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Student Health Services

USC's health center earns LEED Gold certification

University of South Carolina’s Center for Health and Well-Being formally recognized for its sustainability practices

Columbia, S.C. – The Center for Health and Well-Being, USC’s new health center, has been confirmed as a LEED Gold-certified building.

 The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, is the foremost program for buildings, homes and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance.

 “Everything about the design of this building was intentional to promote the improved health and well-being of our students,” said Dr. Deborah Beck, executive director for Student Health Services and Healthy Carolina. “Our goals for the building included making sure that the building was sustainable, efficient and one that students would want to be part of when they are healthy and when they are in need of health care. We are thrilled to receive this distinction and proud to share this accomplishment with our campus and community partners that made this project possible.”

 The green building program supports, among other things, growing real plants, recycling, using environmentally friendly cleaning products, conserving energy and water and encouraging alternative transportation.

 How the building was constructed also factors into the certification; 85 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills, 38 percent of total materials were made with recycled content and 58 percent of total materials were manufactured regionally.

 The health center’s other sustainability aspects include a central automation system for the HVAC equipment that reduces energy costs, occupancy sensors for lights, which automatically turn lights on and off when people enter and exit rooms, and specific fixtures in bathrooms and kitchens that use less water.  

 “The beauty of the Center for Health and Well-Being, and it is beautiful, is what our students experience when they go there, whether attending a sustainable cooking demonstration to being treated for the flu,” said Gene Luna, director for the Office of Sustainability. “The LEED Gold certification signals to those entering a healthy building that the air quality is high and the natural lighting lifts spirits. In general, they can expect to encounter providers and staff who are more productive and positive by working there.”

Design goals for the Center for Health and Well-Being included creating a place that is welcoming, calming and focused on student wellbeing with sustainability as one of its core principles.

 To achieve a calming environment, designers implemented a practice called biophilia, which means bringing nature inside or being one with nature. Many windows throughout the building help achieve the concept of biophilia and decrease energy costs with natural light.

 A tree graphic stretches all five floors of the building, integrating classic elements of nature forming symbiotic relationships between each department on all floors. Graphics throughout the building also emphasize the eight dimensions of wellness each student is encouraged to consider in their lifelong health and wellness journey. Five shades of yellow, green and blue were specifically chosen because they are known to be calming and anxiety and stress reducing.

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