Northrop likely not to seek LEED certification

The building’s renovation will not aim for the same environmental-impact rating of many recent projects on campus.

by Emily Cutts

With renovations starting last month on Northrop Auditorium, it is almost certain that the iconic building will not join the ranks of other LEED-certified construction projects on campus.

The University of Minnesota building, built in 1929, still uses most of its original ventilation and heating structure, but that will soon change.

âÄúOne can say that the most sustainable practice you can do is reuse an old building,âÄù Orlyn Miller, the director for University Capital Planning and Project Management, said.

Roger Wegner, senior project manager for Northrop, said they will not be going for LEED certification âÄî a commercial and private builders framework for eco-friendly construction âÄî because most of the issues come from the buildingâÄôs envelope, or outside structure. Much more insulation would need to be added, which would require damaging the outside of the building.

Wegner said designers will look at energy efficiencies with respect to air handling and heating and cooling system to make the building sustainable in other ways

The sustainability efforts at Northrop are not alone. All construction projects at the University that use state funds must meet a specific set of requirements laid-out by the state.

These requirements were created in part by the College of Design, which was contracted by the state to draft the requirements.

Miller said the University abides by the requirements in all its construction, not just those using state funds.

Eco-friendly and sustainable efforts include energy-efficient lighting, mechanical systems and insulation, he said

Where possible, waste made during demolition and materials used in construction are recycled. This was seen during the construction of the new Science Teaching and Student Services building.

STSS, which was completed in August 2010, recycled more than 90 percent of the material in the demolition process. A portion of the old Science Classroom buildingâÄôs foundation was also kept to hold the earth back during construction.

The building gained a Gold LEED certification for its efforts in reducing carbon emissions, recycling and using natural lighting.

Most of the natural light comes from the wall of west-facing windows that look out over the Mississippi and downtown Minneapolis. But these windows presented a problem with heating efficiencies.

âÄúThe designer came up with a design of that wall system that used these vertical column elements almost as if it were a window blind,âÄù Chuck McNabney, a construction manager for Hines, said.

The window also features a âÄúceramic fritâÄù on the glass. This small round dot pattern varies in density vertically so that at eye level you can see outside the building while providing more heat loss/gain protection.

The TCF Bank Stadium received silver LEED certification. It features a storm-water management system that releases gathered rain water more slowly. This helps keep the city systems and storm sewers in better condition.