UNC to Store Stormwater Underground in LEED Project

The University of North Carolina Wilmington will complete the campus' first construction project this summer that will meet the U.S. Green Building Council for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification standards. The project, called Seahawk Crossing, which consists of a four-building student apartment complex, a parking deck, and a retail store, will help the university meet student demand for on-campus housing and maintain its commitment to sustainability.

One of the more innovative ways UNC Wilmington will meet the LEED standards includes the underground storage of stormwater runoff as an alternative to above-ground retention ponds. The plan called for the construction of two underground systems in areas already set aside for the construction project, thereby preserving green space on campus. The university has constructed two different types of underground storage. The first consists of two basins comprised of large perforated plastic pipes that contain the runoff and allow it to seep into the ground gradually. The second system features a large concrete vault that will contain the runoff and will allow gradual dissipation through the vault's earthen floor.

UNCW's latest construction project includes features such as low-flow plumbing, energy efficient lighting and heating units, ceiling fans in living rooms, and operable windows in common areas and bedrooms to reduce the amount of water and energy used in the buildings. Recycling was also a key component of the project planning. More than 85 percent of the construction waste generated on the project was recycled, and the carpet used in the buildings contains recycled materials. Seahawk Crossing will house 662 students in four-, six-, and eight-room suites.

To reduce the amount of land cleared to accommodate the additional parking needed on campus, a four story parking deck was erected instead of paving a large amount of green space for surface parking. The parking deck will accommodate 980 cars and 20 motorcycles, including spaces for alternate fuel vehicles and covered bicycle storage to encourage alternative transportation.

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