Highest LEED Rating Goes to Research Center in West Michigan

April 25, 2011 / William Thomson, Green Homes Expert

The US Green Building Council has awarded Van Andel Institute (VAI) in West Michigan the highest LEED rating for New Construction, the second research center in the region to receive platinum certification.

Highest LEED Rating Goes to Research Center in West Michigan

The 240,000-square-foot Phase II research center has been recognized for its leadership in sustainability design and green practices, particularly in improved indoor environmental quality, stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts, CO2 emissions reduction, water efficiency, and energy efficiency.

VAI is among the few such institutes specializing in biomedical research to garner the highest rating from the USGBC.

According to VAI chairman and CEO David Van Andel, the research center has incorporated the requirements for a green infrastructure with several of green initiatives beyond the typical design of a research institute.

Opened on December 2009, the $178 million research center embraces energy efficient components like heat recovery system that reduces the demand for heat and photovoltaic panels that cut the energy demand especially during hot weather condition.

To save scrap materials from the landfill, designers made use of the 79% of construction leftovers and wastes mixed with locally-made construction materials in the production process.

Water-saving features of the building include low-flow water fixtures to reduce water consumption by 40.7% and a storage tank capable of containing approximately 27,000-gallon of rainwater, reducing further the demand for potable water.

The eight-story research center also has CO2 sensors all over the facility that measures the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by people inside the building and correspondingly adjusts the ventilation rate.

The research institute was designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects based in New York, the same construction firm that erected the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, the Tokyo International Forum, and the same firm that holds the portfolio for the next World Trade Center.

In addition, Hunt/Owen-Ames-Kimball, Culhane & Fahrenkrug Consulting, LLC, URS, Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber Inc., Materials Testing Consultants, and CommTech Design took part in the construction.

Since the start of its construction in April 2007, the project provided more than 1,800 jobs to local residents until the research center was completed.

The project contributed to gross investments in West Michigan’s life sciences sector, now reaching more than $1 billion. It is estimated that the building will expand the number of laboratories from 22 to 50 and will raise the number of jobs to 550 once in full operation.

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