New requirements for buildings decrease impact on environment

All new University of Miami buildings must now follow the Leadership in Energy Efficient Design standards meant to reduce wasted energy and provide a healthier environment.

The U.S. Green Building Council created the LEED building standards in 2006 to make construction less wasteful of materials and energy.

In 2007, President Donna E. Shalala decided to officially require LEED certification to reduce the university’s carbon footprint.

“It was an effort by the university to try to start considering better ways to build with less impact on the environment and future flexibility,” said Kenneth Capezzuto, director of Environmental Health and Safety.

The LEED project focuses on reducing the amount of energy wasted through a rating system. LEED certifiers rate each part of a building from cleaning products to air quality.

After the rating is determined, LEED officials tell designers what to change to make sure the building is compatible with the environmentally-safe requirements.

For example, instead of hauling building materials from all over the country, construction is now done with materials found within 500 miles of the site. Most of these materials must also be recyclable.

Cleaning products must be Green Seal certified. These products will not contain harmful chemicals and will be safer for users and for those living and working in the buildings.

There are currently five new buildings being constructed on the university’s three campuses, in addition to the recently finished and LEED-certified Clinical Research Building located on the medical campus.

Tonya White, the operations manager from Facilities and Design Construction, which is in charge of current and future green developments, is helping to plan self-sufficient green dorms which will use only energy produced within sources such as solar panels.

“We’re essentially just trying to create a more sustainable and overall better environment through these certifications,” White said.

For additional information about LEED certification, go to

Colleen Dourney may be contacted at

Top 5 Green Building Techniques:

Air conditioning condensation will be collected and reused as bathroom water, so now it doesn’t matter how many times the automatic toilet flushes

Light bulbs will now be energy efficient bulbs

Sensors will be placed in rooms to turn off lights, air conditioning, and other electronics like computers when they are not in use

Landscaping will be completely native which helps save water and energy from irrigation and fertilization because the plants have already adapted to the Miami climate

Carpets will be 100 percent recyclable, meaning they can be sent back to the company and made into a new one instead of loading up landfills

– Compiled by Colleen Dourney