Mesa State College Aims for LEED Gold Certification

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Mesa State College expects to receive LEED Gold certification for its new learning center, which recently won an award from the state’s energy provider and utilizes a ground source heating and cooling system.

Architecture firm HKS, with Design West, designed the $18 million, 60,000-square-foot building. Xcel Energy, supplier of electricity and natural gas in Colorado, hailed the project as the most energy efficient public building on the western slope of the Rockies.

“Xcel Energy partnered with Mesa State College to explore all potential energy-saving possibilities, taking into account historical energy usage for similar buildings,” says Tim Foster, president of Mesa State College. “We passed these suggestions onto HKS and Design West architects, who incorporated them into the building’s green design.”

The HVAC system incorporates a ground-coupled water source, unitary heat pump system for heating and cooling. A closed loop, hydronic heat pump pulls heat from the ground during the winter months and sends heat back underground in the summer months.

The college is in the process of building a new student residence hall and college center that will also utilize the geothermal heating and cooling system. The college hopes to retrofit the entire campus with the same system, according to officials.

The learning center was also planned with solar panels and waterless urinals to reduce carbon emissions and water consumption. The building’s orientation was a consideration for heating and cooling.

“The learning center is oriented north and south to promote energy efficiently and provide a seamless connection to the existing campus,” says Jack Yardley, principal designer with HKS. “The siting allows little to no direct sunlight during the summer, since half of the building is shaded. During the winter, the window-lined south side draws heat.”

In August 2008, Mesa State received the first Greening Colleges grant from the Green Building Initiative, a nonprofit organization that promotes the acceleration of green building practices.

The grant included free consulting services by GBI and free use of its Green Globes rating tool, an assessment protocol and guide for integrating environmentally friendly design into buildings.