Lubbock Christian University

US Green Building Council Tours Cardwell Welcome Center

The West Texas Branch of the US Green Building Council (USGBC) toured LCU’s Cardwell Welcome Center on Thursday evening, May 23rd. The Cardwell Welcome Center received the US Green Building Council LEED Platinum Certification in late 2011. At the time, there were only seven LEED Platinum certified buildings in Texas, of which LCU was the only university with this highest honor. LCU’s plant engineer, Wilbur Jones, gave the tour of the facility to about a dozen engineers, architects, and designers from the West Texas region, along with officials from the USGBC National and Regional offices.

“With LEED’s definition of platinum, it is difficult to receive a platinum level award. For a university of our size to receive that is impressive,” said Mike Selleck, LCU’s Facilities Director. “We had to be innovative and resourceful in our community to meet that criteria.”

To receive such an outstanding award, the Welcome Center project team had to use a great amount of creativity due to the points based LEED award system. Every detail that proves to be environmentally friendly adds points toward the project, and the final total determines the award level of the building. The Cardwell Welcome Center received LEED points for things like buying material locally to lessen transportation costs, having enough windows for every cubical so that most of the building is naturally lit, providing a shower in the men’s and women’s restrooms to encourage biking to work, using donated office furniture, and even using low VOC paint on the walls.

“It shows good stewardship of God’s resources,” said Selleck. “The use of recycled materials and environmentally friendly materials work together to make a very attractive and usable facility.”

This 20,000-square foot building uses the same energy as would a 2,500-square foot house, making it a leader in the West Texas region for green buildings. One unique feature that credited the Cardwell Welcome Center LEED points was the use of light harvesting. All of the light fixtures in the building adjust to the intensity of the natural window lighting and each fixture can be individually adjusted.

“We didn’t have a big check-book,” said Wilbur Jones, LCU engineer. “We had creativity, research and leg-work.”

However, you would never guess this building was constructed from hand-me-down and recycled material. Visitors on the tour commented on how the building blends perfectly with the other structures on the LCU campus. Designers for this project wanted to stick with LCU’s Church of Christ roots in keeping their buildings simple.

Members of the West Texas Branch of the USGBC who toured the Cardwell Welcome Center on Thursday expressed their hopes for the rest of the Lubbock community to follow LCU’s example and get creative with their efforts to develop greener facilities.

“This was a rewarding experience. I hope we will have the opportunity in the future to build a building similar to this,” commented Selleck. “It was a challenge because of our limited resources and the funding that was available. As a result I feel that we have a very occupancy and visually pleasing building for our campus.”

In the Cardwell Welcome Center effective use of insulation in the walls, roof, and under the concrete slab floor minimizes heat loss or gain, thereby conserving energy, reducing costs by about one-third of what would be typical for a building this size. Heating and cooling are accomplished by the use of ground source heat pumps. In this operation, the earth and the newly enlarged playa lake on campus property will serve as a heat sink to supply heat in the winter and absorb heat in the summer. The heat transfer requires electricity for operation of the heat pumps, but no natural gas is consumed to create heat. Energy requirements for heating and cooling the all-glass rotunda are also minimized by use of double-pane glass containing argon and a transparent reflective film between the two panes. These windows are three times more efficient than typical commercial glass.

The parking area pavement around the building is light in color in order to reflect the sun’s heat, rather than absorb it. Shade trees have been planted around the perimeter, irrigated by captured rainwater from the building roof, supplemented with non-potable well water.

As a part of the university green initiative, the playa lake at the southwest corner of the LCU campus has been enlarged. This primarily serves as a heat sink for the heating and cooling of several campus buildings, but it is also designed to contain campus storm water runoff. The slope of the campus is generally downward from the north to the south, which directs storm water into the playa for later reuse in landscape irrigation.

To preserve high quality indoor air inside the building, polished concrete floors were used, which eliminate carpet and any possible air contamination resulting from its use.

Freon has been previously denounced as a destructor of the ozone layer at high atmospheric elevations so each of the heat pumps for the HVAC system uses the newly approved refrigerant R 410A, as opposed to Freon.

During the construction of the building, about 85% of the construction waste was recycled, rather than depositing it into a landfill. This included cardboard, concrete rubble, paper, plastic, metal, wood, land clearing debris, and brick. The plastics and metals were taken to local recycling plants, but some of the other materials were reused right on campus. Land clearing debris was converted to mulch and used for campus landscaping, while wood and bricks were cleaned and used in other campus projects, with some wood even given to employees for use in home projects. Concrete rubble was crushed and used as road fill on campus or given to another concrete company for use as aggregate in new concrete.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building program, robust educational offerings, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates, the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and communities.