Bradley has begun to build new buildings and renovate parts of the old ones to be much more energy efficient.
A big part of this initiative is the renovation of Westlake Hall and the addition of the Hayden-Clark Alumni Center to the back of Bradley Hall. Both of these projects will be certified on the silver or gold level of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED.
“LEED is primarily geared toward design,” Utilities Supervisor LeRoy Neilson said. “It’s a process to confirm that initiatives are being accomplished.”
LEED is an initiative created by the U.S. Green Building Council, and it uses several different standards in rating a building’s efficiency.
Topics such as sustainable sights, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resource, indoor environmental quality, locations and linkage, awareness and education, innovation in design and regional priority are all used to decide what LEED level a building will be certified at.
Buildings can be LEED certified at different color levels, which include platinum, gold and silver.
Neilson said completing a project using LEED standards is more expensive and takes more thorough planning.
“We’re not necessarily going to save a lot of money initially … it’s more expensive initially because the materials we use are not typical or conventional,” he said. “The goal is to recover some of the money you spend, and some of the projects pay back very quickly.”
The university has already hired a consultant who is certified by the Green Building Council to work on the Westlake project, which is targeted for gold status; which would make it one of the first buildings to be gold rated in Illinois outside Chicago
“Westlake will include things like sunshading and paving for water runoff,” Neilson said. “The goal is to make it more than 35 percent more efficient than code.”
Putting sunshades on the building would help keep it cool in the hot weather.
Neilson said in recent years the university has begun to see the benefits of building green, and it’s become easier to do.
“There are more contractors out there who build green,” he said. “And because the methods we’re using have been tested, we know they work, so we won’t have to worry about them not working.”
While Westlake and the alumni center will become the most efficient buildings on campus, other new construction has upped the bar on efficiency.
“For [The Markin Family Student Recreation Center], we had to do lighting controls,” Neilson said. “It has a sophisticated lighting system that works with a computer.”
The Markin Center wasn’t a feasible project for LEED certification because of the nature of the building.
“Recreation centers are hard to do,” Neilson said. “We’ve got a huge multi-purpose gym room and a swimming pool, that makes it cost prohibitive [to make the building LEED certified].”
Other, less glamorous projects around campus have also increased efficiency and saved money.
For example, the boilers in Holmes Hall, which heat much of the campus, use a lot of water. And a few years ago the water going into those boilers was dirty, which made the boilers less efficient.
So the university, under Neilson’s guidance, purchased a reverse osmosis water filtration system to clean the water going into the boilers. By doing this, Neilson said about $100,000 is saved each year. That means the system paid for itself after one year of operation.
The university also installed a new air conditioning system a few years ago that is able to only use partial power when needed, whereas the older one was constantly running.