Originally published by Waco Tribune-Herald

Environmentally conscious initiatives at a new Baylor University academic building have reached the lofty standards of public and industry recognition.

The Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, which opened in August 2015, was awarded gold certification from LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. A second-floor plaque marking the achievement was unveiled at a ceremony last week.

“It’s a very exciting day for Baylor,” said Brian Nicholson, Baylor’s vice president for facilities and operations. “Anytime you go through a process to achieve LEED certification, much less gold, which is toward the upper levels, it is a long process of documentation, standards you have to meet — certainly from our architect, to our contractor, to our facility managers who operated after completing a ton of work. A lot of credit goes to them, too, for certainly achieving this status.”

The $100 million, 275,000-square-foot facility on Bagby Avenue features a solar-reflective roof, dimmable LED lighting and natural lighting for interior offices through glass walls and doors.

Of 266 faculty and staff offices, 215 have outside views and direct sunlight, according to the university. The building also features landscaping and irrigation systems, individual thermostat controls and low-emitting materials to reduce contaminants.

Baylor business student Cooper Groves serves on a student advisory board on sustainability.

“I think (the certification) really overlaps with Baylor’s Christian mission,” Groves said. “It shows our commitment of being good stewards of God’s gift to creation, the Earth, and it nurtures the growth of the students inside of it.”

He said the building’s water bottle fillers have encouraged use of reusable bottles.

“Students notice the little things, those extra little things that only come through a futuristic, LEED-certified-type design, these intricacies that people notice throughout the business school and they genuinely appreciate every day,” Groves said.

Other LEED-certified buildings on campus include the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center, Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility, Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Marrs McLean Science Building and the East Village complex.

Overland Partners architect Adam Bush said the firm’s design process and decision-making on the new business facility was based on a commitment to sustainability and eventual LEED certification.

The Earl C. Hankamer Atrium is one of many design aspects that contributed to the achievement, Bush said.

“This highly interactive living room supports community among students, staff and faculty,” Bush said. “It also encourages movement and activity with a wide range of spatial environments and connectivity through open stairwells connecting all four floors.”

Nicholson said Baylor will pursue the platinum LEED certification as new technologies become available.

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