled materials were used within the building framing. To meet the LEED certification air quality requirement, CTC used low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in interior products such as paints and glues. Finally, CTC established a recycling area within the building for items like paper, plastics, aluminum, etc.
In addition to the eco-friendly components, CTC spent more than $1.3 million on technology, equipment and furniture to provide students the most realistic training possible. Patient simulators or manikins which imitate real patient conditions and symptoms in an authentic hospital environment were installed along with numerous hospital “smart beds,” hospital room equipment and furnishings. CTC also added an ambulance simulator which offers nursing and EMT/paramedic students “real-world” training inside an ambulance.
Included in the CTC nursing facility is an ambulance bay, simulated operating rooms, intensive care unit, emergency room and labor and delivery rooms. Each room is set up to mimic an actual hospital setting to acclimate students to their future working environment. Eight hospital simulation labs were constructed to include a two-bed intensive care unit, six-bed basic/critical care unit, five-bed emergency room, two-bed pediatric care unit, two-bed labor and delivery room, two-bed home health care unit and an operating room.
The CTC Nursing Center is the second CTC building to receive LEED certification. Its Fort Hood educational facility, which opened in 2010, earned silver LEED certification. It is the first LEED-certified classroom building on Fort Hood.
Sustainable highlights of the 26,659-square-foot, two-story Fort Hood facility include a 64 percent diversion of construction waste; 34.17 percent use of regional materials; combined recycled content value of percent of total material costs; implementation of indoor air quality plans; and design factors such as reduced water usage with high-efficiency low-flow plumbing fixtures, energy-efficient HVAC system with energy recovery technology and energy-efficient lighting systems and controls that manage light levels throughout the day.
The LEED green building certification system is the preeminent program for rating the design, construction and operation of green buildings. 35,000 projects are currently participating in the LEED system, comprising more than 4.5 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states and 91 countries. By using less energy, LEED-certified buildings save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.