SDS Architects Project at UW-River Falls Awarded LEED Gold Certification

Feb. 14, 2013 – The newly constructed Jesse H. Ames Suites on the University of Wisconsin-River Falls campus has just been awarded the prestigious LEED-NC v2009 Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). With an initial goal of LEED Silver, the announcement of achieving Gold came as a great achievement. SDS Architects, along with their consultants and the general contractor, worked closely with the campus and the Division of Facilities Development throughout the design and construction process to employ a wide range of rigorous sustainable design and construction strategies that led to the award of this certification for high performance and environmentally responsible projects.

Materials used in the construction of the facility contained more than 16% recycled materials, 25% of the materials used were regionally harvested, and 70% of the wood used was Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. The campus purchased Renewable Energy Certificates from their local energy provider, which accounts for 70% of the energy the building consumes; low-flow plumbing fixtures resulted in a 42% water-use reduction; and rooftop solar hot water panels were installed as a water pre-heat strategy. These strategies result in nearly 32% annual reduction in energy usage and 27% savings in energy costs. Residents occupying the facility enjoy lots of natural light with exterior views from more than 90% of the building, and they can breathe easier knowing that the finishes include only low-VOC products.

With sustainability and outdoor living high priorities for the UW-River Falls campus, outdoor gathering spaces include a fire pit and BBQ grill; both of which are surrounded by landscaping features including rain gardens, drought-resistant plants, and prairie grasses. This landscaping eliminates the need for a costly irrigation system. A boardwalk protects the wetland adjacent to the site and provides an interesting, interactive pedestrian circulation link to campus.  
Through these and numerous other sustainable practices, Jesse H. Ames Suites is a warm, welcoming and environmentally friendly living space that students love and will embrace for years to come.   

For more information, contact Laura Eysnogle, project coordinator for SDS Architects, Inc., at 715-852-2570 or