Football Complex leads the state in sustainability
Football Complex leads the state in sustainability

In a sea of orange and blue, UF can now add green and platinum to its athletic rainbow.

The Heavener Football Complex, UF's most recent addition to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, received a platinum certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System.

Of the nation's 130 platinum-certified buildings, the environmentally sound Heavener Complex is the first in Florida and the first athletic facility in the United States to receive platinum certification.

"We're pretty excited about achieving platinum," said Carol Walker, the vice president of the UF Facilities, Planning and Construction Division, noting that the initial goal was to achieve silver certification.

The $28 million building, funded by the University Athletic Association, has occupancy sensors to control lighting, organic carpet and paint and floors made out of recycled materials such as tires, Walker said.

Although the cost of construction was high, it will be balanced by lower operating costs thanks to energy efficient equipment that reduces heating and air conditioning costs, she said.

Attention to energy efficiency helps the environment and people who use the complex, said Bahar Armaghani, the assistant director of UF's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program.

"And since we spend over 90 percent of time indoors, we need to provide a healthy indoor environment for the people," she said.

The complex also features low-flow water fixtures, water-saving showerheads and touch-free doors to help combat germs. Building materials came from within 500 miles of the complex to reduce transport-related carbon emissions and stimulate the local economy.

The use of a point system can hinder the quality of environmentally friendly buildings, said David Eardley, president of the student-run organization Gators for a Sustainable Campus. The stadium earned 52 out of the 69 available points for the certification.

"My main problem with [the program] is that, in my understanding, you can pick and choose things," he said. "You can do really well in water conservation and not so well in energy conservation - it's a point system, so it really allows you to skimp in some areas."

Armaghani said the stadium is a testament to who the students, faculty, administration and staff are at UF and where they stand in terms of saving energy and preserving the environment.

"It's a great achievement for the UAA and the Gators, making them No. 1 in this area, too."