The newest facility in the University of South Florida Research Park has achieved Silver LEED Certification status for its sustainability features. Opened in 2022, the 120,000-square foot research center at 3814 Spectrum Boulevard is the first building in the research park to gain LEED certification. From sourcing raw materials to demolition waste management, Skanska, the general contractor for the project, incorporated sustainable resources and environmentally friendly practices into the construction of the building.
“Safety, client convenience, and energy efficiency were all key considerations in the planning and decision-making processes,” said Allison Madden, COO of the USF Research Park.
She noted that it is often challenging for research buildings to achieve LEED certification because of the nature of the work conducted inside them. “For example, in many wet labs, air can’t be recirculated in the lab or throughout the building because of the materials being used . This is an example of a safety first, energy effciency second decision.”
The three-story structure with a roof deck was designed to optimize the amount of natural light that comes into the building. “Daylight reaches 82 percent of the regularly occupied spaces, which reduces the need for artificial lighting,” said Benjamin Holsinger, an architecture associate at Gensler, the global firm that designed the building. The numerous windows throughout the building also enhance the external views for the occupants.
To discourage vehicular traffic and contribute to neighborhood densification, the facility was built without additional parking spaces on an existing site near public transportation. The natural landscaping incorporated native plants and adaptive species to reduce the amount of heat absorbed into the building and restore the area’s natural habitat.
“Water efficiency was also really important,” Holsinger said. “Low-flow faucets, flush fixtures and showerheads in the building achieve a 37 percent annual water savings.”