February 7, 2012
The University of Maine at Fort Kent has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for its $1.4 million renovation of Powell Hall; a project incorporating many energy-savings components into the 47-year-old former dormitory.
The University received credit for 29 of the 34 points it submitted for confirmation with USGBC in attaining LEED certification.
LEED certification is recognized as the standard for measuring a building's sustainability. The achievement of LEED certification is the best way to demonstrate that a building project truly is "green."
The LEED green building rating system was developed and is administered by USGBC, a Washington D.C.-based, nonprofit coalition of building industry leaders. The system is designed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability, reduce the negative environmental impacts of buildings, and improve occupant health and well-being.
UMFK officials and the project's architects, Port City Architecture of Portland, Maine, created a checklist of the steps taken to improve Powell Hall's energy efficiency and sustainability throughout the seven month-long project, completed in the spring of 2010, which led to the LEED certification.
Energy savings were achieved through a number of means in the renovation of the 1965-era building:
· Optimizing the energy performance of the building, it now is 14 percent more efficient than a typical office building
· By enabling the building's heat source, it can be turned off during summer months through a design using an innovative heat pump system
· Utilizing heat pumps, which combine refrigeration, outside air, and electricity, the building is able to operate at 300 percent greater efficiency
· Electricity for the building is derived 70 percent from renewable sources, using a combination of hydro and wind energy, as a standard offer from the utility, and through UMFK's purchase of renewable energy certificates
Additionally, the construction site around Powell Hall has been restored with a new garden, utilizing native plantings. The garden was designed with input from the student ecology committee; the Center for Rural Sustainable Development; and the campus' Facilities Management office. The restored area now provides a conservation easement of protected open space on the campus.
Locally-harvested lumber, sourced from a Masardis, Maine lumber mill, was used in the renovation of Powell Hall.
Other areas of energy efficiency or sustainability achieved during renovation included: a 30 percent reduction in water usage; the reuse of100 percent of all load-bearing walls in the building; a 10 percent use of locally-harvested or salvaged materials; 24-percent of all materials used in the construction have recycled content; and a 50-percent reduction in waste diverted to landfills.
Funds for the Powell Hall renovations came from a voter-approved 2007 statewide bond issue for interior and exterior building renovations, improvements and additions at all public university campuses. The contractor for the renovation was Devoe General Constructors of Eagle Lake, Maine.
UMFK was an early signer of the national American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), which emphasizes that colleges and universities across the nation must exercise leadership in their communities and throughout society by modeling ways to eliminate global warming emissions, and by providing the knowledge and the educated graduates to achieve climate neutrality.
UMFK completed the first review of its carbon footprint, as part of the ACUPCCACUPCC national commitment, in 2008.