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As a developer of student communities, University Housing Services understands the importance of continuing to do our part to help plan for future generations by advancing initiatives that lead to healthier environments. This forward-thinking approach goes hand in hand with our corporate mission to develop the most successful and innovative solutions that serve as the model in the industry.

Through our membership with the U.S. Green Building Council, UHS constantly seeks ways to minimize environmental impact in our projects by keeping abreast of the latest information, technology and processes. And we only partner with architects and general contractors who are aligned with our core principles. In fact, several of our key team members are LEED (Leadership through Energy and Environmental Design) accredited. Together, we work with higher education institutions to implement sustainable designs, that not only help higher education institutions demonstrate that they care about their students, staff and faculty but society as a whole.

Florida Gulf Coast University:
Balancing Economic and Social Aspirations

One example of our ongoing commitment to our clients' sustainability goals can be proven through our long-term client partner, Florida Gulf Coast University. For more than 10 years, UHS has helped Florida Gulf Coast University grow their campus to over 11,200 students by meeting their increasing student housing needs.

Florida Gulf Coast University's 760-acre campus resides in an environmentally sensitive area of Florida. Surrounded by wetlands, pinelands and cypress domes, the university made a commitment to environmental sustainability when it was established in 1997. This was further emphasized through one of their guiding principles, which is to instill in students “an environmental consciousness that balances their economic and social aspirations with the imperative for ecological sustainability.”

In order to fulfill this objective, Florida Gulf Coast University carefully selected UHS to develop their two housing complexes, North Lake Village and South Lake Village. UHS, in turn, partnered with both an architect and general contractor who would be able to minimize the environmental impact of these facilities.

Realizing that a responsible development is characterized by more than just design but also the execution of that design, UHS incorporated many sustainability measures into the site development, in addition to the building and its systems.

The potential impact of a development of this magnitude, built on a tightly constrained site surrounded by wetlands, was significant. UHS performed a detailed evaluation of many different building systems with sensitivity to both cost and environmental impact. The result was the determination of a building structural system that was both highly cost effective and significantly limited the amount of airborne pollutants created by construction traffic.

To minimize vehicle generated dust and other anthropogenic emissions and avoid any resultant negative impact to the ecosystem, the entire five-story building structure, constructed by Kraft Construction Company, was precast offsite at a local manufacturer and transported to FGCU. This approach significantly reduced the impact of construction traffic through a heavily populated campus, reduced jobsite vehicular dust by minimizing the number of vehicles and workers required on site and eliminated a considerable amount of waste debris due the fabrication of these components in a controlled environment. These measures alone significantly reduced the development’s “carbon-footprint” and aided in the maintaining of the pristine flora and fauna surrounding the project site.

As importantly, UHS also placed a very high priority on limiting the “off-gassing” of volatile organic compounds (VOC) of all interior finishes, thereby immediately creating a living environment more conducive to learning. 

Recycling was a big component of this project. A recycling system was set up in the beginning of the project, and during that time, almost all of the construction materials used on the project was sorted for reuse, significantly reducing landfill waste. Waste on a typical week filled approximately four 30-feet canisters, which is approximately 15-20 per month. By making the effort to presort materials by categories in designated dumpsters for items, such as paper and aluminum, explains Jack Dillon, Project Manager, at minimum, 85% of the materials [were] recyclable, and 15% [were] incinerated. Theoretically, there [was] 100% recycle content, such as concrete and wood.

Ongoing building energy, water and waste reduction are resulting from our design. The design includes the implementation of a new central energy plant, which provides a highly efficient means of interior environmental control. It was expanded to serve the entire South Housing Village.

Additional measures undertaken at South Village include:

While the site chosen for the South Village encompassed a total of 124 acres, the final development plan utilized just under 50 acres to achieve the stated project goals. Through responsible use of this ecologically sensitive land and a sustainable design, UHS has further demonstrated our strong shared commitment to FGCU's goal of developing projects with a focus on ecological sustainability, reinforcing FGCU's reputation as Florida's “environmental university."

Although it was not originally intended to be a LEED certified building, South Village is currently being reviewed for compliance to certification standards.

Kennesaw State University:
Creating Modern Facilities that Promote Health, Safety and Efficiency

Another example of UHS's commitment to sustainability is University Village Suites, which is the second phase of new student housing at Kennesaw State University (KSU), the third-largest university in the University System of Georgia. UHS was awarded this project by the Kennesaw State University Foundation who desired a new upscale freshman housing complex for KSU that would become the national standard by which student housing is measured. Completed in July 2008, the development of University Village Suites promotes environmentally conscious measures as part of KSU's continuing effort to create modern facilities that promote healthy, safe and energy-efficient environments.

The suite-style apartments feature spacious private bedrooms, kitchenettes and shared bathrooms. The unique building design provides resident security while enhancing the development of the student community. By requiring residents to enter the facility through the three-story central lobby, all access into and out of the facility can be monitored easily by University staff. Furthermore, the central core was designed as a landmark, or beacon, to residents and clearly communicates a "point-of-arrival" to the facility. With centralized support facilities, which include administrative offices, a computer lab, retail coffee shop, mail services and many community-gathering spaces, the central lobby is the heartbeat of the facility. Accentuated by the infusion of exterior light through the transparency created by the extensive use of glass, the atrium boasts an art gallery and exhibition space on the second floor that showcases artwork, including sculptures, created in conjunction with university educational programs.

A national leader in the development of sustainable student housing, UHS worked closely with the KSU Foundation to identify the need for an environmentally sustainable design that complies with KSU's five-year strategic plan, emphasizing environmental preservation and sustainability. This goal was accomplished by reducing the project's use of non-renewable resources in order to minimize environmental impact. By requiring the addition of features, which included the use of prefabricated structural wall panels, lumber from renewable sources and carpet made of recycled content, the project was able to realize a greatly reduced "carbon footprint" by lowering the quantity of generated construction debris. This reduction resulted in significantly eliminating the energy needed and pollution created to transport debris to landfills.

In addition, many features were designed to enhance indoor air quality and reduce energy and water consumption. Energy reduction initiatives include HVAC controllers with limiting high-low set points, IP controlled HVAC in all public spaces, high-efficiency fluorescent fixtures, proximity sensors, electrical circuit timers, double-pane energy-efficient unit windows and ceiling fans. Water consumption reduction initiatives include high-efficiency toilets and reduced-flow shower heads and faucets. In addition, underground storm water structures allow for conversion to a cistern, thus enabling the recapturing of rainwater for use as a water source for landscape irrigation.

The design of University Village Suites takes advantage of natural lighting throughout the facility. Every corridor and student meeting area benefit from natural lighting through large energy-efficient windows that promote both energy conservation and higher student productivity. As importantly, UHS placed a very high priority on limiting the "off-gassing" of volatile organic compounds (VOC) of all interior finishes, thereby immediately creating a living environment more conducive to learning.

The 330,000 square-foot University Village Suites added 915 beds to KSU's existing 2,163-bed inventory.

Partnering for a Better Tomorrow

UHS is proud to partner with our clients on development projects that contribute to environmental sustainability while leading to a more enjoyable student experience. Find out how UHS can help you develop a program that accommodates your university’s evolving environmental culture.

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