VCU is committed to reducing our environmental footprint through building and renovating to a minimum of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Silver standards. LEED certification provides independent verification of a building's green features, allowing for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings.
The Walter L. Rice Education Building is one of the university’s most notable accomplishments in the area of green building. The Rice Rivers Center is VCU’s field station located on 343 acres along the historic James River, midway between Richmond and Williamsburg, Va. The education building is situated on VCU’s 343-acre living laboratory on the James River, southeast of Richmond in Charles City County. It houses multiuse classroom space, laboratory and classroom space, administrative space, a conference room and an outdoor education pavilion. The 4,900-square-foot building features sustainable strategies for efficient energy use, lighting, water and material use.
LEED certification of the building was based on a number of green design and construction features that positively impact the project itself and the broader community, including rain gardens to collect and treat storm water runoff and a vegetated roof system to reduce heat island effect and storm water runoff. Energy usage is reduced through geothermal heating and cooling, high-efficiency lighting and high insulation levels that rely on soy-based products and recycled denim. The building promotes efficient water use through dual-flush and power-assist toilets that operate with rainwater collected in a series of cisterns. Pre-engineered, on-site wastewater treatment results in advanced, clear and odorless effluent infiltrated into nearby wooded areas. Rapidly renewable products were featured in construction, including sorghum paneling, recycled steel and gypsum board.
VCU’s Cary Street Gym was awarded the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED New Construction Gold certification in January 2011.
Some of the sustainable features at the Cary Street Gym include water-efficient plumbing fixtures and all low-emission products in the paints, coatings, carpet and composite wood materials. Approximately 90 percent of the construction waste was recycled rather than going to a landfill, and a quarter of the building materials used were manufactured using recycled products.
The facility also conserves more than 1.3 million gallons of water annually due to the state-of-the-art dual flushing plumbing system as well as two 6,000-gallon cisterns to collect rainwater for irrigation on site. There is also access to GRTC bus lines, VCU Campus Connector stops and multiple bike racks right outside the gym.
The VCU Physical Plant Department Administration Building was awarded LEED Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (EBOM) Silver certification in August 2014, the first building to be LEED EBOM certified at a university in Virginia.
LEED EBOM seeks to improve upon the operations and maintenance of conventionally constructed buildings, with updates to the policies and procedures for building care and management. Some of the updated sustainable policies implemented in the Physical Plant building include a Building Operation Plan, with requirements for programing thermostats and energy usage, Waste Reduction Plans and Exterior Maintenance Plans. These plans seek to improve upon VCU's current policies and reduce the monetary and environmental costs of the building.