Eco-friendly Williams Village North earns platinum LEED rating

By Staff
Eco-friendly Williams Village North earns platinum LEED rating

Students in one of the common areas in CU-Boulder’s Williams Village North residence hall. (Photo courtesy of John Robledo Foto)

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

LEED certification is a U.S. benchmark for sustainable building design, construction, operation and maintenance. The $46.5 million Williams Village North, with 131,246 gross square feet, is projected to be nearly 40 percent 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, 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 rated, with the goal of seeking LEED platinum whenever possible, Tabrizi said.

In a building that gets 12.5 percent of its energy from on-site 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. Architecture Assistant Professor Matthew Jelacic serves as faculty in residence for both of the RAPS.

“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, or VOC, 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.”

Team members included Paul Leef, director of planning, design and construction and campus architect; Steve Hecht, manager of design and project management; Heidi Rogé, project manager; Tom Goodhew, campus planner; Richelle Reilly, landscape architect; and Paula Bland, director of Residence Life. Also included were campus engineers Jonathan Akins, Pieter van der Mersch, Pepper Clayton and Joe Branchaw.

Only 1.5 percent 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.

For more information on CU-Boulder’s green campus initiatives visit For more information on Housing and Dining Services visit