By Richard Zagrzecki
Visitors coming inside the Cougar Woods Dining Hall will notice the round plaque hanging on the wall to the left near the front doors.
The recently installed marker recognizes the building achieving LEED Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The certification, which was bestowed in 2013, made Cougar Woods the first building on campus to reach sustainability certification.
According to the council’s website, LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. There are four levels of LEED certification: certified, silver, gold and platinum.
The dining hall’s unique wall of windows not only is striking from an architectural standpoint, it also serves a useful purpose. The special design allows it to save energy by maximizing the use of natural light.
In addition, it also is able to save up to 20 percent of water usage with its plumbing fixtures that help conserve water. And the building is expected to save up to 30 percent on energy usage through its high-efficiency HVAC equipment and other strategies for reducing energy demand.
“This plaque will be a constant reminder of all the hard work and sustainability-related thinking that went into the design of this wonderful building,” said Esmeralda Valdez, assistant vice president of University Services. “Hopefully, it is the first of what will be more to come for the University of Houston campus.”