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LEED Gold for NeebThis fall the Martin J. Neeb Center received the distinction of being named Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certified.

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the Neeb Center is the only radio facility in the nation with a LEED Gold ranking.

“We are proud that the building meets LEED Gold standards and affirms Pacific Lutheran University’s commitment to energy conservation,” said PLU President Loren J. Anderson.

The Neeb Center is home to the radio station 88.5 KPLU and the all-Jazz webstream, Jazz24. This past June the station moved to the new building after 18 months of construction. It also houses PLU’s Office of Development.

Reaching LEED Gold is recognition that the building is both energy efficient and environmentally sound.

The environmental stewardship that the Neeb Center embodies is evident even before entering the building. On the lot, the building sits on only a third of the site, while the rest is undisturbed by the building.

During construction, invasive plant species were removed and the habitat was restored as a thriving ground for native plants, said John Kaniss, KPLU Construction Manager.

A temporary irrigation system that was originally planned to be in for a year has already been removed, he said.

“We already took that out,” Kaniss said. “What’s planted there now are native plants that are drought tolerant.”

The plants will go dormant in the winter, so some grasses will look brown, but then come back to life during the spring.

“That’s what it does in nature and that’s what we’re going to do at Neeb,” Kaniss said. Plus it cuts down on carbon emission because it doesn’t need to be mowed, he added.

In the parking lot, there are dedicated spaces for highly efficient vehicles and carpoolers.

“People park their Priuses there,” he said.

During construction, more than 95 percent of the unused material, the scraps, were recycled.

“That means it’s not in a landfill somewhere,” Kaniss said.

The furniture, paint, and even the carpet in the building are created from recycled or low impact material.

The building itself is built on a narrow footprint to maximize natural light; 95 percent of offices have access to an operable window.

“You walk in there and you notice that most folks don’t need their lights on,” Kaniss said.

The narrow design also helps to optimize energy performance.

The HVAC system is supported by a closed loop geothermal well system.  There are 28 wells and 34 heat pumps that make the system work.

The pumps that circulate the thermal medium among the heat pumps are run off variable speed drives so the pumps only pump based on need from the heat pumps.

This is all tied together by the HVAC control system, which saves a great deal of energy over standard HVAC systems.

The roof is painted white to reflect light, helping to manage the climate of the building naturally.

When entering any room in the building the lights are automated and all bulbs used are LED or highly efficient florescent bulbs. Even the parking lot lights are designed to limit light pollution by directing the light down, instead of up and out.

It isn’t just about light though; the water fixtures (toilets, water fountains, sinks) use 30 percent less water than a standard system.

And when the building is idle it goes into a sleep mode of sorts, Kaniss said.

The Neeb Center is the second new building at PLU to receive LEED Gold, the other being the Morken Center for Learning and Technology.

Reaching LEED Gold is a standard PLU is dedicated to achieving on new building projects, Kaniss said.