In May 2006, the TCES became one of only a few dozen buildings in the nation to be awarded Platinum status by the U.S. Green Building Council (www.usgbc.org).
The rating and certification system established by the Council is known as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and the “green” construction standards are the first independent national standards of their kind. Ratings range from Certified, to Silver, Gold and Platinum. To reach the platinum LEED level, the TCES had to score at least 52 points out of the 69 point system developed by the USGBC. The diagram below represents just a few of the green components of the building that contribute to the platinum rating.
- Venting towers recover heat from exhaust air and preheat fresh air, reducing heating costs while maintaining high air quality.
- Light shelves are used to refract natural light from the sun inside the building up to thirty feet. The glass walls of offices pass light to the corridors. Light-colored countertops do not absorb light, essentially recycling light in the labs. Light supplied by the skylights and windows changes in intensity and color throughout the day, creating a more natural, healthy environment.
- Trees harvested from the building site were milled place, saving energy expenses of transport. Their wood was used for finishing work. Unmilled wood was shredded and used for erosion control and ground cover.
- A co-generator produces electricity, and the waste heat is recovered and used for heating the building through special tubing embedded in the floor. This heat would be lost to the atmosphere if the electricity was generated by a utility. It is estimated that the co-generator cuts the carbon impact of our electricity consumption by two-thirds.
- Exterior walkways are constructed of Trex, which is made of recycled plastic grocery bags and stretch film, reclaimed wood, and sawdust.
- A compressed natural gas (CNG) pump is located behind the building to support the use of CNG vehicles to promote environmental stewardship.
- The building’s structural concrete contains fly ash, a by-product of coal combustion, converting that waste into a resource.
- Rain and melted snow are captured, sterilized by ultraviolet rays from the sun and stored for use in the building’s toilets.
- 875 photovoltaic solar panels cover a section of the roof and generate much of the electricity used in the building.
- Cold water is produced at night using the cold air and is stored in two buried 10,000-gallon tanks. This water cools the building by day. The system conserves energy compared to a conventional air conditioning system. The cooling system uses the same radiant panels as the heating system, reducing construction materials.