Williams Village North, the University of Colorado Boulder’s newest residence hall, has received a LEED-Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council. The 500-bed residence hall is the first of its size in the nation to rank Platinum, the highest possible green designation.

Photo courtesy of John Robledo Foto and CU Boulder
CU-Boulder's LEED-Platinum-certified Williams Village North residence hall is the first building on campus to earn that distinction.

The $46.5-million Williams Village North, at 131,246 gross sq ft, is projected to be nearly 40% more energy and water efficient than modern code-compliant buildings of the same size

“Our Platinum rating—a first for the campus—represents a lot and we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished through the efforts of many dedicated people,” said Moe Tabrizi, CU Boulder’s campus sustainability director. “It reflects our commitments to immediate energy, water and resource conservation and our long-term goal of carbon neutrality, as well as the belief that we can provide students interactive learning in every corner of campus.”

CU-Boulder has eight other structures that are LEED-Gold rated and another with a Silver designation. All future new or renovated buildings on campus will be at least LEED Gold, with the goal of seeking LEED-Platinum whenever possible, Tabrizi said.

In a building that gets 12.5% of its energy from onsite solar panels, Williams Village North residents have a hand in controlling the flow of electricity. They are able to shut off power to nonessential and not-in-use outlets with single switches installed in each room. Residents will be able to monitor electricity using meters and information kiosks in the building, which also are slated for upcoming energy savings competitions.

A free water bottle-filling station shows how many plastic containers may have been diverted from landfills as users stock reusable vessels. Since the building opened in mid-August, the estimated savings stands at more than 24,000 bottles.

The building is home to two Residential Academic Programs, or RAPs— Sustainable by Design, and Social Entrepreneurship for Equitable Development and Sustainability.

“Williams Village North offers more than a living space, it offers a lifestyle,” said Kambiz Khalili, executive director of housing and dining services. “Our partnership with the campus and resident student leaders provided the opportunity to commit resources that allow CU students to fully explore the impacts of sustainability in a unique living and learning environment.”

The site has low-flow water fixtures installed in sinks, showers and toilets, and native landscaping that requires little or no watering.

Other green features include energy-efficient lighting with daylight harvesting, advanced heat-recovery systems and low-volatile organic compound materials.

“As we began the design process, it became obvious to us that if we stretched our collaborative efforts, we had a chance to create the first LEED-Platinum building on campus,” said Curt Huetson, director of facilities, planning and operations for housing and dining services. “I challenged our project team, which actually signed a pact and committed to make it happen. As a result, each member now points to this facility with tremendous personal pride.”

Only 1.5% of Williams Village North project costs came from the sustainability integration that makes the building LEED Platinum rated and will translate into significant utility savings over time. The project was built by general contractor Whiting-Turner.