The Ronald Tutor Campus Center
In March 2000, the U.S. Green Building Council developed a green building certification system, LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. This system provides a framework for green building design, construction, and maintenance solutions that are meant to cut environmental impacts.
The Ronald Tutor Campus Center is USC’s first LEED certified building, qualifying for a Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2010. The Campus Center is home to numerous university centers, eateries, and student organizations, including the Admissions Center, Epstein Family Alumni Center, and Student Affairs. The Campus Center is the main hub of student life and activity, with thousands of students and staff utilizing its resources every day. With such a volume of activity, USC maximizes efficiency through innovative design and sustainably focused systems.
The Campus Center is designed to reduce energy consumption in a variety of ways. The Campus Center utilizes the campus-wide chilled water system, circulated from the Thermal Energy Storage unit beneath Cromwell field, on a daily basis to reduce the amount of thermal pollution released from the building, and to minimize air-conditioning costs. The Campus Center consists of roofing materials that have a high solar reflectance index, which maintains the cool temperature of the building, as well as high performance windows that prevent heat gain. Within the Campus Center, energy efficient fluorescent lights minimize electricity costs, and a parallel refrigeration system comprised of a single scroll of compressors provides cooling to multiple refrigeration units, eliminating the need for separate individual compressors for each refrigeration unit. High efficiency plumbing fixtures are featured throughout the Campus Center, and account for a 40% reduction in water use.
The construction of the Campus Center maintained its sustainable focus, with a construction waste management plan that successfully diverted 95% of demolition and construction waste from landfills. The building materials were also purchased within a 500-mile radius of campus in order to reduce costs for transportation and disposal.
The Campus Center also houses a variety of food options. Ultra violet exhaust hoods in the kitchens of the Campus Center burn off cooking grease particulates within the hood before releasing them through the ductwork of the Campus Center and into the atmosphere, cutting the air pollution emitted. Food waste at the campus center goes through a food pulping system that reduces the quantity of food waste by up to 80%. All food products at the Campus Center are served in recycled, recyclable, or biodegradable containers, which are collected and diverted from landfills. Kitchen and fryer grease is also collected and diverted to private vendors who process it into bio-fuel and animal feed.
LEED certification not only focuses on increasing the efficiency and minimizing the waste from buildings, but also on the health and well being of that building’s occupants. A Construction Indoor Air Quality Management Plan was implemented before the construction of the Campus Center began to protect the health of the workers, and this system has been maintained to manage the air quality of the Campus Center’s current occupants. During the construction of the Campus Center, no adhesives, sealants, paints, or coatings with significant levels of volatile organic compounds were used, in order to ensure the health and safety of students, staff, and visitors for years to come.