UHD’s College of Sciences & Technology Building Goes for Gold … And Earns It
University’s Newest Facility Receives LEED Gold Rating
By Mike Emery
It’s been called a game-changer for the University of Houston-Downtown and for higher education in the region. Now, UHD’s award-winning College of Sciences & Technology (CST) Building officially is the “gold” standard for environmentally-friendly university facilities.
This month, the 115,000 sq. foot building officially received LEED Gold status. The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating from the U.S. Green Building Council is recognized globally and acknowledges buildings that are designed and constructed with health, energy efficiency and sustainability at top of mind.
The CST Building (designed by Kirksey Architecture and built by Vaughn Construction) becomes just the second LEED-certified facility in the UH System and the first to be rated as Gold.
“Sustainable buildings such as the UHD CST Building represent the future of our urban environments,” said Dr. Lisa Morano, Professor of Biology and Microbiology. “Such buildings reduce our environmental footprint, encourage learning and ultimately save money.”
The proof of Morano’s statement is in the numbers. The following statistics reflect the sustainable impact of the CST Building’s site development and construction.
- 62 percent of site restored with native landscaping
- 86 percent of construction waste diverted from landfill
- 100 percent stormwater treated on-site
Such numbers complement the building’s many features, including the capture of air conditioning condensation into a 6,000-gallon cistern (providing water for the building’s exterior urban gardens) and a design that stresses the use of exterior light to illuminate much of the building. Supplemental lighting is provided by lamps equipped with sensors that adjust lumens as needed throughout the interior of the facility. Likewise, many areas of the building utilize recycled materials.
Such features not only contribute to the LEED Gold rating, but enhance students’ knowledge of the benefits of sustainability.
“There will be no future career that will not be impacted by our changing planet,” added Morano, who directs UHD’s Center for Urban Agriculture & Sustainability (CUAS). “Students must learn what is possible in their environments so that they can bring it into their own futures.”
CUAS is among the units housed in the CST Building, along with faculty and courses from Biology, Biotechnology, Biological & Physical Sciences and Chemistry. The building also hosts a brand new 54 panel, 16.7-kilowatt off-grid solar energy system, which powers two environmental science labs and photosynthesis equipment used in teaching and research. Both the panels and the photosynthesis gear were made possible by a $250,000 gift from the Green Mountain Sun Club.
With its official LEED Gold status, the building not only has a special place at UHD and within the UH System but also in Houston’s higher education landscape, said Dr. Eric Link, Senior Vice President for Academic & Student Affairs and Provost.
“The LEED Gold status on our new College of Science and Technology building is not simply a great achievement in construction; it is also emblematic of the institution’s commitment to scientific progress and sustainability,” Link said. “This building—within whose walls the future leaders of Houston learn and train—is itself a great scientific achievement, engineered to lead UHD and the greater Houston region to an even greater future.”
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.