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Sources: Mary Hale Tolar, 785-532-6085, mtolar@k-state.edu;
Ben Champion, 785-313-3085, champion@k-state.edu;
and Oscar Healy, 816-480-4324, Oscar.healy@opus-group.com
Related news: School of Leadership Studies wins coveted design-build award
News release prepared by: Rachel Skybetter, 785-532-1566, rskybett@k-state.edu

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011


MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University's School of Leadership Studies has won gold for going green.

A year after opening its doors, the school was notified that it has achieved LEED gold certification, and it's believed to be the first building to do so among higher education institutions in Kansas.

"The LEED gold certification of the School of Leadership Studies represents K-State's dedication to creating an eco-friendly and environmentally aware community as we prepare to become a top 50 public research university by 2025," said Kirk Schulz, K-State President.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized ratings system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to encourage the development of sustainable buildings. A series of points are awarded based on predetermined sustainable elements that architects and builders comply with, and from those points, a certified, silver, gold or platinum rating is given.

Leadership studies faculty and staff and the design and construction teams from the Opus Group, Kansas City, Mo., had been confident of a silver rating, and were pleasantly surprised when they were awarded gold.

"LEED gold is a real accomplishment for us, and we're delighted that we received every point that we went for," said Mary Hale Tolar, director of leadership studies. "The building is certainly elevating awareness about sustainability, and encouraging our students and campus community to think critically about stewardship of resources as an act of leadership."

The building, completed in December 2009, uses water at a rate 45 percent less than other buildings on campus and boasts a sophisticated heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that is 36 percent more efficient than standard code requirements. The building encourages alternative transportation and is complete with bike racks and shower facilities.

The "green" process began with the first shovel in the ground. The asphalt of the parking lot that formerly stood at the building site was recycled, and more than 95 percent of the construction waste was diverted from landfills. It was these extra details that pushed the building to the gold certification.

"When we started the process we really wanted to create a facility that not only represented but advanced the mission of leadership studies. There's an element of leadership that has to do with sustainability, so we needed a facility that both demonstrated and advanced that commitment to sustainability," Tolar said. "We've created this space that is in so many ways reflective of who we are, but it's also aspirational for who we'd like to be."

The leadership studies minor is the most popular academic program at K-State, with more than 1,000 students working toward the minor to enhance majors and careers of all kinds. The program began in 1997 with 13 students, and until last year was run from makeshift classrooms in houses just outside the campus perimeter. The $11-million building was funded privately.

Tolar and other leadership studies faculty, students and supporters worked closely with Opus to solidify the aesthetic of the building. The biggest challenge was adhering to LEED standards while also fitting in seamlessly with the rest of the K-State campus.

Opus worked with the committee to develop a timeless and warm feel, using elements like limestone and pitched roofs to blend in with the rest of K-State's architecture. There are several interior and exterior fireplaces, which were a favorite part of the program's former home.

"Everybody at the university was excellent to work with. It was a fun project because the people who were using the building were involved in the process from the start," said Oscar Healy, senior director for construction at Opus Design Build. "It was more like creating a home than a building."

The construction and certification of the School of Leadership Studies building is just one step in the long haul toward creating a more sustainable and efficient campus. Recent additions to the Jardine Apartment Complex are awaiting LEED certification, which could occur as early as March.

Ben Champion, director of sustainability, sees these LEED projects as great examples of K-State's sustainability efforts, in addition to improvements in its recycling programs, bike amenities, energy efficiency and faculty integrating sustainability into their courses -- especially as the school pushes to become a top 50 public research university by 2025.

"Sustainability is not an outcome. It's a process of being mindful and recognizing the relationships between our decisions and their environments and human impacts," Champion said. "The K-State 2025 process is a really significant opportunity to think comprehensively about how sustainability fits in with K-State's mission and with its goals for the future."


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