Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Couzens Hall receives EPA designation for energy-efficient design

U-M has been awarded the Designed to Earn ENERGY STAR® certification from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for energy conservation measures with the Couzens Hall renovation project, making its estimated building performance among the top 25 percent of facilities in the United States.


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Couzens Hall project
U-M's sustainability design and construction practices

The certification is only given to building design projects that achieve a rating of 75 or higher on the EPA's energy performance rating system, and is part of the EPA's call to fight global warming by recognizing energy-efficient buildings designed with the intent of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Once the building achieves its projected energy rating, the EPA will award it full ENERGY STAR status. The Couzens Hall renovation project is an example of U-M's commitment to sustainable practices in its capital improvement projects.

"This is great for the university and validates the work we are doing with our architectural and construction teams to make sustainability and energy efficiency a critical part of every capital project at U of M," said Marina Roelofs, executive director of Architectural, Engineering & Construction (AEC). "We are pleased that the Couzens Hall project has received this designation from the EPA."

U-M worked with Integrated Design Solutions (IDS) of Troy on the renovation of Couzens Hall. Specific areas of focus related to energy efficiency include improved insulation and window performance, water-conservation measures, improved lighting including motion-sensing technology, and heating and cooling improvements. By focusing on these areas, Couzens Hall is estimated to achieve a 33.5 percent annual energy cost avoidance versus a renovation project designed simply to meet code required energy efficiency standards.

"By modeling the facility and using the data from the Energy Star Target Finder database, we have independent verification that the renovated Couzens Hall will be among the top 25 percent most efficient dorms in the United States," said Bruce Snyder, senior associate, mechanical engineering and sustainable design at IDS. "We're very excited for the University of Michigan, as the benefits extend beyond the building footprint into the neighborhood it serves. Working very closely with U of M's AEC group on every project, the design team pushes the limit in pursuing all energy conservation measures that move the project up the energy performance rating scale." 

The renovation of Couzens Hall is part of the Residential Life Initiatives (RLI) program. Launched in 2004, RLI is a comprehensive, multiyear plan to revitalize and renovate student housing at U-M. Other RLI projects include installation of new fire-detection, alarms and fire-suppression systems throughout the residence halls, construction of the North Quadrangle Residential and Academic Complex, the renovations of Mosher-Jordan Hall and Stockwell Hall, and construction of the Hill Dining Center.

U-M has a history of building design focused on sustainable practices, which was strengthened further through the adoption in June 2009 of LEED Silver certification as its standard for major new construction projects. That new policy built upon the existing U-M commitment of ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2007+30 — adopted in 2009 — to exceed by 30 percent a widely recognized energy efficiency standard. This policy combination gives the university one of the most rigorous construction standards among higher education institutions in the nation, and is one aspect of U-M's campuswide environmental and energy initiative.

U-M buildings that already have achieved LEED certification include the Gold LEED Dana Building, home of the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Silver LEED Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Two projects under construction, the Mott Children's and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospitals Replacement Project and a new Law School academic building, are on track for LEED certification.