By Sustainability Manager, Sara Teaster, LEED AB BD+C
We are excited to announce that the Student Center at Tidewater Community College Chesapeake has received LEED Gold certification! Situated on a tidal wetland and a tributary of the Elizabeth River, the new Student Center provides “a home away from home” for commuting students and a new campus hub of activity and services. Students can relax during study breaks and play games in the second story recreation room, or grab a bite to eat in the café – both of which overlook a designated Audubon Bird Sanctuary.
Taking into account the unique surroundings of this sensitive natural area, every effort was made to showcase sustainable design strategies in the building and ensure a low impact construction process. Emphasizing the unique context of the campus’ tidal wetland landscape, the Student Center’s design provides expansive exterior views, connecting students to surrounding natural areas.
A recipient of the “Maximize Open Space” and “Protect and Restore Habitat” credits under the LEEDv2 rating system, the Student Center features open areas, preserved and enhanced with native landscaping, that provide a perfect habitat for birds, wildlife, and nature-exploring students alike. With aid from energy-efficient curtain walls and storefront glazing, natural light pours through the building.
Inside, the Student Center features a range of student activity and recreation spaces including lounge / study areas, meeting rooms, a café, multi-purpose event rooms, a fitness center, a campus store, and a child-minding area. These spaces showcase thoughtful materials including low-emitting paints, to ensure good indoor air quality. Recycled and regionally-sourced materials, along with Forestry Stewardship Council® certified wood finishes, helped propel the project to Gold status.
Designed to survive on the area’s rainfall, the landscaping features native or adaptive plantings that require no irrigation – minimizing water use and maintenance. The incorporation of low flow fixtures contributed to the building’s estimated 48% reduction in water use, compared to baseline performance. With such close proximity to the Elizabeth River, 90% of stormwater is captured and treated onsite, to ensure the continued beauty of this local water resource.