A former Farmer Jack grocery store that Wayne State University renovated into its Advanced Technology Education Center (ATEC) in Warren has been certified as the university’s first ever LEED Gold building in recognition of its energy-efficient design and functionality.
The U.S. Green Building Council determined the building uses 30 percent less energy than a standard building of its size and use.
“The biggest pro we had going for us was we had an existing building to work with,” said Jason Davis, senior project manager. “We reused the building floor plate, structure, the roof deck and two-thirds of the exterior walls.”
Gold is the second-highest level in the LEED system, behind platinum but above silver. A scoring system awards points for achieving specific goals. Among the qualities the certification looks for are sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
ATEC uses a daylight harvesting lighting system, meaning the brighter it is outside, the less energy is used inside. Twenty-one solar tubes also run from the roof into the center of the building providing natural light where it wouldn’t be otherwise. Points were also earned because WSU is purchasing at least 70 percent of electricity for the building from renewable sources for at least the first two years.
Water use in the building is an impressive 42 percent less than it would be without its low-flow sink fixtures and toilets that use less water.
“We received maximum points for water efficiency because we even used native species of plants in our landscaping so we didn’t need an irrigation system,” said Davis.
To earn LEED Gold, every detail counts. Construction was done using low emitting paints, caulks, flooring, and wood, and the custodial staff follows a green housekeeping plan.
“We track the cleaning supplies that are used to be sure they are compliant with green cleaning standards,” said Davis. “It doesn’t make sense to keep all of the chemicals out during construction and then clean with chemicals.”
ATEC even encourages its employees to walk, run or bike to work by providing bike racks and a changing room with a shower. For those that do drive, there is preferred parking for fuel-efficient vehicles and four electric-vehicle charging stations outside, and another inside in the battery laboratory.