University of Vermont

Food Systems Initiative

Jeffords Joins Growing List of LEED Gold Buildings

Science Building Home to College of Agriculture's Plant Science and Plant Biology

Newly designated 'LEED Gold', Jeffords Hall as seen from UVM's Davis Center.

James M. Jeffords Hall has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) New Construction Gold status by the Green Building Certification Institute, the administrator of the U.S. Green Building Council's certifications and professional designations. Gold status has only been earned by a handful of similar energy-intensive research laboratory buildings.

The 97,000 square-foot, $56 million building – home to the departments of plant biology and plant and soil science, both in UVM's  College of Agriculture and Life Sciences – is the sixth on campus to achieve LEED Gold status. Other projects that have earned Gold include 438 College Street, University Heights Residential Complex, Dudley H. Davis Student Center, Bertha M. Terrill Building and the Given Courtyard. The renovation and addition to the George D. Aiken Center is on track to receive the highest level of certification, LEED Platinum.   

The aspiration to achieve LEED Gold status for Jeffords Hall was in keeping with the “Environmental Design in New and Renovated Buildings” policy originally approved in 2005 by the University of Vermont Board of Trustees, and upgraded in 2007 to set a goal of achieving at least LEED Silver status for new buildings and major renovation projects when possible.  

“We set Silver certification as the minimum standard, but we’ll always try to push as far as we can beyond that without creating additional expense,” says Robert Vaughan, director of capital planning and management. “Wherever it’s appropriate to meet criteria to take the project to a higher level we will. Silver is the minimum, but gold is the goal. That’s our mantra.”

Jeffords houses seven cutting-edge teaching labs and three general purpose classrooms on the first floor for undergraduate and graduate students in the life sciences programs. The upper two floors contain research laboratories and offices. Its modern laboratory facilities provide high-quality experiential learning opportunities in molecular, ecological and environmental research that touch on a wide range of disciplines.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, scientists and technicians from the State Department of Environmental Conservation (18 from the Environmental Biology Lab and six from the Environmental Chemistry Lab) were moved to two large labs in Jeffords where they have continued to monitor the state’s air, water and soil quality.

More than $5 million of the project budget went toward the expansion of the underground central steam and chilled water system, completing a loop around Jeffords Hall and connecting into the mechanical room of the Health Science Research Facility. The building is projected to use 35.7 percent less energy (measured in MBtu) than conventionally designed laboratory buildings (29.4 percent less energy measured by cost) and 49.4 percent less water.

Additionally, more than 90 percent of construction and demolition waste was diverted from the landfill, and a cutting-edge occupancy system for lighting and ventilation was installed. The use of local and regional products was a priority in the construction of Jeffords with more than 40 percent of the total cost of materials coming from Vermont, and approximately 72 percent of the construction value performed by Vermont sub-contractors.

Supporting the new building were $10 million in state funds, $3 million in federal funds secured by Senator Patrick J. Leahy after Senator Jeffords’ retirement from the U.S. Senate, and private donations that included $1 million from Vermont's Lintilhac Foundation.