Baylor's Highers Athletics Complex Earns LEED Silver Rating for New Construction

October 19, 2009
News Photo 4789

Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex and the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center

Complex that includes Simpson Athletics and Academic Center is Baylor's second certified building

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For the second time in four months, Baylor University has achieved a major environmental rating - this time for new construction - for satisfying rigorous standards that address environmental impacts in the design, construction, operations and management of a building.

Baylor's Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex, which includes the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center, has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Rating by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in its New Construction rating system.

The 96,300-square-foot Highers Complex/Simpson Center, opened in November 2008, is the university's first New Building Certified structure. In June, Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary, built in 2002, enabled the university to become the first Texas university - and only the eighth higher education institution internationally - to earn LEED certification in the USGBC's existing buildings rating system. The seminary also was the first building to earn fully certified LEED designation in Waco and McLennan County.

"Baylor remains committed to sustainable construction and being a leader locally and nationally in earning LEED certification for both existing buildings and new construction," said Dr. Reagan Ramsower, vice president for finance and administration at Baylor. "A silver level rating for the Highers Athletics Complex, one of our newest construction projects, is an outstanding accomplishment and adds yet another LEED-certified building to the campus."

The LEED ratings system was designed to guide and distinguish high performance buildings that have less of an impact on the environment, are healthier for those who work there, and can lower operating costs and increase asset value. The ratings - Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum - are awarded on a point system, with additional points available for innovations in design and regional priorities.

The Highers Complex/Simpson Center earned silver rating points by integrating numerous sustainable building strategies throughout the design, development and eventual operation of the new facility, said Keven R. Kehlenbach, director of design and construction services at Baylor.

"One of the tremendous benefits of achieving a USGBC LEED certification is the fact that the building continues to give back to the environment every single day," Kehlenbach said. "For the Simpson facility, this includes daily use of green power, where about 70 percent of the building's energy coming from wind and solar sources. We also chose to maintain the building through green cleaning solutions and techniques, which was one of the added credits for innovation."

Kehlenbach said additional environmental features of the Highers Complex/Simpson Center include:

    • Chilled water from the Central Plant, which uses low/no ozone-depleting HCFC's
    • Building automation, allowing constant adjustments to MEP systems to gain the best use of power
    • Regional material selection, which supported local businesses and reduced environmental impacts from transportation
    • Roof "heat island effect," where the installed roof reflects rather than absorbs heat from the sun
    • Construction waste management, with 50 percent of construction waste diverted from the landfill through waste reduction and recycling practices
    • Newly designed football field lights, which use significantly less power
    • All interior materials, which were selected based on contributions to indoor air quality
    • Use of recycled materials, which played an important role in securing a LEED credit
    • Enhanced commissioning, which provided maximize thermal comfort while limiting power usage

The facility's location on University Parks Drive along the Brazos River also provided Baylor with an opportunity to earn another credit for the sustainable conversion of a "brownfield," in this case a closed landfill, for re-use.

"Baylor chose to construct the facility on the closed landfill (mainly debris from the 1953 Waco tornado), which allowed the university to take advantage of this prime location on campus," Kehlenbach said. "By using unique construction techniques and innovative solutions, the facility was able to secure a credit for brownfield redevelopment."

The Highers Complex includes two outdoor football practice fields, while the Simpson Center contains offices and facilities for athletics administration, football offices and locker rooms, athletic training and academics in one central location.

"In addition to being a premier athletics facility that has provided widespread benefits to our department, we are grateful that the Highers Complex has been recognized with a silver level certification as being environmentally friendly," said Ian McCaw, director of athletics at Baylor.

Baylor also is pursuing LEED Silver Certification for the 72,000-square-foot Jay and Jenny Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility, which opened in August as part of the Highers Complex.
Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275