HARRISONBURG — Virginia is one of the nation’s “LEED”-ers in green building.
That’s the word from the U.S. Green Building Council, which last week released its ranking of the top 10 states for LEED certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design. The building designation is the most-recognized standard for environmentally sound building practices, and one the council oversees. Virginia chimed in at No. 3, and James Madison University’s University Park is mentioned as a reason why.
The state had 160 projects LEED certified in 2013, covering 16.8 million square feet. That equates to 2.11 square feet of space per resident, the third-most in the country, according to the council, an advocate of green building practices.
Virginia ranked first in 2012.
“We’re ahead of California [ranked fifth in 2013] and California’s energy rates are much higher than ours. I think that’s huge,” said Charles Hendricks, owner of the Gaines Group, a green architectural firm with offices in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville. “That shows [Virginians] are not just doing it strictly to save money.”
He said corporations have started to develop their own building standards — and not necessarily just in pursuit of LEED certification. Hendricks ranks the Harrisonburg area behind Northern Virginia, Charlottesville, Tidewater and Roanoke as the most green-friendly regions in the state.
JMU has helped, he said.
The school actually opened the $44 million University Park at the corner of Port Republic Road and Neff Avenue in 2012. The 65-acre complex houses facilities for athletics and recreation and has a LEED silver certification, the third highest of four ratings.
On-site rock was crushed into the gravel used in the landscaping, while large cistern systems were installed underground to retain and filter runoff water, the park’s website says.
Other sustainable features at University Park include vegetative space that equals 45 percent of the entire project, day-lit rooms and plumbing fixtures that reduce water use.
Keezletown resident Bishop Dansby, a local LEED advocate, notes that Virginia’s position on the council’s list is largely a result of federal government and military construction. He’s pushing Harrisonburg officials to make the proposed new middle school as energy efficient as possible.
“It’s not so easy to say LEED is more expensive than conventional construction,” Dansby said, noting that the environmentally sound building practices often lead to both short- and long-term savings.
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org