Northern Arizona University Goes Platinum

Northern Arizona University of Flagstaff is home to the greenest building in the state and one of the three greenest in the world after receiving a "Platinum" rating for its Applied Research and Development building.

The building earned 60 out of a possible 69 points from the Leadership Energy and Environment Design building rating system from the U.S. Green Building Council. Only two other buildings in the world have earned at least 60 points.

The designation comes shortly after the university earned "Gold" ratings for buildings that house Engineering and The W.A. Franke College of Business.

Flagstaff's 7,000-foot elevation poses engineering challenges not found at lower elevations. Specifically, the university's ratings require construction supplies that can accommodate northern Arizona's "freeze and thaw" temperature variations and the intense ultraviolet light that can quickly damage materials.

Energy sources for the 59,821-square-foot building on the university's central campus include a photovoltaic solar power system donated by Arizona Public Service that provides at least 20 percent of its electricity. Automatic shade controls, venting windows and a "enthalpy wheel" regulate the building's temperature. The design and automated systems result in an overall reduction of energy consumed by 60 percent compared to traditional buildings.

About 30 percent of the building's supplies are from recycled materials, including thousands of pairs of denim jeans used for insulation. And 57 percent of the materials are from local producers or manufacturers. Wood used in the building was certified to be harvested from a renewable forest-management system, located in Arizona's White Mountains.

The building's design includes no volatile organic compounds in its paint or carpet. To help insulate the buildings temperatures, a "green roof" on the building's conference unit will serve as a place to grow and maintain an indigenous vegetation cover requiring minimal irrigation. The parking lot uses pervious concrete, allowing water to be captured in natural aquifers to be used for irrigation purposes. Reclaimed water replaces potable water for landscaping use and flushing toilets, and water-efficient features such as low-pressure faucets and toilets reduce total water needs by 60 percent.

Natural light abounds through the open design and provides 75 percent of the lighting that includes an atrium area supporting collaboration among its occupants.

Designed by Burns, Wald-Hopkins Architects and built by Kitchell Construction, the building cost $26 million to construct.

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