Upon completion of construction in 2017, the ICA will submit for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organization committed to sustainable practices in building and construction.

State buildings in Virginia are required to consider sustainability and must pass one of the following three standards: LEED Certification at the silver level; Green Globes Ratings Systems two-globe level; or adhere to the International Green Construction Code. The ICA anticipates earning a LEED gold certification, one level beyond what is required.

Rebecca Aarons-Sydnor is the ICA’s sustainability representative from the Richmond firm, Sustainable Design Consulting (SDC). Aarons-Sydnor visits the Markel Center’s construction site at Broad and Belvidere every other month to check on progress. She has been working with the ICA since 2012, before ground-breaking. Her job is to keep sustainability prioritized throughout the design and construction phases. At the development stage this involved reviewing the design, and research and calculations to provide cost-benefit analysis that could help make decisions favoring a more sustainable outcome. During the construction stage, she reviews product information and construction processes and advises colleagues on how to provide documentation that shows compliance with LEED standards. Finally, when the building is complete, Aarons-Sydnor will assist in reviewing and preparing LEED documentation for certification.

LEED certification works on a points system and there are seven categories for which credits can be earned. The ICA earns a significant portion of its points in the two categories Sustainable Sites and Energy & Atmosphere. Points can be earned in the category Sustainable Sites when selecting a location for a new building where infrastructure is already present. Less work and fewer resources are consumed when integrating a new building on an electric grid rather than bringing the electric grid to a new building. Points can also be earned by choosing a location with access to existing public transportation as fewer natural resources are consumed to visit. The ICA is currently on the GRTC bus line, and in October 2017 the GRTC Pulse is scheduled to open making travel to the ICA more convenient for residents, from Rocketts Landing to Willow Lawn, by providing a modern, high quality, high capacity rapid transit system along Broad and Main Streets.

Aarons-Sydnor believes all LEED categories are important, but if she had to choose one, Energy & Atmosphere is the most essential because it aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and reduces the long-term costs for the owner. The ICA’s use of geothermal wells to support the HVAC system makes it stand out in this category. (For further reading about the ICA’s geothermal wells, visit Green Guide to the Building, Part 1).

Including the ICA, Aarons-Sydnor and her colleagues at Sustainable Design Consulting have worked on 12 projects at VCU, eight of which are finished.

To learn more about LEED categories and points, explore the LEED scorecard.

Rebecca Aarons-Sydnor, Associate, AIA, CDT, LEED AP BD+C, ID+C, Senior Project Manager at Sustainable Design Consulting, leads building, interior design, and construction teams pursuing LEED certification across a wide variety of projects. She also develops and delivers training on LEED, green product labeling, specifications, and other sustainability topics. In addition, she coordinates SDC’s specifications reviews for all firm projects.

Green Guide to the Building (Part 1)
Green Guide to the Building (Part 2)

Image: Rendering of the Broad Street entrance of the Institute for Contemporary Art at the Markel Center, VCU. ©Steven Holl Architects and the Institute for Contemporary Art, VCU