Small Wash. City Now Home to Hemisphere's Greenest Building

St. Martin's University's Cebula Hall received the highest rating of any newly constructed LEED-certified building in the Western Hemisphere. Photo: Washington State Department of Commerce

St. Martin’s University’s Cebula Hall received the highest rating of any newly constructed LEED-certified building in the Western Hemisphere. Photo: Saint Martin’s University

Lacey, Wash., is a small city just outside the capital of Olympia with around 43,000 residents. While it may seem unassuming on the surface, the suburb is now home to what is considered the most environmentally friendly building in the Western Hemisphere and the third greenest in the world, according to the Washington State Department of Commerce.

Cebula Hall, which houses engineering and environmental-design classrooms at Saint Martin’s University, received top-level LEED Platinum certification and “the highest rating of any newly constructed LEED-certified building in the hemisphere,” the college said.

The building was awarded 97 out of 110 points in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program, according to the university. It also has more than double the space of its predecessor, allowing the school to accept more qualified students in the Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering, reports

Surprisingly, the construction cost of the building was $225 per square foot — dispelling the notion that LEED Platinum buildings cost 15 percent or more than similar, nonsustainable buildings.

On college campuses, construction costs for non-LEED-oriented laboratory buildings typically start around $275 to $400 per square foot, and go up — sometimes significantly — from there, according to Marc Gleason of Tacoma-based McGranahan Architects, the architectural firm that designed Cebula Hall.

“Cebula Hall is living proof that the implementation of green building techniques can be very economical,” Joseph Bettridge, vice president and director of engineering at Sunset Air Inc., who was project executive during construction of the three-story structure, said in a press release. “It doesn’t take a lot of ‘green’ to be green — just smarter choices and the commitment to optimize the design for the maximum benefit at the lowest cost.”

Innovative features of Cebula Hall include:

• a geothermal ground loop, coupled to water-source heat pumps and in-floor radiant heat

• systems and structures that are exposed, offering visitors a clear view of their operations

• energy-efficient fixtures and equipment that reduce water usage by 48 percent

• a large rooftop solar panel system that allows students to study tracking devices, solar orientation and the production of solar energy

• a rain garden

• a photovoltaic array that produces more than 15 percent of the building’s power and also provides power back to the electrical grid

“The University’s goal from the beginning was to earn LEED Platinum Certification for our new engineering facility, which we designed to be a teaching and learning tool, inside and out,” explained University President Roy F. Heynderickx. “A spirit of responsibility drove the Cebula Hall project forward. As we began planning the structure, we committed ourselves to being conscientious stewards of both the environment and the funds raised for the building.”

All energy usage for Cebula Hall is tracked in real time through an interactive online building dashboard. Click here for a closer look.

Recent Posts
Mary Mazzoni

Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.
Mary Mazzoni