Eastern’s New Residence Hall has earned the gold—in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, a program that encourages green construction.

LEED is a program ran by the U.S. Green Building Institute. This program awards a basic, silver, gold or platinum certification to a building based on its qualifications as green or environmentally friendly.

Based on a Kentucky law adopted in 2008, public buildings that receive at least half of their funding for construction from the Commonwealth must have the minimum LEED certification.

The hall was assessed in terms of seven categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation in design and regional priority credits.

Points are awarded for qualifications in each category. To meet the minimum basic certification, 40 points must be earned. The maximum points that can be earned are 110, which is the top end of the platinum certification. However, platinum LEED certification is nearly unattainable, owing to the prohibitively high costs involved, said Ed Herzog, director of Project Administration at Eastern.

A Berea College residence hall now has a platinum LEED certification, but Herzog said it might be due to the fact that Berea College is a private university. Some of the funding for the project may have been acquired differently than Eastern’s residence hall project, he said.

Herzog said the basic certification and silver probably would have been fairly easy to obtain, because many of the qualifications for certification were already planned for the hall, for example, adding a bike rack inside the building for students.

Even the campus shuttles helped earn the new hall LEED points, said Kishore Acharya, project manager of Project Administration. Many of the qualifications are cost-efficient and certain building codes may also coincide with LEED qualifications, so it just made sense to shoot for the gold, which took just a little extra effort, Herzog said.

Herzog said the university wanted the gold certification to show how serious Eastern is about being environmentally friendly.

“Eastern Kentucky University always has been stewards of green,” Acharya said.

Herzog and Acharya said the New Science Building probably meets many of the standards for LEED certification, but it began construction before LEED certifications were mandatory. However, phase two construction of the New Science Building will have to be LEED certified.

As well as proving Eastern is a green school, getting LEED certification will also help the university save money, Herzog said.

The more energy-efficient the resident hall is, the more money that is saved on utilities.

Herzog said becoming LEED certified is not necessarily difficult, but the architects have to send paperwork to the U.S. Green Building Council, a non-profit organization that works with the government for assessing LEED projects, for processing which can be time-consuming. Also, keeping up with LEED qualifications is a lot of work for one person, but most everyone is still learning about LEED. The program is fairly new, even to Herzog.

As building codes change, Herzog said he expects LEED qualifications to be evolving, which makes the program even more complicated.

“Everything is changing constantly,” Herzog said about building codes and LEED certification requirements.

The New Residence Hall has been open since August 2013, but Herzog said they are still making small changes to the building so it can be at its best.