LEEDing the Way for Sustainable College Campus Design

March 09, 2020
Architecture Sustainability Sports

Designed by RDG, Wake Forest University’s Wellbeing Center becomes the fifth building on campus to achieve LEED Gold Certification.

Twenty months after its completion, Wake Forest University’s Wellbeing Center has been awarded the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) GOLD certification for new construction v2.2. Since 2007, WFU has required that all new construction and major renovations on campus be designed and built to LEED certification standards. Designed by RDG Planning & Design, the Wellbeing Center is the fifth WFU campus building to achieve LEED Gold Certification.

Wake Forest University's Wellbeing Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Photo by Kun Zhang.

The LEED Gold rating system is a globally recognized symbol of sustainable achievement and leadership and provides a framework for healthy, high-efficient and cost-saving green facilities. Buildings are analyzed and then awarded credits across multiple categories including sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, material and resources and indoor air quality. WFU’s Wellbeing Center earned 62 points to achieve LEED Gold Certification.

“The Wellbeing Center is a prime example of Wake Forest University’s strong commitment to creating a sustainable campus. As a designer, it’s rewarding to see how this sustainable forethought elevates not only the university’s environmental mission but also the physical, mental and overall health and wellbeing of its students,” said RDG Architect and Partner, Brad Rodenburg, AIA, LEED AP, WELL AP.

As part of a continued push for comprehensive renewal and modernization of its 1950s-era campus, WFU sought to transform the existing Reynolds Gymnasium into an expanded recreation and wellness facility. RDG’s design transforms the existing inward-focused space into a transparent, inviting destination that serves as a visual affirmation of the university’s commitment to health and well-being. Now home to campus recreation facilities, student health services, The Office of Wellbeing and varsity women’s volleyball, the expanded 185,000-SF facility is a campus hub for both social and recreational activities.

“We seek out every opportunity to improve and sustain our campus,” said Wake Forest Director of Planning and Construction, Chris Poe, PE. “The Wellbeing Center is one of the most used facilities on our campus, and now, as a LEED Gold Certified building, it’s also one of the best performing.”

Wake Forest University's Wellbeing Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Photo by Kun Zhang.

Sustainable design decisions focused on the use of recycled products and diverting more than 75 percent of on-site generated construction waste from landfills. The design also included highly efficient building mechanical systems zoned for functionality, window replacement for energy efficiency and highly efficient LED lighting throughout.

A major contributor to the Wellbeing Center’s Gold Certification was its adaptive reuse of the existing building, which kept the new addition’s footprint to scale with as little impact on the site as possible. Additional steps taken to achieve the Gold-level certification included the reuse of existing brick and similar materials to infill interior walls, and sourcing over 30 percent of building materials (by value) from manufacturers within 500 miles of the project site.

Written by Erin Van Zee, Communications Director