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Sustainable Design & Construction of Capital Projects on Campus

By February 27, 2017June 13th, 2017No Comments

Post contributed by: Jim Carroll, University Architect, Facilities Management 

In April 2013, Governor Robert Bentley signed Executive Order Number 39. This Order, based upon a very specific goal related to the use of locally-forested wood products effectively removed our ability to manage the design processes of Auburn University Capital Projects, using the United States Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a green (sustainable) building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices that provides a framework for the design and construction of buildings. LEED is not the only rating system that may be used to track sustainable design and construction practices, but it is the most often consulted amongst design and construction professionals. From 2006 until the effective date of the Executive Order, Auburn University had undertaken ten Capital Projects using the LEED rating system.

As a result of this Order and our incapability of using the LEED rating system as an evaluation tool during the design and construction processes, Facilities Management immediately embarked upon a task to completely re-write our own campus Design & Construction Standards, embedding the most salient green design tenets of the LEED rating system directly into the narrative, thereby ensuring that our most important sustainable goals are met. The Design & Construction Standards is a “living” document developed by Facilities Management, providing guidance to architects, engineers and contractors related to the safety, quality and longevity of campus buildings. The standards are constantly evaluated against best practices for energy-savings, cost-efficiency, sustainability and ease of maintenance.

In January 2016, Governor Robert Bentley signed Executive Order Number 39, Amendment Number 1. This revised Order subtly changed several administrative requirements, allowing Facilities Management to once again manage our Capital Project design and construction processes using the LEED rating system. Although the Mell Classroom Building Addition to the RBD Library, Pharmaceutical Research Building, Gavin Engineering Research Laboratory and the new School of Nursing building were explicitly disallowed from using the LEED rating system, due to their execution timeframe, the sustainable principles embedded within the Design & Construction Standards led the way to producing the sustainable design and construction solutions that are expected by the campus community.

We are once again managing Capital Projects using the USGBC LEED rating system, including several that will soon be under construction. There are seven on-campus Capital Projects the have been registered with the LEED rating system, since the amended Executive Order 39:

  • Auburn University Performing Arts Center
  • Interdisciplinary Sciences Building
  • Agricultural Sciences Research Building
  • Leach Hall Addition
  • Residence Hall – Phase 1
  • Brown-Kopel Engineering Student Achievement Center
  • Academic Classroom & Laboratory Complex (ACLC)

Each of these projects has a goal to meet or exceed the LEED Silver rating, in accordance with an upcoming revision to the Design & Construction Standards. This upcoming revision, developed in collaboration with the Office of Sustainability, aligns with the January 2017 SGA Resolution that recommends sustainable building performance of LEED Silver. Facilities Management embraces the support that the Office of Sustainability, the SGA and the students, faculty and staff have offered in regard to the sustainable design and construction of buildings on the Auburn University campus.

As a result of designing and constructing projects using tools that support sustainable practices, Auburn University has been able to significantly reduce our on-campus energy consumption, in support of the Facilities Management Energy Reduction Plan and the Climate Action Plan.


Photo of Jim CarrollPost contributed by:

Jim Carroll, AIA, LEED AP

University Architect

As the University Architect, Jim leads a team of thirteen dedicated design and planning professionals within Facilities Management, supervising the development of the Campus Master Plan, Landscape Master Plan, Capital Project Program and space management of more 12M square feet on 28,000 acres throughout the State of Alabama.


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