Just a short bus ride away from central grounds is North Grounds, one of four recreation centers at the University of Virginia. Located near the Business and Law schools, North Grounds Recreation Center (NGRC) is frequented by mostly graduate students, with a few undergraduates, faculty, and staff here and there. Upon entering the gym, the first thing you might notice about NGRC is its tall ceilings and its impeccably white interior. It looks new, it feels new, and if it has that “new building smell,” — likely because it is new.
In February of 2012, NGRC underwent a massive, 18 month long, $17.21 million renovation. Among other additions, the recreation center received an upgraded pool and cycle room, a new multipurpose room, two new squash courts, and a new lobby. All in all, an additional 33,000 square feet were added to the gym. Wahoos aren’t the only ones impressed with these changes. In March 2015, North Grounds Rec Center received the Silver Certification from LEED in the category of Building Design and Construction.
LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is the name of a certification program created by the U.S. Green Building Council. A building adorned with a LEED plaque has been inspected and approved by several rounds of USBGC members, and via consensus, is considered by the USGBC as an “achievement in green building.” LEED projects can earn points across nine categories of key aspects of green buildings, some of which include water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and energy and atmosphere. The number of points achieved corresponds with a particular LEED level, the four levels being: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. North Grounds not only attained the Silver Certification, but was ranked in the top 73% of projects in this rating system.
For those of you interested in the nuts and bolts, in order to attain such an achievement, the renovation included a multitude of sustainable features. The project included new high efficiency and CFC-free chillers, airflow measuring stations to provide optimal ventilation levels, and individual lighting controls and thermostats to reduce the building’s greenhouse gas footprint while also reducing cost. Additionally, water-efficient fixtures installed throughout the building contributed to a calculated 33% reduction in potable water use; 20% below the typical baseline. Specifically, with regards to the natatorium and associated spaces; energy recovery capacity is installed in each Pool Dehumidification Unit, CO2 sensors are at all densely occupied spaces, the main pool uses a regenerative filter that directly reduces water use during traditional backwashing, and Variable Frequency Drives are installed on the pool pumps.
We're proud of these accomplishments at North Grounds Recreation Center and look forward to continuing our sustainable practices!
Chloe Pham is a fouth-year in the College of Arts & Sciences and a member of the IM-Rec Sports Marketing Team.